Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bob Cat Crit

In January 1994, I moved to Southern California in pursuit of the endless summer. I was searching specifically for the trails and roads I had seen featured in the countless cycling magazines I read. Little did I know, I was four years and 3,000 miles off. In 1998, I moved to Boston and blindly stumbled into a cycling hotbed.

I had been working in Boston for a little over a year when on a hot and humid summer day I came face-to-face with one of the few pinnacle events of my years in the bike industry. There have been a number of experiences that stood out from crazy customers, cool products, and epic schwag to monumental rides. But today was different, it was natural, not forced, I had just met head-on my first impromptu race.

In each micro-cycling community, there are different names for similar events. In the messenger community, it is called an alley cat, in the cyclocross world, it is known as bandit cross. But all are based on the same principal: Friends and co-riders show up at a designated point, line up behind a drawn line and wait for someone to yell "Go!". The magic of this event is that there is a genuine love for the sport. There are no points awarded, no prizes, no team obligations. Just a desire to ride with your friends and kick each others' asses.

This race was called the Bob Cat Crit, (BCC) named after a local cyclist. The word went out in the afternoon on this particular Saturday, and it spread like wildfire. The BCC was on...

The Bob Cat was a mountain bike course, but people arrived on everything from road bikes to cruisers. The race has a true "Run what you brung" attitude. After all, it was as much about the social aspect and drinking beer as it was about winning. The entire concept is similar to when professional skateboarders get together to session a ramp or park. The experience is more about encouraging your mates, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere, and being around a close group of fellow cyclists.

The race itself proved to be as exciting as any I have ever been to. There were battles for positions, crashes, and a podium that included the "dark horse" as well as the "sure thing". But the magic of the BCC was not the race or the winners, it was about the passion and love that everyone felt for the sport. We stood in a dusty, overgrown lot adjacent to the train tracks, sweating, swatting mosquitoes, drinking beer, and talking about all things bikes. There was a mix of women and men, road and mountain. There were no categories, no points, and no pressure. It was truly an epic experience.


nikcee said...

our regular tuesday night fixed gear ride up here in vancouver, bc had been slowly flagging thanks to internal politics, apathy and a tendency for some attendees to just want to sit and drink which killed the ride planning.

last week my friend made the call mid-afternoon for an impromptu race. we all thre a checkpoint location in a hat and each of the volunteers picked one. 3 different locations spread through the city.

A friend called the start, and then we were off sprinting through traffic and down alleys.

We self-judged the winner (although each of the CPs were counting the riders to make sure no-one got hit/lost).

Two new faces, one race rookie and some local contenders... all battling for nothing but the experience and some bragging rights.

We spent the next hour after the race laughing about our different routes, adventures. Suddenly the ride made sense and many who missed it, have expressed dismay 'we had the race and they didnt come'.

Anonymous said...

We have these in Madison, WI. The last sunday of every month, regardless of weather. Twenty-Four Minutes of the Abandonded Building. It starts with a beer slam and ends with the first person across the line after 24minutes, regardless of how many laps were completed. It's easily the most enjoyable racing ever.

Matt said...

Oh my that looks like fun.

Anonymous said...

I understand completely - I left Boston for SoCal a year ago and have missed it ever since. I would trade the nice weather for New England's infinitely better racing & riding any day.

Radio Freddy said...

Nikcee - yes, these races are all about the experience. I remember the BCC more vividly than any other race. The BCC experience took place in the same year as the Donut Century. 10 laps of a 10 mile course, 4 donut shops in the 10 mile loop. One donut, each shop, each lap. 10 laps = 100 miles, 4 donuts per lap, 4 x 10 = 40 donuts. A true hardman event. Oh yeah, and it began at 12 AM and was ridden on 20" wheel bikes. I was only a spectator to the carnage which ensued. I was sick at the thought of the pain those riders endured.

Matt - Thanks for dropping by. I think this weekend is the weekend you organize your local BCC.

Anon - MA has one of the greatest bike scenes anywhere. If I could live in MA in the spring, summer and fall and retreat to CA in the winter I would have the perfect riding scenario. - RF

p-lip - No entry fees, no prize money. Ah the simplicity.