Late at night in Brooklyn’s Prospect park you might have spied a group of spandex clad bikers discussing tactics for such events as a team time trial or match sprints. These events normally occur on a velodrome like the famous one in Kissena Queens, where competitors battle it out on brakeless track bikes in a closed environment of a banked track. Well, last month, the track was the 3.3 mile loop in Prospect park in a night time race series called, “boogie nights.” this is the second year in a row this four week race series happened and brought together both novice street bikers and seasoned track racers to compete in the unpredictability of this large green space in the heart of Brooklyn. I had a brief conversation with the one of the series organizers, Alexander Barouh, and wanted to find out the challenges of hosting an event like this in the park. Even though the series has passed, I wanted to learn how it went down and who came out. Here is my interview with Alex-
Name, Age, where you live (ride)
My name is Alexander Barouh. I live in Crown Heights and I can be found riding my bike in Prospect Park, Kissena Velodrome, as well as throughout Manhattan.
Bikes you own?
Right now I own a Caad 9 road bike, a Cannondale Capo track bike, a Reynolds 653 steel track bike, and a Cannondale touring frame that I’ve turned into a cyclocross bike.
Your next bike purchase?
I don’t have any plans on purchasing anything soon.
How long have you been riding fixed?
I started riding a fixed gear a little more than 2 years ago.
What lead you to throw a track bike series in Prospect Park?
Two years ago I had heard that fixed gear races were being held in the park every summer and I had been looking forward to participating and also meeting other riders. I found out that the previous organizer was not planning on continuing the series and I didn’t want this tradition to die. It was kind of an impulsive decision to start Boogie Nights. My friend Andras and I discussed it over lunch and decided that the two of us could organize and run the series.
This is the second time? How have things progressed?
Yes, this is the second year. Things have progressed in a few ways. This year we had at least two fields per nights. An A and B field and sometimes a women’s field when we had enough women racers. I wanted to make the competition more enjoyable for novice racers while also creating a competitive environment for seasoned racers. The B field comprised city riders and a few Cat 5s, while the A field had everyone from Cat 4s down to Cat 1s. We even had a pro come out.
What kind of turnout did you have?
The turnout of both racers as well as spectators was fantastic this year. I showed up on the first Friday and there must have been at least 75 racers and spectators waiting at Grand Army Plaza. I was shocked. This year the B field averaged 20 to 25 racers per night, while the A field usually had 10-15 racers per night.
People with track (velodrome
experience) rookies? people new to the scene?
Yes, we had a full spectrum of racers. It ranged from people who had never raced a bike to people who are big names at the track and in the road racing community.
How did people adapt to Track events in a park? Such as a team time
trial and match sprints?
Gearing was a big concern for a lot of racers, although people adapted pretty well.
What was the biggest challenge in throwing this event?
Things ran rather smoothly this year, although my biggest challenge this year was the weather. It either rained or was forecast to rain every Friday evening. I had to be patient and make sure to keep everyone in the loop regarding possible cancellations due to weather. I only had to cancel one night, although we ran match sprints in cold rain and still had a great turn out.
what would you do differently next time? will there be a next time?
Prospect Park fixed gear racing will happen next year, although I’m unsure if I will be the organizer. I’m still interested in continuing to organize and promote races, I just might move onto something else. Regarding hassles, there were absolutely no hassles. I did have to speak with the police, but they were quite cooperative. There are little things I would tweak for next time such as trying to get a larger women’s field out and racing.
How did you get your sponsors?
Mostly through word of mouth. The sponsors were fantastic this year! Prizes included a frame, two sets of wheels, custom gold jewelery, tires, sex toys (Babeland was a sponsor) and t-shirts.
Alesandro Giancarlo Bianchi won the A field. Pavel won the B field and Inge Hoonte won the women’s field.
What surprised you most about the series? about the turnout?
The dedication of the racers and fans. People really cared about this series. Although it was very friendly the competition was fantastic to watch.
Future event organizing goals?
I’d like to continue organizing events. lately I’ve been thinking about creating event which is as exciting for the racers as it is for the spectators. I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop once I sort it all out.
Your future cycling goals?
My main goal is to continue riding and racing. My more specific goals include winning a road race or two. I’d also like to try out mountain biking. It looks like a lot of fun.