Monster Track 2010 is over. The race was thrown by a friend, messenger and past MT organizer. The day started in Brooklyn at a bike shop close to the Wiliamsburg Bridge. The idea was to do a group ride out out of Brooklyn and into the city. Then gather at a starting point and begin the eleventh installment of the race. I can’t be sure but none of the riders knew where the start was, they were being lead there. And none of the riders knew where the first check point was or if they would get the first manifest at the start or after the start. I was at the bike shop watching racers gather, talking to friends, trying to guestamate the racer to photographer ratio. My guess is one camera for every two bikes and there were over 140 racers from what I heard. I was not taking many photos at the start, I like to ride along the racers and get the riding shots. I even made it into Lucas Brunelles edit of the 2009 Monster Track. I’m behind Jumbo who is following Jersey Dan onto Canal. Anyway I planed this particular shot by leaving the bike shop a few minutes early and taking the bike path over the bridge. Not knowing for sure where to be, I made it to the crossover and was looking around for a good spot to get a shot of the riders flowing through the slight zig zag on the bridges bike path. Just then I saw a long line of bikes on the car path. shit. I climbed up the 10 foot fencing and snapped a few frames as I looked straight down to the roadway.

I got back on the bike to trail the last of the bridge riders so I would also see the start and get some info about where the racer would be going. We rode west on Delancey as if going to The Pit but the group turned left a couple block early on Allen Street. The crowd stopped at Grand St.
Here is where hell broke loose. Or to say it a different way, here is where the race fell apart the first time for the day.

I later found out that the organizer was worried about cops stopping the group ride over the car path so he gave half of the start slips (the info telling the racers where to get the first manifest) to the owner of the bike shop so the race could still get underway even if the organizer could not be there.
So here I am, in the middle of Allen St. in a narrow space 12feet wide between the North and South lanes of Allen Street. Looking at 100+ people waiting for something. Crowded, spilling out onto the street climbing on giant planters the city has set up as Greenspace. looking around for a photo and listening for info about when the start is going to be. There were a couple minuets that went by. I did not see the race organizer. Nobody did. He was not there yet. But before he could get there and before any of the racers got in line or set there bikes anywhere as directed, People rushed behind me. I turned and saw the shop owner trying to pass out tiny slips and when he could not hand then out fast enough, he tossed them into the air. Not all the racers were there yet.

I have raced alleycats, never Monster Track but I’ve raced. There is a pretty basic idea at the start of a race, you don’t go anywhere till they say GO. That’s got to feel pretty good as an organizer, 100+ people standing there nervous, jittery, jumpy, waiting to run to their bike and shove their way to the street and rip the first intersection. And all of them waiting on your word. No wonder races never start on time. Make that feeling last. And in that time, that’s when you get all the racers to put their bikes against some wall and then have all of them move over to some other wall. I mean who has not been to a race and not learned this? None of this happened. The start was messed up. Not to slam anyone here but the one who started the race probably just got nervous, had not thought out how a race as long standing as this one should start and most likely just wanted to get everybody out of there. I got in and grabbed a slip and it said go to 1st Av and 60th St. We were on Allen, and it is 1st Av. but 60th is about 70 blocks away. I was way behind the leaders. Made it to 1st and 60th. No one there. Looking straight up at the Queensboro Bridge and all around the four corners of the intersection with a hand full of racers looking too. A lady walking then said “if you’re looking for the guy with the papers, he’s around the corner.” I rode under the bridge and up the lane that becomes the bike lane for the bridge, almost a block and a half away from where they were supposed to be. No big deal close enough. I was on a freewheel with a brake and had a big camera hanging from my neck but the check point person didn’t care. He gave me the first manifest. I knew I was way behind the leaders so to catch up I went straight to the address listed where to get the second manifest. “Columbus Circle Middle” I rode across 7 Avenues to 8th Av and rolled into the circle. No one. Skaters, tourists, me. No racers, no check point workers. I had a few minuets but racers would make it there soon and I wanted to get shots of the leaders and follow for some racing-the-streets shots. I found the check point workers out of the circle and in the park entrance under the statue. They tried to give me a manifest. I took it and told them where they were supposed to be. They thought they were there they were supposed to be. I pointed to the circle and showed them the first manifest instructions. Walking them over there and keeping an eye out for racers, I gave a quick look at the second manifest, uh, it says THIRD MANIFEST and it has the finish location at the bottom. All I thought was “this is messed up”.

Think about this for a second. Whoever has the second manifest is standing at the location listed on the bottom of the manifest they are holding. Nobody would know how to get there because no one would come to get the manifest because no one would get the info about where to go. it’s was like infinity just repeating its self in my mind. Right then the leaders came in. A few saw the THIRD MANIFEST and yelled “WHERE’S TWO!!!!” a small group gathered and asking questions that had no answers. They took off. I followed. The first manifest was all Uptown. The second was and should have been all Midtown and the third was all Downtown. We ripped into the circle and down Broadway through Times Square and onto 7th Av. Somewhere along the way from 59th Street to about 14th I decided to just go to the finish. 6th Av and Canal. The race organizer was there with a couple of workers to help him. He knew it was messed up. He was spitting out ideas on how to fix it. A few minuets later Hugo shows up but says he’s out of the race for missing a few check points. Then just after that by a few minuets JT rolls up quick, finished the race and out of breath. First racer to finish. He says he did not get a signature at Stone street (i think it was Stone) because no one was there. Said he circled the block and no one was there. Same thing with another one of the check points, Attorney Street.

Nobody got Attorney St. nobody was there. But somebody was at Stone. The other racers came in and it was 3 more. A lot of loud talking and a lot of talk about JT being DQ’d. After a bunch of things I did not get details on there was to be a second race, starting at Canal and 6th, doing 3 of the 5 CP’s on the 2nd manifest and back to the finish for money and NOT the race win. Only 4 people raced. JT, and just one of the three others to finish right after him. Also a couple others that finished further down. JT won the second race.

JT did not win Monster Track because he did not get a signature at Stone St and the others did. But a point I’d like to make is I know the guy that was working the CP at Stone. He is a messenger, he races, he knows what to do at a check point. JT was on the 3rd manifest, riding fast as shit. and he was on the 3rd during the time that workers thought he would be on the second. JT could not help it, everyone skipped the 2nd. Maybe not all the 3rd manifest check point people where in place in time for the fastest racers. With all the mess ups that the racers had to deal with, I’m surprised that the results turned out the way they did. But then again, I’m not.
If there is debate, that’s fine. No matter what happens there will be debate. What is not up for debate is how real this race is.

Some more of my photos of the day can be seen on my Flickr