In January 1994, I moved to Southern California in pursuit of the endless summer. I was searching specifically for the trails and roads I had seen featured in the countless cycling magazines I read. Little did I know, I was four years and 3,000 miles off. In 1998, I moved to Boston and blindly stumbled into a cycling hotbed.
I had been working in Boston for a little over a year when on a hot and humid summer day I came face-to-face with one of the few pinnacle events of my years in the bike industry. There have been a number of experiences that stood out from crazy customers, cool products, and epic schwag to monumental rides. But today was different, it was natural, not forced, I had just met head-on my first impromptu race.
In each micro-cycling community, there are different names for similar events. In the messenger community, it is called an alley cat, in the cyclocross world, it is known as bandit cross. But all are based on the same principal: Friends and co-riders show up at a designated point, line up behind a drawn line and wait for someone to yell “Go!”. The magic of this event is that there is a genuine love for the sport. There are no points awarded, no prizes, no team obligations. Just a desire to ride with your friends and kick each others’ asses.
This race was called the Bob Cat Crit, (BCC) named after a local cyclist. The word went out in the afternoon on this particular Saturday, and it spread like wildfire. The BCC was on…
The Bob Cat was a mountain bike course, but people arrived on everything from road bikes to cruisers. The race has a true “Run what you brung” attitude. After all, it was as much about the social aspect and drinking beer as it was about winning. The entire concept is similar to when professional skateboarders get together to session a ramp or park. The experience is more about encouraging your mates, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere, and being around a close group of fellow cyclists.
The race itself proved to be as exciting as any I have ever been to. There were battles for positions, crashes, and a podium that included the “dark horse” as well as the “sure thing”. But the magic of the BCC was not the race or the winners, it was about the passion and love that everyone felt for the sport. We stood in a dusty, overgrown lot adjacent to the train tracks, sweating, swatting mosquitoes, drinking beer, and talking about all things bikes. There was a mix of women and men, road and mountain. There were no categories, no points, and no pressure. It was truly an epic experience.