Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Who The Hell Is That? Why The Fuck Should I Care?

From Liam, who by all accounts put on a totally killer alleycat last week, and who comes closer to describing why we race alleycats than anyone else I've read. He also quotes me. Enjoy the circle jerk, readers!

"Where and Why
Sometime in mid 2006 a bike activism related uni project encouraged me to research urban cycling.
At the time 'fixie' culture hadn't hit its straps anywhere yet, but it was well on the way. The internet was my portal to this underground obsession, in particular
I was enchanted and captured by the helmet-cam videos of one NY'er Lucas Brunelle. It opened me up to a world where traffic and city streets became a sports field where incredible feats of skill and athleticism played out.
Alleycat races are traditionally the distillation of the day of a messenger/cycle courier into a fast paced race between many checkpoints simulating the pick ups of deliveries where a manifest is marked instead of a parcel.
The races generally last for 40 minutes for the fastest riders, who tend to be experienced messengers exhibiting disregard for traffic laws, manners and normal rider ethics :).
For most participants the chase is its own reward.
The pure animal thrill of entering an intersection at top speed, against the flow of traffic, and threading through moving cars with 3 other riders on your tail is not something to be lightly enjoyed, yet not easily forgotten.
If you do it right it takes till you reach the other side of the intersection for the drivers to react, an unstartled driver is a predictable one.
Brendan sums it up best with his observations.
At its very best "weaving impossible lines and creating space from nothing" is what it's about, and never has the chestnut "it's about the journey, not the destination" been more accurate, (particularly in my case seeing as I never seem to win anything..)"

1 comment:

Natasha said...

I realise that recklessness is part of the thrill of Alley Cats to those who participate, but I can't express enough how much I can't stand it. It's entirely selfish to be riding like that.

When one of you encounters an unpredictable driver, and a rider is actually injured, how many of your cycling friends will commiserate with the poor bastard behind the wheel?

This is not intended to be a personal attack on you, Brendan. I'm just sick of reading about Alley Cats without seeing any criticism of them - I guess I felt there should be a counterpoint to all the adrenaline-fuelled yarning that goes on.