The Urban Playground-panel at EMS Soho-March 6th

Get to know the forces behind some of NYC’s fiercest street events, who treat this urban jungle as their playground.

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
Eastern Mountain Sports–Manhattan Soho Store.
530 Broadway

Hosted by Kurt Boone, the author of “Asphalt Warrior.” (Kurt will be on hand to sign his book from 5:30-6:30pm)

Meet some of NYC’s top personalities involved in the new wave of urban sports, running, track bike racing, skateboarding and BMX riding.

Stone Tone–Bicycle Messenger and alleycat organizer.
Tony Marrero–Owner of Post BMX, bike shop.
David Trimble–Red Hook Crit and Trimble Racing.
Micheal Cohen –Owner of Shut NYC skateboads.
Michelle Sauer–Homage Brooklyn.

One of the panelists is David August Trimble who is throwing the Red Hook Criterium. (March 24th)

Here is an essay by past event winner Neil Bezdek, about what it takes to win that event.

How to win and lose the Red Hook criterium

March 21, 2011
By Neil Bezdek

–In racing, I wanted to be a winner and to be a winner, you have to be willing to roll the dice.

-Bobby Rahal, IndyCar driver

The 2009 Red Hook Criterium stands out in my memory as my all-time favorite race. Like Dave Trimble’s other events, the second rendition was one-of-a-kind, set apart by an artistic flair and cultural appeal that only a former racecar driver could produce. The crowd was enthusiastic, the prizes were creative, and the after-party rivaled any celebration I’ve seen. While there’s a long list of reasons to love this race, a general theme emerges: Red Hook takes conventional bike racing and turns it on its head. Everything from the race format to the marketing is unique and surprising, and the race always unfolds accordingly. In its first year, a woman outsprinted a field of all men for the win. Last year a lapped rider crashed in front of the leaders and completely interrupted their approach onto the homestretch. In my case, crowd energy and slippery conditions enabled me to ride in a solo breakaway for the entire race, a feat I’ve never repeated elsewhere. The outcome was a surprise, and winning has never felt so good.

Fast forward to the Red Hook Crit Milano in the fall of 2010. With a full season of professional racing under my belt, I was the obvious favorite. Event sponsors had paid my way out to Europe and provided me with clothing and a bike for the race. Needless to say, my mentality had changed since my first Red Hook Criterium, and I was sure I had the race figured out. Confident that the race was mine to lose, I was content to cruise along conservatively, waiting for final moment when I would launch my sprint and bask in the glory of my inevitable victory. The odds were in my favor.

Not surprisingly, the only “inevitable” result was a reality-check: Jon Ander Ortuondo of Basque Country, Spain snuck away with a brilliant late-race attack, a move that almost certainly would have been doomed in a conventional crit. Ortuondo, an impressive cyclist in his own right, raced aggressively all night, and his performance left no doubt as to who was most hungry to win. Sure, Ortuondo showed up to the race with the right equipment and the fitness to use it. He also rode intelligently and exploited two of the race’s unique features – traffic from lapped riders and the limited gearing of his opponents. But what truly earned him victory was his aggressiveness and willingness to gamble on a risky move that ultimately worked out in his favor. Like the winners before him, Ortuondo triumphed in a grand, unlikely fashion.

There’s no shortage of useful, universal advice about bike racing: Train hard, but show up fresh and rested. Familiarize yourself with the course. Be smart about how you use energy. Spend as little time in the wind as possible. Carry momentum through corners. Get to know your competition. Exploit their weaknesses, and capitalize on your strengths. If people around you are struggling, take advantage. If you’re the one hurting, try not to show it.

And there’s a good deal of strategy that applies specifically to this race: The rough pavement means you’d better choose the right tires. Open registration means riders of all ability will share the same course, so you can’t just coast along in a group of 80 without paying attention to who’s riding up the road. Being limited to just one gear means you must choose carefully; use an easy gear if you’re concerned about being efficient and simply keeping up, but choose a hard gear if you want to have an ace up your sleeve. Remember that the best line through the cobbles along the finishing stretch is wide enough for only one rider, so the race will likely come down to a sprint into the final corner.

I could go on and on, but writing an exhaustive how-to manual for this race would be pointless. After all, the outcome at Red Hook is always a surprise. No amount of precise strategizing or thorough preparation will win you a famed cobblestone trophy. Convention has never ruled the day at Red Hook, so why would it this year? This isn’t a run-of-the-mill Central Park race or routine alleycat; you don’t get to make minor adjustments to your equipment or strategy and try again next week. The best advice anyone can give you is to throw caution to the wind, try something crazy, and hope that you can make this one count.

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