We were so excited to hear that the Red Hook Crit would be coming to London for the first time. We had all already gotten hooked on the idea of crit racing after watching numerous RHC videos and seeing the fixed gear race at the London Nocturne last year, but on hearing the famous Red Hook Crit would be coming to London, we jumped at the chance and began training. Ben, Brett, Charles. Lina and our newest team rider Owen Blandy would be competing in the event.
The women’s heat only had 39 competitors, so regardless of your qualifying position, you were going hrough to the next round. What the heat was going to determine though was your position on the grid for the final race. The women’s qualifier started just after 1pm and by this time was probably one of the hottest parts of the day according to our female rider Lina, who is more used to evening and early morning training. None the less she powered through and despite encountering some red flags and stoppages during her session, she still managed to finish with a respectable time at the end, coming 31st out of her group!
Ben, Brett, Charles and Owen were in qualifying group 3 so had some time to wait until they were due to race. Everyone passed the time by staying warm on the rollers, eating some grub and most importantly cheering on our friends in the other qualifying groups! We were all really chuffed to be able to watch our friends pelt it round a circuit and they all did incredibly well, especially considering for many of them, it was also their first crits.
The boys were up! They had discussed tactics beforehand but with the unpredictable nature of the race, these had to be modified. After pacing across the start line and setting off on a hot lap, they only made it to the 3rd corner before it was red flagged due to a crash somewhere else on the course. The guys didn’t have much luck as it seemed with every flying lap they went for there was another crash and the race was neutralised…and restarted twice. This seemed to be apparent in quite a few of the groups on the day, which is a shame as some people didn’t get to show their full potential. But this is what RHC is after all and anything can happen so we all had the make the most of it! Overall in our qualifying group Ben qualified 35th , Charles 33rd and Brett 26th which would’ve been enough to put him through to the last chance race but sadly it was cancelled as there was not enough time. Owen had a had a quite spectacular crash into some hay bales due to his cleat unclipping at turn 2. Afterwards he was fine and now with extra determination sprung back to qualify 11th in our group, enough to put him through to the final race!
The women’s main race started off FAST, with the lead girl out of qualifying being faster then almost a hundred guys from the men’s qualifier! Lina held her place in the final for 14 laps before she had to pull out, despite getting a stitch on mile five of the course. But what a 14 laps they were. She had a little help along the way from friends, one being Emma from Velociposse who made sure she was always at her wheel and just helped her push through those few more laps. There were a lot of other UK women riders taking part and they all performed outstandingly!
Although this was his first fixed gear criterium, Owen is no stranger to competing, having taken part in a number of road races and even some triathlons in the past. The mens race was finally up, and having qualified 85th overall he had some catching up to do to keep in the race. As it started he found a solid position behind Marlon Sandford – winner of his qualifying round – who was in a good group and stuck with them until he started picking up the pace. Before we knew it Owen was on the attack and actually overtaking riders on the corners gaining on the top groups! There was one hairy moment with another rider where they clashed wheels causing the other rider to crash into a barrier, but he was fine and the two made friends after finishing the race. Overall Owen finished 55th having gained 23 spaces in total! Also, big ups to our good friend Alec Briggs who held pole position for 11 laps and eventually finished in 13th place.
Everyone from East London Fixed had such an amazing day at RHC London.The atmosphere was phenomenal and it was truly a great way to bond with the entire cycling community that showed up. We couldn’t have asked for a better day, even if we all lost our voices from screaming encouragement to our fellow riders.
We would like to say a huge thanks firstly to David Trimble for bringing this iconic race to London, but also a massive thanks to Le Coq Sportif and to Oakley for providing us with incredible kit and for supporting our team. Also to James Nicholson for being our photographer for the day, cheers bro!