This Friday is the 4th of July and that means…”alleycat racing!”
This has been an annual event in New York and perhaps one of the oldest races, which of course is always being debated in messenger folklore.
Its only fitting then that this race starts at Madison Park.
Squid, has a nice story about the first race:
“OK Kids, gather round. Old Uncle Squidly has been drinking a few Pappy’s and it’s time for a trip down memory lane..
the first NYC July 4 street race that I can remember was way back in 1996 (BEFORE MICROWAVE POPCORN!). It was organized by me self and some friends. The prize was a trip to the CMWC which was to be held in Frisco later that year.
We made our own staff shirts with blank red tees and sharpie pens. There was a prize for best shirt which went to Yac who had yet to start racing back in those days, long long ago, before Al Gore had invented the internet to my recollection I reckon.
The race started in Madison Square Park. All the checkpoints were listed on the manifests except for one mystery checkpoint which was to be revealed at the very start of the race (a nice little monkey wrench to challenge everyones routing skills.) ((Also my way of getting to race without feeling like I had insider info!)).
Seventeen messengers threw down $10 each, the high price of admission was to help with the travel money for the winner.
It was a hellish thunder and lightning sheets of rain alternating with 98 degrees type of day. I was tempted to call it off at one point but weather be damned we shot out of that park on a quest for unmatched skill and glory.
I still remember clearly two glimpses of that awesome blitz. One was crossing paths with my brother on 57th st. We chose different routes and blazed by each other heading the opposite ways yelling and laughing at the same time. The other was flying down the west side highway and seeing an incredible bolt of lightning reaching down to touch the city, it really captured a moment for me some how.
In the end I placed 3rd (First Fix:cool:) With Flail coming in 2nd and my little bro James claiming the top spot! This did not go over well with some of the XMen who were still around back then. Besides the fact that they did not win, seeing the organizers brother take the money was a bitter pill to swallow.
We threw the afterparty on the abandoned elevated tracks near Little West 12th St. and as far as I know you can still rage in some of those old forgotten places.
In the following year the ‘Alleycat’ scene was starting to blow up in North America (Thanks mostly to CMWC Toronto 95 and CMWC San Francisco 96).
In 1997 I was an LES Squatter (Dos Blockos:ugly:), and as a hard working kid with no major bills or responsibilities I managed to hit all kinds of races in cities all over the US and Canada. I had an apocolyptic vision of an ultimate July 4 event with all the major east coast cities battling it out on bikes and then watching the fireworks and getting loaded of course.
I made the race course a fairly simple route with all the checkpoints clearly marked months in advance.
With the help of Slacker Tim (who also still messengers, he got his own company now called Advanced Direct) and Denser Dan of Serenity House we came up with a color poster:
Thanks to Fly who was working at Kinkos at the time we got mad hookups with the printing and mailed them all over and brought them to races as far as Chicago and Montreal and all points in between.
Ended up with more than 100 racers from 8 cities!! Other firsts for that day were the modern debut of ‘spoke cards’. I bought two decks of Tarot cards from that good witch shop that used to be on 9th St. and had the Philly kids number them and write Apocolips on the back. The idea for the cards in the wheel came from wanting to have race numbers but not wanting to pin them to people. Besides it was a bit of a take off on baseball cards in your spokes going flap flap flap when I was a kid way way back in the 70’s.
Also we had best checkpoint prize which turned out to be these three awesome ladies who loaded up some polaroid cameras and took a picture of each racer and gave it to them as they came thru their spot.
The male winner was from Toronto and the female winner was from Minneapolis!! I was happy to have been able to present a level playing field to all comers. They got R/T airfare to CMWC 97 Barcelona courtesy of Manhattan Portage.
The finish was in Willyburg on the waterfront way back when it was still wild and free. My Buds Ryan and Dave (RIP BROTHER:metal:) home brewed 300 bottles of beer!!! We even had labels made that said Apocolips brew. Shane provided an ounce of fungus and we had a veggie BBQ while watching the fireworks.
After that we went to Johenios squat on S1 St. for a bunch of bands, fights, and more fireworks (mostly M80’s). Some of the bands I remember playing were: Down Low, The Wives, The Dregs, and Booze Ass from Toronto was supposed to play but they ended up getting in a fist fight with the Dregs during the Dregs too long set.
There was a big crew from Chicago (some who relocated here including Bald Mike and Jack Blackfelt) and my homie Ash later told me a funny story: Apparently someone dropped an M80 too close for comfort to the Chicago crew when they were outside towards the end of the night (total asshole move, I am no fan of stuff like that). Ash was close by and one of the Chi crew pointed at him and said ‘Don’t Mess with Chicago!’ then they all road off. Ten minutes later they come back and the same guy asks him ‘Do you know how to get to Flatbush Ave. from here?’
Also a big crew from Minneapolis who were inspired to start their own annual jam the following year called Stupor Bowl!
AND the following year (in Montreal?) was the first ‘official’ NACCC.
Damn I am rambling now but we also did skids, sprints, and track stands at Coney Island on the Sunday of that weekend.
OK, just wanted to take a little walk down memory lane and thought some of you would enjoy the story!
Ride Safe this year and maybe I will bring my family out for a checkpoint or something…”
The Checkpoints for this years race:
elite couriers 22 w 27 - city bikes 315 w 38 - 9th st + stuyvesant st. - 41st + 5th - 60th + FDR (dog park behind the playground) - champions bikes 896 amsterdam - 199 avenue b - flash 215 e 5th - ny minute 15 w 28 - a to z 106 ridge - laight st. pedestrian bridge - liberty st. @ liberty place - castle clinton national memorial (in battery park) - 500 grand - jack or valaries house (spanish harlem) - 68 st. + freedom place
If you wake up and read this blog, I’m impressed. Here are a few things to do on bikes today…Sunday, June 29th.
Taken right from the Time’s Up calender: ****************** 1. PEACE RIDE Sunday, June 29, 12 noon Meet at Gandhi Statue, SW corner of Union Square
Let us ride for peace: peace on our bikes, peace in our hearts, peace in our city, peace in our country, peace on our planet. A leisurely “peaceful” ride to some of downtown Manhattan’s peace sites, including Point Thank You, Robert Wagner Park, The Labyrinth for Contemplation, Fritz Koenig’s “The Sphere”, Vietnam Vet Memorial and the site of the Mother AME Zion Church (first church in NYC built and led by African-Americans). Forget about church; come to this Sunday peace “mass” for the biking set. Great first ride for cyclists new to group rides.
****************** 2. SUMMER GARDEN WORKDAY Sunday, June 29, 2 p.m. Children’s Magical Garden at Norfolk & Stanton Streets
Join Time’s Up! and the community of the Children’s Magical Garden to keep the garden growing. This community workday will offer tasks and fun for all skills and ages. Help the kids grow a pizza garden and start their new composting project. We also have children’s bikes that need fixing. Please bring compostables, plants and flowers for planting, and garden gloves for an afternoon of working to grow food, flowers, herbs, and community. Anyone can join this garden and all contributions to support this endangered garden are appreciated. Please bring your friends and family to welcome summer and another season of growing pizza, flowers, kids, and community!
Rain at 1 p.m. cancels. For more information, contact Ellen at firstname.lastname@example.org
I believe the Beach Ride is canceled due to the threat of Thunderstorms. photo on flickr by: Chriki
If you want ignore the warnings of TLC and go chasing waterfalls here is a guide to viewing the public art project created by: Olafur Eliason, by bicycle.
Article in NYTimes. My friends over at NYC Bike maps have made a handy guide to seeing the falls.
If your a lady, come race, if your a fella, come cheer them on. It starts and ends in Tompkins square park, where Chris Ryan and Team Spider will be playing a bike punk show. (Is Chris Ryan trying to start his own sub-genre of music?)
Here is a video of Team Spider playing Governors Island for Make Music Day and Punk Island…The song is…”We Own the Streets.”