On an overcast 70-degree day in mid-October, about forty thrill-seeking bike messengers and cyclists sped off on an unsanctioned bike race known as the alleycat, zig-zagging through traffic, running through red lights, and evading NYPD to compete for a hefty first place prize of $1,000 courtesy of the Coca-Cola Company, one of many sponsors. None of the competitors — mostly men on road and fixed gear bikes — knew where the 34-mile course would take them until the start of the race.

The La Marqueta Chase Alleycat started and finished at 116th and Park Avenue, celebrating the recent reopening of the marketplace under East Harlem’s Metro North railway tracks. The race “connected riders to a series of markets throughout the city, borough to borough,” said Diego Gerena-Quiñones, a messenger for Street Kings. Unlike other alleycats, the race didn’t require paper stamping at checkpoints. Instead, riders took selfies and posted them on Instagram with hashtag #LaMarquetaChase. Dominican Chris won the grueling race, finishing in just under 2.5 hours, followed by Mike and Austin Horse, according to co-organizer JC ‘Diablo’ Ramirez.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito was there to show support for her district and constituency. “It’s a way to play up the community,” she said. However, she admitted, “I don’t know what to expect.”

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(Video: Brendan McInerney, Aaron Sheer, Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)