OK so the dust has finally settled and we're ready to give our full race recap of the inaugural Fyxation Open fixed gear street crit that took place this last weekend in Chicago, IL. Before we get too deep into the details, we wanted to send out a quick thanks to the guys over at the Prairie State Cycling Series for putting on a great event and for taking a chance and letting us host a fixed gear street crit on the Chicago Criterium course. There was a lot of behind the scenes planning to pull this off and we couldn't have done it without their help. Hopefully this event will be the first of many!
If you've never been to a Criterium race before, you're missing out. They are fast, technical and offer a great way for spectators to really get an up close look at the sport of cycling. Rather than watching riders go by one time as they're hammering a 100 mile road race, Crits are held on short courses of generally less than a mile, and race lengths are determined by the number of laps or total time. This means you get to watch the riders go by many times and it's easy to walk around the course to get different perspectives of the race and watch the tactics being used by the riders.
The course that was used for the Fyxation Open was located right in the heart of the downtown Chicago in an industrial part of town and was ideal for an urban Criterium. The Chicago Crit course was sandwiched in between the Chicago L train lines and industrial warehouses and with views of the Chicago Skyline as the backdrop for most of the course, the setting was surreal.
The title sponsor for the Prairie State Cycling Series was Intelligentsia Coffee and the race was held directly in front of their roasting facility and warehouse. It just so happens that Goose Island Brewery, another Chicago staple, is their next door neighbor. Both of these great Chicago companies were involved on the day of the race serving brews and espressos and the combination of bikes, beer and great coffee made our race a great venue for the many fans that showed up.
Now on the race. The Fyxation Open was held at 5:50PM and was scheduled in between the women's and men's pro races. We were honored to have such a great time slot for the Fyxation Open and it meant that there were a ton of fans on hand to watch our race. Similar to some other popular fixed gear street Crits that have been held on the coasts the last few years (Red Hook Crit and Wolfpack Hustle Races), the Fyxation Open was a true fixed gear criterium race which mean that riders were required to ride brakeless bikes and bikes had to be equipped with drop bars. Riders had to check in prior to the race at our booth to make sure their bikes were race ready with a full inspection by Nick here at Fyxation. Not only is Nick one of our co-founders but he's also a pretty able mechanic. After having to tighten up a few chains and do some minor work on a couple bikes, the riders were cleared for the race and headed off to the starting line.
Because we didn't have the time to have qualifying heats for our race, we staged the riders based on abilities and the CAT 3 and above riders were positioned at the front of the race. We had about 45 total riders show up for the event which considering we had announced the event about a month earlier was pretty impressive. There was a great mix of local fixed gear riders, guys who were representing their local velodrome and even some of the guys that had raced the road Crit races earlier in the day. We even had one pro show up to race in the Fyxation Open (more on that later) and he was planning to race the 90 minute pro Crit immediately following our 30 minute race! Some people even came from as far away as St. Louis and we hope that next year with a bit more planning and pre-race promotion other Midwest states will be represented as well.
With the pace car out in front of the group, the race started. We were all a little bit nervous because of the mix of abilities in the group but once the riders got up to speed the race was very controlled and the fast pace set by the lead pack soon started to separate the contenders from the rest of the field. To ensure that the race was safe the lapped riders and riders towards the back of the pack were eventually pulled which narrowed the field of finishers to 13 riders.
In addition to the $500 prize money, Eastside track bike, Nutcase helmets and Chrome Coveted Jersey that were split between the top 3 finishers, we offered 6 primes during our race. Primes are prizes that are awarded to the leaders of certain laps during the race and adds a level of excitement for both the riders and the crowd. Thanks to our friends at Nutcase Helmets, Abus Locks, All City and Chrome Industries, riders had some serious incentive to win the Primes during the Fyxation Open and every time the bell rang to announce the next prime you could see the riders take off.
A short while into the race, Pro rider Brian Ellison started to position himself behind the first few riders and when the time was right, he slowly started to pull away from the pack. What's funny is that during bike check I chatted with him and was trying to give him some tips about the course and he said don't worry about it and started to tell me what he was going to do with the prize money. I didn't know who he was at the time but I had heard that there was definitely a favorite in our race and it turns out the rumors were true. Brian led most of the race and eventually finished in 1st place a couple hundred yards ahead of the rest of the field.
Coming in second with a pretty good lead over the rest of the field was local rider Avi Neurohr who races for the Chicago Cuttin Crew. The race for third place was exciting and came down to the wire as Zachary Slavens, who made the trip in from St. Louis and was representing the Wolfpack Hustle team, nudged out Jonathan Rinehart at the finish line.
It was an exciting day of racing and our event was the icing on the cake. We spoke to one of the Cat 2 riders that did both races and he said the level of excitement and cheers from the crowd during the Fyxation Open was one of the best he's experienced in all his years of racing. Once again thanks to Chicago, the fans, the riders, Intelligentsia Coffee, Goose Island and Prairie State Cycling. Can't wait till next year!
Full Race Results:
1. BRIAN ELLISON
2. AVI NEUROHR
3. ZACHARY SLAVENS
4. JOHNATHAN RINEHART
5. RODERICK DE JESUS
6. JAFET TORRES
7. THOMAS KEHRER
8. ROBERT BIGELOW-RUBIN
10. SCOTT OGILVER
12. FOREST HYNES
13. GEORGE JORDAN