Friday, July 28, 2017

The Metacomet Cycle Club

The Peoples Center was founded 80 years ago in 1937. We are collecting stories about the things that have taken place here. If you have recollections or memories please share them. E-mail Below is by Martin Simon.
In 1975, several bicyclists in New Haven, including members of the Communist Party and the Young Workers Liberation League and friends started a unique bicycle club, the Metacomet Cycle Club. 

Metacomet was a sporting and recreational organization that took a political stance. The club was multiracial and multigenerational. Men and women were among its founders and leaders. Metacomet was both a bicycle touring and a bicycle racing club. The club advocated for the rights of cyclists.

Based in New Haven, the Club was named after native leader, Metacomet, also known as Metacom and by his adopted English name King Philip. He was chief to the Wampanoag people in what is now Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

Metacomet, at first, sought to live in harmony with the English colonists. As a sachem, he took the lead in much of his tribes' trade with the colonies. He adopted the European name of Philip.

But the colonies continued to expand. In 1671, the colonial leaders of the Plymouth Colony forced major concessions. Metacomet surrendered much of his tribe's armament and ammunition, and agreed that they were subject to English law. Encroachment by the English, however, continued until hostilities broke out in 1675. Metacomet led the opponents of the English, with the goal of stopping the expansion in the struggle known as King Philips War.

Metacomet used tribal alliances to coordinate efforts to push European colonists out of New England. Many of the native tribes in the region wanted to push out the colonists because of conflicts over land use, diminished game as a consequence of expanding European settlement, and other tensions.

As the colonists brought their growing numbers to bear, King Philip and some of his followers took refuge in the great Assowamset Swamp in southern Massachusetts. He held out for a time, with his family and remaining followers until he was fatally shot on August 12, 1676, in the Miery Swamp near Mount Hope in Bristol, Rhode Island. After his death, his wife and nine-year-old son were captured and sold as slaves in Bermuda. Philip's head was mounted on a pike at the entrance to Fort Plymouth, where it remained for more than two decades.

The Metacomet Club jersey was red with black, brown, yellow, and white horizontal stripes.

The most notable events sponsored by the club were:
A cycle tour to the John Brown birth place in Torrington,
A weekly time trial series over two summers at Lake Quonipaug in North Guilford,
A 3-race officially sanctioned time trial on roads in Guilford, Madison, Killingworth, and West Brook, and
The Five Star Century, a combined 100 mile ride sponsored by five cycling clubs with 5 starting/ending points that met at the same half way point at Haddam Meadow State Park.

Metacomet was welcomed warmly and supported by the People's Center where it held its monthly meetings and pot-luck dinners. Although the club existed for only three years, it played a special part in the history of the Center and in the cycling culture in New Haven. Former Metacomets feel that we, with the support of the People's Center, lay a bit of the foundation for the today’s thriving cycling scene in New Haven.

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