A Brooklyn bike race will expand into an multinational cycling series — proving once again that the borough leads the pack when it comes to two-wheel culture.
The Red Hook Criterium, a formerly underground but now much-buzzed-about jaunt around the waterfront neighborhood, is riding back for its sixth year this weekend — but this time the South Brooklyn race is just the start of a four-leg global cycling competition.
After cyclists tear through Red Hook on a three-quarter-mile course for a nighttime romp on March 30, race organizers are planning a June 8 contest at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, an Aug. 24 bout in Barcelona, Spain, and a finale in Milan, Italy in early October.
Red Hook Crit honcho David Trimble said transforming what was once an “alley cat”–style street race into a point-based international championship series with big-time sponsors is a sign that biking — and Brooklyn — are in high gear.
“It’s really cool being able to export and promote the Red Hook brand and the Brooklyn brand elsewhere,” said Trimble, who has hosted stand-alone races in Italy under the Red Hook Crit name since 2010. “Being able to travel to Europe was my initial motivation to bring the race to Italy — now I can see how powerful it is in building a global cycling community.”
On Saturday night, bike-lovers will head to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal to watch a hundred cyclists, including Lycra-clad road racers and bike messengers, whiz around the short, technical course on single-speed, brake-less track bikes for the 24-lap main event.
“People really love the atmosphere of racing at night with the camera’s flashing,” said the Red Hook resident. “It feels a lot different than a normal race in the daylight.”
Riders can rack up points that will help them win the overall championship if they are among the first ten to cross the finish line.
Cyclists are by no means are obligated to compete in more than one of the races, but those who place within the top ten are likely to move from one race to the next one, culminating with the coronation of the first-ever Red Hook Criterium world champion in Milan, said Trimble.
Red Hook Criterium at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal [72 Bowne St. in Red Hook, www.redhookcrit.com]. March 30, qualifying rounds start at 3:30 pm.