The alley cat is back. No, not that stray tabby that's been hanging around your garbage can, but one of the best ways to spend a night on a bike. The organizers behind the Don't Kill the Messenger alley cat race this past April have put together another event for the Madison bicycling community in November.
For those who don't know what an alley cat is, Miles Schumacher, a participant in the first race, describes it as "a mix between a bike race and a scavenger hunt. "Bikers dash from checkpoint to checkpoint, and complete challenges along the way.Don't Kill the Messenger 2 will feature a new format from the previous alley cat, and is dubbed "All Out Warfare." Last time, the focus was on an individual race, where riders were given a list of checkpoints and allowed to complete them in any order. This time around, the organizers have decided to break the race up into three unique sections, and put a greater emphasis on teams. Why was the format was changed? Race organizer and UW-Madison student Rachel Ruiz says, "We wanted to keep it interesting and fresh. Nobody wants to race the same race twice."
The first section, nicknamed "Warriors in Training," will have riders move as quickly as possible through unmanned checkpoints to pick up an object for points. The catch is that there will only be ten objects at each checkpoint.
The second section, the "Battle Royale," will see a new series of checkpoints open up between 8-10 p.m., with many having an interesting challenge to complete. Some of the checkpoints will even feature local celebrities. Mad Rollin' Dolls, anyone?
The third and final section, named the "Last Stand," will be an all-out sprint across town to the finishing line: Alchemy on Atwood Avenue.
There will also be several supply points during the race, where riders can pick up "secret documents" and "weapons" for extra points.
At the finish line, competitors can meet fellow bikers and view a special exhibit by Madison-based photographer Balthazar about women in biking. The exhibit will feature photos of female bike messengers, mechanics, and women who run local cycling efforts and businesses. Additionally, Alchemy is where prizes will be given out, including everything from bike lights and messenger bags to haircuts and gift certificates. The top prizes will be bike frames from Leader Bikes and Waterford Bikes, along with a customized Reload bag.
Don't Kill the Messenger 2 will be held on Saturday, November 20, starting at 7 p.m. in Burrows Park. Competitors can expect to travel pretty much anywhere in the greater isthmus and UW campus area, with out of the way locations like Picnic Point fair game. Those who have never done an alley cat are encouraged to attend as well, because while the competition is tough, everyone will be there to have a good time and promote biking. Participants in the alley cat will range from cycling veterans to casual bikers, with everyone finding something to enjoy.
For instance, Andrew Baader, a UW-Madison student, whose first alley cat was the Don't Kill the Messenger race in April, said that the best part was "all the crazy stuff you get to do at the checkpoints, such as chasing cows around, bobbing for fruit, and playing bike polo."
Interested competitors can sign up in the week prior to the event at Cafe Zoma on Atwood or the day of the event from 5:30-6:45 p.m. The entry fee is $8 if you race alone as a "warrior," or $6 per person if you race with your friends as an "army." Bikers should make sure to bring along lights, a helmet, duct tape, a mini pump, an extra tube, and a map of the area. However, the most important thing to remember is to dress as your favorite warrior, super-hero, or "badass," because not dressing up could lead to a serious reduction in points.
Volunteers are still needed for the event, and interested parties should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.