Fixed Gear Crit

Mission Crit 5: From racing on a parking lot to a world class fixed gear crit

Tomorrow, the 5th edition of the Mission Crit will be held. Over the years, the fixed gear crit grew from a local race to one of the biggest fixed gear crits in the world after Red Hook Criterium. We talked with co-organiser Clare Prowse about the history, how the race changed over the years, and the upcoming edition.
Interview by: Brian Megens
Photography: Julio Bustamante

[icon name=”comments-o” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]How did Mission Crit come about? The first Mission Crit came about as a way for James to meet more people in the cycling and fixed gear communities. Having been a competitive baseball player at university, and a casual commuter on and off for a couple of years, he was looking for a way to get back into competitive sport by racing his bike. The first Mission Crit was held in a parking lot adjacent to Giant’s Stadium with caution tape and pylons marking the course, and paper plates taped to peoples’ sides as race numbers. 24 racers turned up that night and raced for beer and bragging rights.

[icon name=”comments-o” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]What is your role in Mission Crit? I solicit sponsorship for the race and do much of the brand work. This year I’ve also been doing a lot of work around inclusion initiatives in an effort to recruit more women/trans/femme racers and to foster an environment that embraces and champions a diverse cast of cyclists.

[icon name=”comments-o” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]What is new for Mission Crit 5? Our racer numbers are pushing 250 for Mission Crit V, up from just over 100 last year which is huge, and we’re stoked to be offering cash prizes that total over $10,000. We’re partnering with some really cool new companies from Silicon Valley including Eaze (who do marijuana delivery – woo hoo weed is legal in California now!) and Omni (who do on-demand storage – a necessity for city dwellers who own a lot of large sporting equipment), as well as Ben Davis, an old school workwear company beloved by all in California. We’re additionally thrilled to have the opportunity to work with exciting bike brands such as Rapha, and Machines for Freedom, who are sponsoring our women’s field this year, and whose support we can confidently say has helped buoy our women’s field numbers to almost 50 racers (up from 21 the previous year and 14 the year before that). It’s also very cool to have had the opportunity to work with Hunter Brother’s Cycling out of Melbourne, Australia, to come up with collateral and illustrations for this year’s Mission Crit V designs.

[icon name=”comments-o” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]Which big names can we expect at the start line of Mission Crit 5?
With reigning champ Jo Celso out of the mix, this year’s women’s race is anyone’s to take, and even without Jo, the competition is fierce. 3x Canadian National Track Champion Teaghan Cochrane will be racing for Stanridge, and we’re stoked to have Red Hook favorites Ash Duban and Sammi Runnels coming out to race as well. We’ll be looking to see if Veronika Volok, our fave East Bay babe riding for East London Fixed, and Sydney “Quadney” Richardson can move up from their respective 4th and 3rd place podium finishes last year, and whether Christina Peck, bike messenger extraordinaire who has made it look so easy to take 2nd place for the past two years will be back on the podium.

On the men’s side, SoCal wunderkind Cesar Valenzuela, who blew everyone away in a surprise win over Red Hook 2016 champ Colin Strickland last year will be back to defend his title. We’re excited to be welcoming Angus Morton, Justin Williams, and the rest of the Specialized Rocket Espresso team, and coming in from CDMX fresh off his win at Monster Track 20, bike messenger Brian Safa. We’re also stoked to have hometown heroes Chas Christiansen, Dylan Buffington, and the recently departed Sam Spicer (back in town for the occasion) repping the Fog City on the MASH SF team.

[icon name=”comments-o” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]What makes Mission crit unique or different than other races?

Mission Crit is the only fixed gear crit to be run on the streets of a major city. It is so exciting to race through the heart of a vibrant neighbourhood like the Mission, where the energy is drawn not only from the race but from the movement of the city itself. We also distinguish ourselves by making a push to have our initiatives around inclusion and diversity be front and centre in our messaging. We think we have a great opportunity in the young sport of fixed gear racing to foster an even playing field and an inclusive environment from the get-go, so being candid and unapologetic about making space for and championing people of color, trans people, women, and people from the LGBT community is really important to us.

[icon name=”comments-o” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]How will the course be like?

Due to its wild popularity last year, the course remains unchanged. It is a 1.2km circuit that runs on city streets in San Francisco’s Mission District and features 8 turns including 2 hairpins and 1 downhill chicane.

[icon name=”comments-o” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]Any other info we need to know?

The race is free to spectate, and will be live streamed via YouTube – follow the links from our Instagram and website to watch!