Major Taylor New Hope Classic

Contrary to rumor, this ride has no affiliation to Lucas Films. Riding in a Wookie costume would have been a new twist (unless you live in Portland), but who am I to talk, I’m wearing Lycra?

The 120 mile New Hope Ride from Newark Penn Station, NJ to New Hope, PA and back, is one of our premier events. A classics event as I heard it described. Very few cobblestone roads in Newark and some of the surrounding towns, but we do improvise with potted roads and other little touches like grates and dead stuff. It’s the little things that truly make a classic a classic.

I don’t know exactly how long the members of Major Taylor have been doing this ride, but from a picture I saw, the ride has been around for 30+ years. More than likely only a scant few steel framed riders made the maiden voyage and in time grew the ride to what it is today. I’m really proud to be a part of the tradition.

Mileage aside, it’s always special to be around those that kinda look like you doing a sport that for me, has no equal. It is just as special to be around those that don’t look like you, yet through a shared passion a kinship is born. I cannot tell a lie, and say that there is no comparable feeling to going through minority neighborhoods 100 deep and showing the people that this sport doesn’t belong to one race alone. This world is filled with a plethora of beautiful feelings from the birth of a child to Oktoberfest. America’s got cycling talent. If a child sees us motoring away and is thus inspired, you never know.

I arrived at 7:30. I figured with all the pageantry of the event, I could slowly roll from my house and meet the group closer to departure time. Conserve energy for later and I overslept. Seeing masses of blacks in Newark is old news. Seeing masses of blacks in Lycra is a current. It’s hot, it’s now! Iron Riders, MTCCNJ and a few that look for any occasion to wear Lycra we’re present. We are an open group.

I don’t subscribe to any religion. That sentence really says a lot about me, but I did appreciate Pastor Steve blessing the event. We all want to have a fun and safe time. I’d also like to send thanks to our very own Princess Grace Spencer. With her a police escort, without her a critical mass of cyclists left to their own devices concerning road safety. Doesn’t always pan out well. I can’t forget my main man Randy Jackson who when not playing shepherd for us, turns a mean wheel himself. For us to have SAG he sand-bagged his own ride.

For the first 30 miles we were escorted by the police. The speeds were pedestrian. After the police bid us farewell, out went the pleasantries of cruising at 15mph. Race bikes tend to want to race, regardless of whose captaining them. This is their nature. Those that enjoy (and can) roll the wheels at 27+mph did so. I didn’t see that group until New Hope. Those that prefer a less aggressive (i.e., can’t hang) pace turned their wheels at around 22+. No matter the speed, if you were dressed in Lycra you put in the work needed to achieve your goal. That said, there was a mythical creature among us. I don’t know her name, but she rocked a pair of heels, rode a single speed and had a milk crate on the back of her bike. If she’s single? She shouldn’t be.

Heels and a yellow milk crate enjoying the draft in the peloton near Newark, NJ.

…a few hours later: spotted in New Hope, PA?!

Once you get into central Jersey the scenery is beautiful the roads are smooth and the lights are few and far between. It’s a cyclists, “Big Rock Candy Mountain”. Great song. Google it. We made great time pulling into New Hope,PA. After over-running the town like, “The Wild Ones” (Google it), we replenished our bodies, shared road stories and mounted up for the return trip. We had a nice young man in a police cruiser escort us back to Jersey. As soon as the bridge was crossed, we began climbing out. The grade was slight which gave us time to digest before the shootouts started up again. Surprisingly, the pace stayed fairly modest until that nasty old hill was dispersed with and then it was back to the business of turning pedals and breaking wind.

The chase begins…

Besides the unavoidable mechanicals such as flats we stayed incident free until we didn’t. I do not know the riders name, but he was in a real bad spot concerning his health. I hope that, that gentleman is well obviously. Randy our SAG came up to assist as did some concerned drivers and his brothers and sisters on the road.

Groups were up the road, down the road, off the road, but still progressing back to Newark. The weather was near perfect. I prefer the cold, but to each his own.

I arrived in a fairly large group at Penn Station. Day done. I had the opportunity to see people, I only see once a year and ride with people I’d never met. The miles are the backdrop, the camaraderie between the two clubs is what I believe is more important. Excellent edition of the New Hope Ride!

Next week:

Montauk

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