Fixed Gear Crit

Meet ‘the Voice of Red Hook Crit’ Gabe Lloyd

Colin Strickland and Stefan Schafer are in a duo break-away and with only a couple of laps in Red Hook Criterium Brooklyn No.10 to go it is Colin who attacks. It looks like Stefan can’t follow, the whole crowd is convinced that this is the decisive attack and Colin will cruise to victory. However, all of a sudden we can hear the voice of  Gabe Lloyd “Colin Strickland attacks but Stefan Schafer looks cool and in control.” That he was right is proven half a lap later when Stefan got back to Colin’s wheel and immediately drops him crossing the finish line alone and by doing so taking the win in Red Hook Criterium Brooklyn No. 10. If you have ever been to a Red Hook Crit, or even watched a race report on Youtube, you’ve probably heard the voice of Gabe Lloyd also known as ‘The Voice of Red Hook’. Our reporter Date Burgerjon talked to Gabe to find out how he keeps up with the ever-changing field of riders, how he is able to ‘read’ the race and what were the best moments from the 2017 Red Hook Crit series.
Text: Date Burgerjon

Gabe started announcing at Red Hook Crit Brooklyn No. 7 in 2014. “I started at the one where it was raining really badly”. He took over from David Trimble, “he used to do everything”. The first Brooklyn Crit was the only Red Hook Crit where Lloyd announced that year. “There wasn’t any budget for me at the time.”Luckily for Gabe his announcing skills didn’t go unnoticed. “For the second Brooklyn Crit as an announcer I was really enthusiastic and I did a lot of homework. After the race people told David (Trimble) they really liked the announcer, so David found some budget to bring me to Europe”, Lloyd explains.

Being the announcer at a crit you have to inform the public on what is happening. You must ‘read’ the race. Gabe seems to be doing a fine job. Having a background in cycling certainly helps. “I used to race category 1 on the road, in cycling cross and track. I wasn’t a feared or super strong rider, so I had to ‘read’ the race trying to get a result. I always knew what was going on but never had the legs to follow.” Having ridden six Red Hook Crit’s himself does help too.

One of Gabe’s main jobs as an announcer is keeping up with the riders’ field. “I follow them on social media and look at their results. David always tells me if there is a new rider I have to keep an eye on”.Even with an ever-changing field of riders, Lloyd hasn’t been caught by surprise often. “In Milan, there were some Italian (women) pro-riders who registered late and did well. And there are some guys every now and then that do well on their debut. But normally it takes about three Red Hook Crits to get used to the race and really do well”.And while getting a top-10 is great it does not mean Gabe is talking about you during the race. “We like to talk about the main riders as characters. Our pre-race social media output correspondents with what I say on stage. If someone does surprisingly well, I’ll try and get to know them, but I’m not too worried getting caught out there”.

Looking back at this year’s races there were some memorable moments. We asked Gabe to pick his favourites for both the men and women. “Each race has something unique and memorable. I’d say Alec Brigg’s determination throughout London No.3. Riding a bike that didn’t fit him and actually making progress on the chase was pretty spectacular. He benefited from the restart, but I think he would have made contact with the field without the restart.”
“For the women’s field, I’d have to go with Ash Duban’s win in Barcelona. It was a great race all around with Ainara Elbusto coming back, Eleonore Saraiva going for primes to try and lock up her overall, and the rivalry between Sairava and Rafaele Lemieux almost becoming the biggest story of the season. Ash has always impressed me with her ability to read races and take advantage of hesitation. Once Elbusto had a gap after Lemieux flatted out of the race, Ash knew that she had to take advantage of the opportunity to get in a breakaway with Elbusto. I think Sariva was waiting for someone like Tanja Erath to set the tempo at the front to pull them back, but it happened a little late. Once Duban and Elbusto linked up, they immediately worked together – which was a subtle historical reference for the RHC series. These two women have been racing each other exclusively in RHC events since 2014. Pretty cool”.

The biggest surprise of the season to Gabe was: “David Van Eerd’s entire day in Barcelona. Yes, the win was surprising but going back through the day we see that he was entirely in control and riding in a way that impressed me. His positioning all day (qualifying and feature race) was excellent and smooth. His accelerations to keep position and set himself up for key moments in the race like the mid-race prime and the final sprint showed a lot of experience”.
“While some may say the crash changed the final result, you also have to remember that the Rockstar Games Top Antagonist was the first rider across the line with 1 to go so he was already ahead of that crash, as was Davide Vigano. To hold the gap initially, maintain pack position through the top of the course, then surge again on the last straightaway showed tremendous composure to win”.

Wouldn’t it be great for the public to see these thrilling races broadcasted? Gabe sees the live broadcast of Red Hook Crit as a logical next step. “Of course, it has to. But it has to be done the right way. I have seen some other fixed gear events trying and they failed. (…) I would love to be a part of it. But there is a conflict here. If I’m not on the stage announcing, who would? Everyone calls me the voice of the Red Hook Crit, but if I’m on TV I can’t be the voice of the Red Hook Crit. I do think I can add something to a live broadcast, I know all the characters, I know the race, I can explain it and I think I have a good understanding on how to tell a story. All I know is that as long as David (Trimble) is in charge everything will be fine. I have seen him grow as an organizer every Red Hook Crit”.

Starting his announcing career at Red Hook Crits, Gabe is looking to do more announcing gigs in the future. “I’m trying to do some pro races, but it’s a difficult business to get into. I would love to do pro races for TV. I think it’s a natural process: you start on the stage and it grows from there”.