On Saturday night, the day after Halloween, 23 racers and their respective cheerleading factions met at Recyclistas to find out where the race would take them. Everyone drew a slip of paper out of an envelope to get the location of the first checkpoint, and at 7:30 on the dot, raced off on their bicycles into the night.
The race route went from Recyclistas to Gorge Narrows Bridge, to the top of High Rock Park in Esquimalt, to Beacon Hill Park, to an obscure park bench on top of a ridiculous hill in Oak Bay, to Pemberton Park, to Spokes (the student bike shop located at UVic), to Smith Hill Reservoir, and finally back to Recyclistas. No one knew the checkpoints in advance. At each checkpoint, racers got a slip of paper with the address of the next one on it.
In an Alleycat race, local knowledge is prized above speed and fast bikes. Arthur Taylor, a software developer who took second place, finished building his bike less than 20 minutes before the race started. He got a late start, but knowing the town well from hundreds of late night explorations and years of bike commuting gave him an edge.
Mark Van Akker is a teacher at Vic High School. He only started cycling as a hobby a few months ago, with his toddler in tow for resistance training. But again, he knew the most efficient routes around town and beat everyone back to the shop. That’s the joy of Alleycats — being a powerhouse isn’t the only way to win, and non-athletes can have just as much fun and chance of winning.
The race was about 23km long in total. The last rider arrived at the shop at 9:45pm, where a keg of beer and a hip hop crew called Downtown Mischief were waiting to start the after party. About 10 riders dropped out along the way, including one who memorably failed to pace herself and stopped for a puke break in Beacon Hill Park. She won a special prize — the “Puker Prize” — for the racer who tried the hardest.
Prizes included a night at Accent Inns, a free haircut from B Sharp Salon, dinner at Pluto’s Diner, a tune-up from North Park Bikes, and assorted bike accessories from Broad St. Cycles and Recyclistas.
Everyone who participated had a good time and a lot of them said that they were keen to come out again for the next race. Anyone who is interested should contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and stay tuned for announcements in February 2015.
1st place: Mark Van Akker
2nd place: Arthur Taylor
3rd place: Parker Bloom