BikeBlogNYC is proud to introduce a man who needs no introduction. Kevin Bolger, otherwise known as Squid. Rolling with alleycats, messengering, racing and organizing long before this thing called “Monster Track.” Pay attention kids, cause you just might learn something from a true Innovator. Its is our honor to present:
How old are you? 37. Where do you live? Weeksville, Brooklyn. What bikes do you own? Cannondale Capo, Swobo Sanchez, MOTH, Fat Tire Cruiser. What got you into track bikes? My brother who was a messenger before me, and my good friend Slacker Tim. How long have you been messengering? Started in September of 1992. What got you into alleycats? I went to my first Cycle Messenger World Championships in 1995 (Toronto). This is where I learned about the messenger community and alleycats. What do you like about them? Fun and informal. You can ride fast or slow, a great way to see the city and ride with friends. What was your first Monster Track? I raced in all the MT’s up until 2006. What was the first Monster Track like? Who organized it? Organized by Snake. It was in late February. Cold with snow around. There was a strong and proud ‘no brakes’ fix riding community in New York. This event tapped into the love for speed and skill on the street. How many people came out? Thirty some odd messengers raced. How many Monster Tracks have you raced? I raced in six total. How have you done? Lucky to always do well, a lot of top ten’s and won it in 2003. What is unique about Monster Track? I believe it was the first annual no brakes messenger event* and contributed to the boom in riding track bikes on the street.
*I raced in a no brakes alleycat at CMWC 96 in San Francisco. What does it mean to you that this race is 10 years old? It means I am getting old! Still love riding track and happy to see city biking is growing in the US. Who should race alleycats? Messengers Only? ‘All City Bikers Welcome’ is what we put on almost all of the early NY event flyers. It’s a better party when the doors are open. What do you think about the liability issues? Always a concern, especially since younger kids are coming out to ride and some big prizes can encourage reckless behavior. As a racer, I’ve only raced once since Keiran was born in 2007, different priorities now. As an organizer, I have moved on from alleycats and have been organizing Velodrome events for the past four years. How many Monster Tracks have you organized? I helped out with all the MT’s up until last year. What is the future of alleycat racing? will we see it in the X games 2020? Alleycats will outlast x-games. Alleycats will continue to spread around the world and turn more people on to urban cycling. What do you think of the rise of popularity of track bikes and all these people coming out to race? I am all for it, it is a better future with more people on bikes. What are your future cycling goals? Velo City 2009 is hitting at least seven velodromes. More info at VeloCity2009.
Also working towards getting a portable Figure 8 Velodrome built.
Here is our first outta towner. Andrew, creator of www.bikealbany.com That’s right, Albany has a bike scene. They come from all over to Monster Track, yes even from as far away as Albany NY.
Andrew organizes races, works with Troy Bike Rescue , mutates bicycles and runs a local bike blog.
Meet Andrew. How old are you? 20 Where do you reside? Albany NY What bikes do you have? IRO Angus, BMW Gangsta, Planet X Sram Rival Cross Bike, Land Shark Sram Rival Road Bike, 1986 Faggin Campy Road Bike, and my infamous Pink Tallbike. What got you into track bikes? Needed something for around the city, surfed around on BikeForums (sigh) and read a lot of Sheldon Brown and I eventually just bought one on a random trip to NYC. Have you ever been a messenger? No. How do people hear about events? NYC Fixed Boards for NYC stuff and people up here send me stuff to post on my site. Why did you start Bike Albany? To give cyclists a means of coming together and organizing things. I got the idea from the NYC boards. What alleycats have you raced in? Ever traveled for one? I’ve done the last two ‘seasons’ of alleycats up here in Albany. I am apparently getting better as I got 3rd in the Albany Cranksgiving race. I haven’t traveled for one, but that changed come MT. What alleycats have you organized in Albany? I did one called Albany Dead (I don’t know why this ended up being the name) which was on a Sunday afternoon, not too many people showed up but they still had a good time, and my most sucessful one was the Albany Halloween Race which was free and had about 20 people showup (this is decent for Albany) at 9pm on Halloween. What are some of the biggest challenges in organizing alleycats? Picking a date that will allow the most amount of people to come. I usually pick a date months in advance and plan it the night before (I do this with my school work also). What do you think about the liability issues of alleycats? as an organizer? Nope. Most people know what they’re getting themselves into. Having people sign waivers doesn’t matter as a good laywer can sue you for whatever. What do you like about them? How competitive do you get? It’s fun and it allows me to race against my friends who don’t race cross or road. I enjoy the informality of it all and being able to blast Municipal Waste out of my iPod speaker while riding helps me have fun and keep motivated. What kind of people race alleycats where you are? College kids, college dropouts, roadies, old people on waterfords with panniers, bike jocks, everyone. Who should race alleycats? Messengers only? No. You can be a brand new messenger and have no idea what you’re doing. One guy up here is a semi-pro level mountain biker who does 24hour mtb races and has amazing handling and riding skills. Have you ever been to Monster Track or raced in NYC? I went last year and didn’t race becuase I didn’t have any rain gear. I was already soaking wet and preferred just staying dry. Lame excuse but whatever. What is the history of riding brakeless? On the track? It’s safer as no one can abruptly stop. For me? I bought my IRO with no brakes and only put one on it recently since I had an early class and I wasn’t as alert as I should have been some days. What challenges do you face being an outatowner? Below 14th st on the west side gets crazy, and so does below houston on the east side. Other than that the navigation is pretty straightforward. Have you been training for Monster Track? I’ve been training for the road season, so I guess that counts. What does it mean to you that this is the 10th year of MT? That racing is just as fun as it ever was and that people still like bikes. What do you think of the whole trend of track bikes? The fashion? Don’t really pay attention to it. I laugh at the ugly bikes people make but I don’t really care as I’m sure someone somewhere things my bike is the ugliest one ever. What is the future of alleycat racing? Will we see it in the X Games in 2020? How about track bike tricks? Alleycats cant really get much bigger and still be as real. You can make a simulated course I guess but that just sound lame. As far as tricks go who knows. It’s cool to see what’s going on as far as that stuff goes but I still don’t really “get it”. What are your future competitive cycling goals? Get faster.
In my on going series of those who make up Monster Track, I present Dan Chabanov. A strong young racer who is really showing a lot of promise in competitive cycling. Dan’s been winning a lot of alleycats and one to look out for in Monster Track 10.
Dan’s Profile: How old are you? 21 How long did you messenger? and for what companies? It’s going to be 3 years in October. I worked for Breakaway when i started. Then switched to Elite Couriers. I worked for my friends at Trackstar Couriers for two months but went back to Elite and thats where I am now. What bikes do you own? Nagasawa Track, Faini Pista, Viner Road set up with flat bars, Bianchi Cross, and my Raleigh Carbon Uber bike. Where do you reside? Greenpoint, Brooklyn What got you into riding a track bike? It just seemed like the next logical step after i set up my single speed when i first came to NYC. The simpler the better. what got you into alleycat racing? It was the most accessible form of racing to me. What was your first Monster Track? How did it go? MTVII was my first. I think i ended up finishing somewhere in the twenties. How competitive do you get? Over the last three years I have gotten a lot more competitive than when i first started racing. What kind of an athlete are you? I don’t really know what this question means. What do you say to the fast rookies coming up? Go log some miles, get beat, get beat some more, lose a bunch, go cross eyed as people pull away from you, learn about winning, get fast. What is unique about Monster Track? Nothing really. Its just a no bullshit race in NYC. I think the people that participate give it a certain hype. Which is fine by me it brings more people from out of town and everyone who races steps up their game a bit. The no breaks/fixed only thing helps to set up a more or less a level playing field and it deters some people from entering. At least in theory it does. Seems like it attracts more people then it deters these days. What do you think of Monster Track being 10 years old this year? Not a whole lot. I think MT will be around for a long time. what other alleycats have you done and in what other cities? Too many to name really. I’ve raced in NYC, Baltimore, Boston, DC, Toronto, Montreal, Philly, SF, London… Probably close to 50 alleycats in the last few years. Who should race alleycats? only messengers? What about the liability factors? Young and/or inexperienced couriers are just as much of a liability as young and/or inexperienced non-messengers. In every form of racing the more experienced rider will always be the safer wheel to follow. People just need to be aware of their limits and take responsibility. Just like when I am at work I have to be a professional and asses the risks involved in taking certain lines. And when you do get in to trouble you have to make sure you don’t drag everyone down with you. What do you think of the trend of fixed gears now and how it has evolved? I try to stay away from all that. Sure more people on bikes and all that great stuff. I ride my track bike at work and in my spare time i train and race with my Kissena team mates. I would say I’m fairly apathetic towards the whole trend thing. What is the future of alleycat racing? Will we see it in the Xgames 2020? I think alleycats cant really get bigger then they are now without encountering some organization issues. It’s impossible to have an alleycat with over 200 participants and try to keep it “under wraps”. Look at what happened with last year’s Monster Track… If alleycats were a part of the X Games they are no longer alleycats. Period. We already have sanctioned racing, it’s called the CMWC. What are your competitive cycling goals now? I want to repeat my win at the Green Mountain stage race. Drinking more diesel with the Crusher. That’s about it.
no brakes no fear.
Every year for the last 10 years there is a chill in the air right about now. Not the kind that burns your face like the gnawing teeth of the groundhog biting into our Mayor’s finger, but rather an excitement. Its the chill of winter and a buzz in the air that signals the world of underground “alleycat” street racing is about to blossom like a spring flower. Like anything else, the bench mark is set in New York City and nothing signifies that more for the sport thats not a sport, then the annual Monster Track race. This is NYC’s own, like rappers battling in the South Bronx or dominating the side of a subway with a graffiti tag. Monster Track is its own unique animal, a local one, specific to this city. Often imitated but never duplicated, the street cred begins here. Most alleycats have no rules…thats the point…this one has only one…NO BRAKES. So all those who have been fixed gear curious or following the latest bar spins on Youtube. Here is where that bar gets set. Its a chance to see who’s been riding the rollers, taking a few laps in the park, despite the frigid temperatures…like the Warriors…its time to come out and PLAY!
I first started documenting Monster Track in 2005 when it started on the West Side Highway, by the Frying Pan. I have always been interested in this race for the competition, for the rivalries and just to see how far people come to travel to race in the winter.
This year I thought I would profile specific people who have made Monster Track what it is. A different portrait of the people involved.
I start with the Rookie.
Pavel Marosin hadn’t done alleycat races till the end of last year. Now he’s trying his hand at Monster Track.
Name: Pavel Marosin Age: 22 Where you reside: Jackson Heights, Queens What bikes do you own: A Fetish Cycles road bike that I got on craigslist, and a Windsor Hour frame that I eventually replaced all the parts on. What kind of cycling are you into?: I’m mainly into more of the endurance aspect of biking, I like to ride for a while at a fair clip. What got you into track bikes?: I won’t lie, the whole fixed gear trend is what first got me curious. I saw so many fixed riders during the summer and I wanted to experience what it actually felt like to ride a fixed gear as opposed to my road bike. It also seemed like I’d be able to beat it up more and not worry as much about locking it up. What got you into alleycat racing?: It was the competition aspect of it. I missed challenging myself against others as I did in my competitive distance running days in H.S. and college. It was also not as intense and expensive as a “legit” road race. I also watched a bunch Lucas Brunelle vids on youtube. Do you follow the fixed gr forum at all? Nope, I felt intimidated/lazy when I saw the required log-in.
How do you hear about events? Guys at Continuum, messengers/bikers at parties, bikeblognyc, prollyisnotprobably, and whatever other blog I come across. What other alleycats have you done?: Cranksgiving, Alley Kitten and Midtown Nightmare What are some of the biggest challenges of racing in the city?: The biggest challenge for me is getting over the fear of knowing that many times you’re trusting someone else with your life. You trust drivers to look in the side view mirror, you trust drivers to not accelerate through the ‘just turned red’ light and you trust that they will follow all traffic laws, so you can brake them. Then of course there’s the ability to handle your bike and predict how cars will move in front of you. I definitely take my risk taking up a few notches when I race, the adrenaline sometimes makes you do stupid things, and that brings in the challenge of controlling yourself. How competative are the races compared to how fun? Whats the precentage? and why?: For me the race itself is about 80% competitive and 20% fun. I want to beat as many people as possible and have the satisfaction of knowing that I made my legs and lungs burn longer and harder than other riders.
I have fun when I’m joking around with people at checkpoints or being raucous when riding in a pack, or when I’m bombing down an open avenue to catch a rider.
I approach it from the point of view of a track race, because that’s what I’m used to and that’s what I think of as racing. When I would toe the line in a race I wasn’t having fun 98% of the time. I was nervous and I hated everyone around me, I wanted to beat all of them by pushing through the worst pain. In an alleycat, people are friendly before the start, during and after. That’s part of the appeal, you have people smoking, drinking, focusing or just not giving a shit about it at the start. There’s no pressure to take it seriously. What makes you want to race Monster Track?: The pure simple fact that it’s a race where you not only challenge your own desire to stop but the riders around you. The extra skill level involved when not using a brake is also a new challenge for me, which is exciting.
What does it mean to you that Monster Track is 10 years old?: To me it means I’m a total newbie haha. Personally I have no attachment to the race or the history of it. But from what I read and hear about it, knowing how seriously people take it and how people come from all over the world to race it makes me realize that I’ll be taking part in something special. I’m sure it will mean much more to me after the fact. What’s unique about Monster Track?:It seems like the intensity of riders is definitely upped for this race. A lot of people are weeded out so it’s quite a bit more serious than other races. What has been your history about riding without a brake and will Monster Track be the first race brakeless?: Monster Track will be my first race brakeless. I have so far been riding without a brake for about 2 weeks. It’s going fine, had a few close calls and a few minor crashes in the rain, but that was expected, just growing pains. I have definitely developed much more control and confidence over the last 2 weeks. Who should race alleycats?: Anyone who is smart yet crazy enough to ride fast through traffic.Of course they need to realize what kind of danger they’re putting themselves and others in, and take responsibility for it. Where do the messengers fit into this whole culture?: They are obviously the starters of alley cats and they get tons of respect from me. I think part of the reason the whole brakeless and alleycat scene is coming up big is that the messenger lifestyle is romanticized as thrilling and free. Who doesn’t want to ride a bike around all day for a living, especially during the nice parts of the year? But, obviously it’s not as fun as it may seem. So alleycats are a chance for desk jockeys like me to play messenger once in a while. They started the scene, they make up the scene and they keep alley cats going. What is the future of alleycat racing?: Hopefully it’ll remain a mainstay in urban communities, a chance for people to push the limits of interacting with their environment on bikes. Obviously it sucks when a trend or an activity blows up because you don’t feel as unique and excited by it when everyone’s doing it. On the other hand I realize that I’m part of that crowd that makes these races bigger every year, so I feel awkward wanting the scene to stay small, friendly, fun, and not attract too much attention from the media and the authorities. what are you goals for cycling both sanctioned and unsanctioned?: I can’t say I have any goals besides getting to a point of being competitive in alley cats. I don’t have any desire right now to get intense about road biking, even though that’s why I got into biking in the first place. Maybe someday. I might try a track race, preferably of the longer variety. What do you think of the rise in popularity of fixed gears, the fashion, the trend? Will we stay on the underground or will we see an alleycat race in X games 2012?: I sure as hell hope we don’t see an alleycat in the X games! As far as the fashion of fixed gears goes, I try not to succumb to it too much. I’m a sucker for deep Vs as much as anyone else but I don’t focus on looking cool when I ride. Yea, I want my bike to look a certain way, but I’m on it because I love going fast, and putting effort into it. I get sweaty as hell coming into work everyday, I’m not on it to look pretty. People can buy whatever cool clothing and bike accessories they want, but that’s not what biking is about to me(maybe I just wish I could afford that stuff!).
You have a full spectrum of fixed riders, the guys who just ride to work and bars in fancy clothes, the tricksters, the messengers, the hardcore trackies and roadies, whatever it is, the bike holds a certain place in these peoples lives. It’s a special feeling riding fixed and brakeless but it’s also a special feeling being able to shift up on a road bike when you didn’t think you could. I think it’s too late for the fixed trend to stay underground, but no matter what the trend is, I just hope there’s no elitism about the kind of bike people ride.
Pavel, raced in Last weeks “Give em hell” Alleycat.
and this is what happened to him:
It started well for me and i was with some of the top guys going to the third check point but a few avenues away I ran into a woman(not directly) who was walking her dog. She had one of those long thin leashes that I couldn’t see, I actually thought the dog belonged to the guy walking behind them. Anyway, I rode right in between the woman and the dog. The leash got tangled in my back wheel, pulled the dog for a few meters, it was a mess. Took me more than 5 minutes to get the damn thing out of my wheel. Surprisingly, the woman was actually really cool about it.
That incident completely frustrated me and i ended up riding pretty slow to the next few check points, it was really frustrating knowing that I was almost DFL at that point. I ended up picking it up and passing a few riders but making a bunch of wrong turns because I was still so frustrated about the damn incident.
Needless to say, the opportunity to prove myself to the top riders went out the window.
I took my brake off yesterday and have ridden quite a bit so far around the city without it. It has felt great, definitely brings a whole new level of awareness and enjoyment to riding. It’s kind of scary but also freeing at the same time. Although I had a few close calls, I didn’t have to ride as slow as I thought I would, compared to how I rode with a brake.
I’m training hard for monster track, getting those miles in, so hopefully I’ll surprise a few people!
Also check the Side bar for some local dates too. Looks like another busy year.
2/28 – Monster Track X NYC
3/13 – FRIDAY March 13th – FREDDY vs JASON – AN ALLEYCAT ON ELM STREET – BOSTON
3/28 – Red Hook Criterium
4/04 – Midnight Madness da’ Dos 24hour scavenge-race
4/11 – SLUDGEMENT DAY PART II: THE REVENGE OF TRACKLOCROSS
4/12 – Bike Shorts
4/25-26 – Kissena Velodrome Opening Weekend
5/2-5/3 – Big Apple 500 (cinder track team race)
5/02 & 5/03 – EAST SIDE Polo Invitational 4 – BOSTON
5/16 – Grand Theft Velo III – New Haven
5/22-24 – Westside Invite – Seattle
5/28 – ECMC BERLIN
6/17 – 6/21 – Bike Film Festival
7/04 – July 4th Alleycat
7/11 – NYC Courier Classic
7/18-Rocky 7: Adrian’s Revenge!-Philadelphia
7/24-26 – NACCC pre events NYC
7/25 – Velo City NYC
7/28 – R1: NYC -> BOSTON
8/01 – NACCC BOSTON
8/16 – Sprint Tri – Harriman Park
Late August/Early September (Dates Pending) – Kings of New England – Boston and New Haven
9/12 – KyotoLoco 2009 Tokyo
9/13 – Transportation Alternatives’ New York City Century Bike Tour
9/?? – CMWC Tokyo
10/31 – Halloween Alleycat
10/31 – TOOTHROT IV – BOSTON
11/21 – Cranksgiving 11 NYC