Chaos for the Commuter

Those few hours in the streets we all owned the city, we came out clean, didn’t touch any thing, just flying through every little space we saw out there.”- John-Taki

By Andrew Rodriguez - andrew@kodezero.com Photos ©Christian Torres

photo©Christian Torres

March is here. For most people it’s a time of nicer weather and soon-to-be vacations. For others and myself, it’s time for one thing and one thing only; Monstertrack. A group of over 100 cyclists barreling through the city, racing to checkpoints on the OPEN streets of NYC with no closed course for the racers. This race not only tests your physical fitness on a bike, but it challenges your ability to fly through the streets, weaving in and out of congested NYC traffic. In MonsterTrack, you can only ride a fixed gear bike with NO BRAKES. It only comes around once a year and has been said to be the ‘Superbowl’ of alley cats (illegal bike races) and cycling events for the usual competitors.

gold chain photo©Christian Torres

An interview with the current organizer of the race, Victor Ouma, sheds some light on what Monstertrack is all about:

What’s the story behind the start of Monstertrack?

Monstertrack is an event that wasborn before the ‘Fixie Boom’. At bike messenger races, we had places and side events for track bikes, which were exclusively ridden by bike messengers. Johnny “Snake” came up with the idea of having a track bike specific race that would test the mettle of a track bike rider and his bike in an urban setting. The unique type of race was more messenger community oriented, but it slowly caught on with the help of word of mouth. I helped popularize it by utilizing the internet to invite out of town messengers, because before the only way to inform them of our races was to actually travel to their city with fliers about our events. Monstertrack now is still a bike messenger thing, but we are seeing more urban warriors coming out that are happy to participate.” -Victor”Triple Rush” Ouma

This year was my third time taking part in the race and my prior experience had not prepared me for just how grueling the race was this year. This is no race for the average commuter; it will test you both physically and mentally. If you come into this race trying to win and you think just because you ride a little faster then everybody else on your daily commute to work that may you have a chance, you’re in for a rude awakening.

Team CBK photo©Christian Torres

The usual contenders who win the race like, Crihs Thorman (Two-Time Monstertrack Winner), Alfredo Bobe (Three-Time Monstertrack winner) and John-Taki Theodoracopulos (This year’s winner) are devoted cyclists who practically live on their bikes and compete regularly. JT tells us a little more about his win this year in this interview:

Do you normally train for alley cats? Is monster track a different story?

“The ability alone to go that fast takes a lot of training, but street skills are sort of instinct. I had a bike as a kid always getting around town like that. Riding a track bike is so much fun and in New York City it makes so much sense. You ride with the traffic and it flows. MonsterTrack is like the fucking Olympics. It’s a big deal. So, yeah, I was in shape for it and mentally prepared.” – John-Taki


photo©Christian Torres

With the recent bike craze in the past years and rise in popularity of fixed gear bicycles in urban areas, it’s no surprise Monstertrack has gotten a bigger and bigger turnout every year. When this event first started it, was a much smaller group of messengers racing recklessly and lawlessly through the city. Now that the bike messenger profession is dying and bicycles have become a practical option for transportation in urban areas, bike paths are being built and cycling laws are being enforced more so then in the past. This may mean that the cause of Monstertrack’s demise will be its rise in popularity. Law enforcement may soon see these races as a huge liability and do everything in their power to stop them from happening. It will be just another thing gone that gave New York character and made it such an iconic city.

Alfredo Bobe photo©Christian Torres

2 Responses to “Chaos for the Commuter”

  1. […] LB: Ok, that would be Crihs Thormann. […]

  2. Poppolo says:

    there is another lady who I see riindg along throsby creek every morning on her way to work at that Joy Cummings center near cafe 2300. I wouldn’t call her elderly . Past half way, might be a softer description. Anyway, she is a stalwart. And very cute, as all women on bikes are to my eye. If you see her, do ask her to stop for a photo. I would, but I am too shy.