Red Hook Crit

March 25, 2012

In the last three days I’ve been all over this city. Three days, four boroughs, three modes of transport, shockingly pain-, delay-, and bad luck- free (although now I know I’m going to jinx myself, damn).  Most of it was for my capstone project– we’re studying bodegas and how they fit into the New York City economy, how they can be further leveraged as a community resource, and how our clients can help them operate more efficiently. Friday morning I learned that Astoria is pretty wonderful, Costco and BJs are threatening the existence of the bodega, and that store owners don’t profit from selling cigarettes. Today I visited Staten Island’s Stapleton neighborhood. We had been to Port Richmond a couple of weeks ago, which was a vibrant, mostly Hispanic community brimming with fruit and vegetable stores, some of which had colorful pinatas hanging from the ceiling. Stapleton, where 30% of the population is below the poverty line was much more depressing.

I’m holding out though. Last night we went to the Red Hook Criterion. We had made plans with friends (thanks Kat! If you read this blog…)  and they suggested that we grab dinner and drinks out in Red Hook and check out this race. It kind of blew me away. Tucked in a corner of Brooklyn, it was an intense event that also felt semi-secret, crisp with well-designed products. The course looked like this:

We stood on the side near the 8, on the bottom part of the bow, shivering a little. The runners went first–elite athletes taking the five laps quickly, most of them covering the five kilometers in 15 to 20 minutes. They were fun to watch, but not nearly as adrenaline-fueling as the bikers.

In the darkness, 75 or so bikers lined up. We had strolled around the outsides of the course and had talked about how the turns were tight, but we had sort of thought that the bikers were going to be regular people and that the whole race would be in good fun. It was all crouched and tense, legs and spandex cycling around at absurd speeds.

People wiped out, which was terrifying to watch, and somehow miraculously just popped right up, more angry about losing their place in the race than bruised or broken. I think I may have actually bitten my nails while watching. We felt like parents, wanting to tell those cyclists to slow down, to be careful. They were serious. The race was dramatic. And then we left to go eat. Fort Defiance was delicious, particularly the cocktails.

Oh, and my day today was just capped off by this pizza–homemade dough from the freezer, fresh sauce, mushrooms and onions, and I can’t believe that I’m six minutes from watching a brand new, full two hours of Mad Men right now.

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