Dan Chabanov is one of the first people I knew who transitioned from a cocky bike messenger to a less cocky, more mature professional bike racer. His perspective is unique, especially at the Red Hook Crit, because, you know, he won it a few times.
I reached out to Dan to lead into the Tales from the 2014 Red Hook Crit series here on the Radavist. Below you’ll find his report.
Red Hook Crit Observations from the Ground
Words and photos by Dan Chabanov
It’s amazing how much access you can get to an event when you know pretty much everyone putting it on and you’ve won it three times. Dave Trimble runs a really tight ship so I consider it a special privilege that he lets me get away with running around with my little point and shoot in places where I clearly shouldn’t be.
I have a love/hate relationship with the RHC. I love going and supporting all my friends who are racing. I love taking weird photos of them. I don’t really like having random strangers bugging me in the bathroom about why I’m not racing though. Honestly that question is getting pretty old. I imagine it’s like being a marathon runner who constantly gets questions about why he isn’t running the 1000m or something like that. Maybe that analogy makes no sense but I don’t really have a good answer to that question anyway. Bike racing is supposed to be fun and I’ve had more fun watching the last two years. So let’s just leave it at that.
In that time, this race has gotten pretty crazy, but this year with the downpour it was particularly intense. After a bad crash interrupted the women’s race there was a sense of dread ahead of the mens race. Dave and Al were crazy stressed out and worried. They couldn’t realistically cancel the race but at the same time I know they at least considered it. In the end the race was shortened to 15 laps and a couple hundred people stood out in the rain and cheered.
The RHC has changed a lot in the last four years. In 2010 I got made fun of for bringing a trainer to warm up on. Last Saturday three hundred people showed up with rollers. The field has also grown decisively more international. Thibaud Lhenry’s win on Saturday is the first in Brooklyn by a foreign rider. The field gets deeper every year and at this point I think it’s no longer possible to be successful at the RHC without being full on. For better or for worse this is no longer a race that can be won with a cavalier approach, some track bike experience, and a bunch of fitness.