Friday, June 18, 2010

Event: Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic this Sunday

One Sunday in June, several years ago, my wife and I decided that it was a perfect day to take our bikes out and explore the neighborhood.  Get some use out of the bikes we never use quite enough.

It was a lovely day.  We loved seeing the brownstones, the flowers our neighbors planted in tree beds, the warm sun splashing our faces as we rode around Harlem's open spaces.

We rode east down 120th Street and crossed Mount Morris Park West, heading toward Fifth Avenue....and promptly found about 30 professional and semi-professional road bikers in brightly colored spandex bearing down on us at high speed!  What the heck was that?!? we wondered as we jumped the curb to get out of the way.

Turns out, we unwittingly rode right into the middle of the oldest continually held bike race in New York City - the Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic.  This Sunday, June 20th, the 37th annual Classic will be held at Marcus Garvey Park.  From the Classic press release:
"Cycling in New York City has a long and storied tradition dating back to the 1800's when Madison Square Garden was first built for track cycling," said Senior Vice President for New York City Sports Marketing Andrew Gould. "The sport of cycling has continued to flourish in New York City throughout the years, due to world-class events such as the Harlem Cycling Classic, and it brings me tremendous pleasure to add a new chapter to this event by awarding the prestigious NYC Mayor's Cup to this year’s winners."

The David Walker Memorial Pro/Am starts at 4:00 p.m. (I'm guessing this is what we were almost run over by).  FYI, according to last year's NYT write-up:
Created as a Father’s Day event in 1973 by David A. Walker, a community affairs police officer who also brought double Dutch to public schools, the race has molded several generations of New York cycling talent, including Nelson Vails, a former bicycle messenger and a silver medalist at the 1984 Olympics.
There will be a series of children’s and community races from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Each child who competes will be given a free helmet and T-shirt. Winners of the children’s races will each receive a free bicycle.
There will also be live performances by hip-hop icons Biz Markie and Mister Cee and other performers. New York City’s famed Wafels & Dinges and Frites & Meats food trucks will be at the event for all in attendance.   Check it out!  I'll stay off the course.

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