Attention, alleycats: bike race is Saturday

The Giro d'Tampa is an informal, somewhat incognito cycling race and scavenger hunt.

By SUSAN THURSTON, Times Correspondent
Published January 11, 2008

The flier is simple and to the point. There's no contact number, no Web site for more information. Just some basic instructions:

Meet at Four Green Fields in downtown Tampa. Wear a helmet. Do not get run over. (Tampa drivers enjoy hitting cyclists.)

The notice advertises Tampa's first "alleycat" race, an informal, and somewhat incognito bike race/scavenger hunt through South Tampa, downtown and Ybor City on Saturday.

Organizers want cyclists who can slither, leap and scamper around Tampa like cats.

Often organized by bicycle messengers, alleycat races take place in big cities worldwide. Participants race around finding checkpoints, performing tasks and dodging traffic. Riders pick their own routes based on their knowledge of the area.

The races are loosely organized and not sanctioned by any group. Bikers ride at their own risk.

"It's almost like a rave," said Joel Gormon, an avid cyclist who works at Flying Fish Bikes in South Tampa. "You find out what to expect when you get there."

Tampa's race, Giro d'Tampa, will cover 25 miles. Each contestant will earn points for reaching checkpoints and performing tasks, which won't be released until race day. Typical tasks range from shooting basketballs to chugging shooters. Participants wedge a specially designed race card through the spokes of their back wheel.

Awards will go to the fastest finisher, the best trick and even the best crash. Area bicycling shops have donated prizes.

"If you're going to break your arm, you might as well get an award for it," said cyclist B.C. Councill, who plans to compete.

The event is expected to draw about 100 people. Anyone can participate, though knowledge of the city and cycling skills are a plus.

Riders compete against each other and urban obstacles, which in Tampa include a river, abruptly ending sidewalks and bike-unfriendly drivers.


Here, kitty

The Giro d'Tampa alleycat race is Saturday, starting at Four Green Fields, 205 W Platt St. Meet at 3 p.m.; race starts at 4 p.m. Bring a messenger bag or backpack. Look for a recap of the event on Adam Newman's Spoke-N-Word blog, blogs.tampabay.com/biking.