Next week the fixed gear crit season in Europe will kick-off with the Rad Race Last Man Standing event in Berlin. The race is held during the Berlin Bike Week and will attract 160 riders and over 2.000 spectators to the indoor kart-circuit to enjoy the race, but more importantly to have a good time, and party to together. Despite the big party factor, as of course the opening of the season needs to be celebrated, the race demands serious technical skills of the riders and only the most technical cyclists will make it to the final wherein 8 men and 8 women will stride to become The Last Man/Woman standing. We spoke with Ingo Engelhardt, the co-owner of Rad Race, about the race and the special meaning it has to the whole Rad Race crew.
Text: Brian Megens
For Rad Race it all started in Berlin as Ingo explains, “we were approached by the organisation of the Fixed Gear Days which were part of the Berlin Fahrradschau (Berlin Bike Convention) and they wanted to include a fixed gear race for the 2014 edition. We were founded Rad Race in the end of 2013 but up to then we hadn’t organised a race, so it was the first race we ever organised. Since then we organise this race always during the Berlin Bike Week. Although over the years we organise way bigger events, the Last Man Standing Berlin is always special to us as this is where the journey with Rad Race began.
“In the first years it was really hard to organise the race but as this will already be the 4th edition and we have set up the contacts, we kind of know what to do and what to expect. However, keeping it a financial safe event is always a challenge. For example, the rent of the indoor-kart venue has doubled, and we don’t want to ask crazy amounts of money to our riders for a start slot, so instead we ask a small fee to each spectator. Finding a balance in this is always hard, but I think we quite managed. People should also know that all the drink revenue goes back in the race, so please drink one on the race. Besides the riders fees we are also depending on the spectators to get the event financial sustainable, but with 2500 people having a great time last year, I expect that this year it will be crazy too and getting enough spectators in shouldn’t be a problem. Of course I also have to mention that without our sponsors we wouldn’t even be organising any race, so a massive shout-out to them.”
The party element is a big part of the Last Man Standing, but if one thinks that there is no serious bike racing going on they are wrong. “You really need to be able to handle a fixed gear bike very well if you want to make it to the final. I mean this indoor go-kart track is really technical. Being a good rider on the road crits doesn’t mean anything here. Having a good time and the party atmosphere is the core of this event. However, when the riders are riding their heats they are dead serious. I remember that Stefan Vis and Thibaud Lhenry were so focussed that we had the hardest time taking them out when they were eliminated as they just kept on riding.”
Augusto Reati, the Italian top crit rider from Supernova, won 2 out of the 4 editions and if one takes into account that he only participated in three editions, it becomes clear that he is the man to beat for the 2017 edition. Ingo: “I would almost go as far in saying that the question is not who is going to win but who is going to be 2nd. We have several good riders coming in and I am very curious to see how a tall guy like Aldo Ino Ilesic will handle a narrow technical race like this. Other riders that I expect to have serious chances are Stefan Muller, Addison Zawada, Emmanuel Poli, Sebastian Körber, Andrea Pirazzolli, of course good old Fish (Stefan Vis), and the rest of the Supernova team as in general Italian riders have a great level in fixed gear crit racing.”
For the women Ingo sets his money on last year winner Francisca Campos, “but Carlo Nafri will be of big competition to her. Another woman who impressed in the last edition was Sammi Moreno, she was riding really aggressively and opened up the race, looking forward what she can bring on to the table this year.”
We as Fixedgearcrit will be present in Berlin during the Berliner Fahrradschau (Berlin Bike Convention) to present our custom FGC Bombtrack bike. Of course we will also be there during the Rad Race Last Man Standing, actually our founder Brian Megens will be the host for the Rad Race live-stream, so tune in to see if he has any reporter skills. We will report on the race and party atmosphere from our first hand experiences there. Let the season begin!