On Saturday 28th April the 2018 Red Hook Crit Series kicks off in Brooklyn, New York. 450 racers from over 40 countries will gather at the start line for the 11th edition of the race. Amongst them three members of the One Life Cycle Racing Team. We caught up with Mat Watson, team captain and rider, the evening before they flew to the USA to discuss dietary plans, hotel bookings and of course the race itself.
“We fly tomorrow from Heathrow getting into NYC just after 8pm in the evening, and from there we head straight to our penthouse suite…” says Mat, tongue firmly in cheek after having had the Airbnb booking that had been made months in advance cancelled two days before the team set off. And of the pre-race diet? “We’ll have to head out and get a slice or two of New York Pizza!”
After some much needed shut-eye on the Wednesday night, Thursday is when the work begins in earnest to get everything sorted ahead of Saturday’s competition. “The bikes will get setup and given the once over at Haven Bikes.” Haven is a bike shop in the heart of Brooklyn which will act as the team’s base whilst they are in the states (http://www.havencyclesnyc.com/). “Then it’s on to Prospect Park to open up the legs a bit before we head back to the accommodation for a good night’s sleep” and it’s more of the same on Friday, “we’ll perhaps do a quick spin on rollers in the afternoon but really it’s about relaxing and eating well.”
The One Life Racing Team
Saturday morning, race day, will see the team up and out by 9.30 to head over to the race course in Red Hook, Brooklyn – a street circuit set against a backdrop of shipping yards and pre-Civil War warehouses. It’s a packed schedule that gets underway almost straight away. Mat describes the format of the race, “There are four heats to begin with, each with 80 riders all competing over 12 laps. The top 20 in each heat progress straight to the final, the rest all head through to one of the four - appropriately named - Another Chance Races. Here, the top five finishers also progress through to the back of the grid for the Final, this time contested over 32 laps”. With a single lap clocking in at 1km in length, some finalists will have covered 56km at breakneck speed over the course of the event ensuring the athletes need endurance as well as speed to battle it out for the podium positions. “It’s a long day, a really long day.”
This is the third time that Watson will have competed in the RHC, but this year sees a change to the course which adds an extra dimension to the preparation. “The race is going the opposite direction to what it used to, and the only bit that’s remained the same is the straight. Now it looks like there’s a hairpin to negotiate as well as a technical section at the top of the course, so I’m guessing it’s going to be pretty fast”.
A key decision for the riders on the day is what gear ratio they ride. “I’ll be riding either a 48-14 or a 49-14. We get half an hour at 10 o’clock to get on the track and have a look at it properly before the heats. If it’s not technical I’ll probably stick with the 49-14!”
The Red Hook Crit opens its doors at 9am on Saturday 28th April on the corner of King Street and Ferris Street in Brooklyn. Heats get underway at 11am with the Grand Final starting at 8.30pm. For more details and to keep an eye on results on the day, head to: https://redhookcrit.com/brooklyn-no-11/