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.
Photos: Mike Martin 2017 @mashsf