The first race of the Team Rwanda debut UK Tour featured non-other than our head coach Sterling Magnell at Red Hook London
As if crit racing wasn’t exciting enough with high speeds, sharp turns and close quarters battles, the Red Hook Crit series aims to make it that little bit more adrenalin pumping. What makes the Red Hook different? Well the competitors all race on track bikes – so fixed gear and no brakes.
The Red Hook crit first started in 2008 in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn, as a celebration of the organiser’s (David Trimble) 26th birthday. As a lover of road racing and the underground spectacle of alleycat racing, he wanted something that would combine the two. Since then the Red Hook Crit has grown to be become something of an institution amongst cyclists in New York City and has spawned additional races in Barcelona, Milan and now London.
Among many other talents, our head coach Sterling is a crit racing specialist from the US West Coast. On hearing about Team Rwanda's debut UK Tour happening at the same time, Red Hook series organiser and founder David Trimble invited Sterling to take part: "We don’t know what’s more exciting; Sterling Magnell’s palmares or the fact that he’s the head coach of the Rwandan National Team. We do know that he’ll be looking to put on a show based on his experience and the fact that he’s an ambassador for global cycling."
All we needed now was a race bike with Sterling's track bike at home in California. Luckily, our great friends at the Giant Camden store (one of the collection locations for the Africa Kit Appeal) offered to supply one of their awesome Omnium track bikes for Sterling to race on, and for one night only (maybe...) 'Team Rwanda - Giant Camden' was born! The Omnium is an iconic track bike and a firm favourite with coach Sterling.
(Images: Sterling's Giant Omnium ready for action with his 90cm high saddle and slammed stem; Team Rwanda and Giant Camden owner Nick Freilich hang out)
Due to the intense physical effort required for the racing, the Red Hook is often described as the Formula One of cycling, and it’s the Formula One model they ape for qualifying. 250 riders sign up (5 x 50 groups) and they have 20 minutes before the race to set their fastest lap. The 85 who set the fastest laps go on to compete in the race although for 2015 they’ve added an extra Last Chance race to allow another ten in, taking the total field to 95.
Still recovering from a broken ankle, wrist and severe damage to his other wrist, Sterling was initially just happy to take part and fulfil a dream to race the Red Hook. Then his qualifying laps began and his average speed rose and lap times dropped! A very fast 1'15'365" qualifying lap with average speed of 28.18mph qualified Sterling in an awesome 45th place of 250 participants.
(Images: Sterling warming up with long-term buddy & US National Champion Daniel Holloway; Sterling nailing the sharp Red Hook corners in front of a huge crowd)
The race itself was fast and featured many household pro cycling names including World Tour's Loic Chetout of the Cofidis Solutions Credits team. Sterling maintained his position among some excellent racers before withdrawing with 4 laps to go with a huge smile on his face. What was a 'once in a lifetime' experience, might now be Chapter One in a new narrative...
Click below to watch our video highlight of the day: