The sixth Red Hook Crit Milan has fallen on a warm and sunny day, in the north west of the city.
After the RHC London it was decided Pedlas Pursuit were going to skip Barcelona race to allow time for preparation and training. This time in alliance with recent additions -Brooke Philips and Mateusz Calka, we set forth to burn some tyres at the Mediterranean front.
Mateusz just after his qualification run explaining to Brooke how and when to shred.
We landed preliminary on Friday afternoon, settling down in a beautiful apartment near the track. The team has spent the day building their rides, fuelling up with pasta and talking each other into and out of stress, trying to come to terms with the next day’s events. A couple of us who were on the bottle-holding side of the team, were bikeless so it was convenient to be based in walkable proximity of the circuit.
The athletes’ standings within men group were predominated with Italian sounding names. Not entirely unexpected, considering Italians ride fixed gear criteriums regularly and from a very young age. This alone was an indicator of a tough challenge that was to come. Along with the re-known international teams such as Aventon, 8Bar, Poloandbike- RHC Milan was somewhat on completely different level from Brooklyn and London’s race altogether.
Arriving to the track I found qualifications in full swing and to my surprise no delays to the schedule were yet announced.
There were no crashes, no halts and the timetable was right on the button.
The track was fast. It was faster than the London one, and was on a cordoned off part of a local road. In comparison to that, Brooklyn and London were created by sectioning routes of industrial and urban infrastructures that are not part of everyday road. RHC London also had plenty of uneven sections including something which looked like granite cobbles whilst Italian crit had none of that.
The corners looked wider and easier to manage, allowing for retention of maximum speed without sacrificing momentum nor breaking energy on the bends.
Many riders were seen enjoying themselves, brandishing half smiles and smirks on their faces.
With the change to the qualifications format since Barcelona’s RHC, the riders were “released” but had ten minutes to warm up before the green flag signalling the beginning of the qualification. This came to replace the one warm-up lap after which the riders were stopped just to re-start the timed portion once again.
Despite of Pedlas Pursuit men’s part of the team not qualifying into the main race,Brooke Philips has exceeded all expectations.
Making it her debut in professional fixed gear racing, the girl has flied through the qualifications and subsequently done so in the main race.
The most astonishing for all of us including Brooke herself was the fact that the girl been fixed only since June 2015 and has started training only in July. Two weeks into “dropping the gears” she has claimed the fastest lady in St Paul’s time trials and hill climbing competition, followed by 5th place overall at London’s calling alleycats which she partook along with the Pedlas Pursuit team.
[Picture above] Left is Kacey Lloyd, rocking the Hook on behalf of Rockstar Games, she also is a veteran of the crit and is the winner of the very first one in 2008. Kacey came second in the main women’s race.
[Picture above] Other representatives from the UK and also our friends were Corinne Price (black jersey) now riding for Why Be Normal?
[Picture below] Jess from North London Thunder Cats (black and white NLTC jersey)
Appolline Guillemin and Fleur Faure, both riding under the French flag; for Aventon and Poloandbike respectively.
Fleur is professional racing cyclist and has now ridden at least 5 Red Hook Criteriums, consecutively securing herself a place in the top five finalists. This time was not an exception, Fleur came third.
[Picture below] An absolute phenomenon and an absolute winner, claiming the podium for the fourth time- Ainara Elbusto Arteaga. A track and road cyclist for WRC, the Spaniard was invited to partake in RHC Barcelona last year, which she found very distinctive from the usual geared bikes criteriums. Nevertheless coming from a cyclists’ family- running a closed loop on a fixed gear bike was hardly an obstacle.
At the moment Ainara is a leader of the RHC game.
After all the heats were had and the boys were not qualifying into the main race, Brooke was getting ready to cut the air in the ladies’ finals. Rest, food, kit and a proper warm up. All the factors were obediently addressed and she was back on the track.
We were high-strung and shouting on top of our lungs every time Brooke whizzed past.
The woman’s race witnessed some hairy moments too, and not being able to see what is happening on the other side of the crit was absolutely maddening.
Brooke has showed off some wicked steerage skills and swiftly manoeuvred centimetres away from a crash. She managed to weave through the pack at speeds averaging 33.7 km/h, maintaining her position in the front group. Check this Safa Brian’s footage and Brooke not skipping a beat at 01:37
Keeping her fourth position for the first part of the race Brooke got dropped by three on the last two laps, ultimately claiming the seventh place in the race. She was hardly out of breath and ready to kick asses when we received her unscathed from the track.
Our friend Owen Blandy (riding for East London Fixed, right) been overexcited greeting us on Italian turf.
But spectators were scattered in numbers. The crowd mainly comprised of family, friends and bike enthusiasts who traveled to RHC solely to see the race.
Bambinos were seen comfortably mingling with the adults, having time of their lives.
Locals too were spotted invigilating the race from their privileged seats.
All in all the good time was had had, pasta was eaten, beer was drunk and love was spread.
We will be back.