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Red Hook Criterium Challenges World-Class Urban Bikers

RED HOOK — The Red Hook Criterium, an urban night-biking race, is heading back to the neighborhood for its sixth year, with professional road racers, bike messengers, track specialists and athletes.

The race will take riders through a short, technically challenging 1.25-kilometer course near Red Hook’s Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Cyclists tear through the track, averaging speeds of 28 to 29 miles per hour.

World-class athletes from 10 countries and 17 states enter the intense race on March 30, said Founder David Trimble, who started the criterium as a short bike race on Red Hook’s empty street.

“It’s grown and grown from there,” he said, with races now in Milan and Barcelona.

The biking event will also feature a 5-kilometer foot-race for men and women on the cyclist’s track that will take place before the main cycle race.

Like many Red Hook business, Trimble’s office at 70 Van Dyke St., faced the brunt of Hurricane Sandy, with over 4-feet of water destroying their space that took three months to renovate completely.

Several pieces of merchandise, bikes, tools and electronic equipment were damaged by the hurricane, said Trimble, in an email.

After creating the Restore Red Hook Jersey with Castelli Cycling, they raised over $30,000 and split the profits with the Red Hook Initiative and Restore Red Hook.

For March’s race, Rockstar Games, the crit’s title sponsor, will also be coming out with new merchandise that will benefit Restore Red Hook.

Each year, the crit attracts highly skilled-racers to compete using a repurposed fixed-gear bike, said Trimble.

“We make a race that’s really technically difficult,” said Trimble.

Racers are accustomed to the fast, sometimes dangerous, nature of the race, Red Hook Crit Champion Dave Chabanov, who has won the race for three consecutive years and will be a spectator this year.

In the last few years, the criterium has gained local and media attention as the short, concentrated course makes it easier for spectators to watch the action, said Trimble.

Two-time Red Hook Crit Champion Neil Bezdek said the visually-appealing race is also accessible to cyclists who aren’t necessarily professional racers.

“It’s an exhilarating experience,” he said. “Anyone can dream of winning the Red Hook Crit.”

An after-party will follow the race in Red Hook, near the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.

For more information, visit the Red Hook Criterium website.