Alleycat Bike Racing: Talk the Talk

With the number of urban cyclists surging, more and more riders are taking part in alleycats, informal races inspired by the routines of working bike messengers. Here’s what you need to know before taking your steed to the starting line

alleycat racing illegal guide

    Photo: Courtesy of All City

Manifest: A paper cluesheet with addresses or directions to the race’s mandatory checkpoints. Racers obtain stamps (at manned checkpoints) or write in clues at unmanned fill-in-the-blank) stops. (Example: "Name the politician referenced on the statue at 34th St. & Vine”.)

Stamp: Inked stamp or signed initials on a race manifest from an event volunteer. Obtained at checkpoints to prove you were there.

Spoke Card: Your race number. Often a laminated index-size card with race logo and "bib" number for event. Placed in wheels spokes before race.

Checkpoint/Stop: Often a city landmark, sign, plaque, or (in the case of manned races) a person sitting inside a restaurant or bar with a stamp or pen. Most alleycats have 10-plus checkpoint stops that racers are required to find before riding to the finish.

Skitching: Grabbing a moving vehicle while riding for a tow. Common with some experienced couriers, but illegal and not recommended.

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