Monster Track 14; My Track or Die experience by Shardy Nieves

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Monster Track, New York City’s biggest alley cat race. This would be the 14th anniversary race and people came from all over the world to compete in the unforgiving streets of NYC. Monster Track weekend was full of activities for everyone who not only came out to compete but spectators as well.

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In 2012, I attended my first Monster Track since switching to fixed gear. This would also be my first alley cat race in general and I did not know what to expect. What also makes this weekend so important to me is the fact that I launched TrackOrDieNYC.com with the photos I shot from Monster Track 13. Safe to say Monster Track weekend is also the Track or Die NYC anniversary weekend. Moving forward to 2013, a few of the guys from T.O.D  and myself we’re training for this massive alley cat race ( I was doing more training for the after party).

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The night before monster track, Track or Die NYC hosted another 2 lap jam this time being held in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. This 2 lap jam would benefit the recycleabicycle.org and all proceeds from the nights event would go to the nonprofit organization. We had a turn out of 60 racers and raised $500 for recycle a bicycle. Much like the previous lap jams, this one was a success.

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After the two lap jam, the crew took a ride over to the East River Bar in Williamsburg Brooklyn for some drinks & to hang out with the rest of the racers who came in town for monster track. Needless to say I got pretty wrecked that night and drank more then I had planned. Not really the best game plan when you have a big race in the next morning. I woke up with a pretty decent hangover and contemplated if I wanted to find a good enough excuse to not race, I’m just keeping it 100. I linked up with Elliot & Oscar and we took the train into the city to get last minute bike maintenance. While heading downtown the snow started coming down pretty heavy however it was not sticking to the ground. Again I was looking for every reason not to race today, the hangover plus the snow as well as the not knowing what Victor & Carlos had in store. I was pretty nervous.

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 We arrived in the city and South Street was packed full of cyclists ready to take on the streets. Once I saw the abundance of racers waiting for the manifest I was no longer nervous about monster track and was more anxious to get out there and test my abilities in the street. The few alley cat races which I’ve done in the past I do not race to win, some of these racers are true athletes. My game plan is to see how many people I can pass from whatever position I started in.

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Most alley cats require you to run to your bike and with my pre existing knee injury, running is never an option for me. I usually walk to my bike as soon as they yell “go”. As a photographer I was pretty upset that I could not shoot the beginning of monster track. I had to make the decision to either bring my camera and shoot photos or dedicate 100 percent of my attention to racing. I decided to race and leave my camera home. Track or Die came out in numbers, most of us had on the exclusive Track or Die NYC hoodies which represents 1 year of our bicycle crew.
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Before the race, I gathered everyone together from T.O.D and made a brief announcement to the guys asking everyone to ride safe. No race is worth your life. It got down to the to starting time and everyone lined their bikes up to race. Victor and Carlos had posted up a copy of the manifest on the bars window which everyone ran up and shot a photo of the manifest, some thinking that was the start of the race. A few guys even took off without a manifest thinking the race had begun, they were wrong and had to return.
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We waited for an additional 45 minutes before the race had actually started. At this point I was energized from Red Bull and in the zone. After waiting I begin to lose my momentum.
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Victor gathered everyone to line up on South Street without their bikes. Manifest were then handed out to each rider and Victor made some last minute announcements. “GO!” Victor yelled and what seems to be a little over 200+ racers took of towards their bikes. Monster track had begun. I took off towards 1 Liberty which would be the first checkpoint. Upon my arrival I noticed I was right behind the top guys and my plan was to follow them. We raced towards Stuyvesant high school for the next checkpoint which is with things got interesting. Once I got my manifest signed at the second checkpoint, I mashed across the West Side Highway without having the right away and at that point a police van sounded it’s sirens and I’m not sure if they caught anyone but I wasn’t stopping. Approaching Chambers Street a fellow cyclists crashed right into my ankle and took a spill. My ankle started throbbing as I look back to see if he was okay. I noticed he picked up his bike and kept moving.

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Now I’m bleeding from my ankle and soaking wet from the snow. Third checkpoint would be the center of the Manhattan Bridge, upon my arrival to the bridge I figured I would take a shortcut scale the wall at the foot of the bridge . Yeah that save me all of 10 seconds as I rode up the bridge I noticed the pack I was following was now coming down the bridge. It was now time for me to find a new pack to ride with. I now headed to Strada on mott st to pick up the second manifest. At this point I was in a lot of pain and considered just calling it quits & grabbing a beer. The next four checkpoints on the 2nd manifest would consist of Midtown stops. I toughed it out and rode with the pack until the second checkpoint. I separated from that group via Madison Avenue and decided to take the rest of the race on my own at my own pace
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My ankle wasn’t feeling any better but I kept pushing through . On the way back for the third manifest I somehow couldn’t unclip from my pedal and almost took a tumble in front of everyone. After I received the third manifest, I was all alone and didn’t know which route would be best. I noticed a group of messengers whom I’ve seen in the city while riding and I decided I would follow them along their route. This would be the boda boda crew and they would be the final pack I followed for the rest of monster track 14. 
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The first stop on the 3rd manifest would be 72 Madison Avenue. At this point my body was starting to experience fatigue. With a Red Bull in my Jersey and a bottle of Gatorade I waited to reach the third checkpoint which would be Marcus Garvey park in Harlem to rehydrate myself. From Marcus Garvey it was a straight shoot to Columbus Circle, sweet! We took Fifth Avenue up to 97th street and cut through Central Park to the west side heading to Columbus Circle. Once we hit Broadway, the pack started to separate. With 1 more checkpoint I just wanted the race to end. I took 7th ave to 112 w26th Street and from there went straight to the finish line which would be Mott Street. I was now running on fumes my body was in pain I was wet and uncomfortable. I was just looking forward to a beer at the finish line.
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While riding down Broadway past Astor Pl, I felt that I was on the home stretch and keeping a really solid pace. At that moment Jeremy Borden flew right by me and said he was finished. I said fuck it I’m not going to try and catch him and I kept my pace. Somehow I ended up at Strada before Jeremy since I rode against traffic on Houston Street to avoid the light. I was informed that Lalo had received the 4th manifest, Stanley had taken 12th, Rigo had taken 16th, I had taken 17th while angel came in at 24th place. T.O.D had placed in the top 25, sweet! Austin Horse took 1st place followed by Alfred Bobe Jr
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Now tired and soaking wet, the crew left Strada and feasted on some pretty good Chinese food. Overall I’m more than happy with monster track 14 and even more happy that it was now over. I passed on the after party and decided to grab a cold beer and Train or Die home. See you next year for Monster Track 15.

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Shardy Nieves
Track or Die NYC

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One thought on “Monster Track 14; My Track or Die experience by Shardy Nieves

  1. Pingback: Monster Track 14-more recaps and photos « Bike Blog NYC

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