Christoph Krammer talks big races in small spaces

 

Christoph posing with his bike in front of Handlebar where the House-Cat will be hosted on Sunday, August 10. 

Interview by Alex Chronopoulos

Photos by Alex Chronopoulos and courtesy of Muchar

Meet Christoph Krammer. Originally from Austria, he's been here for two years and has been planning the first North American House-Cat - essentially an indoor bicycle race in a small space. What do cats have to do with cycling? you may ask. Well, literally, nothing. The House-Cat takes cues from the notorious Alley-Cat races, which flood city streets around the world annually.

Toronto's House-Cat will take place on August 10 at Handlebar in the afternoon. There is a maximum of 40 racers allowed and pre-registration is required with a fee of $10. Registration will be open until August 9 (the day before the race), but we’ll allow riders to drop in the day of, pay the $10 admission fee, and race, if 40 racers haven't pre-registered.

Those wishing to register should send an email to muchar@gmx.net.

dandyhorse sat down with Christoph to learn more about the upcoming House-Cat and just how it's going to work.

Where did the name, House-Cat, come from?

A lady named Emi from London contacted us after seeing our video at the Bicycle Film Festival and suggested the the name after the term “Alley-Cat”, which are unsanctioned bike races typically organized by bike messengers. Since we were hosting them inside apartments, it made sense to combine the term "house", since we were racing in people’s homes, with "cat" coming from "alley-cat." Originally we were going to call them “Muchar Apartment Cycling”, but that wasn’t as catchy.

How did you initiate these races in Austria? How long have they been going on for?

I co-founded the organization, Muchar with my friend and roommate, Bernhard "BurnHard" Kober, in 2010. We act as the governing body of these races around Austria. The name came from the street our apartment was on, where we had the first House-Cat.

Action shot from the May 2013 House-Cat in Austria. From Muchar's Flickr page

How popular are they in Europe?

The concept of the House-Cat is to race in a small space, like a private apartment, bar or a small gallery. So, it’s hard to find someone willing to let us use his or her space for this reason. So far, they’ve remained concentrated in Austria specifically in Vienna, Graz and around the province of Styria.

How did you become involved with Africycle, PEDALBELT and Switchback Cyclery to bring the first North American House-Cat here?

I have a good friend at Africycle who was willing to sponsor us. PEDALBELT and Switchback Cyclery I just asked. I was actually buying something from PEDALBELT and dropped the question and they agreed. We got Switchback through a friend of ours, Alex, who runs the Island Sprint, which is a bicycle race from Ward’s Island to Hanlan’s Point.

 

Christoph posing outside of Handlebar.

What are your expectations for the race on August 10?

I hope it goes well! And that no one gets hurt or anything gets damaged. We can accommodate up to 40 riders and so far we have 23 registered, so hopefully we can get at least 25. These races are done every month in Austria, so we have 10-12 of them per year. Hopefully this can become an annual thing here in Toronto or in North America in general.

What is the structure of the race?

We’re going to remove all of the furniture from inside Handlebar to make it as open as possible, as well as open the back patio and make use of the parking lot. Then, participants will go one at a time and do as many laps as they can in two minutes. We’ll narrow it down to the top three who will all get prizes. We have Africycle jerseys, PEDALBELT straps and handlebar tape among other things.

From the October 2012 House-Cat inside an Austrian restaurant. 

Registration will be open until August 9 (the day before the race), but if we don’t get 40 pre-registered participants, we’ll allow riders to drop in the day of, pay the $10 admission fee, and race.

Those wishing to register should send an email to muchar@gmx.net.

Come out to Handlebar on the afternoon of August 10 to be a part of history. Christoph and his team hope the first North American House-Cat will be great fun and the beginning of a long-standing tradition!

"There are no limits to what can be accomplished by people who love bicycles and enjoy the thrill of racing them, even if neither the bikes nor the track were built for it." From Boneshaker, issue 8.

Related on the dandyBLOG:

Bike Spotting on Augusta: What is your favorite part of summer biking in Kensington?

Come join the first North American House-Cat!

Flashback Friday: Race at the CNE

dandyARCHIVE: 2008 CMWC in Toronto

Flashback Friday: Bicycle race at the Scarborough velodrome

Steve Carty talks bikes and art for upcoming NXNE

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