July/August 1997, p.23

Street Dirt

You're in for it now. The T.A. Mag crew asked me, your mystery cyclist, to cobble together some nonsense about what's up on the highways and byways of Gotham. So here it is, the kick-off Super Manhattan-centric issue of Street Dirt. If you've got some good dirt stuck in your knobbies you'd like to see in print, send it to: H.T, c/o Street Dirt, fax: (212) 629-8334 or email or mail T.A. (Are you kidding? No way I'm giving up my address.)

The ever-vigilant "Geo" Carl Kaplan, past prez of the Cycle Club, recently got into it on the radio with ever-wacky Parks chief Henry Stern. Good for you George! El Kaplan asked Stern to make Central Park's loop drive car-free every morning until 7 AM. Stern sounded agreeable, but canned the idea of complete car-freedom in the park. The political people at T.A. told me that the Cycle Club, Road Runners and Road Skaters (now defunct) asked for the same thing a couple of years ago, but got no response from the ever-endearing Mayor G.

This spring, the Parks Department pulled the plug on a hundred years of racing tradition in Central Park after a pace car crashed into a jogger and kept on driving. The driver was said to have had a minor stroke. Racing literally paved the way for bikes and cars in the park and helped lead to car-free weekends in the late 60's and 70's. But, for a while now, "bike racers"  (a name erroneously applied to everyone on a high-end road bike clad in racing togs) have been burnishing a reputation as arrogant jerks who piss off other park users with their speed antics and intimidating Tuesday and Thursday pack rides (a "pelleton" or "pace-line" to racing afficionados like HT). Thing is, most "real" racers train in the early morning and avoid crowded times like the plague. Unfortunately, the real racers haven't tamed their wild brethren and now, they have precious little good will to work with. The Century Road Club organizes the bike races and is optimistic that at least part of the season will be salvaged. Good luck guys.

Seen in Central Park: an amazing collision between two skaters wearing head phones and trailing dogs on those pulley leash things. There wasn't a jogger or cyclist passing by who wasn't deeply touched by the sight.

Seen on Hudson St: Cop on bike ticketing cars blocking bike lane.

Seen on Queensboro Bridge: Parking agent in official-looking bike garb heading to Queens.

Do you ever wonder why the cops on bikes can't use toe cages and road tires like they do in other places? Damn they're slow.

Seems there was a big crash on June 15 at the Skyscraper Harlem Criterium (A.K.A. the "Skinscraper.") Premier crashee, Cat. 3 racer Jackson Wandres, who in his other life is the chief of the bike group at City Planning, was taken down and had about 10 other roadies piled on top of him. Injuries ranged from bad bruises to some serious nasty lacerations. Hey, be careful Jackson, we like your cool new bike plan.

Turns out that Phil Liggett, the very English chap who narrates the Tour de France for U.S. TV audiences and personifies big-time racing, is also the president of the Cycle Touring Club, which is the U.K. equivalent of our League of American Bicyclists. Pretty cool to see such a strong cross-over between racing and advocacy.

Congrats to T.A. Prez Rob "the Kingpin" Kotch for his nuptials to the lovely Linda and to T.A. Admin Boss Sharon Soons for tying the knot with Clarence.

-H.T.