This Saturday the Theodore Donald Karabotsos Memorial Alleycat race will start at The Hub Community Bicycle Shop on State Street. This is the second Bellingham Alleycat, the first, entitled Broken Heart Alley Cat, was held just after Valentine's Day.
This semi-mysterious, anonymously organized bike race will have participants speeding all over the city to complete odd tests of skill. Tests will include throwing a wiffle ball through the black sculpture in Red Square, or recalling trivia such as remembering the middle names of obscure Bellingham patriarchs, said one of the facilitators, who will remain anonymous, and will be provided with pseudonyms for the purpose of this article.
“[We wish to] remain semi-anonymous and maintain our quasi-status as rogue elements emerging from the seedy underbelly of the cycling community to infiltrate and undermine the machine,” Kyle, a facilitator, said.
The three anonymous facilitators have all been involved in the cycling community, Kyle said. Some have previously been bike messengers and learned of Alleycat's through being involved in the cycling community.
For those of you who have never heard of an alleycat race, the first was allegedly held in 1989 in Toronto and was originally organized by bike messengers as a community event focusing on participation, Ted, another facilitator, said. Participants come in many different styles, from the competitive and physically grueling to the fun and interactive, Ted said. Now there are world championship competitions to see who the most skilled bike messenger is.
“We recognized a niche in our local cycling community that hadn't been filled and thought that people would enjoy a more laid back, less structured event than your typical bike race,” said Kyle. “The type of Alleycat we are organizing is very inclusive. We just want to get people on their bikes and to explore the city.”
This event is strictly for fun, with prizes for those who claim the most points coupled with the best time and a prize given out for the biker that comes in last.
“The first people to return may not necessarily be the overall winners, but the last person back will definitely be last place. So the question is, do you try to go for the win or the DFL (the Dead Fucking Last award)?” Ted said.
The event is named for Donny, (or Steve Buscemi), the often silent sidekick to The Dude and Walter in the film, “The Big Lebowski.” This bicycle race will feature a scavenger hunt to find items related to the movie. They chose this movie as their theme because Donny doesn't get any respect. They wanted this event to be for the little guy, the third facilitator, Bob said.
At the Broken Heart Alleycat they had a “strangest find” category which lead to participants carting back an odd conglomeration of junk including a vintage smut magazine, a 40 pound fireplace and squirt guns in the shape of penises, Bob said.
Participant and Western student Chaz Eberle plans on riding his 80s era Fuji in the event, a bicycle he fixed up himself.
“It's a good excuse to ride bikes around Bellingham,” Eberle said. He's participating mainly just to meet and ride with other members of the bike community.
The event is $5 and participants will meet Saturday at The Hub, 903 ½ State Street. Sign in is at 3 p.m. and the event will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Participants should bring $5 for entry, some additional cash, a bike lock and a bag. The facilitators also recommend that participants watch The Big Lebowski if they haven't already.
“All in all, it's a good time, gets people on their bikes,” Bob said. “[It] helps local business by sending them 100 people running through their store looking for enchilada sauce and it's a great spectacle to watch if you happen to be one of the folks standing in said grocery store asking yourself, ‘What the hell are these people doing?'”