Fixed gear racers and fans from around the world converge on Brooklyn each year for the Red Hook Criterium. This year felt different then years past. Rumors circled the race pits questioning if this was the last Red Hook Crit. With no future dates announced this well oiled machine’s future felt unclear. Maybe in the back of some racers minds they wanted a win because what if this was the last RHC? For the past 7 years we have enjoyed this series as MASH and hope the future is bright for this microscopic subculture. It is exciting racing, Fast, Brakeless, Large fields of skilled riders, but the unknowns can show their face in crashes, and podiums. These variables make for some very fast racing for the athletes and the fans. Enclosed are a series photographs recorded on April 28th 2018 at the RHC.
The weather was great for most of the day. This event used to be scheduled in March/April, but May has proven to be quite nice.
Three weeks ago I was personally transported to my own version of a past place and time that I no longer felt existed. You see, my personal trajectory through the sport of cycling has been thoroughly defined by fixed gear crits. The first criterium I ever actually competed in was in Providence Rhode Island, took place after an alleycat, footdown competition and longest skid event, and was about 8 laps around a bike shop on track bikes. I have been vocal about my disappointment that Red Hook Crits have become too fast for friends and family to even qualify for, and too dangerous for me to consider racing once my road cycling career took over.
You can maybe empathize then, how I felt personally transported back to past years when buddies were showing up after beers the night before to smash a crit on track bikes. It had been a while since I had literally seen some of the faces I saw racing Mission Crit. It’s maybe not well known that my own brother, Kyle, won the first edition of Mission Crit. I’m pretty sure he rode over after finishing some school work and I recall him mentioning it being pitch black, scary, and fun as shit. Mission Crit V reminded me of the years just after the explosion of the RHC scene, with people unloading their messenger bags on the ground and swapping street gears for racing. There were high school kids with bikes covered in stickers of their favorite brands, people getting sunburned while screaming for their friends before their own races and an atmosphere of party and hangout that I haven’t felt in while, (it could just be me of course!) However, I will say that the pressure to do well in a bike race can be offset by the presence of familiar faces goofing off while sitting on the curb. It also helped my nostalgia that I was racing better than I had in years as well, and knew a few people ringing the course.
One of the most beautiful parts of Mission Crit is the course. Set up on open streets, the serpentine loop is dotted with some serious potholes, and utilizes natural features of the streets to create one of the more technical courses out there. Replete with simple yellow tape strung between trees, the course also had fully barricaded technical sections adorned with the glitzy sponsor boards that have come to define a PRO race. When James Grady himself wasn’t on the mic, a comedic duo of (hopefully? maybe?) day-drinker/race announcers alternately teased competitors or simply said ‘hi’ to friends over the loudspeaker. The course is incredibly stop-and-go, and to those who thought the chicane was “so awesome!” I can definitively say you are a better bike rider than me because I was white-knuckling through that section and barely keeping my shorts on.
When was the last time you walked through a literal cloud of marijuana smoke? On your way to staging? The mixture of substances represented the mixture of people who also defined the Mission Crit experience for me. The diversity of people who showed up to watch or simply hang out after work was inspiring and certainly surprising compared to most of my recent big-race experiences. The biggest and loudest crowds of dred-locked punks still made room for kids to run by or well-dressed couples pushing their Uppababy into Gus’s for some oat milk. Of course the candid drug use and relaxed police signal the worse issues San Francisco has going for it right now, but I couldn’t help feeling proud that the gut of the track-bikes-on-the-street scene is still a little bit dirty and scary.I feel so lucky that the San Francisco bicycle scene has adopted me into its family. The epicenter of a unconventional bike trend that became an international racing sensation has brought track bikes back to their home streets and the event and community surrounding Mission Crit deserves all the success and joy it has, and will continue to have. I felt so proud to chase down riders wearing my MASH kit and though I missed a podium I hope SF knows I gave it all I had.
With the third stop of the 2017 Red Hook Criterium series in the books, we take a moment to look back at the details from Barcelona, Spain. With a solid six years of racing this series as a team, we have a good understanding of what to expect. International travel includes packing smart and light, remembering the power adapters, snacks, and sleeping on couches. As a small bike shop, we never have enough support for our racers, always bare bones, no private shade tent, cooler, our own rollers, chairs, limited tools, and it always works out. We adjust to the ever-changing rules for qualifying and the press.Duke’s custom Giro road shoes. Chas draws on his friends’ stuff, and we love the finished results.The series is a well oiled machine with almost all details sorted out for the athletes and spectators. Gabe is the MC for the day, offering insight to the crowd. Racers love hearing their names come through this mic with high energy.Wearing the red jersey marks you with the racers and the cameras. The new qualifying format is a much safer system for the racers, which are set up as mini races with the top transferring.Duke qualifying in group four.Volunteers fill the course to notify racers of what to look for through a series of colored and pattered flags.David Trimble started this series as a birthday party, with racing in his blood, he wanted to grow it to an elite event. His vision is coming to fruition with a solid budget, events running like clockwork, and over the years, has gained the attention of world class athletes, billion dollar brands, and the UCI.It feels good to be passionate about something. The racers are fulfilling personal goals while working for their teams and the logos they wear, and the photo/video crew have a job to tell a story, and fill obligations for publications. We are our own client, so there is no pressure to make something specific, just what is striking. Been all over the world with Chas and have watched him drink from every faucet and eat like a local with no effect, but the stomach bug caught up to him on race day, and he still smiled and dry-heaved his way through qualifying like a champ.Hot DogThese events are part bike-race and part car-show of sorts where looking is part of the day.The concrete in corner two had a very smooth surface, and took some cornering adjustments for racers to ride it in a more conservative way. The learning curve was steep.This kid was having a blast, and it reminded me why we all fell in love with bikes in the first place.Evan crashed in the first hairpin corner during qualifiers. He re-wrapped his bars between events, offering fresh mojo for the main race.Crihs has raced this series since it’s inception, and still shoots from the pits between racing.Turn 2 was very slippery, the organizers tried adding grip tape but the pavement was too smooth for it to stickEvan MurphyDukeSuper Pole is phase 3 for the top 25 qualifying racers, where each racer will put in one fast lap to decide the top 10 start positions.Evan qualified 4th in group one, so was eligible for the Super pole.Ash DubanAsh raced a smart race and gave the crowd a very exciting show.Qualifing men to the line600mm Prime GoProWith spotty rain the days before, Barcelona gave the racers a clear night.Evan singing at the start and nobody having it.Dave about to call racers up.The goal is to get in and stay with the lead group. The first few laps string out the field quickly.The barriers on the last straight to the finish are covered with corrugated plastic and create a drum that brings good energy to the finish.Evan animated the field throughout the race, breaking for a few laps at a time, regrouping, and going again. This is what the races used to feel like before super teams bought their way into this format of racing, and it is very exciting to see the underdog mix things up symbolically, and actually.We have seen the pace of these races increase from event to event. You can no longer turn a gear ratio that would have kept you in the front a year or two ago.Official bell lapEvan was in the lead group going into the last lap, but was crashed out in corner eight with several of the projected front runners.David Van Eerd avoided the crashes, and out-sprinted Davide Vigano to take the win on this night. Bring your own just in case.Alec bobbled the last corner and crashed. He will be back for Milano no question.Pack it up, and send it to Italy.
Thank you to all the organizers, staff, crew, and volunteers who help make this traveling series happen.
With no rain in the forecast, racers visiting Barcelona for the Red Hook Criterium met at the D’Horta Velodrome to spin legs in preparation for to tomorrow’s main event. With clouds helping keep the temperatures low, a solid group took turns putting down laps on this historic velodrome. It had been years since visiting this track, and was happy to see the remodel wearing in nice. Enclosed are a series of photos from the morning.
Red Hook Brooklyn has grown to become a cyclist pilgrimage over the past 10 years. A race that was born on cobbles, at night, lit by a few street lamps, with Dave Trimble’s long game vision, it has become the premium bike race for the 200 athletes who show up to qualify at each city stop. As the format has grown in popularity, so has the level of performance, drawing Olympians and pro tour racers along with messengers and working class athletes. The following series was photographed on April 29th 2017 at the 10th Anniversary of the Red Hook Criterium. The quality of this series of races has surpassed what is expected at state-level bike racing. Dave, with a group of employees, and volunteers are able to take this show on the road each year, with stops in London, Barcelona, and Milano in 2017.Dylan began at Specialized as an intern, and was quickly handed the task of designing their RHC team identity for 2017. We met Dylan straight out of High School, and it has been a pleasure to watch him grow into his own person. Jason supports his Affinity team members with saftey pins and emotional support. Dan Chabanov has dismanted the men’s field at these races in years past. He has been creating some quality recap pieces for RHC with Cycling Tips.We met Duke through his community efforts around street racing in London. It was rad to see him come out to New York and take a spot in the group 2 qualifier.The event is shot from multiple broadcast cameras and sent to screens so spectators can keep up with the race. We hope this feed is pushed live online one day.Having come off a top 10 finish at Mission Crit the weekend before, Chas was excited to qualify and race with riders from around the world. The new qualifying format is far safer than years past. These shorter races keep the tempo up for the 20 minutes, which makes it exciting and less confusing. Appreciating each other’s bikes is a highlight of these large cycling themed gatherings.Having had a strong showing at his only RHC race of 2016, Evan was looking forward to the 2017 Brooklyn stop. This is his seventh year racing this series on these brakeless race bikes, and he has a strong grasp on the psychology of racing in close quarters at night.After painting some bikes for friends, it was fun to see Evan make one for himself. Check the full details and specs HERE.Race updates are printed and posted for review by participants. Our friend, Kosuke Masuda, created art by hand for the team skin suits and helmets while Al Nelson also helped with the design for the 2017 race season. Racers who qualified for the main events had time to go rest and come back for some night racing.There is no shortage of media at these events. In the past, there was push back from road racing teams not wanting their team members to race at these events in fear of getting hurt, but with high level of press that comes from these races, the road teams flipped and now want their racers out there in the mix.Crashing is part of these races. It is a rarity to see a crash at a road criterium, and it freaks everyone out. It is not uncommon to have a dozen crashes with some major injuries at RHC.The racer staging area in the cruise terminal is set up with care. Both cyclists and runners have access to equipment that could be cumbersome to fly with.Legs up between qualifying and racing.If you did not make the cut, you lined the course to scream for friends who became the night’s entertainment. The Cruise terminal sits on the water, looking out at Manhattan, and this gift from France. Barriers are set up on the outside of the course. The plastic sponsor advertising becomes a drum during the race and creates a rolling rumble as racers pass.The women’s race started with a terrible crash on the first straight where the route narrowed to a single lane.Without an official live feed, online spectators could search for live feeds through social media.Colleen Gulick took home the W for the women on this night.Dave keeps his cool through this massive production littered with complaints, injuries, victories, and celebrations. He started this race as a self-celebratory birthday, and he has grown it into a career.The qualified men line up in pole position with the fastest qualifying race winner on the front row solo.100 racers flood the final race with the fastest racers moving to the front in the first lap to avoid a chance of crashing in the congested field.By the second lap through, it was clear to the spectators that this was going to be a ripping fast race.Team support was littered along the sidelines if needed during the race.Stefan and Colin break mid-race and with the support of their teammates leading the chase group, they were able to open up a 29 second gap.Chas in the chase.Evan was crashed out in the hairpin and then bridged back up to the chase group before the race was stopped on a red flag.The leadThe chaseCesar Valenzuela dominated Colin Strickland at the Mission Crit the weekend before. On this night, Cesar was leading the chase group with 5 laps to go, but came out of the hairpin into a sprint. Without looking up, he put himself into the barriers resulting in a broken collarbone. He is healing, and we expect this young racer to come back strong.The spectators alley wrapped by one of the hairpin turns.The front of the chase group was dominated by teams invested in racers in the break. Slowing, blocking, and whatever psychological game is going on in this photo continues with just a few laps to go. It takes a strong team to do well in these races in the modern age.Evan and Addison sprinted for 7th and 8th for the night.Partied outDan Chavanov for Cycling Tips.New York, thank you for welcoming racers from around the world to put it all out there. Thank you to Red Hook Crit, its organizers, volunteers, and sponsors for making it all happen. Thanks to the racers for showing up and keeping it fun.
A racers bike that is set up specially for events in a unique object. It is often times fresh components, a new chain, new tires, and bar tape. In contrast, a bike used for training rides has all of the expression. It is well loved, worn out everything, a trainer is heavier, it carries a pump, tools, and a flat fix. By the time a racer transitions from the training bike to the race bike, the athlete might feel an extra stoke of power or energy from the well maintained race bike.
Over seven years watching Evan Murphy race at Red Hook Crit events, I have seen it all. From racing a chrome stock Bianchi Pista, to magnificent hand made race bikes, he has covered the gamut. Going into Evan’s 7th season racing the series, our team chose to have no bike brand sponsor. Next year will be different, so this year became an opportunity for self expression. Evan had been painting a few bikes for friends, so was excited to hear he wanted to do one for himself. He had the skin suit that Kosuke designed for us, so he wanted to paint something that could live together. He put down a base, then began to draw from memory, all the places he has lived growing up. The maps from when he was younger have less detail, and maybe show more errors. Mapping is an important tool for cyclists, and you can see the later locations remember bock to block details. The build include: ENVE M50 rims laced to MASH Phil Wood hubs with Sapim spokes. ENVE 120 road stem, and 44 road bars. ENVE 27.2 road post. Selle Italia prototype SLR saddle. Prototype MASH Bar Tape, Rinpoch 165 track cranks with 51T ring. Continental 4000s clincher tires. Izumi chain. 15T Euro Asia track cog. K-Edge + crusty Garmin. Look road pedals.
I race bikes a lot. I’m not even sure if I love riding my bike as much as I love racing it. I’ve raced alley cats in Providence, Portland, Berlin and NYC. I’ve raced Cyclocross in the snow, in frozen mud, in pouring rain across beaches and in the desert. I’ve raced road races with crowds so rowdy the entire city’s police is present, races that shut down entire business districts of towns, races with five-figure prize purses on the line, and races against teams whose budget could change politics.
Yet, after all those experiences, it is the Red Hook Crit that I am most nervous for now. When I first raced Dave Trimble’s event 8 years ago, I sort of wandered around the scene until the race, not knowing anyone and anxious to start riding. The course had some lumpy cobblestones that I flatted on. At that time, Trimble allowed free laps (on the honor code!) so I sprinted to my bag with spare wheels and put one on. I was with the lead group at the time, and jumped back in, only to slam into another pothole in the dark, flatting both tires and ending my race.
I couldn’t have predicted that over the following years, I would become good friends with a lot of those hero’s I watched race and read about on the internet that weekend. I can actually trace many friendships’ roots to various Red Hook Crit events and parties. I sometimes speculate that the stress and anxiety I feel leading up to the race, and the euphoria and adrenaline released afterwards, bring out the best extrovert in me! Ultimately I’m grateful for the atmosphere the crit creates, (even though I lose hair over the race!) because it has given me friends around the world.
This year’s event was too fast, too dangerous and brought for me a completely new set of expectations. I sound like a broken record, as I’ve said this every single year before, but never before have we truly seen team’s pouring resources and recruitment efforts into this race series, quite like now. Of course, the irony is that MASH SF was one of the first teams to bring aerodynamic equipment, a polished aesthetic, and tactical teamwork to the RHC. Possibly my new fear of the race speed and risk is just me being a sore loser? Feeling left out because I don’t get to stand on the podium so readily as in year’s past? MASH this year was Chas, Duke and myself, with Mike supporting us with rollers, snacks, jokes and the sexiest kit I’ve ever seen. We had a plan to race together, but the qualifying heats did not go in our favor, and for all intents and purposes, we were all on our own.
In the qualifying heat of this year’s race, my legs were pummeled by the guys, and my only tactic was to lead out as long as possible near the end of the heat, to guarantee a qualifying position. I was passed like I was standing still towards the end. I watched racers from the top teams crash, I heard crashes behind me, a rider from an Italian team took his hand off his bars to push me in the race, after I yelled at him, and I felt pedal strike on 165mm cranks from leaning so far over in the hairpins. I went home after qualifiers and slept for an hour–I was wrecked physically and mentally.
By the final race, it seemed like I had gotten the hang of it a little more, putting in a few digs and giving what I had to try to get off the front. In the field it was a mayhem of jostling bodies and I was riskily resting in there for a few laps in anticipation of giving it one more go when a rider divebombed the hairpin, chopping me and crashing himself out. I landed on top of him, and when I got up, I watched the field over a half-lap ahead of me thinking to myself; race over.
I chased back on, lucky that the large (huge!) field had slowed a bit, but that chase was certainly the last meaningful effort my body would produce in the race. As I wound my way to the front of the field, preparing for the finale, the race was neutralized due to a crash. Ceasar has a broken collarbone, but I hear he is otherwise alright. The ensuing restart was a tense affair. Thank you to whomever it was keeping the pace high, and thank you to my luck for finding Addison Zawadda’s solid wheel in the last lap. Following him, I squeeked out an 8th place finish, and spent my cool-down lap hugging and high-fiving all my friends from NYC who had come out to watch.
I am so happy that I’m still in the mix of this race and that MASH SF still finds value in supporting the few of us psychotic enough to want to race. This was the first year in a while I really told myself and others that I would like to win the Red Hook Crit. I feel like I gave it a good shot and haven’t given up hope for the rest of the series. But ultimately what I was reminded of this year was the extensive community of people that make my time racing worth it. Performing for friends, psyching myself up with Chas and Duke and Mike, hugging too many familiar faces to count, and dancing like an idiot well into Sunday morning were better prizes than anything to be found on the podium.
Thanks to all the sponsors: Giro, Enve, Oakley, Phil Wood, Jandd, Castelli, Selle San Marco, Continental, and most of all: MASH SF!!!
April 22nd 2017: The Mission Crit was born in a parking lot 4 years ago, and by it’s second year, it grew into the streets of San Francisco. It is common these types of events are on the outskirts of town in some industrial complex but Mission Crit is different. In the heart of the city, on traditionally busy streets, the barriers go up at noon, and racers are qualifying within a few hours on the streets we commute on daily. The vibe is very grass roots, with no alpha sponsor logos pasted everywhere, but instead a grocery store from the neighborhood printed on a small banner. The event takes place the weekend before the New York Red Hook Crit event, giving racers a chance to get a solid practice in before the start of the international series. Enclosed is a set of photos and notes from the night of qualifying, and racing for the men and women, and a cargo bike event in the mix.
Crit racing lends itself to be spectator friendly, with short lap times, fans can scream at their friends constantly.This is the first year we are seeing more live streaming feeds on social media.Course changes for 2017 brought a ton of excitement to qualifying and the main races.
James is the race organizer, and has done an incredible job keeping a grass roots feeling to the event, while still drawing a good size crowd in the middle of the city. Eddy qualifying for the men’s main raceWe see this contrast every day here and hope that each community can help one another thrive as much as the cycling one has.Sam moved here from Portland five months ago. He works at the shop, leads the Tuesday morning rides, and we are happy to see him suit up for his first fixed criterium. He qualified for the main event, and was really stoked to rub shoulders with some very fast racers out there.Marc Marino can help you fix your kits, just hit him up.Chas qualified with the lead group. 2017 is his 7th year racing the Red Hook Crit series, and is excited for New York this weekend.Having a grocery on the race course was convenient for both racers, and spectators.There are to motocycles on course during the races. The first leads the front of the group, and the second one signals racers at the back of the field to exit the race course as they are about to be lapped by the field.Sean raced with the B group, then jumped on a TCB cargo bike, to race back to back heats.Dylan putting in an aggressive qualifying lap to go on to the men’s final.A parking garage is converted to racer staging, and is steps away from the start. On a cool windy evening it made for a perfect spot to sit on rollers before the race.The race is annually held in the Mission neighborhood in the center of the city. The radio tower acts as weather gauge when the fog rolls in for the evening.Dylan is designing for Specialized, and had the opportunity to create the graphics on bikes for their fixed crit team. Look for more images as we roll into Red Hook.SameAddison Zawada was a marked man for this race as he held the #1 spot from last year. He loved the course changes this year, including the descent into the chicane.Sean with a winning smile as he finishes the cargo race.Always love seeing Nick’s Giant TCR Health Net Team bike at events.Jo Selso is a veteran to this race format, and it showed as she finished with a solo win on this night.Coming from the film era, I see modern camera sensors as a superpower of sorts, in that they can see in the dark. It is tricky to shoot these night races with strobes. The racers eyes are dilated for the dark, so when they are railing into a corner, and get pounded by flash, it is harsh on the racers. For these reasons, I love shooting these events with natural light, and sharing these grainy moments as a fly on the wall.The light of the moto pace vehicle makes the crowd roar, as they know the mens final race is on course.Fifty racers qualified to the main event, and the field was FAST. It took spectators a couple laps to adjust to the race tempo. The field was quickly split with two lead groups, and a large chase group.Chas worked with the chase group helping drive the pace, but could not bridge up. He finished 7th for the night.Cesar Valenzuela surprised the lead group, by attacking and chasing down a few breaks before taking his own go. His break stuck, and took home the win on this night.Colin Strickland won 3 of the 4 Red Hook Crits last year, and lead the attacks in an attempt to shut down Cesar, but did not have what it took to bridge the gap.
1 and 2Thank you to James and The Mission Crit. Thank you to all the sponsors and volunteers. We are grateful this event happens here in the city, and look forward to chapter V.
Saturday was the second year Clif threw an event called CykelScramble (pronounced sickle for sure, so there is room to grow there) in San Rafael. They took over the Marin County Fairgrounds and built this crazy race course with wall rides, tables, spines, rock gardens, swinging sand bags, logs, and on down the list. Teams of four signed up to race one bike in a relay. The event brought out a diverse/rad group of Bay Area locals of all ages, all hopped up on bicycles. OG Marin clunkers, BMX shredders, pro XC and even DH racers like Rat Boy. And us for some reason. Some people got weird and that was nice. We did the green screen thing, not for the day’s events, but for what you, the viewer can now do to these photos. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make a new post. Dylan, Brandon, Jean, and Matt did not know what they where getting in for when they agreed to get in the van at 7:30 that morning. The course was pretty challenging, so the conditions made for some highs and lows. Stoked to have Matt Reyes out for the day. He could have competed on his FG no question. We chose a 26-inch BMX for the relay race. A full squish XC bike ended up being the winning format. Down, but not out E.T. Someone got knocked out cold, but came around and was okay. Matt spine tap crossing Jake with the spine transfer Matt shot some fake polaroids Rad to see generations out there being stoked on being stoked. The race started with a wheelbarrow stretch. We came in mid-pack. Matt and Brandon had clean bike handoffs. Guy is rad Guy, Cubby, Jake, and Danny raced on 20-inch bmx bikes, and crushed it, and got a little crushed. Sixth in the Roasters for the day. Banked berm Brandon in the rocks The Bruce Lee style Ninja team had some rippers on it. Look them up on the Cykel Scramble site. Jean got blood on the outside Cubby Cubby about to shoot out of the vert wall ride. These dudes won, but we both lost for costume originality.
New track drops this fall. See you next year!