Like bicycles? Like non-traditional sexualities and genders? Come on down to Queer Bike Gang’s first-ever alleycat race on Saturday, starting at 2:30 from Minneapolis’ Sabathani Community Center.
The word “race” might be a bit of a misnomer, says Erika Grace Nelson, a QBG organizer. While typical alleycats can be dare-devil, fast-paced races from one checkpoint to the next, with the route revealed only minutes before the start of the race, the Cirque du SoGay is basically an urban, bike-born scavenger hunt. “Traditionally, the fastest person wins, but we’re not the most traditional group,” Nelson says. “Everyone should be prepared to win, whether you’re super fast or a slowpoke…there’ll be lots of style points. We don’t want anyone to get lost or anything and we want people to have a fun time.”
Nelson was coy about what would go on at each checkpoint, only saying that there would be some “silly activities” inspired by the Babes in Bikeland alleycat race.
If the “race” is a bit tongue-in-cheek, so is the name “Queer Bike Gang.” Nelson said she and others want to draw people in the community together around cycles, cycling, and social justice, in an environment that tries to shed what she called the “macho” attitude of other biker groups.
“Whether you’re a woman or gender non-conforming that can be pretty off-putting,” she tells us. “We didn’t want to cheat death constantly or be the fastest person on the block.”
There’s also a flip side, Nelson says. She and QBG hope to highlight bike shops, used parts suppliers, and other resources that can help people build and maintain a great bicycle on a very limited budget. “For some, bikes are a necessity rather than a luxury. Some of us can’t afford cars!”
Local sponsors of the alleycat include quite a laundry list of cycling-related or queer-related shops and people in Minneapolis:
Milwaukee Bicycle Co./Ben’s Cycle
bee listy (local artist)
Bikes on Dykes (local artist)
Kelly Brazil (local artist)