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Spin cycle

Bike enthusiasts gear up for the Alley Cat Scramble, a scavenger hunt on wheels. Karen Aagaard clicks in.

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What does a feral cat have to do with a bike race? Just ask IDEALBIKES’ manager, Roger Nelson; he’ll tell you it’s all in the name.

Nelson is helping to organize the first Alley Cat Scramble that Halifax has seen in over five years.

“Basically,” says Nelson, “the Alley Cat Scramble is a cycling event that originated in the underground, in places like New York and San Francisco, with bike couriers. Traditionally, it’s a check-point race, designed by couriers for couriers.”

The Alley Cat Scramble that takes place on December 16, however, is open to “anyone who has a bike.” Nelson expects the event to attract cyclists of all ages and abilities, BMX riders, and, of course, local bike couriers.

“It’ll work like a scavenger hunt,” says Nelson of this Friday’s race. “The racers will have tasks to complete at each check-point—like counting the number of stairs at city hall, or doing 10 jumping jacks. And it’s not really about speed, it’s about how many check-points you can complete”

Aside from the thrill of terrorizing motorists and pedestrians—and the thrill from racing itself—participants who visit the most checkpoints will also win prizes. But racers who arrive empty-handed will likely leave empty-handed.

“There’s a $5 registration fee,” explains Nelson. “And the money that we receive, once we’ve covered our costs, will go to TRAX, a bicycle advocacy group we’re supporting. We should be able to give them at least a few hundred bucks.”

Racers are also asked to bring an item of non-perishable food when they register at IDEALBIKES. The items collected by the Barrington Street bike shop will be donated to Feed Nova Scotia.

Although this is the first time IDEALBIKES has hosted an Alley Cat Scramble, Nelson appears to have everything under control. And he isn’t worried about the one thing he can’t control—the weather.

“Rain, snow or shine,” says Nelson, “we’ll still go. We’ve got a hardy bunch of cyclists. We’ll race no matter what Mother Nature throws at us.”

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