Fixed Gear Crit

Mission Crit IV “I tend to find women’s cycling races incredibly compelling, sometimes more so than the men’s races” race director James Grady

With all eyes on the 10th edition of Red Hook Crit Brooklyn (RHC BK 10) we almost forgot that there are other crits worth visiting out there. Mission Crit IV is held exactly a week before RHC BK 10 and like the title reveals, it will be already the 4th edition of the crit located in San Francisco. With 85 riders pre-registered the crit will be well visited although race director James Grady hopes for some last-minute ticket sales to boost the number up a bit more. We spoke with him about the history of Mission Crit, this year’s edition, and future ambitions.

Text: Brian Megens
Photos: Julio Bustamante – @boostamantefotos

Mission Crit had its first edition in 2014 as James explains “I started Mission Crit in 2014. I was just getting back into cycling after years of being a commuter, and wanted to meet more people interested in the racing aspect. I had heard about the Red Hook Crit, which checked all the boxes of what I liked about cycling so I decided to go for it. It ended up being in a parking lot, the course laid out with caution tape and “borrowed” orange cones. I had never thrown a bike race before so I wasn’t exactly sure what was needed; just prior to the start of the race I ran to a grocery store to get paper plates to fashion ad-hoc racer numbers. There were about 15 racers and two dozen spectators.”

Although last year’s edition was a success, there is always room for improvement. “There are a number of improvements from last year, most notably the change in the course layout and the use of chip timing. Although both have added to the cost to put on the race, I view them as necessary to the continued growth and success of the Mission Crit.”

James tried to make the women’s field stronger this year by giving a special discount to newcomers. “I tend to find women’s cycling races incredibly compelling, sometimes more so than the men’s races. I believe efforts to promote women in cycling and foster an inclusive community is necessary to further the popularity and long-term success of cycling. To that end, we are offering a discounted entry fee for first time female racers.”

Following James this year’s edition promises to be good. “Mission Crit IV is going to be so much more exciting, from both the rider’s and spectator’s point of view. I believe the new course is going to be challenging and incredibly fun. I will consider Mission Crit a success is everyone is safe and has fun. After all, if you’re not having fun what’s the point?”

Regarding the future ambitions the Mission Crit is humble. “The race has not turned a profit, so before we think about expanding, I need to figure out how to make the race financially stable, as well as pay off debt incurred from previous years. I know that’s not very exciting, but I think it’s important for people to know that, no matter what race you’re attending, a considerable amount of planning and money has gone into it.”

Regarding the favourites James has a hard time picking one for in the women field. “For the women it’s hard to pick: Christina Peck has been on the podium the last two years, but between her, Veronika Volok, Kym Nonstop, Sydney Richardson, and Erica Schwanke, I think it will come down do strategy rather than pure strength. For the men? There’s this guy out of Austin that everyone’s intent on stopping for some reason…”