The Red Hook Crit Milano No. 8 – grand finale of the fixed crit seasonOctober 18 | Race · Story | No Comments on The Red Hook Crit Milano No. 8 – grand finale of the fixed crit season
Hagen, Jojo und Jule went to Italy to crown their fixed crit season with the fast and famous Red Hook Crit Milano. Here you can read the story of each of them.
I was excited to race in Milano
After I missed out on Barcelona, my favourite Red Hook Crit, because of a virus that stroke me down, I was pretty excited to race in Milano. It has been three weeks since my last fixed gear race, which was also the last time I rode my beloved bonanno track bike. However: with good results in my recent races I felt quite confident to finish my 2017 fixed season with a good result at the Red Hook Crit Milano No.8. But the race took a different turn for me somehow.
A bad start makes the race way harder
I started in heat no.4 with Johannes and other friends, I know from various fixed gear crits. With a starting position in the second third of the grid I basically had to keep that position and already would have moved into the last chance race. Which was my minimum goal. Usually I’m pretty good at the start, being able to clip into my pedals right away and move up in the field. I say “usually” because this time I stepped on my left pedal right when we got the “go” but after two pedals strokes i realized that I wasn’t clipped in. By that time other riders passed me both sides and flew to the front and I had to fight for some space and prevented myself to be crashed out.
In the chase
Now I was in chasing group. The issue with 40-50 guys in front of you is that it’s hard to ride efficient and move up in the same time. It was a “stop and go” in every corner, even though the course is rather fast than technical. I always gained a few positions on the straight parts, but hesitated to go around riders in the corners as some simply rode very sketchy lines. By the half of the ten lap qualification race I found a group of four or five riders including Dave Noakes who I know well and like to ride with. The first big group of about 30 riders was already gone and there was no way to close that gap. So I decided to go with the group and hoped that there would be still a chance to make it to the top 33, which would mean that I could make it into the last chance race at least.
Don’t wait for someone else to make a move
No one was keen to share the work and so our pace dropped and it was just within the last lap that people moved up in our group and put the pedal down. During all that time I hesitated to make a move and attack, afraid that I wouldn’t get a gap opened fast enough with pushing a slightly bigger gear than other folks in the group. So I hoped for the field sprint – as everybody else did. With a lack of experience in bunch sprints I was not well positioned and choose a slow wheel before the last corner. I came in fifth in our group and quickly after the race was over I found out that the first three made it through. I’m still disappointed because I didn’t even gave everything I had, but learned something which I will definitely remember during my next race: It’s better to attack, try and give all in than to play safe and hope for someone else to make a move.
Red Hook Crit Milano went much better for me than expected
What a great weekend in Milano! The weather was perfect for the seasons big final while it already got dark and cold up north in Europe.
I really love the fast course in the streets of Bovisa, in the north of the city. Right from the beginning Red Hook Crit Milano went much better for me than expected: The qualifying race was controlled by the Italian team “Bahumer” which kept the speed pretty constant and no other riders had ambition to attack. My legs were right on point for the sprint and managed to cross the line 3rd right after Timon from Suicycle Track Team. This position made me move on to the super pole race – an individual one lap time trial for the top 25 qualifiers. Being all alone out on the course for one lap was a new and definitely special experience for me.
An atmosphere i never experienced before
With a good starting position – the best for me for a red hook crit since two years – I was really looking forward to the finals later that night. The atmosphere in Milano with thousands of spectators around this course on city streets is hard to compare to anything I experienced before. In the final race I had a good start and could keep myself in the top 15 all throughout the first half of the race.
From there on I started to loose positions lap by lap and could definitely feel the intensity in my legs and didn’t have the power to move up. This is essential in this kind of racing if you don’t want to end up in the end of the field. Well that’s kind of what happened to me anyway but I could relax a bit and save some energy for the final laps to jump a couple of positions and finished 34th.
The Red Hook Crit Milano felt like breaking a vicious circle
Even though I didn’t want to give this race too much importance, it felt like racing the Red Hook Crit Milano would be something like breaking a vicious circle. I was registered for the Red Hook Crit in Broklyn 2016 but had a terrible bike accident one week before. The full recovery took about a year. After I got slowly back to proper training and racing in April, I wanted to race the Red Hook Crit London this summer but broke my shoulder. So with the Red Hook Crit Milano I kinda wanted to bring this “curse” to an end. My goals were simple: no pressure, no crashing, just having fun. I was very nervous already a week before, as I’m still fighting against fears and blockades, which accompany me since that heavy injury last year.
The fantastic atmosphere felt honoring, but intimidating
The atmosphere in Milano was fantastic and impressive. A very professionally organized race, many strong riders and thousends of spectators. Wow. What an honor to race there. But in my situation I rather felt intimidated. I was strung up when the qualification was about to start.
And what happened? A girl two rows in front of me and with her the one between us crashed during the start. I though I could get around it, but got down as well. I was fine, but it took me a while to shake off the shock. I think when I realized that Karla from Hamburg, who crashed on the other side (yes, there was a second crash) got back on her bike, I was thrown back to reality: it’s a race! Finish it if you can! So I grabbed my bike and did the qualification as good as possible. I had some tough hours afterwards and my mind was filled with frustration and doubt.
Everything just felt too much for me and I felt like a loser, because it seemed I wasn’t strong enough to fight the monsters in my head. I am very grateful that Hagen, Jojo and other friends like Eike, Phillip and these beautiful people from the Suicycle Track Team and Fixedpott took care of me and made some time to listen and support me. Even though it was a busy and stressfull day for each of them, too. Without all these true friends around me I wouldn’t have made all the way from the hospital last year to the finals of the Red Hook Crit Milano 1.5 years later.
It was so loud that I could barely hear the countdown
I’m actually not sure what exactly changed my mind at the end. But last minute I put on my skinsuit, took my bike, warmed up for ten minutes and suddenly found myself surrounded by 70 women on the course to race the finals. The neutral lap before the race started made me speechless, really. This was something I never experienced before: Thousends of spactators at the course went totally crazy. It was so loud that I could barely hear the moderator. And then everything went very fast.
30 seconds. 15 seconds. 10 seconds….. GO! I started in the back so I tried to move up right away. After I left some girls behind me I formed a group with Eva from the 8bar Rookies and Janine from the Maloja Pushbikers Fem. The three of us worked together and we lead our little pack of about eight girls through the course. We were fast with around 37 km per hour. I felt comfortable and never had so much fun in a race before. The intimidation and fear was gone and changed to pure joy. Crazy that we got overtaken after eight laps already. Resepct to all the fast women!
There is no off-season
As it’s time now for cyclocross and training in the Berlin Velodrome, there is not really an off-season. But I am so grateful and happy that I could finish my fixed and road season with two special events like the Red Hook Crit Milano and the Münsterland Giro the week before. Two races, which were very important for me and my confidence as I could prove myself that I am stronger than I thought, both mentally and physically. I can not wait to train more and harder to improve further, get faster and grow.
We’ll be back for the Red Hook Crit Series in 2018
Season is over, but as they say “after the race is before the race” and the whole team is motivated to race again in 2018. We’re already looking forward to come back to Italy and be part of Red Hook Crit Milano No.9.