Brian Wagner “Safa” has been a bike messenger in more than 7 global city centers around the world. In 2014, he helped organizing the Cycle Messenger World Championship in Mexico City. In 2015, he was a member of Leader bike racing team competing at the Red Hook Crit series and other fixed gear criteriums in the States. Currently, he is the Race Director of Bonemachine Crit which takes place in autumn 2018 and the creator of two successful fixed gear races called Cielos Infernales that were characterized as “the toughest fixed gear races in the world”. Above all, he is a formidable cyclist, an outspoken professional and a great friend who currently lives and works in Mexico City. This year he decided to take one step further and formed a new race called La Nueva Vuelta Antigua, taking place this December around Mexico City. We spoke with him to find out more about his next achievement.
Text: Panos Sinopoulos
Header image: nvayrk
-Brian, thank you for your time. You recently launched the new website of the stage race. Could you tell us a bit more about what La Nueva Vuelta Antigua is about?
It’s about picking up your track bike and going on an adventure. The roads and scenery around Mexico City are amazing, there is so much to see. I want to take people on a biking holiday, but it needs to be hard of course, haha. The ride starts and finishes in Mexico City and passes through three other states. I’m sure most of the riders from Mexico City will be seeing places they haven’t seen before, riders from further afield will be in awe.
-In previous interviews you had mentioned that you like long hills, racing up and flying down; characteristics that are core elements of this race as well. Do you put a lot from yourself when creating a race and what does this new race mean to you?
People tend to create the kind for races they’d like to race. La Nueva Vuelta is definitely something I’d want to do. I put a lot of energy into my races, I want them to be the best event possible for participants. A three-day race is a hard thing to pull off for one person so it means a lot of stress and work. Hopefully the payoff is a great three days with a group of friends that will be talking about the experience when they’re old, sipping gin and reminiscing about the wild times they had.
-he stage race takes place in December and has 3 days of more than 100km/day riding with continuous changes in altitude. What is your advice to cyclists that want to participate but are not familiar with such racing environment, and what would you say about the weather conditions around that time?
The race is going to be physically demanding and challenging, but not like three Cielos Infernales back to back. You definitely want to prepare by doing long distance on the track with some climbing in there, so you know what you’re capable of. At the same time, most people are not going for the win, just to enjoy the scenery and challenge themselves. If you pace yourself and eat and drink along the way, there is time to enjoy the ride and complete each day. The biggest challenge is the last day, plenty of climbing and some really mean gradients. There will be a people walking that day, but it’s also the shortest stage.
The weather should be good as December is in our dry season and the climate is mild in this part of Mexico. It’s generally overcast but dry in the mornings, and then opens up to blue skies for the rest of the day. Mexico City is surrounded by volcanoes and mountains, once riders are on the outside of that ring they will be at lower altitude and it’s warmer which will make most of the race quite pleasant. Climbing out and back in could be cold as riders will be at 3,000 meters above sea level, but a simple jacket should do. That being said, pack wisely and expect anything as predicting the weather when cycling is always risky business.
-La Nueva Vuelta Antigua means the “The New Old Tour”. Would you say that the stage race is an evolvement of the Cielos Infernales races?
In a way yes, it is, it’s the concept of taking on a course that people think is too hard for a track bike and proving it’s not. I feel like it is also a step away and in a new direction. I haven’t really looked back or thought about Cielos Infernales when creating this race. I was riding with a friend in really beautiful surroundings in the State of Mexico a few months ago, and the idea of a stage race through the countryside came to me. There is a real lack of stage racing here so I wanted to do something like this. I’ve always felt like tours were the real test, the ultimate bike race.
The name is a reference to the first grand tours where the only bikes people had, were fixed gear, there were no teams or cars helping you. That was more of a feat of pure determination, perseverance, and madness. This isn’t quite as brutal, I want people to enjoy it too.
-The past few years, we watch your increasing involvement in the creation of many fixed gear races. What are your personal goals and your plans for the future?
I’ve been organizing races in the messenger community for over 10 years, I suppose these latest races are just a progression of that. I’m just putting on races that I would have fun at. About the future, I’m not sure, maybe I’ll have to develop some skills that actually pay the bills 😉
More info on the race can be found here.