The first round of the Red Hook Crit is only a few weeks away. It’s amazing to think how much it has grown over the past few years. I wasn’t sure if I was going to enter this year’s series as…well to be honest, the standard is so high I feel a little out of my depth. I had a series of awful qualification rounds last year and it knocked my confidence slightly.
But the race is back and with a new qualifying format it will work in my favour, or it won’t…but the only way to find out is by turning up and giving it a go. The days of the fastest flying lap are gone. The old qualifying format did put riders in groups 1, 2 and 3 at an advantage as they contained the fastest, most experienced riders so you could work with them, maybe shelter behind them and and also there wouldn’t be slower people in the way. The later qualification rounds are more difficult as they contain less experienced riders and you could potentially end up being the strongest rider and having to pull everyone else all on your own. But this by no way means meant you couldn’t qualify from a lower group; in fact plenty of riders did so.
The new format pits groups of riders against each other in mini crit races of 20 minutes where depending on where you finish, you either advance to the final or to the Last Chance Race. This new format gets rid of the time riders had to recce the track at a bit of pace so it will certainly make the qualification rounds interesting to spectate and riders will have to be alert and aware.
I haven’t entered many of the races and certainly haven’t been there from the beginning, but it’s a series that everyone that rides a fixed gear and races should give a go; where else can you mix it up with pro level riders in the same race (providing you qualify)!
I got into racing at the ripe old age of 34 and have learnt a lot about what I’m capable of over the past two years. At 36 I am healthier and stronger than I have ever been. At first I wanted to get stronger to do well in races, now I do it because it gives me focus and I actually enjoy a hard training session. I still have a way to go but whatever happens I know I’m going to have a load of fun.