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Alleycat Races

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Old 09-27-18, 03:50 AM
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Machka 
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Alleycat Races

Have any of you done an alleycat race? The first cycling club I was a member of tried to run one, but we had a low number of participants and it didn't take off, however these do fascinate me.

They are often ridden by bike messengers who know their way around a city, but bicycle commuters might be interested as well.

Some info ... especially if you've never heard of these:
https://www.selleitalia.com/es/notic...alleycat-race/

Fixed Gear Bike Ally Cat Races | What is an ally cat race?
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Old 09-27-18, 11:56 AM
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These were pretty big when I lived in Denver in the mid-2000s, mostly among the bike messengers. I never did one - those messengers were fast, fearless, drafted anything and everything, and really knew how to literally cut through alleys to avoid having to stop. I rode around town with messengers a few times, and it was pretty wild!

I've heard of a few events locally (in La Crosse, WI) but they seem to be less like races and more like moderately paced urban rides for riders somewhere in between full-kit wearing roadies and the slow bicycle or pub crawl riders.
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Old 09-27-18, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Have any of you done an alleycat race? The first cycling club I was a member of tried to run one, but we had a low number of participants and it didn't take off, however these do fascinate me.

They are often ridden by bike messengers who know their way around a city, but bicycle commuters might be interested as well.

Some info ... especially if you've never heard of these:
https://www.selleitalia.com/es/notic...alleycat-race/

Fixed Gear Bike Ally Cat Races | What is an ally cat race?
I attended an international bike messenger competition once, as a spectator, maybe 25 years ago. It was fun to watch. They did sprints, delivery course races where the competitors had to grab a package and deliver it through an obstacle course to a receptacle, and probably stunts too alhough my memory is a bit vague.
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Old 10-03-18, 02:54 PM
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tandempower
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Sounds like a Cannonball Run race for bikes instead of cars.
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Old 10-03-18, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
Sounds like a Cannonball Run race for bikes instead of cars.
Ignorance is bliss for you, isn't it?
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Old 10-04-18, 04:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
Ignorance is bliss for you, isn't it?
I think ignorance is usually bliss, to the extent it's unintentional, and if you're not unaware of something that you could be doing something to deal with it; but what does that have to do with what I said about the Canonball Run race?
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Old 10-04-18, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
I think ignorance is usually bliss, to the extent it's unintentional, and if you're not unaware of something that you could be doing something to deal with it; but what does that have to do with what I said about the Canonball Run race?
In fairness, Rowan is probably on a lot of meds, from what I've read about his recent, horrific health problems. Still, his remark was puzzling in this context.
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Old 10-04-18, 03:26 PM
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How can a Yank movie on illegal car racing on the public road be equated with a bicycling event? This is supposed to be a LCF section, not one to begrungely mention an illegal car racing film as a comparison.
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Old 10-05-18, 05:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
In fairness, Rowan is probably on a lot of meds, from what I've read about his recent, horrific health problems. Still, his remark was puzzling in this context.
Yes, well, 'ignorance is bliss' has a lot of different possible meanings. Machka, Rowan, and I have never thought in the same way or really appreciated each others' POVs. Nevertheless I was saddened to see that Rowan had been involved in such a bad and bizarre accident; and it was/is great to see that he is recovering so well.
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Old 10-05-18, 05:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
How can a Yank movie on illegal car racing on the public road be equated with a bicycling event? This is supposed to be a LCF section, not one to begrungely mention an illegal car racing film as a comparison.
The way the Cannonball Run movie was presented in popular culture was as a fun-loving race at a time when the police/government were treated like killjoys relative to the popular culture. So it's funny to me that Cannonball Run was about an illegal race and Smokey and the Bandit was about smuggling alcohol, but they were both car movies about people ignoring speed limits and laws to go as fast as possible from A to B. Anyway, I know it might seem strange to compare that to bicycle racing, but I think the kind of racing Machka is talking about through a city is very similar to the way the Cannonball Run race went from coast to coast in cars. Yes, the scale with the Cannonball Run was/is bigger and the vehicles are faster and motorized, but the idea seems to be the same otherwise. Of course, I might be misunderstanding the bike race from the description here, but that was just my impression.

I was sort of thinking that if these alleycat races provide people with the same kind of excitement as a Cannonball Run race, they are actually better because they are done on bikes. That was the only reason I posted the comparison.
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Old 10-05-18, 06:31 AM
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Alleycat races are sort of like scavenger hunts ... or simulated bicycle messenger days.


Participants are each given a package (or letter) to deliver to their next stop, and an address for their next stop. They cycle as fast as they can, using whatever routes they like to that stop.

When they get there, they drop off their package, and pick up the next one and next address. Then they cycle as fast as they can to the next stop.

And so on, until they arrive back at the start having successfully delivered each package.

The fastest one to do this ... wins.

(There might be slight variations on this)


Bicycle messengers often participate in these as a way to prove that they are the best among the messengers because they are fast cyclists who know the best shortcuts.
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Old 10-06-18, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Alleycat races are sort of like scavenger hunts ... or simulated bicycle messenger days.


Participants are each given a package (or letter) to deliver to their next stop, and an address for their next stop. They cycle as fast as they can, using whatever routes they like to that stop.

When they get there, they drop off their package, and pick up the next one and next address. Then they cycle as fast as they can to the next stop.

And so on, until they arrive back at the start having successfully delivered each package.

The fastest one to do this ... wins.

(There might be slight variations on this)


Bicycle messengers often participate in these as a way to prove that they are the best among the messengers because they are fast cyclists who know the best shortcuts.
It sounds fun because it combines speed with strategy and the skill that comes with experience.

This is the same reason I am fascinated with these Cannonball Run races and the premise of smuggling in Smokey and the Bandit. In these, the fast race car drivers are basically decoys to mislead the police so that the smuggler's vehicle can get through without getting caught. In the Cannonball Run, some racers are rich so they pay other drivers to distract the police so they can race coast-to-coast without getting stopped by police.

I know it's a totally different thing, but if you think of the bike couriers as smugglers (e.g. pretend they are carrying illegal drugs or some other contraband), then you can imagine that such races would be good practice for smuggling, the same as the Cannonball Runs would have been good practice for the smuggler drivers of that time. Burt Reynolds died recently, so I guess I am thinking more about his work because of that.

Anyway, please feel free to ignore my comparison and continue with the alleycat race discussion.
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Old 10-06-18, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
It sounds fun because it combines speed with strategy and the skill that comes with experience.
Yes.

Riders are just given an address but no instructions of how to get there. A well-skilled bicycle messenger might not even need to look at a map, he/she might just know the best way to get there, while someone with less experience might need to consult a map and follow main roads ... but if the one who is less experienced in strategy is much faster, maybe that's OK.
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Old 10-07-18, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Yes.

Riders are just given an address but no instructions of how to get there. A well-skilled bicycle messenger might not even need to look at a map, he/she might just know the best way to get there, while someone with less experience might need to consult a map and follow main roads ... but if the one who is less experienced in strategy is much faster, maybe that's OK.
So is there some competition between navigation systems involved in these races?
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Old 10-07-18, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
So is there some competition between navigation systems involved in these races?

I don't know what you mean.


Participants can use whatever navigation systems they like. A number of years ago, it was maps and know-how. More recently, people might be able to use GPS, I'm not sure. GPS might be useful, but then again, GPS might not take people down the little back alleys and connector paths.
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Old 10-08-18, 04:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I don't know what you mean.


Participants can use whatever navigation systems they like. A number of years ago, it was maps and know-how. More recently, people might be able to use GPS, I'm not sure. GPS might be useful, but then again, GPS might not take people down the little back alleys and connector paths.
What I'm basically asking is whether people put together competitive navigation system that allow really fast cyclists to dominate in a race without having personal familiarity with the route from experience. It would be difficult to put together really good routes with all the shortcuts, etc. you mention, and to make it work in a way that it wouldn't slow you down to pay attention to it while racing.
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Old 10-08-18, 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
What I'm basically asking is whether people put together competitive navigation system that allow really fast cyclists to dominate in a race without having personal familiarity with the route from experience. It would be difficult to put together really good routes with all the shortcuts, etc. you mention, and to make it work in a way that it wouldn't slow you down to pay attention to it while racing.
It would be hard to "put together" a comprehensive navigation system ... no one knows where they're going to go.

As I said, the participants are given an address on the start line ... could be anywhere in the city. Then when they get there, they get another address.

Most of the riders would be from the city, so the minute they look at the address, they'd be off ....

Any others ... well, hopefully they would have taken the time to familiarise themselves with the city, at least enough to have some idea ...
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Old 10-08-18, 11:48 AM
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Alleycat racing is a "grey area" and technically illegal. These races are unsanctioned, so you do them at your own risk. These races are frowned upon by authorities because they involve breaking every traffic law in the book, and putting the participants and public at risk, it's no different than street racing in a car. I am sure they can be a lot of fun but personally I stay away from them just like I stay away from critical mass movements...I break traffic laws sometimes and do crazy stuff too during my commutes, but I do it in such a way so as not to put other people at risk...I can make my commute fun and adventurous if I want to, so there is no need for me to participate in some illegal unsanctioned events just for the fun of it.
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