David Santos showed himself at the front of several Red Hook Crits this year. In London, he had a great shot of getting a podium or do even better when he got away with Colin Strickland half-way the race, but he wasn’t strong enough to stick with him. “I never made it to the RHC podium this year and that is a disappointment.” His highlight of last season had to wait a little more than a week after RHC London. In the National Moutarde Crit in Dijón, France he dominated the crit with help of his teammate and local favourite, Olivier Leroy, who managed to achieve a 2nd place making Team Aventon occupy the two highest spots on the podium. Besides having a full-time job at a local transport agency, David is training harder for the upcoming fixed gear season than ever before, determined to get his podium spot in the 2017 RHC series.
Text: Brian Megens
David has a background as a runner doing both track & field as cross-country. After his studies at the University of California, he discovered the bike. He competed in mountainbiking, and road cycling. On the road he made it up to the highest national level riding for KHS Maxis Cycling Team. “So I only started competitive cycling when I was 23, and for years I tried to make it up to the pros. In the middle of the 2015 season I realised that the chance to make that happen was very slim. Moreover, I had to make more time for my full-time job. During a bike ride with Sean Burke, the manager of Team Aventon, he asked me if I wanted to give fixed gear racing a try. At start I was quite hesitant I must say, but I decided to give it a try. So, I borrowed his bike for a week and then competed in my first fixed gear crit, a Wolfpack hustle crit, which I won. From that moment, I became part of Team Aventon and a couple weeks later I was flown to Europe to compete in the RHC Barcelona.
Getting into fixed gear racing felt like a warm bad for David. “The welcoming nature of the community was so different than I was used to in the road cycling culture. I mean, in there, sometimes people don’t even talk to others. In the fixed gear community, I met incredible people … I met David (Trimble) and he really cares about the athletes and the sport without the need or bureaucracy for a governing body. I was ready to say goodbye to the bike as I needed to sort out my life and make time for my career (job) but the fixed gear bike sparked my passion for cycling again. Furthermore, my full-time job meant less time for training and fixed gear racing is perfect as you don’t need long training sessions.”
The KHS Maxis Cycling team, competing on the national elite level, was David’s road cycling team for years. “I actually joined them from day one and saw the team growing and getting better every year. I am an all-rounder with a preference for time trials but I can also manage myself on most climbs. The team still likes to have me on board but competing on a high level on the road demands longer training sessions as the distances of the races are a lot longer than the fixed gear crits. That training is something which I cannot, and maybe do not want to do anymore … the job demands too much time for that.”
David had a good season but there is one thing that botters him quite a bit, he didn’t manage to get a podium on the RHC this year. “In general I am happy with last season … I mean I qualified better than the year before because I had more experience in racing fixed gear, I knew how to approach the crits better and I was racing in the front of the RHC, and I won the Dijón crit (National Moutarde Crit No.4) with a solo break-away. However, I didn’t get that RHC podium when I was damn close a couple of times, especially in London but I just didn’t have the legs to stay away with Colin. He was screaming go go go, but I just couldn’t and had to let him go and finished 6th, one spot away from the podium. A shame as this was the chance to get a podium or do even better but I just didn’t have the shape to do so that day.” A couple weeks later, David did have the strength to go for victory. Although it wasn’t a RHC, the National Moutarde Crit is still a very well-respected race bringing around 200 fixed gear riders together to compete for the win. “In Dijón it was really hot, something I am used to as it is almost always hot here in San Diego. I chucked two bottles of water right before the start and in the race I just kept attacking. I got away alone and my teammate Olivier Leroy was doing an amazing job in shutting down every counter-attack enabling me to create a gap which couldn’t be bridged anymore.” In Barcelona, David made a strong impression too but he was taken out quickly due to a crash with Augusto Reati in the hairpin.
Although David didn’t finish in RHC Barcelona due to this crash, his teammate Tristan Uhl stole the show that almost brought the team a RHC victory which would mean the (second) as Colin Strickland won RHC Milano in 2016 for the team. David about team Aventon, “we all have a road or other type of race background, so we know how to put race tac-tics into action, but the most important is to actually be up there in the front to put a plan into practise. We have 4 guys that can all rely on each other in the race, and also don’t forget that we have a really strong women’s team and that’s another cool thing in the fixed gear scene, the women’s category is as important as the men’s. So, before my race I watch the women race and cheer for them and they do the same for us, this is so different to the road cycling culture.”
For next season the goal for David is to finally get that RHC podium. His determination is shown when David talks about his training regime, “I train a lot more for the upcoming season than I did last year. I now try to be on the bike at least 4 to 5 times a week and I also do some running. I like to train even more but I also have to be at the office for at least 40hrs a week.” He realises that competition will be huge again next year and most likely even bigger than this year as the sport is developing rapidly attracting well-established riders from various cycling backgrounds, but also the fixed gear riders themselves keep on improving bringing the sport to a higher level. “I think everyone that was in front in the RHC finals knows how to handle a fixed gear bike and is able to take a win. I just hope that whenever I am in the same position as I was in London, that now I will be strong enough to stay away.”