Red Hook Crit Milano - the one and only motivation for me to ride and train during the last few weeks. In 2016, I didn’t qualify for the finals. In 2017, I made it to the main race but got dropped really fast and had to leave the course after only 5 rounds. In 2018, now my main goal was to finish the race!
The season was quite successful so far and with about 20 road criteriums in my legs, I arrived on Friday evening in Milano, ate a large pizza for dinner, assembled my V-Rad and went early to bed to be fit on the next day.
The qualification went pretty good. I started in row 5 due to last year’s result and just had to hold my position (Top 20) to qualify directly for the finals. As the tarmac was quite wet I tried to stay in the Top 10 to avoid crashes in front of me. In the first few rounds everybody tested the grip and then the tempo got faster every lap until it exploded in the last lap. #11 - main race, here I come!
[6 hours later]
The women’s main race is on, time to get the legs ready for the men’s show! A short spin on the rollers, a last minute stem swap because I damaged one screw while readjusting my handlebars, a last sip of beer, a neutral lap and then you take your position on the starting grid.
Red Hook is a show. Unlike the amateur road crit you ride at the end of nowhere in front of five spectators. It’s 22:30h, the course is dark, only illuminated by the street lights and spots in the dangerous corners. People settled down around the 1,3km long course to cheer with cowbells and beers in their hands. It’s a boxing match in a sold out stadium and you are in the middle of the ring - ready to fight!
The race started with a crash and restart in the first lap. Unfortunately, Fritz had two broken wheels, which was not very motivating, however I was ready to hit the gas again. It was amazing - 20 laps tunnel vision and fighting for every position, attack and defense, hit and run. Then a gap appeared a few riders in front of me but no one could close it fast enough and so we had 8 laps left fighting in a small group together behind the leading group. I made it - finished the race and #46 is pretty solid!
[1 day later]
ouuuh, guys - wait for me! I can not move my legs or even walk properly…
I was freaking nervous for this Red Hook Crit, because of a long knee injury after a crash in the summer. But I told myself since then to be back on my bike for the Red Hook Crit Milano. And I was. With not the best form, but I just wanted to have fun and race in a field with another 80 strong girls from all around the world.
The qualification was quite slippery, because of rain in the Heats before. So all women were a little bit scared. Especially me, I was so scared in the corners and couldn’t go through so fast like the girls in the front. In some corners my wheel slipped away and I got more scared.. So I let myself fell back a little bit behind our group and go through with my own speed. And then a crash happenend in front of me. I was so lucky that I decided to stay a few metres behind the field to avoid a crash. In the end I finished 17th and happy with that.
4 hours later the finals were ahead. I started in row 9, so 40 girls were in front of me..not the best position, but I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. It started super fast beecaus of the first prime lap, I didn’t came more to the front and after the prime lap the race didn’t slow down either. I noticed myself falling further and further back and I didn’t have enough power in my legs to make some good positions. So I raced like 5 or 6 laps alone, nobody was near in front of me or behind me. I hoped so much that the girls didn’t end their race. So meanwhile I animated thousands of spectators to be louder and louder and they did. That motivated myself so much to go faster and faster and I just got goosebumps. After my lonely laps finally the german train came with Sofie from the Pushbikers and Josie from Suicycle. They passed by and I was like ‘‘Finally!’’. In Sofies slipstream I could recover a little bit and I was so happy to ride with this group.
Unfortunately we were taken out of the race with 7 laps to go. But it was ok, I was satisfied with my 42th place and glad that I made it without crashes and now I’m more motivated than ever for the next season, where I can catch up on everything I missed this year.
After my race I had to cheer up as loud as I can for John and Fritz finals!
We already travelled to Milano on Thursday morning with Laura and Maike, so we were able to enjoy the day in Italy with good coffee and food. Tami joined us on Friday noon, so we were both able to go to the track day at the famous Maspes Vigorelli Velodrom. We rode circles with the fixedgear family, hanging out in the sun, taking photos, meeting people and had a good time. This was what our Friday was all about. At night we checked out the pre-party and had some beers. Afterwards we went to a pizza place next to our Airbnb, where John finally joined us to complete our RHC tourist group.
ONBOARD FOOTAGE FRITZ FERNER - FINALS
ONBOARD FOOTAGE FRITZ FERNER - QUALIFICATION
Saturday was the day of the race, the weather forecast unfortunately wasn't that good. But luckily we faced dry conditions in the morning. After an extensive breakfast we rode to the race course. We were a bit late, so I was able to join the open training for only 2 laps. With rising tension, we joined the Suicycle base camp doing our last preparations. The organization was perfect, nothing to complain. John was in qualification-heat 2 at 2.30 pm, I was in heat 3, Tami right after in the second women-qualification-heat.
The rain began to hit the ground in qualification-heat 1. Already many crashes in this heat, on the increasing wet and slippery race course. John did a great job, starting from row 6 avoiding all crashes, finishing 9th !!! It was now my turn, the first Red Hook Crit I’ve participated in, starting from row 15, with 55 athletic riders in front of me. I suppose it could be worse, but still in the back of the starting grid.
Start! Right from the beginning, everyone was sprinting. I tried to keep my distance from the others. I didn’t want to risk too much from the start. On the way to the first corner I already saw there was a crash, a yellow flag, I slowed down... Unfortunately, one guy behind me did not slow down and hit me hard from the back. I did not see him coming so I went down unexpected. As a result, I had a bloody mouth/lip, with my bar twisted a little bit. But I was able to go on without too much damage. Luckily, there was a restart for my heat. We had to line up again, another 15 minutes until my group started again. Second time around, everybody went a little bit more carefully, including myself. After the first lap the racers were more segregated and began to spread out into separate groups. The leaders were out of sight. Two laps later, I felt the confidence rushing into me, my tires grasped onto the ground well with control. I started to ride constantly forward against, closing gaps and overtaking the other riders. The wet conditions were taking effect on gear selection, my gear was a to heavy. Every corner had to be ridden slowly and carefully, the accelerate out of every turn was hard, with this gear. Finally, with a few meters behind the leading group, the red flag appeared again. The race was interrupted the second time and ended up in a restart with 3 laps to go. It was a tense moment to wait until the restart... Currently located in position 26th on the starting grid, I began to feel the rush of confidence through my body. I knew I had to overtake six more riders to go directly into the final. I was in the third restart group, the race directors decided to put a 5 seconds gap between every group. After the second restart the pace of the race was fast. I was able to ride to the end of the next group right after the restart but from this point it was hard to overtake riders. In the final lap there were two more crashes in front of me. However, I was able to hold my line and could overtake the others on the a straight. Satisfied with a 19th place, I was pleased with the ability to catch-up, never giving up till the end.
Tami was also happy with her qualification heat coming in at 17th with luckily no crashes. After a short nap and some noodles in our Airbnb, we went back to the race course. In the meantime, the rain finally stopped. Getting ready for the final, we warmed up on the rollers. I changed my gear twice between the qualification and the final. At 9:15 pm it was time to line up for the final. After one introduction lap, we were able to soak up the atmosphere. Wow so amazing! The crowd was so damn lively! I have never had such an atmosphere at a bike race before. I started at row 19th , pretty far at the back of the starting grid. I was focused and fully concentrated when the race started. Start! I clicked in well but other riders sprinted past me, snaking through the field, not holding any line. The first big crash was actually provoked and it happened right after the finish line. Over the entire width of the track riders were laying on the ground, making it was impossible for me to pass through. I slowed down a little bit, but I crashed as well. Nothing happened to me, but I lost some spokes from my back and my front wheel. Totally frustrated I left the race track, looking for Tami’s bike. This would be the only possible way to restart, taking her wheels. But I couldn't find it, my mind was already broken at this time, like my spokes.
Some guys from 8bar offered me a beer, which I accepted thankfully. That was the moment when I saw Tamis bike, right next to the 8bar bus. Again, thinking about a fast wheel change. The race hasn’t restarted yet. But I stayed with the beer. Two crashes in one day was enough, I said to myself. After the restart, Laura came to find me completely disbanded because she worried about me. She did not see me in the race. It was just as exciting and nerve-wracking for our girls as it was for us. I told her that I am ok and we both followed Tami and Maike to watch the final with John doing a great job there! It was so impressive to watch. The course was nearly completely dry again, so the race was so fast! Of course, my mood was not the best, feeling disappointed, but what could I do. Things could be worse, feeling lucky with no injuries. Maybe I will give Redhook a try next year.