RED HOOK — Red Hook’s nighttime urban bike race is speeding back to the streets with a women’s event this year.
The Red Hook Criterium, scheduled for March 29 at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, will host a race for women for the first time since it began in 2008, organizers announced.
Founded by David Trimble, who started the criterium as a short bike race in Red Hook, the event has attracted track specialists, bike messengers, professional road racers, urban cyclists and athletes to its short, technically challenging Brooklyn course.
But the high-intensity race’s growing popularity and depth of talent, particularly among male riders, has made it hard for women to compete on the same level, said Kacey Manderfield Lloyd, who is among a handful of female riders to compete in the races.
“The pace and the speed is much higher than it used to be,” she said.
While Lloyd won the first Red Hook Criterium in 2008, she fought hard to cross the finish line last year.
“It’s getting very difficult for a female to truly compete in any real sense,” she said.
“It’s grown to the point where it makes sense to have a separate women’s race.”
The Red Hook Criterium, with sponsors like Rockstar Games and HatchMAP, is part of an international championship series where a percentage of riders from both the men’s and women’s courses can qualify for races in Barcelona and Milan later this year.
The women’s 18-lap race will speed through 24 kilometers at about 20 to 24 miles per hour, said Lloyd, who is the women’s race director.
Fifty female riders can compete in the race after going through a qualifying round to categorize them into groups based on their speed.
Unlike the men’s games, where only 100 out of 200 riders can compete in the final race, female riders won’t be eliminated, Lloyd said.
Organizers take precautions to make sure the race stays safe and fun for entrants, said Llyod, who hoped women riders would be encouraged to participate and feel less intimidated in their own race.
“Stay calm and trust yourself,” she said.
To compete in the Criterium, riders need a fixed gear track bike with drop bars and no brakes. For information on registration, visit this website.