The Man Behind Red Hook’s Criterium Race

Written by Noah Wunsch on . Posted in Bike Show, Breaking News, Sports.


David Trimble is a Red Hook pioneer, looking to build the community up and out. However, he’s not heavily engrained in the political side of things, nor is he looking to be. Trimble is a cyclist whose Red Hook Criterium race has drawn attention to the athletic, artistic and artisanal offerings of Red Hook.

David has been surrounded by bikes his entire life. His father and uncle built bike frames for a living for the family company, Trimble Aero Cycle. It took David a few years to recognize the family offerings, first getting his taste of competitive racing as a 12-year-old kart driver. Due to sparse sponsorship funds, Trimble was forced to retire his helmet in 2003. After two years of malaise, he sought comfort in the form of a bicycle and hasn’t looked back since.

Moving to New York City, Trimble started participating in Alleycat Races, which force bikers to use the city as their race strip and obstacle course. Dodging cars and pedestrians is part of the field. So did the Red Hook Criterium start in the hope of glorifying this underground race scene? No. It started as a birthday party.

“It was a way to bring my bike racing friends together to celebrate my birthday,” said Trimble. “Normally, they’re in bed by 10 p.m. and up at 5 a.m. to race in Central Park. There’s no way to bring them all out unless personal glory is in line.”

Since the race began in 2008, it has drawn more attention each year. This year will see its European inception in Milan and, soon to come, Berlin. The race is unique in that it’s an unsanctioned criterium, is held at night and it involves track bikes, which do not have brakes and require constant pedaling.

“The track bikes on a technical course make it totally different,” he said. “It changes the race dynamic. It makes it very exciting. Rather than an open peloton, where you can’t see what’s going on, it’s spread out—very spectator-friendly. The setting is spectacular. It’s a post-industrial neighborhood right on the water.”

The format of the race also makes it more biker-friendly. “There’s always one or two small crashes,” Trimble said. “By making it more technical and difficult, it makes it safer. There’s a bigger separation between the skilled rider and the amateur. Rather than a 30-rider pile-up, it might be a two-bike crash.”

The laid-back vibe of the race offers spectators a look at competitive cycling in a lax party atmosphere, while spurring the racers into a competitive frenzy. Fixed-gear racing is dangerous because racers can go faster than when they have brakes, but fixed-gear racing at night is just plain crazy.

“There are so many spectators now,” said Trimble. “Only a small percentage are hardcore cyclist fans. It’s a cross section of the Brooklyn and Manhattan crowd.”

This year’s track was lined with art pieces around every bend. “Artists see how visually interesting the race is and want to create art around it,” Trimble added. “I’ve always considered it a performance art piece. The Red Hook art scene has really grown as well. Being a part of that community will really cater the race to a new audience.”

This year Trimble has also signed on a number of local sponsors for the race, hoping to call more attention to local businesses in Red Hook. Future plans for the Criterium include expanding it to more major international cities.

“Milan is definitely going to happen October 13. Berlin, we’re in the early stages of planning,” he said. “We need sponsorships to get the races going, but we have the course set. In the future, our dream is to have three races in Europe, three in America and then a championship and a world final in a city that could change every year.”

The only thing that remains stationary in this race is Trimble’s support for Red Hook.

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