The FISHTAIL X GRÜN Red Hook Criterium Brooklyn No.8 Effort

The FISHTAIL X GRÜN Red Hook Criterium Brooklyn No. 8 Effort was the first co-operative initiative by a Singaporean bicycle shop and a Singaporean bicycle frame manufacturer to further the sports of fixed gear cycling in Singapore. The initiative was part of an effort to turn fixed gear cycling into a serious sporting activity - we were the first in Singapore to send a team of riders to Brooklyn, New York to compete in the world's premier track bike event.

A little background on the Red Hook Criterium: The Red Hook Criterium Men's category is divided into 3 segments- the qualifiers, the last chance race and the main race. The top 85 participants of the qualifiers get to enter the main race. The remaining 86th to 150th participants fight for the top 10 spots in the Last Chance race to earn place back into the main race. The highlight of the event will be the main race, where the top 3 of the 95 get to represent their countries at the podium.

In the table below (best viewed on desktop), you will find page 4 of 5 of the qualifying results which fell off from the billboard outside Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Based on desktop research done on the other team riders' data and we compare ourselves with Ivan Ravaioli, the winner of this year's Red Hook Crit Brooklyn 8th edition, and Momo Chiu, who is physically most similar to us and is the fastest of the riders from Team Nabiis Taiwan at the qualifiers. We were not too far away from the other riders from Team Nabiis, who has more experience that us.

Lucas Ng
SG Fishtail Cyclery 7.5  0.4  1 202 1:50.5 40.72
Roy Tan
SG Fishtail Cyclery 8.0  0.3  0 197 1:49.1 41.25
Momo Chiu
TW Nabiis 7.0 2.0  0 146 1:43.1 43.65
Ivan Ravaioli
IT Bahumer Racing  <6.0** 1.0**  ~4**  7 1:29.2 50.45

**based on an article from RAW cycling mag and also our own guesstimates. 1- Name. 2 - Country. 3 - Team. 4 - Bike Weight (kg). 5 - Brakeless Experience(years). 6 - Crits Participated prior to RHC8. 7 - RHC8 Qualifying Position. 8 - RHC8 Qualifying Time. 9 - Average Speed (km/h)  

The following was written by Roy Tan. 

It was a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon on RHC Race Day. But it turned out to be a hard fight for both Lucas and me that afternoon. I attempted only two best laps, fell down twice at the hairpin, with my second fall at my second best lap attempt. 

After my first fall, a marshal shouted over to ask if I was alright. I shouted back saying that I was fine. I had a cut on my left forearm which tore through my compression top.

I got up and pedalled on to look for Lucas. So I slowed down my pace in hopes that he will lap me. I found out from the marshals that we were not allowed on course if we were too slow. Without wanting the risk of being disqualified, I continued pedalling at my usual pace. This was not ideal as Lucas received the same treatment from the marshals as well and it will be a long time before I get to reunite with my team mate again.

So I slipped through the race starting point alone, and started meshing without getting off my saddle because I knew that would only increase drag. I meshed hard and aimed straight at the next immediate turn which was the hairpin. The long stretch of track before the hairpin seemed especially long, and just after about only 400m, lactic acid began coursing through my legs and I was pedalling in agony as the hairpin appeared closing in on me.

Having fallen there before, I was especially cautious while approaching it. I had to slow the bike down to a suitable turning speed to find the correct line of apexes in order to negotiate a smooth turn without my bike going tail happy again. My fear of falling overwhelmed the burning in my legs. I couldn't even remember if I hit a perfect line of approach because a simple thing of making a turn metastasized into complex problem - I was wary of falling down but was cognizant of the fact that I could not be too slow at the bend because I wanted to achieve my best lap time.

I made it past the hairpin with rubber side down. The rest of the mesh down the track back to the starting point was smooth sailing - other than near collisions with slower riders who might have finished their best lap attempts. Our photographer Qi caught the near collision on his camera. It was funny because the crowd was going 'woooah' but I had no memory of what happened at all. 

At long last, I caught up with Lucas, and we discussed our drafting strategy. It was fast approaching the 20th minute, we haven't got much time left and I suggested we make that immediate round our last rest lap and do our best lap together as soon as possible. 

So we both slipped into the race start point with me tail drafting behind him. Race Director David Trimble was looking in our way in this next photo.

After the first 400m, I felt the drop in Lucas's speed and I immediately switched to be the front man. We were fast approaching the hairpin and I slowed down to negotiate the dreaded turn. The turn became my Waterloo as at the 18th minute, I fell and was unable to recover. Shock overcame me at that instant when I was on the ground (see video below). I tried to pull myself up but realized it was not easy at all. My left thigh was in pain and I was still trying to come to grips with what just happened. The race marshal requested that I clear the track. Before long, I was off the track and tended to by a waiting paramedic. I tried to get back on track but was not allowed back as it was already the 19th minute. Downtrodden, I buried my head against the wheel of an ambulance as I quietly accepted my fate. I didn't come to NYC just to visit this city, I wanted to qualify.

Roy RHC Hairpin slips from Roy Tan on Vimeo.


 The lessons which I have learnt from this race are mainly:

  1. Be calm and steady.
  2. If you want high tyre pressure, you got to slow down drastically when approaching the hairpin.
  3. Poorly maintained asphalt surfaces are not your friend. Roads in Singapore are much more well maintained. I had negotiated turns with tilts that pedal-strike the floor at much higher speeds in Singapore. The road at the RHC hairpin just won't let my tyre grip.
  4. My Campy Pistas were heavy. It is no wonder I did not see anyone use it at RHC.

I would like to thank Lucas who was especially helpful and cheerful throughout the course of the race and our time together in New York, and also Qi for taking such cool and magnificent photos. Wanzi from Pedal Pop who is in New York studying to become a pro photographer, I wish you success and happy times ahead! See you next year!

-End of Roy's writing- 

The following was written by Lucas Ng.
Firstly, I would like to thank Fishtail Cyclery and Grun Bikes for this opportunity to participate in 2015 Red Hook Crit No.8 in Brooklyn, New York.
It was my first time participating in a major cycling event, it was only my first year into track cycling involving fixed gear bicycles and it was amazing to compete against professional cyclist who have been around for many years.
The journey was exciting as I started to learn how the racing system works, from the qualifying races to earning your spots in the main race. I must say, it isn't easy as you have to race against yourselves to achieve a best lap time during the qualifying races. Only the top 95 riders qualify out of 250+ participants.
I have learnt that racing on fixed gear bicycles is not only a challenge of knowing how to ride it but also when to use the right gearing ratios, drop angles, ride height, right race specific components and many more. It was also challenging because you have to tune it specifically to the course, with its sharp corners and the deadly hairpin turns.
Overall it was an unforgettable experience even though I didn't make it pass the qualifying rounds. Learning how to prepare for the race, learning the racing culture of fixed gears and knowing different riders of various background made it all worth while.
Experiences are moments that you will live with you forever, so sometimes you have to explore and treasure it. 
Ride safe and enjoy!
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