WHOOSH: Red Hook Crit Milan
Okay, what do you call it when anyone can show up and do the thing, even if the thing is really hard and mostly only a thing that professionals or virtually-professional amateurs do?
Okay okay okay okay okay listen. Here’s my deal. This is what’s on my mind. This is my thing, this is what I want to say with the last Red Hook Race Report installment of this year’s WHOOSH campaign brought to you by Specialized. The race was like two weeks ago and I’ve been itching—literally itching because you know road rash and all—to tell you. Okay here goes:
Democracy. No, it’s not democracy. Dude, democracy is NOT EVEN CLOSE to the right word I don’t know why I said that. I’m so stupid. The word I’m looking for is so close I can taste it, I’m so close, hang on. Okay okay okay.
Humanity. Nope. I mean, yup, but nope.
Participatory. Kinda, but yeah, pretty tepid and while related, not the right word.
Shit show. Yes, shit show is soooooo close and it is a shit show but shit show is a symptom of what I’m talking about, not the actual root-level thing.
No Holds Barred. Laaaaaaaove it but that’s not it either. It’s definitely got a No Holds Barred type of energy but again, while that’s part of the vibe it doesn’t quite get to the existence of this systemic or like institutional approach to participation. There’s the P-word again, but we know that’s not it.
Okay, what do you call it when anyone can show up and do the thing, even if the thing is really hard and mostly only a thing that professionals or virtually-professional amateurs do? You know the thing is tough and the domain, primarily, of the initiated and vetted and whatnot—but but but but! kooks can do it too. And kooks do do it too. So like it’s a contest open to the whole world, but really to do it right you have to be a professional, but in actuality you don’t have to be a professional to do it.
It’s like in the movie North Shore when Rick Kane goes to Hawaii to surf a big wave season on the North Shore of Oahu after winning a surfing contest in a wave pool in Arizona where he lives and has always lived. Obviously Rick has NO BUSINESS surfing the the North Shore of Oahu but he does. He’s allowed to, kinda. Okay two quick things:
- I kinda want to tell you more about this surf movie in case you haven’t seen it. Because it’s relevant, trust me. See below.
- But if you don’t have the time or lack the interest please jump ahead to the next paragraph beginning with the words “SKIP TO HERE” in all caps and bolded and in red.
Tom Zoerner, IMDb User "North Shore" Plot Summary
Once in Hawaii, Rick immediately finds out that he knows nothing about the local habits, customs, or pecking order which cause him some starting problems. After being robbed by the local surf gang, he has a chance meeting with famous surfboard shaper Chandler, and after figuring out they have an artistic connection, Chandler offers Rick a place to sleep and something to eat. Chandler teaches him how to “read” the big waves and the difference between ‘soul surfers’ and those who surf for fame and money. He also manages to get the attention of a beautiful young native, which further stirs the pot with the “locals” but in the end gives him the courage and determination to take what he has learned from Chandler and surf the big waves like he had dreamed he could.
<SKIP TO HERE.> Okay so what is THAT called, is there a word for it besides ‘inclusionary’? Inclusionary seems hella basic and overly boring for what I’m talking about but maybe it will have to do.
The point is yet another reason RHC racing is so revolutionary and forward-thinking and exciting and unique and captivating is because in the span and space of four hours and several qualifying heats, several hundred racers, representing the widest of wide-ass spectrums, are reduced down to sixty or so and effectively shot out of a cannon into a brakeless eleven-lap pinball game, at night and in front of, in this case, thousands of Italians.
I mean Jesus, they let me line-up. I’m Rick. I was Rick. Only this ain’t no movie. I didn’t befriend a venerable local shaper and mystic named Chandler, although Collin Strickland diiiiiiiid offer me some unsolicited advice about my tire choice. But really, when I think back on that, it feels less like he was helping me out and more like he was trying to get in my head on race day. Fucker. What’s wrong with Roubaixs!??!?!?!
I mean yes, I did basically drop-in on the “Pipe” but I didn’t win the contest. Not even close. I got washing machined into the reef, which in this case was a curb. I didn’t get the babe, I never made friends with Turtle or any of that shit. This is the real world. Fuck Hollywood. Fuck the movies, everybody knows that shit is fake. But but but but but the reality and spectacularity of Red Hook is that I was allowed to paddle out into the line-up with Laird Hamilton and Gerry Lopez. I mean Aldo Ilesic and Alec Briggs. Think about that: me, a mediocre Cat 3 nobody, was given the chance to beat Ivan Cortina, an accomplished Word Tour Athlete. I just didn’t. This time.
Maybe it’s just me, but as I watched the award ceremony I did find myself struggling for a few seconds to reconcile a thing or two. I used to jokingly call these races Red Hook Critical Masses, you know because they reminded me so much of high octane Alley Cats. And then came a number of serious teams like Chrome Cinelli. And now, 10 years after the RHC started, there are a number of well-funded super teams like Specialized / Rocket Espresso.
As I was thinking about all this I happened to walk past race organizer David Trimble. I stopped and asked him, is this a good thing? I don’t remember exactly what he said but it was something to the effect of yeah, it’s a good thing, but also as it happens it’s the thing that just… happened, so I don’t have a choice in the matter.
I don’t know enough about bike racing and in particular RHC to posit a truly informed opinion. But I think they’re cool. I think they’re a very real and very key part of of the future of cycling, and if they aren’t then seriously, I give up. So anyway yeah, thanks to the Red Hook Crit, Team Amateur Animal Cycling Klub was able to race against Bahrain Merida and lose, and I think that’s special.
Upon further reflection maybe my teammate Bor is my Turtle. Here’s a transcript of our pre-race conversation, you be the judge:
- Bors: Stay loose, haole.
- Daniel: What’s a haole?
- Bors: A tourist, a mainlander, like you.
- Daniel: I’m not a tourist.
- Bors: Whatever, barney.
- Daniel: What’s a barney?
- Bors: It’s like barno… barnyard… a haole to the max, a kook in and out of the water. Yeah?
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II Practice + Qualifying
III Women's Final
IV Men's Final
V Podium Ceremony
VI Specialized / Rocket Espresso EOY Party
WHOOSH is made possible by:
Artwork by Michiel Schuurman.