… and they use this image from Helmut Newton in 1966 as a header image. Be sure to head over to Vogue UK and read the article.
Photos and words by Cooper Ray
On December 5th, 2015, the world’s toughest track bike race took place in the mountains surrounding a place which was once Tenochtitlán, the capital of the great Aztec empire, known today as Mexico City where more than 21 million people reside.
The race: Cielos Infernales. The only information provided to racers was checkpoint locations, and a finish line. This is not your average bicycle race – you must contend with open traffic, self-navigation, and 10,500 feet of elevation gain (also descending) on track bicycles. There were three peaks to be ascended with winding navigation through favelas between the Sierra Madre mountains. Throughout the race, it was either up, or down, with the descending nearly as difficult as the climbing. With impossibly steep and narrow streets, stray dogs, and uneasy looks from locals, this was a game or survival as much as a race. There is no giving up, you have to finish. This is the first track bike race of it’s kind, and will set the standard for this type of event and hopefully inspire more like it around the globe.
Bienvenidos a Distrito Federal y Cielos Infernales.
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“Cielos Infernales was being billed as the world’s toughest track bike race. The first of it’s kind- long, brutal, fast with miles of climbing into the clouds- on one gear in live traffic. 75 miles and 3 mountain ascents completely unsupported. It’s the first time an all-fixed gear alleycat has required the fitness and endurance of a stage race, and the street handling of a messenger. Plus racing in open streets in Mexico City is always a risk. Traffic is wild, roads are rough, and there’s always a chance of a stray pothole, dog, donkey or car catching you out. ”
San Francisco is an ideal city to ride a bike, both for pleasure and work. This documentary interviews the city’s bike messengers from 1987 who by the looks of it, ride for both reasons!
The NACC is coming to New York City next year and the locals have made a teaser of what’s to be expected. Check out more at the NACCC website.
The European Cycle Messenger Championships have landed in Copenhagen next year and if you’re a bike messenger, you can get a jump on the early bird registration now. Head over to the ECMC website for more information.
Preface: Jacob Smoller recently passed away in Boston. Coinciding with this unfortunate event, Kyle came across a Jacobs track bike in Los Angeles. To celebrate Jacob’s life and work, we reached out to Billy Sinkford, a good friend of Jacob to write a memorial piece:
Try Harder. That was Jacob Smoller’s motto. His creed. Jacob would have turned thirty a few weeks ago and passed just a few days before his birthday. He was a Boston bike messenger, frame builder, beloved member of the international messenger family, and urban cycling community at large.
Be it music, racing, building bikes or riding them, Jacob was an artist with a strong creative drive. His commitment to the cycling community even stronger. Over the past 10 years Jacob had a hand in organizing countless cycling events and races, all with the emphasis on fun and inclusion, he was happiest bringing folks together.
Jacob loved this community, he loved bikes, and he loved Boston. Try Harder, never settle and give your all. He gave everything to the messenger community, his friends and family and we will miss him all the more for it. As everyone does, Jacob had his demons. It’s important to remember our friend for the light that he shined and not the shadow that he cast. He was a beautiful man who didn’t ask of anyone and stood tall with his decisions.
Jacob and I met over a decade ago during my transition from messenger life in Boston. I had some of the best times of my life with him, late night antics, exploring the country by bike, and candid conversations over the years. He is a friend that I hold close and his loss has rocked my world. I miss him with all my heart, ride safe my friend. I will miss our talks.
In the world of beausage and bicycles, you’d be hard pressed to find a better catalyst than a street-racing track bike. Or even a bike messenger’s work horse. When you combine the two…
This Legor Cicli track bike was first featured here back in 2011 at NAHBS in Austin. Originally owned by John Taki and was just recently passed down to Chas, it’s seen its share of street wear and tear. Fit with Omnium cranks, a 44RN camo chainring and Essor wheels, it has the mean stance of a race machine, with a lot of that special pista patina we’ve all come to admire.
Chas was in London to do a panel with Oakley at their In Residence space, so in-between his busy schedule, I took this bike outside to document it. There’s something special about a track bike in a city like London… and I love it! Oh and that cup in the spokes? Chas didn’t want to litter when he finished his beer.
This is not for the vintage elite, the collectors, the Eroicas, the spoke sniffers, or the internet aesthetes. Do not bother commenting on the lack of period correct toe clips, or the lack of bar tape, or how you don’t like white tires. The bar angle will rub you the wrong way and Scotty will ride on, not giving two shits.
Scotty’s a working messenger in Los Angeles. Scotty’s older than dirt. He walks with a stride, or a cadence that is only found in individuals who live, breathe and sleep track bikes. You won’t see Scotty on a road bike and in fact, you won’t see him on any other bike than this street-thrashed Eddy Merckx SLX pista. The components tell a story, moreso than any museum-grade bicycle will, regardless of heritage.
Like beausage? This bike is for you. Just remember, before you type a critique, Scotty don’t care. Happy Merckx Mondays. Thanks to Tracko for the heads up on this bike!