This weekend Jason, Seth, and Gregg from Faster Mustache and I drove up to New York City for Monster Track 8. We left around 4pm on Thursday, drove all night including a stop for some sleep in a rest area parking lot, and unloaded our bikes around 10am on top of a parking deck in the lower east side of Manhattan. I won't do the whole play by play here, but we rode bikes all day long through the streets of South Manhattan, went to a few pre race parties Friday Night, slept in a hotel in Queens after biking around Brooklyn for hours, rode around Saturday morning, did the race thing, more parties, and then back to the car to head back to Atlanta.
Some fun things of note and general observations:
We met and spent some time with:
Mike D, the guy that's the "star" in Red Light Go. He interviewed Seth on camera and that will probably make it into a video online somewhere at some point.
Amy's husband "Squid", one of the more famous NYC bike messengers
Triplerush - MT8 race organizer
Pablo - a regular in the top 3 list of track races in NYC
Kim, Pablo's girlfriend, was/is second in the nation for womens track racing. (We left a pile of our stuff at her place most of Friday. She lives there with a handful of bike messenger/track racing/really fast people. One of her room mates won the North American Cycle Courier Championships in 2006.)
The guy that does the video documentaries of these things. He gave me his card and wants to come to the next Faster Mustache 24 hour urban relay to film it.
Friday night was "Gold Sprints" at a bar in Brooklyn- track bikes on rollers in a bar plugged into a computer with people racing for the best times for a 500m sprint.
I got distracted hanging out at Trackstar and taking lots of pictures, so I didn't race, and Seth lost his manifest somewhere, but Gregg and Jason did pretty well. 48th and 51st! the official race results.
NYC is gross ice and snow everywhere, and salt everywhere to try and cut down on the ice. I slipped and fell 5 minutes after we arrived but didn't do any damage, and while that was my only fall there was plenty of sliding around. My bike is absolutely disgusting and I'll need to take it apart completely to get it clean.
NYC is awesome for biking. As the video below shows, flying through lanes of gridlocked traffic is the norm and it's a lot of fun. There are no hills in the lower east side. Riding is fast and easy. Going over the bridge into Brooklyn is the biggest hill in that area and it's really neat to be way up in the air on that bridge on a bike. And, cars are used to bikes and while they don't go out of their way to get out of your way they're not going to accidentally run over you the way they would in Atlanta.
It can be cold up North. The people there really knew how to gear up for it and while we weren't in bad shape, there are definitely things I would do differently next time.
Lots of good food. Chinese, Pizza, Hot Dogs, etc. mmm.
The whole trip was pretty cheap. We ended up staying in a hotel each night, but hotel+gas+food+etc for me was probably right at around $150.
The biggest thing I noticed was the culture overload. Things there are a lot different than Atlanta. We were probably the only people there that didn't actually work as bike messengers and apparently bike messengers only make barely enough to get by. Someone saw the Phil Wood hubs that are on my bike and said that he'd never actually seen any of those on the street before. Everyone has track bikes but they're mostly beater bikes because they take a lot of abuse riding around in the city. Everyone knows everyone else, the faces were mostly familiar to me from photos and videos I've seen, and they know how to party. It's weird to be the outsider looking in instead of one of the insiders that got things started as I am in FM in Atlanta. The crowd was a lot older than the bike scene in Atlanta currently is (Most of them seemed to be late 20s early 30s), and lots of the messengers had the same bag as the one I have, compared to in Atlanta where most people are rocking one from Chrome. (Many of them also had custom Re-Load bags that were prizes from races such as prior Monster Tracks, the North American Cycle Courier Championships, and the World Cycle Courier Championships.