Monster Track. Only the name evokes myths and legends of urban cycling, mother superior of all alleycats. Its street essence leads the participants to the limit, the race that the boldest bike-messengers struggle to prove who the best are; the only one can be lived in NYC.

The XVII edition for us has been a bit special, because a couple of RAW’s friends packed their bags and travelled to the Big Apple to be part of this madness. We did not lose the opportunity to ask them an on board from this experience in the Big Apple.

The two crazies who went to NYC are:

SAMI

If ever you’ve crossed in Barcelona with a girl on her bike down Via Laietana or Balmes Str. like a speeding train … so you know who she is.

Joking aside, Sami is a fixed’s veteran and one of the few riders who put courage and desire to participate in all races that come out.

 “Well … for years I have heard the name Monster Track and many other alleycats in New York and ride a race like this for me is much more fun than any other, so let’s go for it without hesitation!”

SIMONET

This guy is difficult to glut with km. He has been in different adventures of more than 300 km in one day, as Volta Catalunya with Pedalea o Revienta, United Crews Vol. II or Mallorca 312 with Josef Ajram and Ibon Zugasti.

Simonet is not an unknown guy in alleycats of Barcelona, since he won several. Juan is another veteran of fixed gear in Barcelona, the blue Bianchi guy as we call him.

 “I have always been more supporter of Alleycat than criteriums. In fact, they are the essence of fixed gear racing, because it “simulates” the working life of a bike-messenger.” When you start in this circle, they advise you to watch “Line of Sight” of Lucas Brunelle, and if you add to the desire that I had to ride in NYC … “

Now you know these two crackpots, according what they told us, all was pretty improvised, one day these two just talking about going to the Monster Track and that’s it, the next step was to buy fly tickets and to prepare for the big slaughter!

Sami: “Let’s prepare the race? Ha ha … that’s impossible. New York is enormous and you never know where you have to go, so we were riding the whole week to guide and know a tiny part … ”

Basically there are things that are made just for enjoyment, and maybe going to participate in this race without being from NYC is a worth experience.

Simonet: “A good point of preparation is the fact of having ridden for 5 years the alleycats of Barcelona, now it was time to make the leap and race in a city that did not know, bigger and with more people, 250 riders registered, and the most authentic NYC bike-messengers.”

In this kind of trips you usually have many expectations and New York can be one of those cities that always manage to surprise you. The tension start becoming obvious and when you least expect it, comes the day of the race…

Sami: “As we left, all a full gas, it was impossible to look where the riders were going to, well those who we intended to follow; all we went out to the same point so I lost them and I had no other choice to follow the crowd and try to avoid thousand police sirens that following us. After completing the first address, we returned to the same point where in theory we were leaving (the ACE Bar) and there, we got the famous manifest! My Goodness, when I saw it I’ve just remembered how lost I was, fortunately, Jeremy from Chari&Co. helped me to complete the first checkpoint.”

The manifest:

Simonet: “The first order was to go to 11th Madison st, from there take a piece of paper with 2$, buy a lottery ticket and return to Sophie Bar to get the manifest, all this was to disperse the people, make it easier for delivering the manifest and you could not improvise, but all at once. The manifest consisted of 11 addresses, the furthest in the 116st Street in Harlem, and in the southern end of Manhattan. When you finished, only the first 20 got another manifest with 3 more addresses in Manhattan and then let’s cross the bridge to Brooklyn with the third manifest with 3 addresses more (King Kog, Deluxe Bikes and Beast of Bourbon).”

Both due to the chaos of the start line were lost, and each lives a different experience, Juan with a small group that was riding strong, trying to orient and accumulating checkpoints and Sami who, by nerves and bad luck, lost the manifest “shit happens”.

Sami: “In the first checkpoint I had to wait for someone to take me to NEXT point because I didn’t know which one was and when, finally I found a guy who had the manifest, I had to follow him a full gas through the crazy and full of holes streets of NYC!”

A mid-race Simonet meets the three great riders, Chas, Nico and Chris who already had three checkpoints and…

Simonet: “Since then, the mentality of the race changed a lot. We decided to relax and enjoy without pressure. It’s a shame, but it was the first time racing there, not knowing very well how to move in the city, and how it worked the race. On the way to Lexington Ave, we were lost again, crossing badly Central Park and we had to ride 30 blocks more to the 74th St. There I met with Sami. From that point, we did the whole race with Connor, she and a guy from Washington DC.”

Adrenaline, nerves, cars, taxis, checkpoints, pedestrians, manifests … everything travels at a frenetic pace, alleycats are so and more in New York! Reaching the finish line is a little liberation.

Sami: “Finally after about two hours and a half and about 50 miles, finished the race in the same ACE bar where we started. We arrived there thinking we would get another manifest and but the second manifest was only for the first thirty and of 200 people more or less we were in the 70 position of the list!”

Traveling with RAW and meeting people from around the world, most agree that the best part of riding in other countries, according the atmosphere of fixed gear, is the attitude of people, respect those who come from outside… the community gets always to create an idyllic atmosphere anywhere in the world, no matter the city, you can always feel at home.

Simonet: “The first day we visited Alfred Bobé at home (5 times winner of the Monster Track), after Chari&Co. and in the evening Victor Uma (the race organizer). We can say that our base in Manhattan was Chari&Co., who fucking hosted us from the first day. We rode with Jeremy Santuchi, Tobias Lewis, Alfred, we went out with Chris, Victor, and the last day we were partying with Chris, Chas, Nico, Cooper, Sean, etc. We visited a lot of bike shops. I would highlight the store Deluxe Bikes with a stunning location, the Headquarters of David Trimble, all the bars in Manhattan and Bk where Victor Uma brought us and, of course, the Chari&Co. shop.”

So this was the adventure of Sami and Juan. About the question: do you want to come back? Both laugh and it doesn’t give cause for confusion. They will return.

We’d like to thank Levi’s, Pacific&Co, Cycle Me Home and of course, you guys RAW Cycling Mag for their unconditional support they have shown us from the very beginning.

Author: Stefano
Photographer: Sami (@samisauri) & Simonet (@jnsimonet)
Translater: Sandrine