Fixed Gear Crit

Keira McVitty: “fixed gear racing is part of my identity, if I would give that up I would give up a part of myself”

Keira McVitty, was the main contender of As Duban for the overall win in the RHC 2016 women series. However, this is likely not going to be the case in the RHC 2017 series as Keira announced last week that she will prioritise her road career in the 2017 season. Fortunately, we don not have to be scared of losing a character like her fully to the road scene as she is planning to race several fixed gear crits as long as they fit in her road race agenda. We had a talk with Keira to find out more about her decision, her future plans in the world of cycling, and her view on fixed gear crit racing.

Text: Brian Megens

Her dedication to make the best out of her cycling career is shown by her moving to Girona for the winter to fully focus on the upcoming road season. Keira, who has her roots in road cycling, got introduced to Red Hook Crit in London No.1 “I didn’t know what RHC was, I mean, I only knew the use of fixed gear bikes in competition on the velodrome and then these guys just ride them on street circuits, it seemed crazy to me at first. However, a road race in the national series was cancelled so suddenly there was a gap in my calendar which I could fill up with the RHC London no.1. I decided to give it a try and was blown away by it, it was a bit of a laugh as I had no f*cking clue what to do, it’s a whole new way of racing. What is so cool about the community is that everyone can show up and race, regardless your background.”

Although the love for fixed gear crit racing is deep, Keira did choose to prioritise her road career for 2017 which concretely means that she will miss RHC Brooklyn and she has no intentions in going for the RHC GC. “The road team I was in (Team WNT) took a huge step by going from a national elite team to becoming a UCI team. The team wanted me to stay and I see this as my opportunity to compete against the best female cyclists in the world, but I will still do fixed gear crits wherever my schedule allows me to. I mean fixed gear racing is part of my identity, if I would give that up I would give up a part of myself. The team knows this and it took a bit of time to convince them, but now the sports director of the team is even planning to watch me during one of the RHC’s.”

In her role of both being a fixed gear and road racer Keira sees opportunities for the fixed gear scene. “For the majority in road cycling fixed gear crit racing is an unknown thing. I also want to promote fixed gear crit racing in the traditional road cycling world. I mean, Dani King actually came to me for advice before racing in RHC London no.2, like what kind of gearing we use (…) I was just like wow an Olympic Champion comes to me to get to know more about the sport.”

The RHC 2016 series was the first year wherein Keira went to all RHC crits. “It really was a season of highs and lows. I went to Brooklyn straight after an UCI race and was basically only got a good result because of a crash in front of me. In London, my form just sucked, no excuses. The best race of the year was Barcelona which gave me hope for RHC Milano. It was good that there was a rivalry created between Ash and I, it gave the women’s series another dimension. It is funny because we actually really like each other and I have so much respect for her as a crit racer. It was just unfortunate that in Milan I had issues with the chain tension which completely prevented me from being of any serious competition.”

On top riders like Dani King coming in the fixed gear crit scene Keira is clear, “I think it is great and we must be honoured to have such world-class riders coming in and actually taking our competition and with that our sport serious. I mean, if the fixed gear crit scene keeps on developing the way it is I am sure that soon we will have professional fixed gear crit riders and I would love to be part of that as I am neither solely a fixed gear rider or a road racer but both.”