Just dont call me Jan.
Monstertrack is a scary race. Last year, I ended up in hospital.
This year, a $1000 cash prize was the drawcard, so I knew a lot of people had their hopes on winning, but realistically, only a handful of cats stood in my way.
Seven years ago, a guy called ‘Snake’ started the race for his birthday party. He designed a flat out, no BS course, with a level playing field – only trackbikes. 148 trackbikes this year. A handful more than last.
If youve not seen what 150 bikes in a race looks like, ride the ‘Hell Ride’ from the back. Now, throw in traffic, pedestrians, red lights, its plain madness. Even madder was the course design.
The start was was uptown in Harlem at 125th and 5th Avenue, in a park, on top of a hill, which had a huge spiral staircase leading to the street where racers had to LOCK their bikes. You could get the checkpoints in any order, but it was pretty clear there was one route to the first checkpoint – 100 blocks south.
10 blocks takes you alongside Central Park, then you ride the park for 60 blocks before hitting peak hour Saturday tourism, latte weilding, pram pushing, cell phone crazed citizens, not aware of the torrent of bikes about to flood the streets.
This design made me really nervous. After my fifth nervy pee – Squid called the racers together, gave out manifests and lined em up.
The click of cleats on cobbled stones, and icy pave. Racers already panting as they threw themselves down the rocky embankment to the staircase leading to their steeds. I kept my eye on ‘The King’, unlocked, and wound it up towards the first checkpoint. To my surpise, less than 10 racers were in front of me. 2 blocks later, its was down to 6. ‘The King’ was less than 30m in front of me when all of a sudden he crashes in the middle of an intersection. I couldnt understand – it was totally clear of cars and we had a green…. One less person to beat I figured.
I rolled into the first checkpoint second, only by seconds, and opted to take the West Side Highway down to the bottom of the island. I was about to plunge across a busy intersection when I noticed an NYPD car on my shoulder. I slammed the rear wheel to a stop, gritting my teeth as the light stayed red….
Green – GO!
One thing Ive learnt from my time in NYC is you dont want to get on the bad side of the gastappo – sorry, police.
Pete and I were hammering down the highway approaching a red, when a Limousine turns onto the highway, with ‘THE KING’ and his webbed hands clutching the rear spoiler. I made a bold dash to catch it, pass, and ride in front of the limo so he couldnt get a rocket ride down the road.
We battled it out the whole way, me leading narrowly to each checkpoint, while back in the thick of Manhattan on 5th avenue, racers with getting hit by buses, other racers, cars, smashing windshields, snapping cranks, splitting rims and folding frames. In terms of bike carnage, this year was #1.
I made a really sloppy decision coming out of the last Manhattan checkpoint and rode east for two blocks, when I needed to ride WEST – so on my four block scramble to get back en route – The King whizzes past in the distance, and hits the Williamsburg Bridge before me and when I do is nearly 200metres ahead. I put the head down and started to reel him in slowly as I could tell he had some big track gear that he was grinding.
Then I thought its time to show The King what a 50kph skitch looks like….
I waited for an SUV to come behind me, then I rode into the middle of the bridge lane to block it. As it slowed, I grabbed on to the door handle like a baby to a mothers breast and held on for the biggest madison sling Ive ever had. WAAAAAAAHHHHOOOOOOOOO!
I pounded it home from there, only to see Alfred a short distance ahead as we hit the final block of the race.
Turns out Im not even an ‘Out of Towner’ either.
I love New York. I love racing in New York. If you ever get the chance to go – just do it! You’ll find one of the biggest, most welcoming bike families there. Just dont mention you’re Australian. They hate Australians 😉
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