BROOKLYN, N.Y. - During warm weather months, dozens of bicyclists from around the city gather in Brooklyn for a weekly tradition called the Tuesday Night Race Series, on the abandoned airplane runways of Floyd Bennett Field.
"It's like Tour de France style racing minus the mountains. There are no mountains out here at Floyd Bennett Field but the wind makes it really challenging and it's good wholesome old-school bike racing," said Charlie Issendorf, Director of the Tuesday Night Race Series.
The event has been around for 25 years. Racers speed around the 2.3 mile long course competing for trophies and bragging rights. But this year the series has been pushed back. Instead of starting in May for a 17 week run, the event will begin in June. That's because the permit application has changed. Aviator Sports and Event Center has taken over the permit process from the National Park Service and the original fee quote jumped more than 22,000 percent. From a $150 permit for the season to $34,000, which breaks down to $2,000 per race.
"It definitely took us by surprise just because it's been pretty stable over the years," Issendorf said.
The group created an online petition at change.org to protest the new fees. And it garnered more than 2,000 signatures. But Aviator came back to negotiate in good faith.
"We just went back-and-forth and we came to a price that's agreeable to everybody so we're just ready to start racing again," Issendorf said.
The races will now begin the first Tuesday in June. The National Park Service says it amended Aviator's concession agreement in 2017 to include managing commercial events on the federal property. Private ventures which charge participants will now mostly fall under Aviator management. The Tuesday Night Race Series hopes they can negotiate reasonable fees to ride another quarter century.