FROM FRINGE TO FRUITFUL-Local Race Series Makes Charity A Priority

Festive Ladies of Alley Cross Two

Festive Ladies of Alley Cross Two

We are not strangers to dressing silly and racing cyclocross bikes around these parts. But this year gave me (and teammate Remy) an opportunity to try a new type of cyclocross race and donate to charity all in the same day. ALLEY CROSS is a three race series that was created by local racer Daniel Carter in 2012 and has garnered enormous support from local sponsors this year.

Remy, Julie, Stephanie, Jericho & Mielle

Remy, Julie, Stephanie, Jericho & Mielle

Daniel and Justin post race

Daniel and Justin post race

Unlike most cyclocross races that take place at a known venue, Alley Cross combines the unsanctioned street racing found in Alley Cat races with laps on a mystery cyclocross course set up in various Portland parks. I was so inspired by the community giving aspect of Alley Cross  that I decided to check in with Daniel on how the Alley Cross series came to be. 

Go Pro video of  the Alley Cross 2  race by Paul Laak

http://vimeo.com/82521259

After breaking his ankle at the Kruger’s Crossing race Nov. 2012, Daniel missed the final cross races of the season but wasn’t ready for the season to be over. A lover of both Alley Cat races and cyclocross, he and his friend, Beer Mongers teammate Justin Bruaner, saw an opportunity to take advantage of the amazing local parks they used for training and transform them into a very temporary race course.

Daniel-left, Justin-center front-Volunteers Photo

Daniel-left, Justin-center front-Volunteers Photo

But there is so much more to it than that. When asked what the motivation behind starting this series was, Daniel said,  For me personally, I need to attach more meaning to the things I do than merely self improvement”.

As a Juvenile Custody Services Specialist at the Multnomah County Juvenile Detention Center in Portland, Daniel works with youth that are sometimes homeless and often from low-income, undereducated minority families struggling to get by. I see these issues every day, but many people are more or less oblivious, so this (Alley Cross) is a fun way to help this population and raise awareness.”

Of the six charities the Alley Cross series has donated to, only two were coordinated with before hand, including Outside In, the series finale’ charity on January 11th, 2014.  Daniel admits that he usually just shows up on the doorstep of the charity with food or clothing in hand, but future races will include much more of the charity’s involvement ahead of time. In a few years, the Alley Cross crew hopes to expand and be part of a bona fide Non-profit Organization.

Podium-Kristi 2nd, Mielle 1st, Heather 3rd

Podium-Kristi 2nd, Mielle 1st, Heather 3rd

For the race participants, there is a very long and impressive list of prizes donated by local companies and bike industry shops including Sellwood Cycle Repair, Bob’s Red Mill, Retroshift and Fort George Brewery.  

Piles of Donations

Piles of Donations

Peter Koonce/Team S&M picks his prize

Peter Koonce/Team S&M picks his prize

Race 1 –Cross Dress, asked for warm kids clothing(donated to Janus Youth Access Center and New Avenues for Youth in Portland) and offered amazing prizes for top 3 men, women and kids. A DFL award also given for the very last man, woman and child to cross the finish line. Everyone was encouraged to ‘cross dress’ but the ladies were the only ones daring enough to dabble in dude dress this year. I went as Erik Tonkin, owner of Sellwood Cycle Repair. But funny enough, Chris Brannen(Alley Cross Crew & Team S&M member) and I wore the same outfit.

Mielle giving dudes beard envy

Mielle giving dudes beard envy

Race started  and finished at Normandale Park on 52nd and NE Halsey. We were told moments before the start that our cross course was set up at Rose City Park on 62nd and Thompson. Get from park to park any route you want, then 4 laps on the cross course and race back to the start. 

Mielle on the Rose City Park stairs

Mielle on the Rose City Park stairs

Race 2-Alley Cross 2 asked for canned food items that would be donated to St Vincent DePaul.  Race started at Overlook Park across from Kaiser Permanente in North Portland and there were two mystery locations. We had to find a dog park on Willamette Blvd., hike-a-bike to the bottom of a steep, muddy trail to get a plastic egg containing the address of the cross course. We ended up racing through the streets back to North 7th and Fremont for a course set up in Irving Park, then back to Overlook for the finish. This was way more road racing than the first race. 

Remy at the Irving Park sand pit

Remy at the Irving Park sand pit

Wish List Items

Wish List Items

I asked Daniel how he determines if a race is successful. Every race is successful. Each event spreads the word to more bike shops, more racers, sponsors, volunteers and more bystanders just happening by. I guess the day nobody shows up to race is the day it’ll be unsuccessful.”

Race 3-Alley Cross 3 will take place at NOON on Saturday January 11th, 2014 at Creston Park in SE Portland and entry is 5 items off the Outside In wish listPost race party at Velo Cult 3-5pm. Check out the Alley Cross Three! Facebook page for info and photos from the events. 

Racers and Volunteers

Racers and Volunteers
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Team S&M + Panda- CRANKSGIVING 2013

 

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What IS Cranksgiving? A Panda, and pink tutu and a pimp hat = Cranksgiving! It is also a food drive wrapped in an Alley Cat style scavenger hunt on bicycles of all shapes and sizes. Plus costumes, because well, it’s Portland. What could be more Portland than that? Les Femmes de S&M teammates Jill and Beth F. joined me, along with Judd /Team S&M and Dave/Hammer Velo. We formed Team S&M + Panda.  The event started at Velo Cult bike shop (1949 NE 42nd), and was hosted by Laura Recker and Tom McTighe of PuddleCycle.com.

I SEE YOU!!! JUDD + GO PRO

I SEE YOU!!! JUDD + GO PRO

Here is the video Judd shot condensed into racing speed!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=te3B59VUz7I

THE MISSION: Sign your team waiver- get the manifest! Ride fast and collect all of the items and be back before the time cutoff. First one back wins a prize and most money spent wins a prize.  Since it’s a food drive, our stops consisted of various grocery stores around NE ,SE and NW Portland. 25 teams signed in with names like B-Line Crawlers and Tater Mashers

Pea Pod and Team Tater Masher

Pea Pod and Team Tater Masher

some in costume because a prize would be awarded to the best costumed team (TATER MASHERS won). RULES: You must keep all receipts as proof of purchase, and you have to get all of the items on the list.  Teams of 2-5 riders were required to have at least $10 per person to cover the shopping list.

TIME BONUS OFFERED: If anyone wanted a five-minute time bonus, you had to swap 1 member of your team with another team before the race started at 2 PM. Our team was too awesome to share.

JILL RIDES FAST IN A TUTU

JILL RIDES FAST IN A TUTU

Pre race beer for the Panda

Pre race beer for the Panda

The whole idea started back in New York in 1999 and this year over 25 cities participated. The charity of choice for the Portland version is Outside In, a youth oriented program and shelter for homeless and at-risk youth. They also help find transitional housing through Transition Projects.

With Judd’s Go Pro helmet camera running, we took off with the masses, first stop Fred Meyer just down the road. Dave, dressed in his Panda costume, took the first task. He went looking for quinoa with but overheard another team say they needed underwear from this location. Unable to find a price tag,  then stuck in the checkout line, we were almost the last team to leave stop 1.

Stop #1. Where's Dave?

Stop #1. Where’s Dave?

Beth took the lead as we left, barreling down backstreets until we got to Broadway and stop 2, Safeway on Weidler. I went in to get a can of cream of mushroom soup and cheated the long lines by paying at the deli. Straight shot down to the Broadway bridge, over the river into NW. Somewhere along the way Jill’s fluffy pink helmet cover took flight but we were not going back .

Beth and her SEXY hat

Where to next Beth?

Stop 3 –Food Front on NW Thurman. Cash hand off and Beth ran in to get beans. Short trip from Food Front to Western Bike Works on  NW 17th and Lovejoy where Judd collected our patch kit. At each stop we kept rubbing shoulders with other teams, not knowing how far ahead or behind we were.

Dave and Jill plotting our next move

Dave and Jill plotting our next move

Crossing back over the Broadway bridge, our gang raced to Stop 4- Peoples Co-Op on 21st off of SE Clinton. Judd ran into our teammate Christy, (out shopping with baby Mila Kate) who pointed him in the right direction for our bag of potatoes. Out front, I purchased a Street Roots newspaper for $1 (profits from paper sales provide homeless men and women with a regular income and housing assistance through Transition Projects). Telling the vendor we were doing a charity ride for Outside In gave him a big smile. “Their program helps me!”

We came upon another team heading to Safeway on 28th and Hawthorne. Feeling that surge of adrenaline (maybe it was just me), we sped past the single speeders and their cargo bike guy (carrying his 4 yr old daughter) on a small climb. 

Yeah, we beat these guys

Yeah, we beat these guys

They gave chase but we arrived at Safeway about the same time. Last stop was a short but treacherous sprint in traffic to New Seasons on 40th and Hawthorne Blvd where there are no bike lanes and a high chance of getting doored. Our singlespeeders were quicker at check-out once again!

JUDD AND MIELLE

JUDD AND MIELLE

I led the final chase to Velo Cult, back through the lovely neighborhoods of NE. Catching the singlespeed crew, I beat them back to the door of Velo Cult, slapping our manifest down with our envelope of receipts and the Street Roots newspaper to get our time logged.

Maria reads off the winners and totals

Maria reads off the winners and totals

A round of beers for the team and slices of pizza. Not the fastest team of the day, but our extra Street Roots $1.00 put us over the top for the most money spent, making Team S&M + Panda the winners! 98 riders participated, raising over $1500.00 in food donations for Outside InSpecial thanks to Sellwood Cycle Repair for your support!

Links to the organizations noted in this post are listed below

Big Hearts and Big Prizes
Big Hearts and Big Prizes

For more information about Outside In, Street Roots, Transition Projects or other events sponsored by puddlecycle.com, check out the links below.

http://www.outsidein.org/

http://www.tprojects.org/

http://streetroots.org/

http://puddlecycle.com/