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he’s not too involved with the bike, a NY professional. When asked how old he is he says, “Too old to still be doing this shit.” In 2007, he organized the 5 Boro Generals race series, which held an alleycat in each of the 5 NYC boroughs. We talked about this year’s Monster Track and what made it special to be at the 10-year mark, “Monster Track is the scariest, most competitive alleycat on the calendar. It is restricted to fixed gear bikes and it brings out the best of the best.”

The Race: Game day came with the usual time frame—late. Roughly one hundred racers registered on a day that became increasingly cold as the time got closer to the start. The usual cities had come out, Boston, Philadelphia, Connecticut… Providence. On the international side, Tokyo was there with Hal coming back to try his luck once again. Unfortunately, the world’s fastest courier, Hiroyuki Shinozuka (otherwise know as Sino), winner of the ’08 Cycle Messenger World Championships in Toronto didn’t make it—just weeks before the race he was hit by a car while on the job and broke both legs.

Many of the fastest messengers were not racing this year, opening things wide for new young riders. One of those was Dan Chabanov, 21, a courier who has come a long way in competitive cycling in a very short time. He was a popular favorite to win this year’s Monster Track. Some other favorites were Craig Roth from Boston and Jumbo who traveled all the way from Copenhagen. Jumbo took third place in Toronto’s World Messenger championship and did well in Monster Track ‘06 despite finishing the race with only one crank arm on his bike.

The Mighty Chin arrived at the gathering point around 4:45pm with the manifests. In true alleycat style, everyone was told to put their bikes off to one side and gather against a wall or “they weren’t getting nothing.” Reluctantly, people obliged and then in a frenzy of helmets and cycling caps, Mike Dee and Chin distributed the manifests listing the checkpoints. Chin wanted Monster Track 10 to represent its messenger origins so the checkpoints were based on where couriers were currently delivering. This made for an authentic manifest complete with common courier destinations throughout Manhattan. Riders got about 10 minutes to look it over and decide their route and then it was back up against the wall. Without much of an announcement, around 5:00pm, in frigid weather and with darkness knocking, the race was on.

I headed over to Continuum Cycles to wait with owner Jeff Underwood and Chin who were busy coordinating with checkpoints and matching those racing with their spoke cards. About an hour had passed and the first riders came in to get their next manifest, copies of which only 20 racers actually received. One rider from DC was seriously shaken up after witnessing a hit and run of a pedestrian by a car. Not related to Monster Track, just an unfortunate reality of NYC traffic, it nonetheless ended a few out-of-towners’ race day when they stopped to help.

Another hour passed, making for a grueling two-hour race for the top contenders as they rolled into Brooklyn. The winner was Crihs, closely followed by Jumbo, battling it out together throughout as the field was narrowed down. Only the top five racers got “overtime” direct rush routes, guiding them to the ultimate finish. They told a hair-raising tale of skitching across the Manhattan Bridge three-deep at 30 miles per hour—Crihs holding on to the car, Jumbo to him and Lucas Brunelle right behind video taping the whole affair. Somehow they managed to hang on and make it across to Brooklyn alive without crossing wheels or going down. With the finish came celebration and talk of future conquests with sights set on this year’s Cycle Messenger World Championships in Tokyo.

Whether Monster Track 10 “kept it real” is always up for debate, but I think NYC courier Dagga describes it best… “Regardless of what goes on, it’s our track bike holiday.”

  Michael Green lives and rides in New York City. He's the author of the popular cycling blog,, and a noteworthy bicycle filmmaker. In addition to being an avid cyclist and staunch bicycle activist, Michael is a proud father.