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21 October 2014 3 comments

Why aren't you racing?

Friends Events Sports Cycling Bicycles
By Juliet Elliott
Why aren't you racing?

I didn’t think I’d be bothered. A summer of illness with less time on the bike than I’d like, an unhealthy diet of booze and pizza not to mention the odd sneaky cigarette… hell no I didn’t want to race Red Hook Crit! And then with plane tickets and time off work and what not, the race just wasn’t on my calendar.

But thanks to a strange sequence of events that led to Dave and I relocating to Italy ten days ago, I found myself in Milan at the very race I’d so nonchalantly dismissed and suddenly all that changed. As I walked down the steps from the station and saw riders circling the course and warming up I felt a little ache in my heart… all of a sudden I wanted in! It’s impossible not to be caught up in the atmosphere of the Red Hook Crit, a race that from its very inception has captivated riders and media alike. It’s transgressive without being totally anarchic, joyous yet serious, challenging for participants and a real treat for spectators. But most of all it feels celebratory – aren’t bikes bloody brilliant? So gimme, gimme, gimme, I wanted to ride one! But short of jumping the barriers and soccer-punching a competitor I was pedestrianized for the day so I had a potter about ‘celeb-spotting,’ playing ‘fixiefamous’ bingo in my head. Once I’d spied Andrea Schiliro. Alfred Bobe. Kelli Samuelson, Larz Wolvh, Jo Celso et al, I pretty much had a full house. The course was fast and narrow with a few chicanes but no big switchbacks to slow people down; you had to go balls out from the start and the qualifying rounds were pretty chaotic with a fair few crashes halting play as people battled it out for a place in the main race. The women were first up, and as soppy as this may sound, the huge, thunderous reception the riders got nearly brought a tear to my eye – for those of you living under a stone, getting a women’s race on the calendar can be an enormous battle so to see that level of support for women’s cycling was beyond fantastic. And the excitement never abated – we all screamed and cheered lap after lap after lap as the five woman break blasted it round, all working well together to maintain their lead. In the end, Ash Duban won the sprint to the finish with series winner Ainara Elbusto Arteaga just behind and Fleur Faure taking the third spot on the podium. Desgena rider Stefani Baldi nabbed forth atop her Brooks Cambium C15 saddle. With the men’s race having so many more riders, it was actually pretty bonkers trying to work out what was really going on in theirs, plus I was trying to take some photos on my rubbish camera, which ain’t easy I tell ya! In short, there were a whole load of limbs and lycra flying past at totally insane speeds and like the women, a break that worked together until the final sprint. In the end Eduard Grosu took gold with Ivan Ravaioli second and Julio Padilla bagging third. So having watched my first ever Red Hook Crit would I still want to do it? Well yes, I think so, but I’m not without my reservations. The problem for me is when you chuck pro-cyclists in there and road racers competing in National Championships it all starts becoming a bit less fun and a lot more serious, certainly the men’s race is a lot less ‘have a go’ than it used to be and the Red Hook Crit is fast becoming dominated by professionals. But though the leaders in the women’s race are damn fast, the race is still a relatively new addition to the calendar so maybe there’s still enough room for a pizza loving beer drinker like me if I get in there quickly. I’m not sure. Maybe I’m scared of getting my ass handed to me! All photos: Dave Noakes and Juliet Elliott
Comments
Great read and great photos thanks for sharing!
James 23 May 2016 at 17:02
wow! Wish I had been there!
Jodie Jo 23 May 2016 at 17:02
Love the piece, really enjoy reading your blog. Nice content and stunning photos! Keep it up!
Dodici 23 May 2016 at 17:02