Criterium racing began in the United States in the 1920’s, at a time when track racing was extremely popular throughout the country. The USA Crits website refers to crit racing as "American Street Track Racing." In 2014, MFS will be visiting American Criteriums across the country, 90 years later, the first of which is the 7th edition of the Red Hook Criterium in Brooklyn, New York. Branding by Ray Masaki.
The best part about the Red Hook Critical Mass Tournament was all of it. But in particular the Cruise Terminal Refugee Camp/Costume Party was totes amaze. It was like, basically the best party I've been to in forever, everybody was there, yes it smelled like farts, but OMG it was so fun. Here is a list of reasons why it was so fun:
- Everybody was there! Chaz, The Murphy Bros, Walton, Bezdek and his lady or his sister (I meant to ask!) the whole MASH scene, Wolf Pack Hustlers, Team Blake, some girl in an Attaquer kit, the dude who won the men's race on a fake-but-real-wood-bike was a French guy from France, the four Italian dudes on the Cinelli Chrome Team (a team formed/created/born just to race this race) were completely fun to hang with, racing women, racing men, real messengers, guys who look like real messengers, some chick in a fake animal head hat, straights, Three Time Dan, a team from Austin, some dudes from Central America, a guy with scratches all over his back, so many babes, like A LOT of babes, etc., WERE ALL THERE, inside the oversized gymnasium-like hall or room of the Cruise Terminal.
- It was steamy and hot and nearly dry.
- It smelled like Hummus Farts!!!!
- There were piles of humans everywhere. And piles of rollers. And piles of bags. And piles of kit. And piles of helmets and shoes. And, I think, I even saw a piles of piles.
- There were plenty of electrical outlets for phones and cameras, #handy.
- It was well lit but moody too, like it wasn't obnoxiously bright.
- There were Men's and Women's bathrooms.
- There was a stained glass mosaic.
- It was nearly dry.
- Everybody had great and sometimes sexy outfits! Lycra, spandex and helmets, oh my! Throw in some scarves and shaved legs, rubber gloves and dude... par-tayyyyyy!
- There was a staging area for the racers to stage in. Which was amazing for photo-ops. World Tour, you got to do this!
- There was SO MUCH space to spread out, form groups, disband, reband, stage gear, lean against walls, do handstands and cartwheels and whatnot, roll on rollers in proper Top Gun flight formation with your buds, stretch, etc. There was even a counter behind which it was dark and perfect for napping and for love making.
- It had lots of available white walls for portraits.
- EVERYONE had a great attitude in spite of the Genesis Flood Reenactment/Rehearsal Practice going on outside all day long.
- EVERYONE, all the racers, had a great attitude in spite of a WHOLE LOT of danger in regards to the very serious potential for sustaining physical and material damage in the wet, slippery, dark, fast and brakeless bike race.
- There were jokes.
- People had snacks.
- It was warm.
- There was bona fide Camaraderie & Community.
- Even though you didn't/couldn't see it from inside the Refugee Camp, there was a steady stream of evidence making its way into and circulating around the party that suggested the Race Organizers were trying really, really, really hard to handle the Apocalypse. Which everybody knows, it's not easy to boss Armageddon around because Armageddon is a dick. Like, these dudes were changing the start times, the order of the races themselves, the number of laps, et cetera and whatevera they could do to make the the bike race better and safer and more enjoyable.
- ****Point #21 has been removed (temporarily?) due to a possibly legal/moral/emotional issue****
What follows is a preemptive-defense of our position regarding our decision to refer to the 7th edition of the Red Hook Crit (RHC) as the 1st edition of the Red Hook Critical Mass Tournament (RHCMT). First of all, throughout our RHC Weekend in the Big Apple, we conducted extensive impromptu focus-grouping of our suggested nickname proposition. Our "selection group" included, among many others, racers, RHC illuminati, longtime members of the greater RHC community, a homeless dude in SoHo, spring breaking German teenagers taking selfies in Times Square and various spectators. After conducting 72-hours of systematized opinion data collection we learned that 80%—that's 8 out of 10 people—thought characterizing the event "in this manner" was insensitive (most of the German teenagers were "decline to state"). Nobody thought it was an unfair characterization, everybody just said it was insensitive and like, mean or something. We asked several key members of the RHC community to explain what they meant by "mean", invariably their responses went something like this: I don't know dude, it's just not cool...?
What follows is an enumerated & prioritized list in defense of our to decision to refer to the RHC as the RHCMT. This list includes but is not limited to our intentions, rationale, reasons, concerns, moods, thoughts, creative process, hopes, dreams and whatnots.
- It's funny. It's funny because Criterium and Critical share the same root—Crit. So like, it's funny.
- It's funny too because this RHC Race Series is bigger and more popular than ever. Evidence that it's achieved a "critical mass" of it's own. Critical Mass the bike-movement-thing may be contentious, but critical mass is, by definition, a pretty cool thing.
- This race feels like a race for the people, of the people, by the people. Critical Mass the bike-movement-thing has the same deal going on. We love that deal. We love for the people, of the people, by the people.
- Many of our readers are likely too young to remember, and/or to have experienced, as in "participated in", '90s era Critical Mass(es), but they were, arguably, instrumental in the paradigm-level shift from Drivers Will Kill You to Share The Road, Bro (STR,B). STR,B is, essentially, a whole new world for cyclists, a world of bike lanes, bike advocacy, bike awareness, etc. We're not suggesting that Critical Mass is entirely responsible for STR,B but it did a lot to force drivers to really "see" and "consider" cyclists.
- We (MFS) are committed to Cycling, the whole Spectacle. RHC is a TRULY beautiful and wondrous spectacle. Adding the play-on-words/descriptor words critical, mass, and tournament only evokes the beauty and wonder that is the RHC spectacle further.
- RHC is so street! Critical Mass is so street! #streetpals
- We are Manual for Speed!!! MFS!!!!!!! #whatdidyouexpect #funsies
- Professional Cycling takes itself too seriously, like as in like institutionally and systemically, it's like a "medical-grade" problem, trust us, we first-hand-know this to be true. So, Dear RHC, don't make that mistake. We're not suggesting that you are in any way!, we're only saying that if you read this, please don't get mad. We love you. Like L-O-V-E "love" you. We saw old friends. We made new friends. We flirted with your volunteer girls—you know who you are! We went to parties. We partied. We got so fucking wet, like you don't even know. Like we called Noah up to commiserate it was that fucking wet. All in all it was the most fun we've had at a race in like forever. Because, because, because, because it was Legit & Chill. Stay chill please!
- You are a PRC (Punk Rock Race) race, not a UCI race. However, you ARE, in fact, transitioning from underground to aboveground, we get that, we recognize that, we know that's a Big Deal. We dont want to diminish your efforts or legitimacy. But dude, Dear Race, you gotta keep it real, son!