First fixed crit of the season landed in London on Saturday the 6th of May and it was the second edition of Thundercrit organised by our friends NLTCBMBC. Could not have asked for a better venue than the road circuit outside the iconic Lee Valley Velopark with plenty of great spots for racers to set up their warm up areas, spectators to grab good viewing positions and photographers doing what they do best.
It was the first day I’ve officially met all my Cadence Colossi team mates and Alex, who is the man behind this great team as well as Cadence brand here in the UK. While most of my team mates had to drive all the way down from Nottingham, me and Kamal only had a short bike ride from my flat in Stamford Hill. For the first time ever, the road circuit was fully buzzing with people and it was great to see all the familiar faces! Whilst weather was still fairly chilly and wind blowing all over the place, the spirits were high and everyone seemed to be really excited to race.
Both men’s and women’s qualifiers were fully packed with so many strong riders, some of them coming from as far as Germany, Holland and Spain including riders from Fixedpott, Canyon Rad Pack, Fixedgearcrit.com, Disorderly Habits, IRD Carrera SC, Standert and many others. The biggest London teams also came out in force – from The 5th Floor and NLTCBMBC to ELF Huez, Defi and Nvayrk. It’s certainly great to see the local crits here growing every year and many people making an effort to take part. I’ve promised myself on more than one occasion to make some of the smaller European fixed crits, but something always gets in the way of it. Maybe this year I’ll manage to make one or two.
Men’s heats were up first with many racers putting on a great show for the spectators. Then followed by the women’s heat with a strong field of 21 ladies, where everyone progressed to the final. We then only had a short break between our heat and the final and I was a bit bummed not to be able to watch men’s B final and cheer on everyone. It would have been nice for us to have the qualifier a lot earlier in the day, so we wouldn’t have to rush too much. Between warming down and warming up, I have also managed to take a funny tumble on the rollers – I am pretty sure everyone heard me scream just before my wheel decided to go left as I was trying to stop and unclip in a hurry. Only short people will understand the pain of having to get on the rollers without a solid object to hold onto – I’m with you!
As I was busy faffing about and getting ready for my final, the men’s B final took place. It was a slightly shorter race with 10 laps to go and here’s what the top 3 looked like:
- Peace Russell (Dursley RC)
- Alex De Cortada (Santafixie BLB Team)
- Speller Felix (KYCU Velo)
Then it was onto the ladies – we had 25 laps of the slightly shortened Velopark road circuit to smash. Jo Smith took both of the primes, with no huge surprise there as she looked well on form. The bigger part of the group stayed together for the majority of the race as the wind was brutal and sitting on the front for a long time was not something anyone was keen on. A few attacks came from the 5th Floor Aiofe and Sophie – well done for trying to animate the race and make it a bit more fun. After my rollers accident I was not that interested in trying any risky moves, but in retrospect I wish I did! The whole race was a bit of a blur and all I remember is seeing the lap count with 3 more to go. This must be close now. On the last lap, there was a bit of moving around and the pace picked up a lot more through the last few corners. My position wasn’t bad as I was sitting just on the left of the group and the last sprint was about to happen. Huge acceleration on the front and I’ve managed to come in 7th just behind Aoife and Francisca Campos. Happy days! The women’s podium looked like this:
- Jo Smith (Unattached)
- Hayley Edwards (Stanridge Cycles)
- Brooke Phillips (ELF Huez)
After I’ve managed to catch my breath, I went over to watch the men’s A final and support all my teammates and friends. There was a whopping 73 guys in it, which made for some fantastic racing. Chai, Sammy and Jake from our team had some work to do as the field was so competitive. There were multiple attacks coming from German and Dutch riders making the groups work hard together to try and bring them back. On the last section of the final lap Owen from ELF Huez attacked on the inside, which was a pretty savvy move, but got outsprinted by Alec Briggs and 2 other riders, sadly missing out on top 3. The men’s A podium:
- Alec Briggs (Specialised/Rocket Espresso)
- Paul Vanotti (Disorderly Habits)
- Mariani Alessandro (IRD Carrera SC)
Huge thanks to Rob, Thundercats and our sponsors for making it all happen. Well done to all racing, spectating and supporting at the Thundercrit #2 – I had the best time ever and can’t wait for another fixed crit, which happens to be around the corner. Be sure to get yourself down to Rapha Nocturne in central London on the 10th of June, where a separate women’s fixed gear field will give you something to get excited about!
Here’s a collection of photos from the day that summed it up for our team.
Photographer – Kamal Balgobin. Check his Facebook page out for more pics from the day.
Team bikes waiting to be ridden fast. A lot of swaggy bits from custom Colossi framesets to super nice Ritchey finishing kit and wheels built by the best wheel builder in town – Jonny Noble.
Giro Empires and race day backpacks from Inside Line Equipment/ Ride Auburn.
Chai modelling that ginger beard and appropriate eye wear from Bliz UK.
Then having a sit down with Stuart and some medics because his kidneys didn’t enjoy the race as much as he did.
Man like Sammy, who is a self proclaimed Spiritual Baba, going for it.
Jakey ‘de la no brakey’ smashing his qualifier in style.
He also tried his favourite race move – the Jakeaway.
Then it was my turn. With a bike like this, there was nothing else left to do but go fast.
Safety first though – Giro Synthe protecting our heads from the unpredictable.
This hairpin was super fun!
I also went to the front once. It was aight, but windy as hell.
Then I chased some fast women. On repeat.
Finally crossed the finish line 7th! Voila – Thundercrit #2 done.