Must Reads: Cyclists in bars, going nowhere fast; Georgia eyes fees to cycle state parks
Old-style roller races survive in New York City, while Georgia considers charging cyclists a fee to ride trails in three state parks.
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The New York Times: Cyclists in bars, going nowhere fast
Roller races are nearly as old as cycling itself and have always had a romping, spectator-friendly atmosphere, as much vaudeville as athletic spectacle. Two of the sport’s early greats — Major Taylor and Charles Murphy, a.k.a. Mile-a-Minute — faced off in a series of races in theaters across Massachusetts at the turn of the last century. In 1950s Britain, crowds still flocked to indoor races, with dancing between the heats.
Digital equipment now exists to measure riders’ progress, but the New York races use an antique set of British rollers from the 1960s, a contraption of pins and pulleys whose low-tech look and loud colors recall a Coney Island ride.
Cyclists face the crowd, balancing their own fixed-gear track bikes on the rig’s four sets of thick plastic rollers. The rollers spin with the bike wheels, keeping the riders in place and driving the arrows that track their progress in time with their pedaling. Spectators watch the races — often 500- or 1,000-meter sprints that are over in less than 30 seconds — from directly in front of the bikes.
“The blue roller broke a few years ago after a crash,” said David B. Perry, who runs the Bike Works shop on the Lower East Side and is the soft-spoken impresario of the New York roller scene; it took months to fix because the parts had to be specially made.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia eyes fees for cycling in state parks
State officials might soon start charging cyclists to ride on trails at three state parks in north Georgia.
The Department of Natural Resources is considering charging a $2 mountain bike trail fee at Unicoi State Park in Helen, Fort Yargo State Park in Winder and Hard Labor Creek State Park near Rutledge.
Paul Nelson, assistant director of state parks, told the Athens Banner-Herald the department needs to charge fees for activities like bike riding to keep parks open and make up for state budget cuts.