Have you ever watched the Red hook crit thinking of how dangerous yet exciting it would be to participate in one of those events? The blistering pace, the hard crashes and the suffering. It all seems like a good time! Well I recently got to experience what a fixed gear crit is all about thanks to the crew at OCBrakeless.
So I have been involved with OCBrakless for awhile now. They are based out of Orange County and have done an awesome job bringing the cycling community together while providing the surrounding area with grass-roots racing. Recently, they started a yearly charity race called FIxmas. To partake in this event all you need is $10 and a new toy to donate. Now you may remember my recent write up about riding the velodrome, that's really all the experience I have with going fast on a brakeless track bike. As for racing I have done a few road bike crits and even those were pretty dangerous, so why not sign up for some more dangerous fun!
After paying my dues and hanging out with Jesse and Andrew, it was time to learn the course. The layout was fairly simple, all high speed left turns with one very tight hairpin into a right hander. The hairpin was pretty simple to understand. Even in a pack of riders, you were able to feel comfortable with the course after about three laps. My only concern was approaching the hairpin with the whole field bunched up, but I felt fairly confident at this point.
It was now time to race. I grabbed water and prepared myself as I lined up with the beginner group. Luis gave us a race briefing at the line. This would be a 30 minute standing start race with no pace lap. My main concern was going into the hairpin right from the start. With about 30 beginner riders, it didn't sound like recipe for success. The race had begun and the pack went straight for the hairpin and to my surprise, I did not crash nor did anybody else. We were racing, the pace felt smooth yet aggressive, but strangely I was calm.
The first lap felt like 3 seconds and before I knew it, it was time to go into the hairpin at speed. This is were the race changed for us. A group of the riders took the corner wide and washed out. One rider decides to cut the corner and gets t-boned by his teammate leaving us to swerve around the mayhem. I felt blind looking for my corner exit but the pack I was in made it through. The lead pack used this as their chance to break away. We screamed as we made it out without being involved and from here on out, the survival aspect came into play.
I turned laps one after another feeling exhausting from fighting wind on the back straight and trying to catch the lead pack. Unfortunately they caught a huge lead and with about 10 minutes till the last 3 laps, I was pulled out of the race along with a few other riders. I cooled down but still felt proud. I survived my first race, and with the little amount of training I did, I felt really good about my performance.
I would like to thank Luis and the guys at OCBrakeless for running an awesome event. If you are ever in the Socal area check them out or come race with us. I'll definitely be training for the upcoming Socal Fixed series so I can take part in that craft beer podium.
Merry Christmas everyone!