|This page is online for reference -- Century-SBCG disbanded at the end of 2004.|
To all our members and supporters: Thanks for the memories.
Remember When We Used to Race Bikes in Central Park?
By Chris Lloyd
(The often prescient Mr. Lloyd wrote this in 1995 and the points he makes remain critical. Although he talks about Central Park, the threat to bike racing, and even to simply riding, exists in other New York City parks and in public places in general. In the last two years CRCA and other cycling clubs in New York City have implemented much stricter safety procedures for races, but it's no less important for all of us to serve as examples to the cycling community in all aspects of our behavior.)
A couple of weeks ago a guy entered the Park early one morning on his bike and he got mixed up in a club race. Apparently it was enough of an event in his life that he wrote a nasty letter to the NY Times. This kind of publicity we can do without. Now Jim Boyd and others have to respond to concerns about the dangers of bike racing in Central Park.
Personally, I am amazed that we are still allowed to have weekly races in Central Park. I can't believe that it hasn't been labeled too dangerous. Several years ago it wasn't much of an issue. Night rides (at the time unsanctioned by the CRCA or anyone else and now formally discouraged by the club) started at 7pm, in the daylight. That was then. Today even at a dark six thirty on a Saturday morning there is more activity in Central Park then there used to be on a warm weekday evening.
We have a right to be in the Park, but racing in Central Park is a privilege that can be taken away. We al need to realize this because it might change our behavior for the better and help to secure racing in Central Park in the future.
It might inspire us to do things differently. Like we might take marshalling duty more seriously and do the job really well. We might find a replacement if we know we couldn't make it, rather than leaving the club to find one at the last moment, and let our replacement know how important the job is. During races, we might let each other know of oncoming dangers, like runners and skaters, so that we'd all be able to safely and calmly go around them.
But perhaps the most significant thing that might impact how we interact with non-racers in the Park during Club races has nothing to do with rights and privileges. It has to do with perspective. I don't know about you, but bike racing isn't a career for me. I enjoy this and I do it for fun. Don't read this as me saying we shouldn't be competitive. We should, that makes it more fun. But a dose of perspective could help us not to inspire more letters to the Times and help us to have more than just memories of bike racing in Central Park.