Wait, there was a crash? When? Where? How?
I guess we shouldn’t be that surprised given the nature of the sport but there aren’t that many people racing and the course is pretty safe… What now?
Saturday the 3rd of November 2018, the first every criterium organized by Kingdom took place in Dubai – the first race of the 2018 Kingdom Criterium Series.
Have a turnout of ten people or more
The course was the first thing picked out; weeks back, this same course was used by Team Kingdom to practice for Red Hook Crit. It seemed fitting for the first ever fixed-gear criterium in Dubai. It was a low-key race, under the radar, and revolving around the local fixed-gear scene.
We had everything newbie race organizers think they need to organize a race: cones, tape, finish line, table, and a horn. Gotta have a horn.
6:30 in the morning and we’ve set up our little table in the middle of a road in the middle of nowhere, put some wavers on it, shot a picture for instagram and we’re ready for riders and registration.
Our 1.7km course had all the cones laid out and not make things NOT easier cars and buses kept driving through the course which we were pretty sure was abandoned. Apparently it wasn;t so abandoned, leaving us with 2 options - change the course and add two new hairpins on the limits of the main road so we don’t use it or close the street and hope the cars/ buses listen to us and stop while the riders pass through.
An hour later we have about half a dozen riders riding around the course, the ladies race is starting soon and a car hasn’t come by the main road in a while. Final course check and recon done and we’re a go for race #1. Kayen and Joana are up. A quick “on your marks” and a terrible attempt at blowing the horn ends up with more weird white liquid coming out than sound. Some weird gesturing follows that and the riders are off.
The ladies are off and given the first lap prime sponsored by The Project, Kayen attacks on the first corner and goes solo, she takes the prime and just keeps on going.
On this 8 lap race, a half-way prime is announced, which means that at the end of lap 4 another prize is given. Kayen is still going solo as the horn goes off at the end of lap 3. Joana is trailing not far behind but she can’t take the second prime for the solo breakaway rider who decides to keep at it until the end of the race, not losing much if any space to the chasing rider. One lap remains, the horn blows for the last time, and Kayen eases on the pedals as she realizes the size of her gap. Both riders cross the finish line safe and sound, looking badass and celebrate being awesome. A successful day for the ladies on the KCS1118.
Next: the men’s race.
As planned we head out for a recon lap of the course with the 6 guys at the start line. It’s a good turnout, no reason not to be safe. As we are finishing the recon lap, 5 guys on fixed-gear bikes ride onto the course. Apparently our out-of-the-way venue was a bit too out of the way and this crew had only just made it. Because the sport of fixed-gear is a community of like-minded people that care about each other, legitimately, another recon lap was done and with everyone registered, waivered and warmed up we were green light.
We were getting pretty pumped. After explaining the small list of rules and format, giving recognition to sponsors and thanking the participants for their presence, a 30 second countdown began. “30”, “15”, “10”… Not a second after Andre blew the horn and the legs began turning.. With a few difficulties getting the feet into their foot retention devices, the field of 11 riders got to the first corner together. Right after that on the second corner, and probably tightest of the course, a rider looses control and goes over his handlebars causing the following rider to jump over to the sand. Fortunately this was a slowest corner of the course and the one benefit of Dubai is lots of semi-soft sand, so both riders got right back up undamaged and carried on. Phew.
Meanwhile a breakaway of two riders takes off, fighting for the first lap prime, taken by Kingdom Brand Ambassador, Jem. The two men ride together as a third competitor trails at a fast pace. Once the 3 get bunched up together everyone else behind seems too far away to fight for the podium, but we’re only 2 laps in to a 12 lap race and with one of the leaders starting to fade it’s all on. As the battle at the front is happening the tactics start to kick in. Miguel, the rider who came from behind decides to let his competitor take most of the wind work as a fourth rider is catching them , and they can work together. The fourth rider is Josh, the guy that fell on the first corner and was putting in a huge effort to catch the front group.
Finishing the second lap close to a kilometer behind the leaders, Josh was now right behind them just in time for the half way prime which was taken by Miguel who had been smartly resting on Jem’s wheel. The new three-man breakaway is in the clear for the podium, lapping riders every lap. As they work together, with two laps to go, Josh sends an attack after a technical corner attempting to breakaway solo for the win. Miguel, trying to help, lets Jem do all the chasing and not long after Josh is caught.
Now there’s one lap left and Miguel is keeping the pace up, giving Jem no time to rest. Thanks to his extensive fixed-gear experience, Jem is enjoying a lot more rest in the corners as Josh and Miguel who, even though they are strong riders, are racing for the first time on fixed-gear bikes…with no brakes!
The crowd is gathering around the finish line. There are a lot more people watching than racing which means noise. Lots of noise. The riders come around the last corner and they are glued together. Coming in very, very fast, the crowd is popping as the three riders put their heads down and get out of the saddle to sprint with every little bit of energy they have left. Miguel runs out first sitting up for third place as Jem uses every once of lactic acid to create an explosion of power towards the finish line to become the champion of the first ever Kingdom Crit Series race ever.
Everyone in and out of the race is going nuts after watching a very exciting sprint that no one saw coming. The race was a success. Both the men’s and women’s races went according to plan and everyone not only stayed safe but had one heck of a good time.
Thanks to our sponsors - Pdl, The Project, Slash - and support crew, everything went well and according to plan, making it possible to start thinking about the next one! See you then.