Good Friday was a good day to be a lady on two wheels in Melbourne this year, with more than 50 chicks hitting the streets for the Velo Pour Femme – an all female alley cat organised by Sasha from Pony Bikes. It’s the second time the event has been run and the turnout was monumental, with more than 50 women turning up to ride. As the sun set the crowds rolled in to the Pony Bikes shop in West Melbourne. Many of the riders (including myself) had never ridden an alley cat before and had no idea what to expect.
The theory behind an alley cat is simple – ride to a number of specific checkpoints, taking any route you prefer, the person who does it in the least amount of time wins. The events started with the bike courier crew in the late eighties, and aimed to mimic what a courier does in a regular day, but with lots more fun and beer.
An awesomely large number of guys had volunteered to man the checkpoints, and Sasha gathered them round to brief them and send them off to their stations. The mood amongst the ladies was nervous but excited, more convivial than competitive. As the guys rode off in different directions it was our turn to be briefed by Sasha and collect our spoke cards which detailed the addresses of the checkpoints. Groups of riders has quick conversations about which checkpoints they should visit first before Sasha casually announced that the riders could get on their way.
I took my camera with me, and had every intention to snap pictures of the ladies dashing through the streets, but I hadn’t anticipated being swept away by the desire to race. I rode the entire way with Claire and Jessie, who also play bike polo, and Cat who I had just met that night. As a group we tested the limits of our speed and our knowledge of the city’s streets. Seeing their lights flashing brightly as they rode along with me was an exhilarating experience.
What ensued was a wild and exciting dash through a cold and windy night. Despite the cold it wasn’t long before I regretted the warmth of my jeans and started thinking about whether it would be appropriate for me to strip down to my crop top. Having a goal and great company made it so much easier to push myself and my bike as fast as we could go.
Adrenalin was still pumping through my system long after we had rolled back to Pony Bikes and cracked open a beer, and I could tell the other girls felt the same.
Congratulations to Megan, Sim and Melodee who took out the top spots, and massive thanks go to Sasha from Pony Bikes, the boys who manned the checkpoints, and all the amazing sponsors: Night Brigade, Jetnikoff Bicycle Co, Nth Yoga, Lord of the Fries, Patebury, Rapha, Itchy, Bago Studio and Treadlie.