from Hideouswhitenoise #30,Winter 1996
by Sarah 'the' Hood
Alley-Catscratch Fever has spread to la belle province. On the finalFriday XIII of 1996 (a chilly December night), Montreal couriers hosteda bilingual Alley-Cat race that pitted some fifty couriers in a straightforwardcompetition of speed and navigation.
By van and plane, by bus and bike, racers arrived from Toronto, NewYork, San Francisco, Munich, and (reportedly) from Paris. They convergedon a food court at PVM (the cross-shaped tower Place Ville Marie), whereorganizers Fred and Vero passed out race routes with 13 checkpoints. Thesecreated a distinct home advantage, since all were routine delivery addresses.
For a local courier, the task should have been simple: complete oneof the two lists, check in at PVM, complete the second list, then racefor the finish. For the out-of-towners, it should have been impossible.But at the post-race party at Chaos on St-Denis, there were a few surprises.The fastest finisher, Jasmin from Montreal, was disqualified on a technicality.He interpreted the directions to a telephone booth as "across thestreet from" rather than "just outside" one of the buildings.So, despite arriving some two minutes ahead of the pack, he had to be contentwith an honourable mention.
Montreal's Raphael was the official top placer, but more surprises followed.Kevin X of Toronto came in second by piggybacking on a local guide, thenblasting ahead to the finish line. The top female racer was Montreal'sStephanie, who accepted her prize with a modest reminder that other strongwomen racers (like trapeze artist and CMWC veteran Ruby Rowat) were notpresent. "But you were here and you won!" was the comeback.
Meanwhile, Johnny from New York, who rode in from the US border witha group of other Americans, managed to achieve a traffic ticket for blowinga red light during the race. "Hey," he said to the cop, "I'min a race!" "Well", the officer replied, "It lookslike you're not going to win."
With race prizes, door prizes and free beer in abundance, a warm spritof camaraderie soon enveloped the Chaos crowd, and it didn't let up forthe rest of the weekend. Bar-hopping, sightseeing and bagel-chewing werethe order of the day, and many bottles of Fin du Monde ("End of theWorld") beer clanked their way to a new home in Toronto courier bagsthat Sunday night.
As for the broader implications, will this event mark the dawn of anew era in interprovincial relations, as Quebec couriers promise to arriveen masse for upcoming Toronto races? Is this the bicultural harmony envisionedby philosophers of the Canadian dream? Who knows - but, as the saying goes,"This looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
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