Words: Maria David
Last Saturday was the second edition of the London round of Red Hook Criterium series. This international high adrenaline discipline is very much at the sharp end of racing. Imagine riding a track bike in a town centre criterium. That’s exactly what’s involved.
No brakes are allowed, and there are corners, hairpins, and narrow stretches of road to contend with. If you needed to add to the heart pumping excitement, you’ve also got loud thumping music, spectators cheering, lively commentary and lots of cowbells to egg you on! That’s Red Hook in a nutshell. You can even repeat it all again as there are rounds in Barcelona, Milan, and Brooklyn to race as well and as the races are not attached to cycling federations, no racing licence is needed.
The social aspect of this sport sounds great, but the racing sounds… exhilarating at best, and a little scary if we’re honest. Why would you want to risk life and limb getting involved in these exploits? Well, 50 women and 280 men did so at the Red Hook circuit races on the Greenwich Peninsula and they came away really energised and buzzing.
“The race was absolutely amazing! I had been apprehensive about what it would be like, especially as you are racing with no brakes, which is scary.” – Dani King.
In particular, team pursuit Olympic Champion Dani King, who was making her debut at the race, after failing to make the Team GB selection for Rio. She had a storming race, too. The WiggleH5 rider obliterated the field, which included world fixed-gear champion Jasmine Dotti from Italy. Speaking at the end of the race Dani said: “The race was absolutely amazing! I had been apprehensive about what it would be like, especially as you are racing with no brakes, which is scary.” After a number of laps in a breakaway that included Jasmine Dotti and series leader Ainara Elbusto of Spain, King launched herself off the front and lapped the field, much to the excitement of the large crowds on this breezy Saturday evening. Commentator Gabe Lloyd, described King’s performance as an “impressively dominant performance” and also praised the way the way that the British had got behind Red Hook when it is just in its second year.
So why did the mere mortals line up to take part in this more challenging aspect of cycle racing? I quizzed these not-so-faint-hearted women about their motivations…