The Red Hook Crit, London
Criterium racing is one of the more exciting and spectator-friendly disciplines of our sport. Raced on short, often city-centre, circuits, criteriums inspire a frantic and full gas style of racing. The Red Hook Crit, though, has come along and redefined what we understand as criterium racing. Brainchild of New Yorker, David Trimble, the Red Hook Crit combines a love of road racing with the spectacle of underground street racing. The major difference being that all riders race on fixed gear track bikes.
The race takes its name from the Red Hook dockyards of Brooklyn, where the first Crit was raced some ten years ago. It all started with a race to celebrate Trimble’s birthday around the docks and quickly grew to become a global racing series with events in New York, Barcelona, Milan and London. This weekend (22 July), the Greenwich Peninsula welcomes the series for the third year. The circuit is super-fast and perfect for spectators who can position themselves on the corners for wild elbow-down action, or on the straights to witness peloton-splitting accelerations. Dotted around the venue are some mouth-watering food and beer vendors offering everything from Indian street food to fish and chips.
How does it work?
Top class riders come from all four corners of the world to compete in the Red Hook Crit either as part of a professional team or unattached. The women’s race is limited to 100 riders, all of whom race in the qualifiers to determine starting position and then proceed to the final: 26 laps of the 950m circuit. In the men’s category, 250 men attempt to qualify in a series of heats which determine starting grid positions for the top 85 racers. There is one ‘Last Chance’ race entered by qualifying finishers 86-150 and the top-10 then move forward to the final of 32 laps. In all races, any lapped racers are eliminated. As well as the race win, there are various primes to be claimed during the race to keep things exciting.
The Red Hook Crit is unique in that it is raced on fixed-gear bicycles similar to the setup you might find in the velodrome. These bikes have no brakes and the rider has no choice but to keep pedalling, measuring their pressure on the pedals to influence their speed. This year’s Team Specialized Rocket Espresso are riding a special edition Specialized Allez Sprint frame. It is the same as the Allez Sprint available to customers, the one key difference being that the rear triangle is altered to accommodate a single speed setup rather than rear mech.
Of course, the Crit wouldn’t be the Crit without some fierce paintjobs on show and both Rocket Espresso and 5th Floor (a London-based team) will be competing on custom painted machines.
Often described as the Formula One of bike racing due to frenetic pace and immense physical effort demanded of participants, the Red Hook Crit is not to be missed. Grab some mates and get yourself down to the Greenwich Peninsula from midday on Saturday 22 July to enjoy a racing and party atmosphere that is impossible to beat.
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