Binghamton University students, alumni and local residents bundled and geared up for a city-wide bicycle race.
Starting at Confluence Park and ending at the top of the parking garage next to Boscov’s, 13 participants biked across Binghamton Saturday afternoon. The 11-mile race, which stretched from the Downtown area to the West Side and Conklin Avenue, was filled with checkpoint stops equipped with challenges that bikers had to complete before moving on.
“It’s different than a typical race where you have a start and then a finish,” said Michael Jennings, a junior majoring in environmental studies, who both organized the event and participated in the race. “There’s not set course from point A to B — you have to get from point A to B to C and et cetera.”
Shams Harper, a junior majoring in anthropology and an organizer for the event, said the race is all about having fun and exploring the city.
“Binghamton is a really beautiful city and biking is a great way to experience that and feel that you are a part of the city,” Harper said.
This was the second annual Binghamton Alley Cat Race, Harper said. The course had seven checkpoint challenges in all, which included performing burpees, solving algebra and writing a love letter to the volunteers. At each station, a designated volunteer officiated the challenge to the bikers.
The bikers were not allowed to continue the race without succeeding in the challenges, and Harper said he tried to include a whole range of challenges to fully test the bikers.
“We try to do something that involves mind, body and soul,” Harper said. “So it’s not just about just racing and the person with the biggest legs wins.”
Jeffrey Lord, a 2012 BU alumnus, said he came back to Binghamton for the race because it was interesting, testing skills beyond physical prowess.
“It’s fun to do a race that’s not just pure brawn, you got to be a little creative,” Lord said. “That’s always really amusing when you hit a checkpoint and think ‘this will be easy’ then you’re like ‘wait, what the hell am I supposed to do?’”
According to Lord, his favorite checkpoint was the love letter station.
“I just drew a big heart and it said ‘you’re beautiful’ in the middle of it because I suck at poetry,” Lord said. “But it still was a lot of fun.”
According to Harper, he and his friends only worked on planning the race for a couple days beforehand, but were very impressed with the turnout, saying it was the biggest to date. They had advertised through social media and the BU Bike Share.
Although the turnout was more than Harper expected, he said he was disappointed by the lack of female bikers participating. Next year he said plans to get the word out to attract a more diverse group of participants.
The winner of the race was alumnus Jordan Finkelstein, a 2013 BU graduate. According to Finkelstein, the hardest part for him was at the end where he had to bike up Boscovs’ parking garage. After his victory at the top of the parking garage, a golden bicycle gear crank tied with rubber was placed around his neck at an informal awards ceremony.
“I came out for the race and got my butt kicked by the weather and the route,” Finkelstein said. “But it feels nice being a winner.”