Red Hook Crit : London No.2

text : Michael Stromberg - photo : Gophrette Power


It is tough to describe the emotions a racer feels, even when the name "Red Hook Crit" is merely uttered. The excitement, nervousness, and anxiety associated with this race are sometimes too much for riders to handle. I thrive on it, I love that feeling of being so nervous and excited that I feel like I am going to be sick. As I line up on the line for the Red Hook Crit men's final, I still get that feeling, palms sweaty, heart racing, stomach in my throat, and I can hear and feel every breath I take as the cowbells clap and David counts down. And then we are off, and all that nervousness is instantaneously lifted. No other bike race gives me the same feeling, or at least has not yet in my short one year of bike racing. I am usually shooting the shit with my fellow competitors, laughing and smiling, and then they countdown from three. Like, "Well I guess we are meant to be racing now." 

London is a special one for me as I lived there before moving to Brooklyn where I now reside. I will always consider London home in one way or another, even though I am not British. I use this race in particular, as well as other RHC stops, to catch up with old mates. This helps calm the nerves in the athlete warm-up area. As I cruise around listening to Carnifex, I give smiles and nods to familiar faces. After qualifying, I was excited and relieved to see that 3 of our team had made it straight through to the big show. Myself qualifying at position 38, which I was not ecstatic about. Yet I knew I could move up from here as my strengths are more in fitness than in sprinting capabilities. 

As we warm up, I gaze around at the competition. In addition to having just seen Dani King (Olympic Gold Medalist) lap the entire women's field, I am admiring what an awesome and fiercely competitive event this is becoming. I always love the traditional neutral lap as we rev the crowd up and get to see the faces of our friends and fans. And then we line up, all the aforementioned emotions rise to the surface. 

The race starts fast and relatively clean as there are only a couple minor crashes, a handful of riders down. Instant relief for me as I was one of the unfortunate people who was taken away in an ambulance in Brooklyn with the motorbike crash. The initial laps of the race were fast, as everyone is quickly trying to advance up the field, I am able to maintain my position at this juncture but found myself unable to make forward moves this early as the course is very tight, and in the limited areas there are to pass, I found everyone sprinting simply to maintain position. This worries me not though as I know that it will soon become a race of attrition, especially as it is such a short track this time. 

My main goal quickly becomes to stay fast through turn 6 and gain positions in the straight before turn 7. As the race meets the half way point, and people begin to fatigue from the dinner prime, I see that this is my opportunity to make moves. I physically see people begin to power down, meanwhile, I am still feeling good. For the second half of the race, I am able to move up a position or two every lap, while focussing on staying fast through the turns and staying out of trouble, avoiding dodgy moves, and capitalizing on safe ones. I remember passing William Guzman as he could nearly not stay upright on his bike, completely out of gas. 

As we pass the start finish with 5 laps to go, I know that I have to go full gas for the remainder, but am confident that I can do so. I even found myself surprised to be making moves past some of the traditionally strongest RHC riders, while still focusing on playing good defense through the turny sections, or safely blocking other riders from passing. I sprint through the finish line with a couple of the 5th Floor dudes, and Zac, managing to gain a couple positions at the very end. 

I take a deep breath, sit upright, and stretch my lower back. Official finish 27th, not exactly what I was hoping for, but satisfied nonetheless as half the field of the main race (95 racers) was taken out simply by attrition, being lapped. "This race is getting harder and harder each time," I think to myself, "yet your results are getting better and better, hard work is paying off." I instantly want to do the same race again, right after finishing. It is the most fun I have on a bicycle. I love the feeling of being on the edge of disaster, yet in control. It reminds me of my roots as a ski racer in Colorado. The risk of consequences makes racing more fun, in my opinion, if a bike race were 100% safe (which of course is impossible as concrete is always a hard surface) it simply wouldn't be funfor me. 

Barcelona here I come! Simply writing this has dredged up all these emotions again, I can't wait to race the Crit.


Complet photo (x410) report Red Hook Crit London No.2 - CritDay

We are proud to release our second complete race recap of the Red Hook Criterium presented by Rockstar Games. This time we travel to London for the Red Hook Criterium London No.2. Live commentary provided by official announcer Gabe Lloyd, and multiple RHC winner Neil Bezdek. The action is shown from multiple cameras covering the entire circuit, as well as on board cameras on the athlete's bikes : Video edit by Tito Capovilla - Intro music by No Way Josie