The urban bike magazine

The Alleycat – a Bike Race That Gives an Adrenaline Rush

As a city awakens and goes to sleep, every moment of the day each city has its own character and magical moments. In the 1980’s a group of young ciclists, the back alley boys, wanted to experience something different and discover a new side of their hometown Toronto.

Kerstin Oschabnig
In 2015 and 2016 Kerstin has been coordinating the Urban Independence Magazine. For her, the bicycle embodies more than just a means of transportation – it's a lifestyle. She loves all the facets of bicycle culture and sometimes stares a few seconds too long towards a passing bicycle. When she's not behind the desk, you find her on stage as a circus artist.
Foto © Drew Bates (CC BY-2.0) / Flickr

“Ready, set, go … ” shouts a guy in front of a mass of crazy bike enthusiasts who then run towards their bikes lying on the ground a few metres in front of them and pedal off with a list of several stops in the city.

This is how any alleycat bike race typically starts, after a reminder to the participants to obey the traffic laws. The historic beginnings of the alleycat, though, are another story. Its roots go back to a group of young cyclists who were called the Back Alley Boys and started the nightly bike race in Toronto in the 1980s.

The Back Alley Boys, later called the “alleycats”, were regular cyclists who loved to ride their bikes during the night. At the time, there were many exchanges and conflicts between cyclists and car drivers. Then the idea of a nightly bike race through the city emerged during a conversation about road cycling and rules. Shortly after the decision to organise such a race, a poster reading ”The alleycats present … the Scramble” was created. Mistakenly, the name “alleycat” was born and the group’s name was used for every other illegal bike race that followed. The race typically has five or six checkpoints and covers a distance of 20 to 30 kilometres, with riders picking their own route. The fixie bikes used have neither brakes nor gears, which makes the contest more competitive in terms of muscles and orientation.

These days alleycat races take place in cities all around the world, including San Francisco, New York, Mexico City, Berlin, Amsterdam and London. Events like the Bicycle Film Festival have examined many different aspects of the alleycat culture. Lucas Brunelle, a widely known alleycat veteran and videographer, has been credited with being the pioneer of filming alleycat races from a first-person perspective. The race has become ever more popular over the years, and more than 1,000 YouTube videos of it have been uploaded since 2006.

Here’s one about a famous alleycat in New York:

Even though the Alleycat bike race looks dangerous, the amount of adrenaline that will be released from this experience is amazing.

Foto © Drew Bates CC BY 2.0  / Flickr

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Kerstin Oschabnig
In 2015 and 2016 Kerstin has been coordinating the Urban Independence Magazine. For her, the bicycle embodies more than just a means of transportation – it's a lifestyle. She loves all the facets of bicycle culture and sometimes stares a few seconds too long towards a passing bicycle. When she's not behind the desk, you find her on stage as a circus artist.

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Comments
  • Ricardo Vieira

    They do not follow the rules. They do not respect the laws. They put people’s lives in danger and they give cyclists a bad name, helping inflaming the hate towards normal, law abiding cyclists. You’re an idiot.

    Reply
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