Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Only Ride in Saturday's MonsterTrack Alleycat Bike Messenger Race if You're Totally Fearless

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Competitor in the first ever NYC Monstertrack Alleycat Race.
  • Competitor in the first ever NYC Monstertrack Alleycat Race.

The NYPD may be cracking down on cyclists for bells, whistles, lights and other rules they make up on the spot, but they can't seem to scare off participants in the anarchic and largely unadvertised MonsterTrack Alleycat Race, where among other parts (variable gears, derailleurs, etc.), brakes are highly discouraged.

Billed as the second largest informal bike messenger race in the nation, Montertrack comes to New York on Saturday, March 12. There is no set course and this is no traditional cycling race. More like participants in a scavenger hunt, messengers use the reflexes and instincts they develop on the job to find their own way around a set of checkpoints.

Experienced riders or spectators are always welcome, though in recent years they have canceled races because of accidents and overcrowding. The organizers wrote in a 2008 press release

As many of you know, MonsterTrack started as a race held for a small, close group of NYC bike messengers. It has now become an overwhelmingly all-inclusive event. This, on its face, may seem like a positive direction for a race but in the context of a solely track bike Alleycat it brings many problems. First and foremost, the safety of the racers is compromised. We believe that this is not a tenable position for race organizers.

In February of that year, Matt Manger-Lynch was killed in a collision with a car while participating in the "Tour Da Chicago" winter Alleycat series. “The driver was attempting to avoid other bicycles when he or she struck and killed the victim,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

At the first NYC MonsterTrack back in 2000, there were reportedly 30 participants, 3 accidents and the cops did show up, but only because one racer kept setting himself of fire. “I’m an artist,” he said, “I do that all the time.”

This year checkpoint locations are undisclosed, so who knows if the NYPD will show. The legality of the race is questionable at best and the decision to break laws is left in the hands of individual participants, as necessitated for the preservation of their safety. So make sure you can hold your own. And if you haven’t paid your tickets from the last time around, you’d best be advised to stay indoors.

Registration is at Grime Bikes, 191 Henry St, New York, NY, from 12:30-2:30pm. After party, bands, and DJs to follow. More information here.

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