Founded in 2008 with a handful of friends racing track bikes on open streets in Brooklyn to celebrate a birthday, the Red Hook Crit has since grown into a genuine global phenomenon with races held in Brooklyn, Barcelona, Milan, and London each year. This past weekend kicked off the 2016 season in Brooklyn, marking the ninth running of the race on its home turf.
To celebrate the race, Specialized (who recently became a title sponsor) called on their design team to come up with a unique head-to-doe kit for each city, to be worn by team Allez Allez / Specialized riders Colin Strickland (US) and Aldo Ilesic (Slovenia). And what a debut the hand-drawn kit had, as Stickland roared to a definitive win with Ilesic coming in third this past Saturday, 30 April.
Specialized apparel designer McKenzie Sampson took up the task of creating the one-off designs by dipping into his own sketchbook. Calling on a background in illustration and Brooklyn’s love of street art, Sampson created a unique collage of icons and drawings that was then applied to the two racers’ Prototype Allez Sprint Track bike frames and S-Works helmets, shoes, and skinsuits. The former two got the true one-off treatment with hand-drawn graphics, while the shoes and skinsuits feature digitally printed renderings.
The alley-cat inspired race that regularly sees brakeless racers pile up, saw a handful of pile ups this past weekend in both the men’s and women’s categories. The men’s race in particular was delayed twice due to failed starts—one thanks to stalled race motorcycle that caused a particularly gnarly crash that sent a handful of cyclists to the hospital—causing the race to be reduced to 22 laps, instead of the usual 27. Specialized’s Strickland eventually crossed the finish line 30 seconds ahead of the rest of the pack. A bunch of other riders you probably don’t know finished in the other places. It was a gnarly race to say the least, so cheers to all those that both made it to the finish and those that didn’t.
Keep an eye out to see what Specialized does for the next three races, London (9 July), Barcelona, (27 August), and Milan (1 October).