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The Maastricht Diplomat

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"Hey man! Do you know what an Alleycat is?"

Alleycat Maastricht, bringing the Bike Messenger Community back

If you go around the city of Maastricht, riding your bike randomly, maybe someone will stop you and say: “Hey! Do you know what an Alleycat is?”. Your first impression would be ‘Uh…what?’, but if you ever hear the question, make sure to stop and talk with the person. Most likely, you’ll be meeting Andrea or Felix, going through the city with their beloved fixies, pockets full of bike tools, and always in a good mood. They are the two founders and organizers of Alleycat Maastricht, but in case you don’t encounter them, let me tell you a bit more about the concept of the Alleycat. 

An Alleycat is a race orientation within the city, a brief simulation of a bike messenger working day. In the beginning, every rider receives a list of addresses, which constitute the ‘Manifest’, checkpoints if you may. Then, during the race, you are free to create your own fastest route by combining all these checkpoints. If you go to their Instagram page @alleycat.maastricht, you can find all the information you need. At the end of the course, everyone gathers together, talks, and has a great time while enjoying warm soup and a variety of cakes. 

If you are not a fan of races, you may also find yourself joining only for these gatherings, eating cake while helping charity! See, when you participate in the race, you give a contribution (around 3 to 5 euros) while attending, which you can also do without participating actively. Since it does not take a lot of funds to organize the race in itself, the organizers have decided that the funds collected would be given to different causes. For the second race in November, the funds were distributed to the Foodbank, where participants also had the chance to gather and meet the great people who keep it alive. As for the most recent race in December where at the end of the race, everyone gathered at the Sustainability Hub in the park of Tapijn, and the profits went to Maastricht Goes to Calais. 

Andrea and Felix are both fervent lovers of bike races and participated in many throughout Europe in Italy, Belgium, Germany, and here, in the Netherlands. Having experienced several races, meeting and becoming part of the community, they’ve always liked the idea of bringing the ‘bike messengers community’ together, and to Maastricht. After realizing that it wasn’t hard to organize races in town, they decided to make more. Now, already three races have taken place in Maastricht on October 21st, November 19th, and most recently on December 3rd. 

But why not just organize a regular race then, with no checkpoints, and one path for everyone? The concept of the Alleycat is directly related to the ‘bike messenger community’, which was one of the reasons for bringing this ‘not-well-known’ concept of biking, to the city. It is also way more accessible and enjoyable for the participants because it truly feels like a treasure hunt that you do with your friends, exploring the city, and having fun together. Everyone can attend, whether you have a fixie or not, all ages, all genders, and all levels. 

The founders stay genuine in the idea of showing that the ‘bike messenger community’ is very much alive and present in Maastricht. They are thrilled to see people enjoying and learning about the process and will continue to organize such events in the future. Starting to have some visibility in the Dutch bike community, and being able to mobilize sponsors in the city, such as cafés or bike shops, constitute an achievement for them, for which they can be very proud. 

Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of bike racing, however seeing the love and sense of community you get from those races, I am now thinking about building my fixie. This idea of community and sharing is something that is very much present in those moments, especially when it comes to an end, and everyone gathers for chats, nice food, and comes out grateful for this shared moment. 

Now, all you have to do is wait patiently for the next race to take place in the city. Prepare your bikes, and get ready to enjoy and spend a heartwarming moment with beautiful and passionate people. You won’t be sorry. 


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