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#8barcrit by Alex Blomeley

September 28, 2016 | By | One Comment

First off the Templehof is sick. Its Regents Park on crack with no cars and the Berliners are understandably proud of it. It’s a huge space and the 1.3km concrete marvel that is the terminal is a sight to behold especially now that it’s current use is to house war refugees from Syria. There’s just something awesome about thrashing it down an airport runway.

8bar and the title sponsor adidas put on an equally impressive show with the now annual #8barCrit. A strong local presence backed with a few international hitters made for a high quality race. I was confident from the outset as I knew who the strongmen were and reckoned I do a good job. A 2nd place in qualifying proved that and I was ready to drop hammers in the final.

The course was technical but really wide. The corners were taped in the dangerous parts so the was plenty of room to manoeuvre. All in all it was a pretty safe days racing, 1 or two crashes but thankfully nothing serious.

Support race and the Women’s final (a cracking battle in that) in the bag it was our turn to make each other suffer. Parade lap done the multi coloured bunting came out for the third and final time to rack the riders up, cute. The crowd was sizeable and the BBQ smoke blowing over the course thick and sausagey. Germans could definitely use a lesson in cheering & heckling from the British and the Americans, you gotta SCREAM GUYS!!! That said they did get into it and the support was good, maybe they hadn’t drunk enough, surprising because the Pilsner is SO good in Berlin.

In the race I attacked, chased and drove the pace a lot. Generally just trying to making a nuisance of myself and take the race by the scruff. It was a lot of fun. 8bar did a good job controlling the race for the first half but missed a beat when they didn’t organise themselves fast enough in bringing back the eventual winner Stefan Schafer. They’d put themselves in the position where they were in charge, they had numbers and had efficiently worked everyone over in the first half so when the Stefan broke everyone looked at them and they bottled it, eventually losing out on a podium as well. Props to Silvio from Standert and Owen from ELF because us three did a whole lot of work on the front keeping the pace hard and fast.

Last few laps got a bit tight with people trying to move up into a winning position but they were chancers and quickly faded as the pace racked up. Unfortunately my sprint got blocked slightly by an 8bar riders saddle shattering in front of me in the last 100m which was a shame as my sprint was good and I was confident of getting the bunch sprint win.

It was a great atmosphere and the organisation was spot on. The weather was great and by the time the finals were in the wind had dropped, much to the surprise of the locals (Tempelhof is notorious for epic wind).

So in the end my results were 2nd fastest qualifier, 2nd in both primes and 4th overall (1 place away from a podium), so for today at least I was the bridesmaid. For all that effort I didn’t win anything but that’s not the point is it? Both races I’ve done in Berlin this year have been some of the most fun I’ve ever had on two wheels. I’ll be back in 2017 for more Pilsner and to improve on my placings from 2016. I’m bringing the team with me, no more bridesmaid.

Words by Alex Blomeley
Photos by Stefan Haehnel

03 May

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Red Hook Crit Milan 6 ‘The Hard Way’

October 14, 2015 | By | One Comment

My 5th Red Hook and by far the most eventful yet and this is really saying something because I’m still shouting about the last 4 races to anyone who’ll give me an audience.

The events surrounding the race like the pre-party, discount the after party, sales transportation, malady accommodation, food, weather and people was just smooth sailing. The racing on the other hand was off the hook fast, furious and so much ‘fun’. How I’d really describe it is that its one of those things that at the beginning there’s apprehension, a worry and a ‘should I really do this’. Then after the actual event it’s that total, unequivocal, full and freeing ‘HELL YEAH!!!’ succeeded by the understanding that it was the one and only decision you could have made and the adrenaline and experience will be with you from that point through to the next pant filling and life affirming thing you want to do.

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Red Hook Crit BCN 3 by Alex Blomeley

September 29, 2015 | By | No Comments

Theres always a lot of stories that come out of crit week. Most of which are super positive. You can’t avoid breaks, purchase bruises and all sorts in racing like this but everyone comes away with something and no matter what it is you always want to go back. Red Hook Crit Barcelona 3 really had everything, here even tears (quickly followed by some serious dancing) and we weren’t without our fair share… Read More

14 Jul

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30 Apr

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RED HOOK CRIT 2015 Qualifications Report

April 30, 2015 | By | No Comments

The Red Hook Crit seems to stick out on our calendar like a… well, like a big. Red. Hook.

Before it expanded into European waters and before the concept of riding bikes with any more than 1 gear entered our brains, this was the race we (collectively The 5th Floor) dreamed of participating in.

Over the years the race has changed dramatically – the scale of production, the level of riders and fascination it attracts. Yet that original mystique remains for us. This is a race that resonates with our very beginnings, our first loves, and now it’s got its hooks firmly in us.

Nevertheless, with the heightening of its production brings new layers of appeal and with it, anxiety.
Increased media coverage ramps up the hype beast almost as soon as the previous year is over, leading to palpitations at the mere mention of #critweek.
Seeing your friends and international comrades for perhaps the only time this year is tinged with the feeling that you’ll be stripped bare in front of your peers on a level playing field, and the slew of photographers mean that the rest of the world will see it too.

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The overriding feeling however is that after spending most mornings racing before dawn like a dirty secret between you and that mornings peloton, the Red Hook Crit offers a gladiatorial stage that I describe as my Monaco GP.

The circus had been rolling in all week in the lead up to qualifying on Saturday. Luckily with Battenkill the week before I’d kept nerves and thoughts at arms length as long as possible. Prospect Park took on a distinctly Italian flavor and a team mate coming in from London would break that spell, it was definitely crit week.

The new track layout and that fact I hadn’t raced the event since 2013 meant that everything felt fresh. Myself, Chris and Reece from 5th LDN pitched up in our assigned paddock space and tasked ourselves with our usual pre-ride routines to try and add familiarity to the unfamiliar. We tried somehow to channel the excitement of the RHC spectacle and meet n’ greets with our friends and team mates into some kind of focus and useable energy.

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Being in qualification group 4 we knew the majority of the big times would come in the later 3 sessions and that we would be measuring ourselves purely on personal output rather than stopwatches. There would be no ‘that’ll suffice’ from us.

It was immediately apparent that the new course layout was not only faster but could accommodate multiple lines and that the wind would be a factor. For the first time in my experience a team train of 3 or more riders would be a help rather than an hindrance in ensuring the best possible time.

We would have to learn quick. 20 minutes is a long time but only 2 un-compromised hot laps would be possible before output is depleted and the 50 or so qualifiers are so strung out that clean lines don’t exist.

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We decided to to utilize our CX knowledge and make our 2nd lap a hot one – this ultimately would be our fastest…
For a moment we were riding a high on the feeling that we couldn’t have given it more, and for a brief 20 minutes until the close of qualification slot number 3 the numbers seemed to agree with that feeling… I was sitting 4th overall, Chris 10th and Reece in the mid 20’s.

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Reece was doing the math, I respected his stoic realism when faced with the telling piece of paper and figures in front of him. Without emotion he readied himself for the prospect of the last chance race. His calculations were to prove brutally accurate for more than just himself …

 

To be continued…

Body Images: Phil Garofolo
Slider Images: 1-3 Donalrey Nieva
Slider Images: 4- 6 Quinn Gundersen

CC Hackney Open Season at Herne Hill by Alex Blomeley

April 9, 2015 | By | One Comment

Last Saturday was the first track meeting of the season at Herne Hill Velodrome. Rudy Melo, cialis Reece Wood and George Garnier were there racing the A(s) and Alex Blomeley was there with his camera. Click read more below for the full set. Read More

09 Jun

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