Ladies & The Red Hook Crit Europe

An unsanctioned track bike race with it’s origins in Brooklyn, the Red Hook Crit is a fast and furious mass start sprint with a reputation for white knuckle, red hot action. My interest was piqued not only by some of the incredible tales I’d heard, but also by the new international locations, Milan and Barcelona and I gave a lot of thought as to whether I should attend this spirited, a action packed event. In theory, it ticks all the boxes – set in rather cool places, attended by a whole host of really interesting people I’d like to meet, and that’s before we even get to the fact that I’ve always enjoyed racing around cities on my track bike; not for nothing did I spend eighteen months as a courier!

Marie Truong by Virginia Del Rio for Itchy

Marie Truong by Virginia Del Rio for Itchy

But like so, so, so many of the events that interest me, there’s no women’s category in the Red Hook Crit. So I decided against flying across the channel to have my arse handed to me by the lads ; it seemed a waste of money to travel all the way and fail to qualify for the main event. For I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – men and women are physically different, that’s why in most sporting events, we compete separately. And that’s before you even begin on the psychological aspect of being thrown in at the deep end with all the men, most of whom have ridden in these races on multiple occasions.

So let’s back track. You know how when men started competing in BMX contests way back when, the standard wasn’t as high as it is now? Well those humble beginnings fuelled progression – the boys continued to compete, more people became involved, tricks developed and the bar was raised, totally naturally and organically.

Now look at women’s BMX. In the few years since women have been given their own categories in (some) events, more and more women have begun to ride, more of them are entering contests, and without a shadow of a doubt, the standard has rocketed – you can’t get away with doing a few roll-backs these days! Ditto snowboarding; when I started you just had to actually hit the kicker to win the girl’s comp, whereas these days you need to be pulling double underflips to be in with a chance.

Photo by Virginia Del Rio for Itchy

Photo by Virginia Del Rio for Itchy

So why no women’s category at the Red Hook Crit? Well the word on the grapevine is that David Trimble said we need to guarantee a certain number of ladies to secure ourselves our own qualification times or our own race. It’s a shame, as I really think that by pledging to support women’s racing from the get go, we could already be enjoying the fruits of that decision – say there had always been a women’s category, by now it would be much bigger, right? I mean, I for one would definitely have gone to Milan, and I know a handful of other Brits who would have joined me.

Anyway, Claudia Weiss was one of the few (five) women who went to the Red Hook Crit in Barcelona; we’ve been in touch over the last few months and a big part of me is really sad that I didn’t go to; if only to meet her and the other women who made the effort, but realistically, I just couldn’t afford it – if it had been in the UK it would have been a different matter.

Itchy have just posted a great write up of the event from a female perspective and these photographs, so go take a peek. Of the five women, only one qualified for the main race, so  massive congrats to her and big up to the others who gave it their all.

I’d be really interested to hear what other people think. Should we have separate women’s events? Should we turn up and give it a go just to show we exist and we’re keen, even though we might not qualify in this physically demanding race? Who fancies the Red Hook Crit Milan?

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Comments (2)
  1. s3bryant September 16, 2013 at 11:04 am

    While it is kind of a bummer to race against the guys because we are physically different I think it does show organizers that women are interested and could possibly lead to us having our own category in future races. I for one would love to see a women’s category in red hook. I have a male friend who has raced in it in NYC and Barcelona this year so I have been keeping up with it and wonder if enough ladies contact the organizers if we could get a separate category next year??

    • juliojuliojulio September 16, 2013 at 11:42 am

      Hi! That’s awesome, I’m glad you’re doing that and I’m certain that if more of us stepped up and did the same it might eventually lead to separate categories. Good on you!

      Unfortunately, in my experience many women are put off competing with men for many reasons: feeling nervous/under confident/outnumbered but also, as they feel that they’re not being catered for, they think the event ‘just isn’t for them.’ It takes a lot of guts to do what you’re doing!

      But yeah, if enough people contact the organisers, we might be able to get a women’s race next year and get the ball rolling! But it’s still a bummer that we have to fight so hard to be catered for in so many events; surely in this day and age, it should be a given that you consider female cyclist/athletes and their needs and provide the environment for participation to grow.

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