Had to avoid the authorities.”
New York City. “I was getting pretty serious about the alleycat races and US Cycling amateur road races,” he explains. “For my 25th birthday, I had a lot of friends in both worlds, so I figured the only way to get both communities to come to my birthday party was to organize a race that appealed to both of them,” he says. And thus the Red Hook Crit was born. It was the first track-bike criterium of its kind in the world.
That first year, 40 riders – what Trimble describes as a mix of elite riders, bike messengers and random amateurs – showed up. “I had the right kind of mix right from the beginning,” he says. Now, the track-bike-only race consistently sells out. There are spots for 300 men and 75 women to compete and another 100 or so on a waiting list. And though it is not a pro race, it does attract a healthy mix of pro racers.
What’s amazing about the rise of alleycat races, the first Red Hook Crit and its subsequent success, is that they happened before the social media had the strength to really publicize events and galvanize support. Trimble posted information about that first race to nyc Fixed Forums, an active community that still exists. “If you were in the scene, you had to be on that forum,” says Trimble. “It was the only place you could get information.” In fact, his original thread is still there. Sometimes he goes back to look because he finds those first comments entertaining.
Trimble also alludes to the influence that photographers and documentary filmmakers had in attracting racers and bystanders to the annual event. “I think that’s what first started getting the race off the ground,” he says. “Being in New York City, the race is really interesting visually and these guys are always looking for interesting things to shoot.”
As far as the original Alleycats’ influence itself: “They definitely helped inform what I was going to do,” explains Trimble. “There were some things about alleycat races I really liked – there was a lot of hype and a lot of rivalries. I didn’t really get that in road racing.” Furthermore, the races required a lot of athletic ability and training. But to Trimble there was also a downside, including favouritism among organizers who made up rules to help their friends. “Part of the reason I tried the Red Hook Crit was to fix what I found annoying about the alleycats,” he says.
While traffic and general city congestion were a part of the alleycat routes, the Red Hook Crit racers have always used a closed course, usually at night. For the first three years, race organizers had to close the course themselves, securing intersections on the down-low, but now the proper permits are secured ahead of time.
Races usually last less than an hour and are set up for speed, not endurance. Riders must have brakeless track bikes and ride multiple laps around a technical course.
When asked what he thinks the appeal of the race is, Trimble says, “I think it’s super simple and anybody can understand it; as spectators, you