Well it seems as though fellow NY rider Senor BSNYC continues to set the blogdome/blogosphere discourse on riding the fixed gears and while in the past I have tried to tread different ground than my more esteemed and well read colleague (if that's a fair statement), yesterday's post on the Metal Race stirred up all sorts varied sentiments, both in myself and others. Having spent the time to sort through the comments to the post its seems that like a similar dredging of the east river might turn up some gems, it also turned up a ton of junk. However after sorting all that out, there remain a few salient points that deserve a bit more attention. The first of these is the state of alleycatting and the heavy derision it seems to fall under from various fronts. The first bit of criticism that gets lobbed at the alleycat is that it is so far denuded from its original purpose that it is starting to resemble the nth copy of Michael Keaton in Multiplicity. This may be true, certainly when the racing first began it was much closer to the courier community and had fewer interlopers and imitators than it does now. The original purpose of trying to find the best courier in a controlled environment seems to have faded into "racing" from point to point in an effort to exert semi-maximal effort, often while drinking and performing nonmessenger related activities. Well that's fine. If we'll still treat the alleycat as a truly competitive event, is it really that much differant than what happens to any form of competition as it's base grows and talent/skill/fitness start to stratify? Is the differance between a CMWC caliber of race any further distanced from a "Metal Race" than a Central Park Cat 5 race is from one the Classics? I would argue no. Does that make the participants in either ride ripe for ridicule? Clearly, if the event or riders seem to be losing perspective of where exactly it all fits together, then, yeah, sure rip on them but is that really what is happening here? Further to say that a fixed gear rider who alleycats doesn't know the meaning of what it is to ride through the pain is also disingenuine. If The Rider taught me anything, its that no one is really capable of suffering to the extant that we believe ourself to be capable of and for people that hang their hat on that fact, it will be ever thus.
I could go on but this is getting to the point of treatise on alleycatting and only furthering the sort of discourse that I hate, mainly the us v. them; black v. white. All that I'm really trying to say is that it would do the whole "community" (such that it is) to look for a little more "grey". Is an event like the "Metal Race" ripe for satire, of course. Is it approriate to then use that satire to further personal attacks on the culture of alleycatting, of course not. Ultimately mixing a little biking, with a little boozing, and a touch of face paint never really hurt any one.