Bonfires, Bikes, Open City Course…’Fan Van’ Alleycat in MPLS

A bike ride in the city, a swim to a floating dock, a stop overlooking a waterfall… these were among the objectives last night in the “Fan Van Alleycat,” an event GearJunkie organized with SmartWool in Minneapolis as a part of the company’s Fan Van Tour.

The Fan Van Tour is a two-week road trip where SmartWool employee Jeff Snow is piloting a sock-filled van around the U.S. in search of adventure and fun.

Snow, the GearJunkie staff, and around 60 racers met up at GearJunkie headquarters at 7pm. The pack took off together for a group ride to retailer Midwest Mountaineering and then the official race began.

Racers gather at the start/finish area (GearJunkie office patio)

The start included a sprint inside Midwest, where each racer needed to grab a pair of free SmartWool socks. They ran out the back door to find their bikes.

For two hours riders navigated the city in search of clues. They followed instructions on a manifest sheet and completed tasks ranging from a beach swim to the identification of hot sauce brands in a local restaurant.

SmartWool van parked at GearJunkie headquarters in Minneapolis

The course was choose-your-own-adventure style. Racers pedaled for 20 or so miles to tag checkpoints and find clues. Giant baseball cards, “mysterious green bins,” a lifeguard chair, and other oddities were found along the course.

The race ended at the GJ office, where our patio sits on Minneapolis’ famous Greenway bike path. A bon fire, beer, pizza, and prizes for the top finishers ensued. The party went on a few hours into the night… not a bad way to spend a Monday evening in July.

—Stephen Regenold

And they’re off!

On the hunt for checkpoints in the city

Fixie at the falls

Hot sauce challenge!

Riders had to swim out and dive off a dock to complete one of the checkpoints on the course

Youngest rider on the course. Love the GearJunkie/WEDALI team kit!

The manifest/cluesheet for race

Diversion at the start area

Panoramic view of GJ patio

Winners! Gear prizes for top 5 finishers

After party into the night!

—The Fan Van Tour continues west this week to adventures in Montana and beyond. Monitor SmartWool’s Facebook page for details on events coming to your area.

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Stephen Regenold is Founder and Editor-In-Chief of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for nearly two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of four small kids, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.