What makes alleycats special is they are a bigger representation of what it’s like to ride a track bike in the moment. You have a general direction, forward, but so much depends on your ability to read and react and make split-second decisions deciding your fate or in this case the order you finish in. Riders zig-zagged across the downtown grid in search of San Jose legends; Babe the Muffler Man, Dollar Dan, Stephen’s’ Dancing Pig, the Neon Theater in Willow Glen, the elusive OSH Arrow and a final adult toys sign down San Carlos that asks the simple question “why not?”.
As our city landscape changes, we have these landmarks to remind us of who we are and where we came from. Orchard Supply Hardware went out of business not too long ago, but it’s enduring green and red neon reminds us that this valley was once covered in beautiful orchards. The park we gather at weekly for rides is itself a landmark named after a hometown hero that stood for farmworkers’ rights. Even though we are in the middle of a pandemic the Garden theater sign recalls a time when families would gather at the cinema when Willow Glen was not a part of San Jose and a thriving community on its own. Even the Y NOT sign takes us back to when the Bascom Avenue area was also booming and had a night life all of its own. Take the time to appreciate these signs and you will appreciate a little bit more the part that you have to play in San Jose’s history. If you want to live here, have your kids grow here it’s important to have a bit of perspective. Western Appliance, Stephen’s Meats, Dollar Dan … all businesses that have faded but their influence is remembered. You’ll be thankful for how far we’ve come and remember that those that pioneered this area were creative, innovative and making big moves in the world. A trend that would pave the way for San Jose becoming the capital of Silicon Valley. I thought it’d be a great idea for a theme for this race. It brought riders 15 yrs old to 50 yrs young out to have some fun on a Thursday night.
The sun began its journey west as riders arrived at the Chavez Park registration table. In the distance skaters and FGFS kids were ripping the plaza. The usual pre-game beer banter and track bikes spinning Fish ‘n’ Chips over the fountainheads made this meetup all too familiar. Yet today would be different. It was fitting that as competitors arrived the lights began to flicker and wake up signaling that nightfall was near. It set the scene for this high adrenaline tour showcasing a few of San Jose’s most historical signs. It’s showtime. The 6 stop manifests were handed out around 6:30 giving the 27 riders a blink of a moment to strategize their route plans.
When I put these stops together I wanted to make sure it could be completed in 90 mins. I didn’t imagine it would end victoriously for one rider in 36. Even though it was a short race, so much happens in the span of an hour that we end up trading tales over beers in the next months of routing mishaps, close encounters with automobiles, inevitable mechanical malfunctions. It’s my favorite part. That feeling of “we did it”, but also curious to know “how” it was done. It’s the time spent unraveling each riders story and how they make the leaderboard come alive.
Quincy took the top spot coming in a whole 2 minutes before the next rider displaying that he not only had the legs but the golden route to get it done on his own. Coming in hot in a pink kit at number two (and cursing one routing mistake that probably cost him the race) was an SJF OG Maurice who made the trip down from SF. He still got it. Ray aka “papifixed” zoomed in at number 3 finally silencing the haters. This young buck is indeed fast when it matters most. Johnny and Kevin, a dynamic duo were seconds behind in tow taking 4 and 5. I love that these dudes don’t always make it to TNRs but definitely put in the weekend work on the track bikes to take 2 spots in the top 5. The rest of the field would trickle in over the next few minutes but the top 5 definitely plenty in the tank to finish this zig zag sprint in quick time, some barely breaking a sweat!
The prize haul was composed of some very special pins from the Preservation Action Council of San Jose and some unique San Jose neighborhood stickers by DJ TooTall. Other prizes were from San Jose shops Bicycle Express, San Jose Bicycles, Phil Wood and Co. and restaurant Park Station Hashery, that offered 15% discount to all riders and volunteers. What can we say? We love our town. Other prizes included some dope shirts and cycling caps from DELUXE Cycles.
A big thank you goes out to our volunteers: Brandon, Eli and Charise, Albert, Devon, Natalia, Jesus, Bong, Drew, Joe P., Peter and Abe. Without your help, these events wouldn’t be possible.
A huge thank you goes out to our sponsors San Jose Bicycles, Park Station Hashery, DELUXE Cycles, Bicycle Express.
To our photographers Dan Salcedo and @fweago_photo for capturing this event on film, Thank YOU.
The photos are being hosted at the following link. https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1fNchsTnpDLnERZDYu23DFu2hMhE881wG
If you use a photo you MUST give photo credit and tag to our photographers.
Thank you again for supporting SJF events and helping to build a healthy bike community in San Jose.