Competitive urban riders like the adrenaline rush and are familiar with pushing their limits on a bicycle. Some have become quite skilled in open traffic either as messengers racing in alleycats or exploring the possibilities on a fixed gear in the world of freestyle. Last Saturday things got real interesting. These riders had to call on their faith and maybe say a prayer in an abandon church deep in the heart of Bushwick Brooklyn. Whether a full on Hail Mary or maybe just the rub of a rabbits foot, it was prayer time that you wouldn’t go flying off a home made wooden velodrome cycling track…a mini version.
(Photo credit: Takuya Sakamoto Newyorkbikedreams.com )
Red Bull, who is never short on sponsoring the absurd–remember this: Flugtag?
Challenging people to make homemade flying machines and jump off the Intrepid into the Hudson…yes the same energy drink company that sponsors a professional soccer team. This time they set up their mini track in a series that has been traveling all over the world. Saturday it landed in Brooklyn at the site of an abandon church that has been used primarily for underground parties.
I arrived early to check out the show with Reland who works at 718cyclery and my ol pal Jonathan Beck. We thought we should be fashionably late but saw the amount of bikes locked up outside and decided to venture in when the event started at 9:00pm.
The event was free to the first thousand and it didn’t seem clear how security was going to regulate this. After passing the portable pizza stand set up by another one of the sponsors, Bushwick’s own Roberta’s pizza, (yum) we got a handful of drink tickets at the door and went in the church to watch the action.
The place was already packed with bikers, messengers and some people who looked like they might have misread the fine print on Gothamist and seemed overly dressed. Crowds gathered around the track on both the main level and the top church balcony giving this a nice blended feeling of part underground fight that maybe Michael Vick was throwing and part post-apocalyptic thunder dome.
Two riders enter…one rider leaves.
There were 100 riders at the start who had to complete 10 laps around this plywood contraption, with huge banked corners and relatively more flat in what could be called the straight away parts. Watching most of the riders just trying to get their track bikes over the wall and onto the start was challenging enough, emphasizing how steep the walls were.
Not sure how any of these riders got to practice on this thing but eventually a few fierce competitors got momentum going and started cooking around the track in their solo time trials. One of these was Red Bull’s own sponsored Austin Horse who won this year’s Monster Track on snowy streets of NYC and had done well on a previous mini dome track in Tokyo. So those who are traveling for this event to other cities had some sort of experience which seemed badly needed.
After an endless amount of time of standing, not being able to get to the bar and use those drink tickets and watching people go in circles. The field was narrowed down to 32 riders with the best times. There was much debate going around about tire size, wider riser bars and more compact freestyle track bikes (adult bmx bikes) vs straight up more tradition frame geometries of standard track bikes. Not sure what the winning formula but the top field would now go head to head meaning one rider starts on one end of the flat and another on the other. If a rider falls or is lapped…they’re out and the winner advances.
And later Ninjasonik performed.
Hometown favorite Austin was eliminated…early on and none of the other NYC favorites made it past the semi finals. In a fierce battle the top winners were all outta-towners with previous experience on this odd track.
A video from Tod Seelie:
Of the top 8 battling for the $1,000 prize, Florida native Addison Zambawa won and his buddy, Latvian rider Toms Alsbergs, came in second place, and Netherlands rider Stefan “Fish” Vis took 3rd.
Here is a video from Tod Seelie showing the final race.
We stumbled out of there and meet up with some Time’s Up bike activists there to root for their own Austin. We ended up at Bushwick’s whacky coffee shop/bar/performance space-Goodbye Blue Monday plotting bicycle revolution while drinking good craft beer and eating french fries. Random acts took the stage like three 70 year old men in superman tshirts playing space age jazz. Old school Brooklyn.
Here is another recap from Tod Seelie for Gothamist who was probably more sober then my crew.
More great photos by Tod:
Photos, Video: Bikers Flock To Bushwick For Fixie Race In A Velodrome
Over the weekend, cyclists flocked to a temporary velodrome in Bushwick for a fierce bike battle between fixed-gear speed riders. Over 1,500 spectators packed into a repurposed church on Bushwick Avenue to catch the action—100 riders, both local and international, tested their skills on the miniature wooden velodrome to win the title and $1,000 cash prize.
Read more: here.