Red Hook Crit: Barcelona
Introduction by Tayler Rae Dubé, Words by Samantha Runnels
Photography by Francesco Rachello, Eloise Mavian, Samantha Runnels, and Chiana Redaschi
Red Hook Crit is a revolutionary race. Starting unsanctioned in the cobble stoned streets of Red Hook Brooklyn, it has grown to include races in London, Milan, and Barcelona. It's inaugural winner, Kacey Lloyd, is female, and women have always been encouraged to race. In 2014, a women's race was added to RHC's repertoire offering equal payout for both men and women for all of its prize categories. We were so happy to be media partners for the 2015 RHC Brooklyn and effort to help the women's race grow.
Many teams bring female racers to RHC, but few teams exist like Avénton: a team composed of only women. Filled with powerhouses like Kym Perfetto, Esther Walker, Gretchen Stumhofer, Jen Whalen, and Trina Jacobson, it's no wonder they are leading the team standings by over 40 points.
Our author, Sammi Runnels, is one of Avénton's newest members. A recruit from Affinity Cycles, she has been taking the circuit by storm, currently sitting 7th in the individual standings.
Last week I raced my third Red Hook Crit for Aventon Factory racing. Aventon Factory Team is currently leading in the womens standing in the Redhook series. So naturally they sent us out in full force. With 5 women racing we knew our team would be able to hold on to the team standings and produce a podium result.
Aventon Factory team consists of 5 women: Kym Perfetto, a spin instructor and alleycat racer who’s been riding fixed gear for years, Esther Walker, a track racer who is relatively new to the sport but picking it up fast, Trina Jacobson, a road racer with 15 years of experience, Gretchen Stumhofer a road racer who produced impressive results in many of this year’s NCC events, and myself, Sammi Runnels. I do a little bit of everything (especially offroad racing). We were all very excited for the opportunity to go to Spain and race Red Hook Barcelona for Aventon. It’s exciting to have a company put together such a large women's team for fix gear racing. Its also refreshing for Red Hook as a race to provide equal payouts and coverage for men and women. I believe it furthers the interest in the race and helps the women’s field to grow in numbers.
The culture that surrounds Red Hook is very different from most events I’ve attended. It’s like one big party with a race in between. For Barcelona there was a main hostel which many riders stayed in, furthering the comradery. The ladies of our team all shared a room allowing us to ramble on with stories from the past few months late into the night. The preparty hosted at Dosenoventa was so large it spilled out into the street causing a traffic blockage anytime a car tried to come by. While many spectators and racers partied till the morning, our team director had us on a strict schedule requiring us to get some sleep so we could perform at our best for the following day. `
Race was upon us Saturday in the blink of an eye. Riding up to the forum, you could feel the excitement in the air. Riders were suiting up and spinning on rollers while interviews were filmed and photos were snapped. We had all agreed that Gretchen was definitely the strongest among us. Though her lack of fixed gear riding put her at a disadvantage as far as handling. With the course being narrow and having a sharp Uturn, we were unsure of her ability to be near the front. Trina Jacobson and myself were able to qualify first row. At this point our plan was just stay at the front and don’t let any moves go without one of our riders in it.
The women’s main race was held right at sundown. Our bikes were safety inspected before lining up. There was a mixture of eagerness and nerves in the air. As the clock started, the speed went from 0 to 100 coming out of the first sharp left hand turn. It was clear from the beginning that this race had attracted stronger talent than the previous races this year. Three Poloandbike ladies were on the front from the start driving the pace. However, the Uturn on the course definitely slowed down the flow as back pedaling for that turn was pretty significant.
Throughout the beginning laps of the race, Trina, Esther and myself consistently sat top ten surging with the pace. With 14 laps to go a girl to my front left bumped slightly with another girl. While it was a very minor bump, but she overreacted and swerved left into Fleur Faure creating a domino affect. The race was unprecedentedly stopped even though all riders were immediately on their feet. We then sat on the start line for 15 mins and they announced Fleur (whom is currently ranked third overall in the series) would rejoin the race. She rolled to the front row and the race was restarted with 13 laps to go. After the restart I noticed Gretchen was sitting a lot closer to the front. We definitely wanted to keep the pace higher to string out the field and make the turns less congested. Trina went to the front to pick up the pace then followed by Kym. With 4 to go, much of the field was still together. I attacked with 3 to go and lead into the last lap. I was overtaken by a string of riders when I noticed Gretchen. I yelled at her to move up. I went right on the backside which previously had been a good spot to move up but was shut down. Gretchen moved up to first position on the left. The next turn I was able to move up to around 5th position. Going into the Uturn I took the inside like I had everytime. This time I clipped my pedal which cause me to slow drastically the girl behind me then flipped over me and together we caused a massive pile up. Ahead of me, Gretchen lead into the Uturn but was passed by Kacey and Ainara. Kacey then outsprinted Ainara, ending her winning streak.
Gretchen came in third just a second behind. Kym was able to avoid the crash and pull off 8th while Esther and Trina were able to pull each off the ground for 14th and 15th. Myself at the heart of the crash stayed down for a moment while others got off the top of me, and finally slow pedaled into 27th. It’s never fun to be part of a crash and as a racer I always strive to be as safe as possible. But crashes happen in our sport. Cornering brakeless on a fixed gear is definitely a lot more difficult than on a road bike. Hopefully at the next race we can all keep it upright to the finish.
After the race, a bunch of us got dressed up for the after party. This afterparty was the best yet. They had a live DJ so the dancing went on late into the night. The next morning the real adventure began. We planned to stay extra time for Barcelona and our women’s team rented an Airbnb in the heart of downtown. The next few days involved bike rides in the mountains, beaches, exquisite architecture and amazing food. Each pedal stroke in Barcelona is an adventure waiting to happen. I’m so glad I was able to spend it with such lovely ladies.