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Monday, May 19, 2008

Kissena - Al Toefield

This is Al Toefield. I don't think anyone has made a bigger contribution to bicycle racing in New York then Al. He was the founder of the Kissena Club. He was instrumental in getting the Kessena Velodrome built. He ran the Spring Series in Central Park. He was the Chairman of Cycling for the Empire State Games. He ran all the races at the Kissena track. He ran the District Championships. With the Seubert Brothers, Pete Senia and Syl Greco he brought the National Road Championships to Bear Mountain in '82. He was the president of the Metropolitan Cycling Association. He ran the Skyscraper Classic in Harlem... I'm sure that I am forgetting a bunch of stuff.

Al was a detective with the New York City Police department, and his connections with the city opened quite a few doors with regards to getting race permits. Al and his partner, Angelo, owned Kissena Cycles on the Long Island Expressway service road a few blocks from the track. Al and Angelo both died from pancreatic cancer within a few months of each other in 1989.

I was just about to open my shop when Al died. Al's son- in-law called me to see if I had any interest in buying the contents of Al's shop. I went and took a look. I remember that there was a bunch of really interesting old chainrings hanging on the wall. I offered to buy them but he wanted to sell the whole contents as one lot. It was pretty sad to visit the shop.

Coincidentally, Joe Sulc, who I worked for at Engelbosch Cycles, grew up in the apartment above Kissena Cycles. The bike shop wasn't there yet though. At that time the place was a barber shop and Joe's father was a barber there.


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