Fixed Gear Crit season is here – But what is a fixed crit?
I’ve realised recently that I often harp on about fixed gear crits, them being my favourite races and all but that actually, not everyone actually know what the hell I’m talking about. And why would they? If you’re just not that into bike racing, there’s no reason you’d know about all the various strands of cycle sport, not least fixed gear crits as they’re both new and relatively niche.
So what is a fixed gear crit?
Well put simply, a crit, or criterium is a race consisting of several laps around a closed circuit. Races take place either in the the city centre that has been closed off to traffic or on a cycling specific circuit such as a velopark.
Photos: Gino Rausch
Races tend to be shorter than road races, often around an hour or less in duration (whereas road races can be anything from around 2 – 5 hours). To make up for the shorter time, criterium are generally ridden at a higher intensity.
A lap is frequently around 1km in length and participants ride a set amount of time plus a certain number of laps, for instance 45 mins plus 3 laps. A lap board/counter shows you when there are only three laps to go and a bell is rung when it’s the final lap. After that, the first person over the finish line wins.
A fixed gear crit is a criterium ridden on a fixed gear/track bike which is the kind of bicycle you see Laura Trott and Chris Hoy riding at the velodrome. Fixed gear bikes have only one gear and no brakes, however it’s possible to slow down by pressing backwards on the pedals (or by skidding, though that’s not permitted in races). Racing these kinds of bikes in criterium is a relatively new sport which has attracted a committed following of riders who enjoy employing the unique skill set required as well as the extremely fun atmosphere.
Photos: Ginger Beard Photo
Participants come from all over the world and from all walks of life though these days, experience of racing and a high level of fitness is an absolute must. Previously you might have seen a great difference in the abilities of riders as people turned up to just ‘have a go’ but now you’re very likely to find yourself racing a full time professional cyclist so you need to have experience. There are several full time professional road racers who compete in the women’s races and the men’s field is even more stacked, with riders from Pro Tour team Cofidis, Olympic gold medallists, National Champions and full time crit racers lining up next to high level amateurs.
For my guest blog on the Brooks England site I wrote a little about my first few international fixed crits of the season, Red Hook Crit in Brooklyn, Waterkant Krit in Germany and Thundercrit in Lee Valley. I absolutely love these kinds of races as they are fast, technical and super fun so I train my butt off in order to give myself the best chance of doing well because feeling strong is what makes me feel good.
Check out the full article here.