AQBF On the Road: Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic

The Women at the starting line.

The Women at the starting line.

Whenever someone asks me, "What's your favorite race?', it's always the same answer "The Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic". For me, this race has truly been a one of a kind experience. Not just the race itself, but the atmosphere. It truly embodies many of the things that are great about NYC and the community. Specifically the black community. I'm not saying it doesn't exist, I'm just saying I've never seen an audience of spectators filled with so many colorful faces. It warms my heart. Seeing all the people chilling on the stoops, trying to keep cool while watching the races. They laugh, the cheer, they heckle, it's just a great time.

Black Girls Do Bike NYC lead a family ride up to the race. This helped bring a lot of folks to spectate their very first bike race!. So rad!

Black Girls Do Bike NYC lead a family ride up to the race. This helped bring a lot of folks to spectate their very first bike race!. So rad!

This year was no exception. There was a festival, a kids race, street vendors, families, friends, everything. I was in my happy place. The race itself for me wasn't that spectacular. There were a few early attempts at a breakaway. Nothing stuck, until something stuck. They were getting further and further away, and we weren't chasing, not really. There were a few attempts at working together, but one person would pull and another would shoot herself off the front to try and bridge the gap herself.

Eventually, I decided I was going to go for it myself. I felt strong, I was getting closer, and closer. The break was just beyond the point of contact, and then they saw me. They looked back and saw me and sprinted away. I realized it wasn't just me they saw, the pack was gaining on me as well, they were right on my tail. I made the decision to let them swallow me up.

The group slowed dramatically, the break was no longer in sight. It was like we'd all silently agreed to let the two girls in the break go and duke it out as a field for third place. We went around, and around, and with one lap to go we picked up the pace, I found myself sliding backwards, I knew it wasn't a good move. I moved forward, but not enough. There was a crash just before getting into the final turn. I pressed on.

We rounded the corner and sprinted for the line. 8th place! 

It is worth noting that the field was disappointingly small. Outrageously small actually. It was a local race with , a great scene that offered an equal $3000 payout like the men. I'm really hoping more women see how great it was and make a point of showing up next year. I think more women would have made it even more fun. And despite it's infamous nickname (Skinscraper Classic), there wasn't a whole lot of skin lost!

I finally met Nelson Vails in person! I wasn't excited or anything =)

I finally met Nelson Vails in person! I wasn't excited or anything =)

Tons of fun, lots of great people, food, festival, equal payout for women? Sign me up! 

Who's coming out for Harlem next year? 

Ayesha McGowanComment