The WCA is proud to promote the stories of people who are helping to get more women on bikes and elevate the sport of Women’s Cycling. Following is a great story by Kelly Samuelson on her experience at the first ever Women’s only Redhook Crit.

Blood, Sweat, and a Ton of Rain
by: Kelli Samuelson
Red Hook Brooklyn, NY
March 29th, 2014

Starting 7 years ago by David Trimble as a fun race on his birthday, it is now grown into an international series with amazing coverage and supporters. I’ve seen thousands of people come out in the cold to watch this event and support the racers.

There are no points awarded, no categories separating riders, no license required and the only rule is you must be on a proper brakeless track bike. Yes I said brakeless. For the past 6 years it was one race, men and women together. 100 riders lining up at the start line to put everything they have out on the course, to prove something, to make a name for themselves or just have a good time.

This year was the first year that Redhook has held a race for women only. I was lucky enough to be apart of something really amazing.

31 women rolled to the start line on Saturday March 29th It was just under 40 degrees and raining cats and dogs. It didn’t matter what category you were or if you were on a big team or if you had ever raced a bike before. We were out there to make history in this world of unsanctioned fixed gear crits. The comradery in the pack was overwhelming reuniting with old friends and meeting new ones from all over the world. Looking around I knew this was going to become something bigger then I had imagined. And I knew it was the right place to be to help push and inspire more women to get on bikes and race wether it be an alley cat, a fixed crit, on the road or on the track. I have never seen more women in support of each other then in this moment. These women left it all out on the road and it was beautiful. Trimble Racing and Rockstar Games provided not only our own race but also equal prize money and prizes going 10 deep, it was an honor to be apart of this event.

Due to the rain the lap count was cut to just 15 laps, the hardest 15 laps I’ve done to date probably. With the rain came the winds, and the combination of about an inch of water on the ground, brought on the crashes, (no one was seriously injured) a stop of the race for about 20 mins with just 3 laps to go and a restart with all of us soaking wet and cold. Despite all of this it was by far one of the most fun races I’ve been in. To see the category boarders that we have within racing just torn down, and women from all over the world of all levels coming together for one race that in according to the general bike racing community “doesn’t count” was an honor.

People ask me all the time at these races “ why do you do them?” and my answer is always the same… If I inspire just one girl to get on a bike and push herself and have fun while doing it then all of it is worth it. We all want to win when we enter a race, but I truly feel there is a victory everytime a women or girl of any age enters their first race.

I asked women’s race director Kacey Manderfield Lloyd why it was so important to her to coordinate and be involved in the first women’s Redhook this is what she said… “Helping put on the first Women’s RHC was important to me because I wanted other women to experience what I was able to experience in the RHC. The RHC provides a mental challenge unlike most other races and it also lets you race for a real crowd – something most bike racers are never afforded (especially women). I’ve raced around the world on the road and the track and the crowds at the Red Hook Crits have been the biggest and best by a long shot – lining the entire course and creating a tunnel of cheering. People outside of the bike racing bubble actually care about the RHC because it has a real story and a real culture and they have found a way to convey that story and culture. The biggest bike races in Europe and America are covered by VeloNews and the likes, while the Red Hook Crit is covered by the New York Times. I wanted female racers to have the chance to experience to RHC atmosphere and everything that comes along with it.“

Kacey was an inspiration to me to come out to Redhook before there was a women’s race and having her coordinate and direct this for us now and for the future racers just fits. Thank you Kacey and the entire Redhook Crit Family.