Following the launch of the first of our ‘Funked Up Heroes’ videos, we wanted to take a closer look at the life of Dublin’s bike messengers; a work hard – play hard group of dedicated urban cyclists who are the invisible lifeblood of the city. Overworked, underpaid and generally looked upon with disdain, they live to ride and take great pride in their profession. But, there’s more than meets the eye with this subculture so it’s worth taking a closer look at who they are and what they do..
Alleycat races as we know them today have been running since the mid-1980’s, when bike messengers in Toronto were organising after-work races that mimicked the working day, picking up and dropping off packages at various locations around the city. In 1989, the annual Toronto Halloween race was called the ‘Alleycat Scramble’ which led to the coining of the word ‘alleycat’ to describe these races.
It’s an oft-told story that fixed gear riding among bike messengers began with an influx of Jamaicans at some point in the 1970’s to San Francisco or New York (depending on who’s telling the story). So impoverished were these immigrants that they couldn’t afford geared bikes and got jobs as messengers riding single-gear fixed wheel bicycles. Thus began a trend which took 30 years or so to reach critical mass and be firmly accepted into mainstream culture.