The Red Hook Crit turned 10 this year. I first did the race in 2010, Brian Vernor was also there for the first time, making a movie and shooting photos. Seven years later we were both in the media tent at the 10th edition of the race trying to take it all in while simultaneously being completely blown away by the race. A few days later I got to see his photos from that day (the one’s you see in this gallery) and the images he made just struck a cord with me. The choices he was making about what to photograph and what not to photograph made me feel like he was understanding the race in a way that was similar to mine. So I called him up to just talk about the Crit, his photos, and why he keeps coming back.
We talked a lot about the core group of people that have been involved in the race since the beginning now. The hard working race crew, lead by Dave Trimble, with total belief in the format and the beauty of the race. I don’t think that ten years ago they knew just what they were getting themselves into. We talked about the growth of the race and the perception of its commodification. Here Brian brought up a really interesting point, “The core value of the race was never the underground aspect of it but instead it always progressed. The race was on open streets because that’s what had to happen to for the race to happen. It moved onto a closed track so that it could keep happening.” In that process, the race got faster, more intense, and more beautiful. I had felt similarly but I’m not sure I was ever able to put it quite so succinctly.
I think that’s a big reason why Brian’s photos speak so well to me. I recognize the race that I know in them. They aren’t commercially viable images of the flash frozen rider in the race with crisp logos. They are blurry and beautiful, kind of like the actual races at the Crit. For the crisper photos, Brian turned his camera towards the race crew and the crowds. The folks that came see something spectacular that just happens to be a bike race. I know I’m overusing this word but that’s a beautiful thing.