Re: [CR]Kissena Park velodrome visit

(Example: Framebuilding:Tubing)

Date: Sat, 16 Jul 2005 18:27:42 -0400
From: "James Swan" <>
Subject: Re: [CR]Kissena Park velodrome visit
In-reply-to: <>
To: Bianca Pratorius <>
References: <> <BAY106-DAV8EBA625552B1BDAA7979BA8E20@phx.gbl>
cc: josun LEE <>
cc: josun LEE

Hi Garth,

Its interesting to see Kissena and the NYC scene through and outsider's eyes. Yeah, I guess it is a pretty wild scene.

You make an interesting point about there being no Asian riders at the track. On the other hand people of West Indian origin have been very involved for many years. I guess it's a cultural thing.

Kissena is my home track and I raced there every Wednesday night from 1973 through 1987.

If you take a look at the "scrapbook" pages on my web site there are some pictures from those days. (mapped)

Regards, Jamie Swan - Northport, N.Y.

On Jul 16, 2005, at 9:19 AM, Bianca Pratorius wrote:
> I just came back from two weeks in New York. The bike scene there is
> almost beyond my comprehension. Not a single shop that I visited,
> (seven), had even one vintage bike on sale or display. What the people
> ride, however, is completely different. About half of the bike
> messengers seem to have one type of old bike or another, and they are
> set up as fixed or one speed freewheeling road bikes. Walking on any
> business district street will show at least two or three of these
> bikes chained up to a pole and decorated with rubber tape to protect
> against damage from the heavy locks and chains.
> The newly restored Kissena park velodrome has messenger races on
> tuesday nights and races for all categories on wednesday night. There
> is no admission, and on the night I went with my two year old son and
> wife, about 35 racers showed up with about the same number of
> spectators. Racing is spirited, with many of the racers actually
> commuting to the Queens location on the bikes they will race. Flushing
> Meadow, where you must go to on the last stop of a train is one mile
> or so from the velodrome. This neighborhood is now close to 100%
> Asian, with almost all stores also Asian-American, or Asian owned. The
> shocking thing is that even though the velodrome has been re-opened
> for many months now, and has a regular following, not one Asian racer
> was in evidence.... Not One!!!! These new immigrants apparently either
> have no interest in this sport which would be almost free to
> participate in, or they are too busy with the "work till you drop"
> lifestyle that you need to have to survive in a city where the minimum
> monthly rent for a two bedroom in Queens is now $1,500, and $3,500 in
> Manhattan's upper west side (as an example given, because the west
> side is where my mother lives). This non-Asian showing is really a
> pity because it would add so much to the racing scene if the people
> who live next to New York's only velodrome also used it.
> The racers often use old frames set up with new style rims, and the
> new aheadset threadless headset-stem arrangement. The frames sometimes
> seem deliberately "visually distressed". The cranks are usually Sugino
> or Suntour Superbe, and the pedals are half Look or similar and half
> quill with single or double straps. Women are about a third of the
> riders, and because there is no active training program provided by
> the city, per-se, riders are self-trained and although fast, sometimes
> leave their elbows flying out in the wind, and some have rather choppy
> strokes.A few are fitted to a too smal bike frame and are
> lunge-cramped.
> Being a spectator is more fun than almost anywhere I have ever been,
> because of all the informal banter and bonding between the pioneering
> riders. Two riders had stories of being either harassed or violated in
> some way on their commute to the velodrome that very evening. The
> velodrome now has a metal fence and grandstands and a new blacktop
> type surface. There is a magazine devoted to the racers, which is
> free, and in it's first issues. The small almost pamphlet style
> publication is called "Fixed" and features ads, rider bios and general
> musings. Riders on the Puma team, on average speak of many near death
> experiences with several broken frames. Tatoos and a do-or die spirit
> are displayed by these riders who not only race on velodromes but do
> something called "alleycat" races on city streets.
> With all their mileage, bike messengers are not the fastest, but they
> are the most creative with their unusual old bikes (many classic), and
> their daredevil "war zone" attitudes. The alleycat racers seem to
> function with a combination of macho and world peace prayer mantras. I
> am shocked, by the bravery that these fine people exude. I have no
> idea where these messenger-racers live but Manhattan has not one
> neighborhood left that has not been seriously gentrified, with the
> exception of Spanish Harlem.
> I have great love for New York, and it's people, and the vintage
> racing scene is in good hands there. It seems as if a goodly
> percentage of the vintage parts, especially the cranks, hubs and
> frames are being held by residents of the five boroughs. Every trip to
> New York deserves an evening spent at the site of the original 1963
> velodrome. I also recommend going to one of the many Asian restaurants
> that you will pass between the Flushing #7 train stop and Kissena.
> Garth Libre back in Miami Fl.