Tamika Hingst, part of the Rad Pack, raced the Red Hook Crit in Brooklyn (New York). With her report she offers an awesome insight into a very special racing scene. You will get goose bumps. Also she explains, what she took away to be strong at the Fixed42 word championships in Berlin tomorrow. Enjoy your reading:
With my first training laps on the course, I noted that it was a very fast and short course. Exactly one kilometer long and only light corners. Positioning in the field and the corners could become critical. When you‘re in the front you can simply drive through, but the further in the back of the field you are, the more you must take some speed out.
After testing the race track I had some time before my qualification heat. This year the Red Hook Criterium featured a revamped format: Each competitor will compete in a heat race to either advance directly to the Final or to the Another Chance Race (ACR). Athletes that finish in the top 30 in their heat advance directly to the final. Athletes that place outside the top 30 will advance to the ACR. For the first time female competitors will face elimination based on their finishing position in the ACR. The Top 25 finishers in the ACR will advance to the final with positions 26-35 eliminated. So there we were 65 women, everyone hoped to get straight into the finals. Me too!
I was so freaking nervous at the start line. It was so strange to start now in the qualifications with all women instead of as usual with 25 or 30 women. After the start I positioned myself straight in the top 10-15 and tried to stay there. The race involved many attacks but they never worked out. Also, as soon as you’ve got into good position you had to counter your speed down, because the next corner was ahead. I ended up finishing 13th and advanced directly to the finals and was so happy to not participate in the Another Chance Race.
I had like five hours until the finals began. I tried to sleep, cheering at the other races, eat something and just chill in the sun before the storm. And I really mean storm. Straight before our finals, a gigantic dark bank of clouds gathered above. It looked like the end of the world and it got so cold and windy. I started in Row 4 and we had 26 laps to go. The spectators gathered more and more, cheered so loud and all these photographers took photos of us with their flash on, it was such a crazy atmosphere. The sky continued to get darker and darker throughout the race and the wind stronger.
The first lap of our final race was so fast, because we had a first lap prime, but after the first lap the speed didn’t got slower. Many attacks started and the speed remained high. I never experienced such an offensive and fast Red Hook Crit like this. When you thought one attack was over the next started in the first 18 laps over and over again. Some girls got away and our group tried to catch them. I felt how my legs got tired and sore and how I really had to fight to stay in this group. I fell to the back of the group and at some point I lost it, but fought myself back. I just wanted to breathe deeply one time, but the next attack was set. Slowly, I lost the group and without slipstream it was much harder. It began to rain in the last 6 laps and I fought myself to a girl in front of me who lost the group too and we rode together. I encouraged the crowd to make some noise and to cheer us up louder and it worked out. I think that was the coolest thing about the race. Just to wave with the hand to call on the spectators to make some noise. The next laps we rode by they cheered to us so loud and screamed ‘‘Teamwork! Teamwork! Teamwork!‘‘. What an unbelievable feeling, that gave me goosebumps. Unfortunately they took us out of the race with just 3 laps to go. I was so angry and sad about that because I wanted to finish the race so bad. They thought the leading group will overlap us, but we were so far away from that. And I just noticed after the race that they took 30 girls out of the race when I was in the front group. So crazy!
When I heard that I reached the 27th place I wasn’t so sad anymore about my performance, I was quite happy! I didn’t get in the crashes and for that intense and fast of a race I’m satisfied. So many strong girls and the level of the Red Hook Crits is getting higher and higher in the Women Race as well as the Men Race, not comparable with last year’s Red Hook Crits.
Tomorrw, the Fixed42 world championships will take place in Berlin. On the usually very busy streets of the capital there won’t be any car in sight, because the battle of the year will be held right there. After the last race in Brooklyn I can estimate my competitors better and know their actual level of performance. But let’s see: Maybe the Fixed42 will be completely different than last year with many attacks and high speed and some good tactic steps from the teams. It’s going to be exciting.