Fixed Gear Crit

Colleen Gulick “Red Hook Crit Brooklyn No. 10 is a race I will never forget. It is one of my best cycling memories”

Colleen Gulick got her first RHC experience after a bet with David Trimble who told her that she couldn’t end in front of Kacey Lloyd Manderfield, the RHC legend, in Red Hook Crit Brooklyn. Colleen couldn’t resist and was determined that she would win the bet. However, Colleen proved no match for Kacey in her prima and Colleen had no chance of getting anywhere near. Nevertheless, she was impressed by the atmosphere of the event, and after regaining confidence at the Red Bull Last Stand last year, she decided to retry on the highest level in fixed gear crit racing namely the Red Hook Criterium Brooklyn No.10. In this event where she beat the whole field and went home took home the win. We spoke to Colleen about her track career, how she got into fixed gear crit racing, her expectations for RHC London No.3, and her future ambitions in the fixed gear sport.

Text: Brian Megens
Photography: Tornanti.cc

NameColleen Gulick
Age26
HometownSpring City
Occupationexercise physiologist, starting a PhD from September 1 onwards

Colleen started cycling through the local community program when she was around 7 years old. “I started racing at age 10 and competed in my first junior national championship at 11 years old which was in 2002. I actually started on the track. My first introduction to riding was at the track’s community program. I am very fortunate to have grown up in such close proximity to a track. Actually my first junior Nationals was on the track as well.”

When asked about  the highlight in her track career so far Colleen answers “Ah, good question. This is a tough one because there are races that I have done well at that are prestigious and I feel as though people would expect those to be the highlight of my career. On the other hand there are races that I have done that have had more of an emotional impact due to the environment , preparation, the way I raced, etc that might be unexpected but I would consider them a highlight of my career. My response to the former view of the question would be earning a silver medal at the 2016 Pan American Track Championships. The opportunity to ride for the USA was an honor and becoming the first American woman to ever medal in an international Madison was incredible. The answer to the later take on the question…. Racing the 2016 Revolution Races in London and Manchester. The opportunity to race against the best women in the world is an experience I will never forget. I wasn’t sure how I would stack up against the competition but I rode some of the best races of my life and surpassed my own expectations by earning a ton of top 6 placings. I loved the challenge and it’s always exciting to push the limits and see what you can do.”

Besides the track, Colleen also has ambitions on the road.I haven’t ridden a national Criterium championship in about 4 years due to school, travel, funds, etc and it’s a race that I’d really love to do again. I have never won a national championship in the crit and it’s definitely a goal of mine.”

While nowadays most pro riders get into Red Hook Crit by watching the awesome footage after a crit,Colleen made her RHC debut 5 years ago after getting into it quite randomly. “I’m not sure if David even remembers me from this run in but… 5 years ago I went with my coach and a few friends to a New York City bar for a roller race event. I was definitely the youngest one there and I was the only woman. I did well enough in the roller race competition… probably got like 6th or something I don’t remember exactly. But I was waiting between races and David Trimble was at the bar watching. We started talking and he mentioned that he promoted and fixed gear crit called Red Hook and that there wasn’t a women’s race at the time but he asked if I thought I could beat the other girl in the race (Kacey Manderfield). I was way more confident that I should have been and I was like, yeah sure I think I could win. And he bet me that I couldn’t beat her. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for a challenge. So, of course, I had to accept. I showed up on race day horribly sick with a fever but I was determined to win. Well, I lined up for the one and only race (men’s race) underprepared and way out of my element. I got my ass kicked haha. I think Kacey got top 3. Lol. She was prepared and skilled to fixed gear crits and just demolished me. I was bummed but kind of wrote it off as something out of my element and went about my normal racing until last year when my coach came across the Red Bull Last Stand. I had just returned from Pan Am Track Championship and my season was practically over so we decided to fly down on a whim and give the race a shot (plus they had a geared crit at the same time so if I really sucked at the fixed gear it wouldn’t be a wasted trip). I wound up cleaning up and winning the geared crit, lap leader in both fixed and geared, double down award, and second in the fixie crit. I had a great time at the event and spurred the ambition to try Red Hook with the women in Brooklyn.”

For RHC Brooklyn No.10 we already marked her together with Tanja Erath as dark horses, however, Colleen herself had no expectations at all. “I honestly had no idea. I did my homework and researched the other riders because I had only ever raced 4 of the riders before in the entire field. I got some great advice from Kacey Lloyd Manderfield and Wilis Johnson (Deluxe Cycles) on gears and tire pressure. I figured I had nothing to lose so I just wanted to give it a shot and see what happened. I had a fantastic experience. The crowd, environment, and racing were all elements that aren’t what I’m used to seeing on the road and track. I had a blast. The best part was my friends and family were there and got to experience the win with me. RHC BK 10 is a race I will never forget. It is one of my best cycling memories.”

When asked about how she as a track cyclist prepares herself for a fixed gear crit Colleen acknowledges the fun that fixed gear crit riding brought back into her training regime. “I primarily race crits and track so the combination complements fixed gear crits. I have really been enjoying the fixed gear riding so I have actually translated all of my track workouts onto the course at the park across the street. After training on the track for 15 years this is a fun change of scenery. In terms of training regime the only thing I really have HAD to alter is throwing in 2-3 sessions about two weeks before the race of some skidding and back peddling work. When you’ve spent 15 years learning not to skid or back pedal it takes me a couple sessions to get the legs used to it.” Regarding Red Hook Criterium London No.3: “I did the same training as I did before but worked on some longer efforts. I saw Dani King won last year so if a high class rider like herself shows up I wanted to be ready for her incredible endurance and the possibility of her going for a break.”

Despite winning Red Hook Criterium Brooklyn No.10 Colleen doesn’t she herself as the main favourite of the race. “I still consider myself new to the discipline so, I’m sorry that I don’t have a better answer, but I am not quite sure what to expect. I’m shooting for another podium but I’m not underestimating the skills of the field. Furthermore, I’m actually starting my PhD program in New Zealand on September 1st so I’m not sure what the rest of the year will bring. Of course I will be riding and racing while at school but flying from New Zealand will pose some interesting challenges logistically. I’m taking it one race at a time for now.”

Colleens thoughts on the scene and sport, “the scene is completely different from what I’m used to. The best description I have is that fixed gear crits are like a giant party with serious racers. It’s different because you would think that since the crowd is a huge party then I would expect the racing to be relaxed and more of a show, but it’s not. The skill level of the racers is incredibly high so the combination of high level riders with the relaxed crowd is unique. I hope fixed gear will continue to grow as a cycling discipline. I think it’s the perfect racing style for fixed gear riders who don’t have access to a track or for riders like myself that race both crits and track. The juxtaposition of high level riders with a relaxed crowd makes the sport attractive to both riders and spectators. The fixed gear discipline is the new kid on the block when it comes to cycling and I’m looking forward to racing as well as seeing how the discipline develops.”