There was a bite in the air on the afternoon of April 1, but riders in the What Would Jesus Ride Alley Cat Race gripped their handlebars with white knuckles and pedaled against the wind, sweeping through the streets of Garden City.
Payette Brewing Company was packed to the brim with race gurus and newbies, all sporting hats, gloves and backpacks and waiting to be given their mission for the day. Race organizer Matthew Lewis handed bikers pens and instructed them to "sign their life away" before calling everyone out to the street.
The crowd laid their bikes down, which mostly consisted of aerodynamic-looking road bikes, although a few participants less concerned with speed sported cruisers. White balloons were distributed.
"Blow this up to the size of your head and then you'll get your manifest," Lewis instructed.
A flurry of bobbing balloons rushed toward him and racers anxiously opened the folded papers, read through the stops, looked up addresses on their smart phones and plotted courses. The Garden City street became a mini Tour de France as racers mounted their steeds and swished through alleyways toward their first destination. The wind caught the balloons, which the racers were required to return in order to claim the top prize, and the street went from high-speed bike track to children's birthday party.
Participants were required to make at least three "drink stops," where they purchased some sort of libation. Stops included Sockeye Brewery, Q's Bar and Grill, and the Navajo Room, along with spots where racers could punch their manifests with a hole-punch attached to a light pole.
After hitting all 10 spots (or throwing in the proverbial towel), racers returned to Payette Brewing, where beards were judged, winners and dead-last losers were announced, and Easter baskets filled with goodies were given out to racers clutching glasses of free Eight-Penny amber. Lewis handed out red sweatshirts with WWJR emblazoned on the front, and racers mingled while playing foosball and corn hole in the brewing company's game room.
Races occur periodically throughout the year. Visit the Drink Beer Ride Bikes website for more info.