Sunny Father's Day for Cycling Classic in Marcus Garvey Park
By Paul Lomax and Tom Liddy
HARLEM - For Russell Charlton, biking is more than fun and games.
On Father's Day, it was an opportunity for the Harlem auditor, who is often away on business, to spend some time with his young girls Molly, 3 and Ivy, 9 months.
"It's a chance for me to spend time with my kids to be a dad for the day because I travel a lot with my job," Charlton, 45, said as he enjoyed the sunshine at Marcus Garvey Park.
"It's also an opprotunity to combine my love for cycling with being a father."
Charlton was just one of a throng of people who packed into the park Sunday for the Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic.
Crowds were treated to BMX stunt cyclists, who performed gravity-defying tricks on a series of jumps.
Danny Parks, 41, from The Bronx, was enjoying the day with his son Tarian Parks, 5.
"I'm enjoying spending quality time with my son!" he said. "We love riding our BMX bikes together and just hanging out enjoying the day!"
The day-long event featured child, amateur and professional races and provided an opportunity for New Yorkers to rub elbows with world-class cyclists.
"We want to celebrate the long and rich cycling heritage of New York City and its historic Madison Square Garden races by bringing that format to the streets of Harlem," said promoter John Eustice.
"We're actively encouraging participation from all levels of the community, regardless of experience. This is the ultimate culmination of cycling appreciation wrapped in a festival that only New York can put on."
The event, sponsored by Rockstar Games, also featured a "Bike Bonanza" where kids could work on their cycling skils, get a free helmet, swap out their old bikes for better ones or register their bike with the NYPD.
"This is such a great event!" said Siobhan Briley, 46, of Harlem said. "I used to be a serious amateur cyclist and it's hard to find good race circuits in urban areas, particularly NYC, but I think this race course is one of the best in NYC."