No braking for alleycats

for The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

DUMBO’s quaint cobblestone streets will be taken over next Saturday by thrill-seeking bike messengers in a renegade “alleycat” race.

At 2 pm, 50–100 young men, a few women, fewer helmets and plenty of tattoos will speed away from the starting line near the corner of Plymouth and Washington streets.

City officials rarely intervene since “alleycat” details are kept secret until the day of the race, riders determine their own routes and the unsanctioned events are publicized through fliers, MySpace and word of mouth.

But that could change, if the riders’ attitudes are any indication.

“Normally, I’m pretty sane, but when I do this, I go completely nuts.” said 26-year-old Miguel Reyes.

With few rules, winning depends on speed, strategy and, most important, fearlessness.

These days, Austin Horse, 25, may be the reigning madman, recently winning the “Rumble Through the Bronx” race.

The DUMBO alleycat is one of Horse’s favorites because of its hills and rugged terrain. Last year, some riders avoided the cobblestone in favor of dodging pedestrians on the sidewalks, but Horse toughed it out: “I got a flat tire right at the beginning, so I rode the whole race on a flat and still won it.”

Riders push the boundaries of traffic laws, but local authorities have not done much to challenge the races.

“If it’s just 50 or so people riding bikes through the neighborhood, I don’t really see a problem,” said Tucker Reed, executive director of the DUMBO Improvement District.

While messengers’ disdain for lane constraints and traffic signals may seem hazardous, riders often insist that they have a sixth sense for timing and, in turn, blame accidents on cabbies and bad drivers.

Reyes said he gave up messengering after having nightmares of being hit by buses. But he still races to get his fix.

“You could lose your life, be paralyzed, mangled or lose a limb,” he said. Then he added with a smile: “It’s all about how much you’re willing to risk.”

The DUMBO Alleycat race is on Saturday, July 21. Visit for information.

Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reasonable discourse

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: