GCN Vs The Red Hook Crit | Fixed Gear Criterium Racing

October 21, 2019

(dramatic music) – We’re at the Red Hook Crit in Milan, and the atmosphere is building
for the final of the event. But you’re probably
wondering how I got here, so this is how. (chill music) – [Hank] I’m absolutely petrified. (chill music) – We’re gonna get him a beer at the finish ’cause he’s bloody earned it. (upbeat music) – [Host] Now while some of
you might be familiar with the Red Hook, others won’t be. So before we go any further,
here are five quick fire facts to get you up to speed. – One, the Red Hook Criterium
is a fixed gear race, racing around a short city center circuit of around a kilometer long. It takes place in Brooklyn, Barcelona, London, and here in Milan. Two, riders have to compete with a fixed gear bike, with no brakes. So that means they have
to peddle the whole time. No brakes, this is crazy. Three, trade teams
compete against amateurs and there are also
races for men and women, and there are also heats
that you have to finish high enough in order to
qualify for the finals. Four, the first Red Hook was in 2008 and was the creation of David Trimble. It first started in Brooklyn, New York and it combined racing and
fixed gear messenger culture, and it’s really expanded and
gone all around the world. Fact Five, these races are
known for their high speed, excitement, drama, and
bike-handling of the riders. But I’m pretty nervous, because these are notorious for big crashes. Ouch. Wait, who’s that? – [Ollie] All right mate? – Is that you Ollie? – Yeah. – What you doing here? – I’ve just ridden all the way
from Look Factory in Tunisia. (chuckles) I figured that you were gonna need a bike. – Ohhh, is that what I’m riding? – I brought you an… Look 875 Madison
– Noooo. – Yeah. It’s amazing. – It’s light as well. – Yeah, it’s really
versatile Aero Track bike and, well, it’s fully carbon and it’s been painstakingly
hand made in Look’s Factory, so don’t crush it. – [Hank] Mate, don’t jinx it. (chuckles) – I’ve come to support you today mate. – Man, I appreciate it. I need it, I need it. Yeah, I’m nervous. – It’s gonna be good. But we need to go sign on
first to the Velodrome. – Yeah. – You should probably have a go on that. – Yeah, I should probably mention, but it’s probably too late now, I haven’t ridden on a track bike in, well, a good couple of years. (laughs) – Let’s go. – [Hank] Oh gosh. (thrilling music) – While the Red Hook’s
scene is relatively new, Look has a very long and
distinguished history in track racing. In fact, the legendary R96 was supposedly the most popular bike at the Rio Olympics. Hopefully, I won’t let them down. Although, as well as lending me the bike, they’ve also hooked me
up, no pun intended, with their fixed gear
racing team to show me how it’s done. So to ride Red Hook, you
have to have a track bike or a fixed wheel bike. Big difference is, well,
there is no brakes, also, there is no freehub, so
when the rare wheel is going the cranks are moving also. So that means peddling around corners which means you have
to have a shorter crank and a higher bottom bracket
to make sure you don’t hit your pedals on the floor. (uplifting music) – [Hank] Since I have
a background in Crits, and to a degree, in track racing too, San-Dan decided I was the ideal candidate to come to Milan and test my skills. If I’m honest, I didn’t really know what I was letting myself in for. But now I’m here, I’m
beginning to understand why they made up some excuse about
being too busy themselves. So, I made it here to Milan. Just signed on. Number 303. Not gonna lie; pretty nervous. In the track, met the Look
guys, whose helped me set up the bike and get the wheels sorted. Now, I’m gonna have a
quick spin on the Velodrome to see how the legs are. Woo! (courageous music) (lively music) – While James signs on
and gets his number, I’m gonna explain the
format of Red Hook Racing. So every rider, including
James, first competes in a heat. If you come in the top 20 of your heat, then you qualify for the final race. If you don’t come in the top 20 though, you still have a second chance to qualify for the final
race by competing in one of the ACR races. ACR standing for: Another Chance Race. If you come in the top 5
of one of the ACR races, then you also make it into the final. Now, you don’t ideally want
to scrape into the final because where you come
in the heats actually has a direct impact on how
far you place up the grid for the final race, and you wanna be nearer
the start, if possible. Now if James doesn’t manage to qualify, then it’s not the end of the world; he’s gonna give it his best
shot, and it also means that he get to start
the after party earlier, which I’ve heard, here at
Red Hook, is absolutely off the charts. I think Dan Lloyd might
even turn up for that part. – [Hank] The Milan course
is one of the fastest in the Red Hook Series. But with nine turns all squeezed in to the 1.2 kilometer course, it’s still not at all straightforward. Off the start and it’s a
big effort to get clipped in and on top of the gear. It’s then breaking into
a quick right hander which follows into a left
hander that sweeps around the roundabout. Once through that corner,
it’s out of the saddle before backing off again into
the next fast left hander. Once safe through, it’s full
gas down to the back street. This is where running a big
gear will do you favors, as it is the fastest bit of the course with speeds touching around
50 kilometers per hour. It’s then heavy breaking
into a 90 degree right hander then straight into
another tight left hander. Back on the pedals again
before breaking into a sweeping left turn. Then, it’s full gas; one line
into a super fast chikang, before the last slippery tight left hander and then winding it up into the finish. (dramatic music) – So, I’ve just watched the first heat and, well, I thought I was
gonna get a little more relaxed, but quite the opposite. It’s truly terrifying, this. No breaks, it started to
rain, it’s got greasy, and to just top it all off,
I’ve seen about eight people come in with crashes and
blood all over their legs. Do I have to do this? (lively music) So, off to warm up and then to the start. Bricking it. So here, he’s making sure the bike’s safe, my cleats are on, and then I get a red sticker. Red for danger. (lively music) So, now it’s time for a quick warm up. It’s only a short 10
laps around 20 minutes. So, full gas from the start and then it’s hang on
and hope for the best. (lively music) – James’ race starts
in about five minutes, so I’m just gonna watch him. I’m really really nervous for him; it’s raining lots and the
track is really greasy, and this is the first aid
station, well one of them, and there is a lot of
causalities coming in after every single race,
pretty much every lap. It is seriously sketchy out there. I’m gonna head over to the start
line so I can cheer him on. (calm music) – I’m nervous. I’m really nervous. – [Announcer] 15. 10. Go! – Go on Hank! Smash it Hank! (dramatic music) Hank’s heat is absolutely
full of hitters as well. So, not only has he got Justin Williams and Alec Bricks from the Rocket
Espresso Specialized Team, he’s also got, get this right, Miguel Indurain Junior. Miguel Indurain’s son is in Hank’s heat. (dramatic music) (calm music) – [Hank] Ahhhh! That was pretty tough. Ahh. Just did a front group and then big crash in the front group. Two riders down, covered the
road and I just had no where to go, no where to go, so. Bit sore on the old arm, but I guess it’s not a Red
Hook if you don’t crash. So hopefully that’s it out the way and I could be free in the finals. Fingers crossed. – How was it? – Did I qualify? – [Ollie] I’m pretty sure you did. Yeah, you were like maybe eighth. (upbeat music) – Well, fixed gear racing. You can’t help the crashes, if
they go down in front of you, you haven’t got any
brakes to stop yourself, so I guess it’s all bout
rolling and crashing the best way possible, if that’s a thing. I did crash. I’m a bit beaten up, but I’ve
come off relatively well. I’ve got bit of a gash there; I look like I’ve been eaten by a shark, but I’ve earned my stripes
through Red Hook racing. Yeah, let’s have it tonight. C’mon! (lively music) Another really cool
feature of the Red Hook is their gridded system. So where you come in the heats
depends on where you line up on the grid. My front wheel will be rolling
up here in two hours time. I’m still quite far away from the start, but the back’s a long way behind. (lively music) It’s getting dark. The nerves are setting in, but the atmosphere is electric. So I’m hoping that will send
me round rubber side down, I guess. (spectators hitting barriers) (announcer yells in foreign language) – [Announcer] Go! (announcer yells in foreign language) (lively music) – 28 laps to go. I just hope Hank can
keep rubber side down. Don’t crash Hank, please don’t crash. (lively music) So, we’re five laps in to the race now, and I think the grid
position is really telling; it made a significant amount
of difference in this race. Hank is riding well, but
is strung out every lap and he’s struggling to
make up ground for his original grid position. He’s in about 38th place at the moment. Hopefully the other
riders will start tiring and Hank can start to move up. (lively music) – [Ollie] Go on Hank! C’mon Hank! Hank just came through
here and he’s lost a wheel, but he was trying real
hard, as you can see, he tried to chase back
on to the wheel in front. Maybe a gap about 10 meters. Oh my, he was working hard. (dramatic music) – [Ollie] Seven laps to
go now, and unfortunately, there’s been a split in the pack and Hank was on the wrong side of it. He tried to chase it really
hard and wasn’t really getting much help and he just
wasn’t able to close the gap. He’s now inside a bunch
that’s 20 seconds down off the lead bunch, which
contains about 30 riders. He’s looking alright, he’s
managing to stay up right which is the main thing. (lively music) (crowd cheering) Hank just crossed the line now. Who are these people who
were satting behind him just like rolled him in
his group and he was so in the long ranges. We’re gonna go find him,
we’re gonna get him a beer at the finish, because
he’s bloody earned it. Let’s go! Mate, here you go
– Ahhh. – You’ve earned that buddy. That was amazing. How you doing? – Ahh, that tastes so good. Yeah, good. I mean, that’s one of the
most incredible atmospheres I think I’ve ever ridden in,
that rivals Tour de Yorkshire, Tour of Britain, yeah. That was just insane. – Atmosphere is amazing. I was loving it as a spectator as well. You look like you had a really hard race, but it looked like there was
a split and you missed it and you were tryna chase on
and everyone was so on you. – Yeah, I mean, the people
up front were leaving loads of gaps, and they just
left me so much work to do, so I kinda went too far in
the rear trying to get across, I should have been there really. So, next year I’m gonna
put in some practice instead of just two rides. I’m gonna do some training, and yeah, I think I could do well in this. – Awe Mate, fair play there.
– I enjoyed it. Bring me back San-Dan,
bring me back next year. (laughs) – I might have a go as well – I bet you should. Just don’t come off. (laughing) – Mate, I’ve got no idea
what that was like to ride, but as a spectator it was amazing, it was completely unbelievable. I’ve not seen quite a race like it. – Mate, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it, ’cause I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was absolute carnage, but I loved it. And if you did too, then please
give this video a thumbs up. Now you’ve seen my challenge, why don’t you go and check
Ollie’s challenge out of Everesting. I couldn’t do that. So go and check that out, down here. – He could do it. – Nah, I couldn’t.

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