November 1st. Friday night. One night after All Hallows’ Eve. Trickers, mashers, road freaks, and dirty MTBers donned their biking costumes for one last chance to trick-or-treat on the blackened backroads, small sois, and city streets of Hua Hin. Rather than repeating the date of last year’s event, the organizer’s of the 2013 Hua Hin Alleycat decided to pay homage to alleycat tradition by choosing a date as close to Halloween night as possible – thus invoking the full favor, or wrath of the underworld’s biking spirits.
Excerpt from Wikipedia – “The first race to be called an ‘alleycat’ was held in Toronto on 30 October 1989 and continued, in its original form, around Halloween and Valentine’s Day for the following five years.”
Hauntingly familiar to the inaugural race, the 2013 Hua Hin Alleycat began at the Pone Kingpetch public park at the witching hour of 9pm. Riders were challenged to navigate their way through Friday night traffic to locate five checkpoints placed throughout the city. At these checkpoints racers were required to have their individually numbered ‘spoke card’ stamped by volunteers to prove they had visited the spot. New to this year’s race was the addition of two ‘task checkpoints’ that tested each competitor to complete a fun, but time-consuming errand before being allowed to progress to any remaining checkpoints or the finish line location. In an alleycat race riders are free to visit the different checkpoints in any order they wish, but it is a tricky combination of riding skills, local road knowledge, and quick performance at task checkpoints that ensure the best treats at the finish line.
Alleycat rules about checkpoints can vary, but most follow these basic guidelines:
- Checkpoints – The first checkpoint is given at the start of the race, and on arrival the next checkpoint is revealed to the racer. These work in much the same way a messenger would be assigned deliveries over the course of a day. The route to a checkpoint is left up to the rider and showcases a messenger’s knowledge of the area.
- Task checkpoints – In some races upon arriving at a checkpoint the rider may have to perform a task or trick before being given the next location. This allows organizers to be as creative as they desire. Task checkpoints can involve physical tasks, such as climbing stairs, taking a shot of alcohol or hot sauce, performing a skillful trick, or can test the racer’s mind, such as reciting trivia or messenger-related knowledge. Often there is not a task at all of the checkpoints in a race and tasks/checkpoints can sometimes be skipped (potentially at a loss of points) if a rider feels that time to complete a task is not worth the points they would earn.
- Checkpoints up front – A common format is for organizers to give the checkpoints/manifest 5–30 minutes before the start of the race. This allows the rider to choose the best route between stops.
- Point collection – Some races use a scavenger hunt style race where each stop is worth a certain number of points. These are often races of the Checkpoints Up Front variety and a rider may decide to not stop at some checkpoints valuing an earlier completion time over the points a particular stop may earn them.
The Hua Hin Alleycat lets participants know about checkpoints up front, and hints at what will be required at task checkpoints through notifications and updates on the Hua Hin Alleycat FaceBook group page. Prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place riders, as well as winners of the lucky draw competitions were given out in an informal awards ceremony at TK Roadhouse in Khao Takiap, where food and drinks were provided. BicycleThailand.com would like to personally thank the following for their support and sponsorship of the 2013 Hua Hin Alleycat Race.
Prize sponsorship & checkpoint location support:
Bike Zone (1st place prize – MARIN Dominican messenger bike)
K-Trade International (2nd place prize – ORTLIEB Airflex-11 portage bag)
Hua Hin Bike Tours (3rd place prize – COLUMBIA brand sportswear + Checkpoint #3)
Madee Bang Tattoo Hua Hin (Free Tattoo for Lucky Draw winner + Checkpoint #4)
Ye Olde Buffalo Tavern (Free Sunday roast dinner vouchers for winners of Lucky Draw)
L.P.R. Hua Hin (Checkpoint #1)
Di-Mach Wheel Works & TK Roadhouse (Finish line party location)
YourThaiGuide.com (Checkpoint #2)
Rubber Knife Productions
Mighty Mutts Productions (Video Editing & Production)
Webster University Video Production Club (Photographs & Video Production)
Future editions of the Hua Hin Alleycat are planned. Keep up to date on great cycling events in Thailand by periodically checking the events calendar at BicycleThailand.com/events.
Riders who participate in Hua Hin Alleycat races have their individually numbered and checkpoint-marked spoke cards to commemorate each event. BicycleThailand.com has a limited supply of 2012 and 2013 Hua Hin Alleycat spoke cards and is currently offering each card in exchange for a small donation of 500THB ($15USD) that will go towards the purchase of bicycles for underprivileged children in Thailand. If you’d like to make a donation in exchange for one or more of these spoke cards please contact BicycleThailand.com at Info@BicycleThailand.com with the subject line – ‘Spoke Card’