Red Bull Ride & Style is an event that Red bull organizes every year commemorating every aspect of Fixed Gear Culture; racing, tricks and art. This is the second year this event happened in San Francisco, California. The top ten racers from the 2011 Red Bull ride & style automatically qualified to participate again, lucky for me I got 10th place last year. It was a weekend full of racing, parties, friends and lots of fun. I had a race in my schedule for every night I was there. Thursday Night, Red Bull Minidrome; Friday Night; Tic Tac Toe Alley Cat; Saturday, Red Bull Ride & Style Race; Sunday, MASH SF Twin Peaks Race.
We left Los Angeles Wednesday late night and arrived in San Francisco early in the morning on Thursday. We wanted to to have enough time to set camp in Steve Tortorelli’s basement (or the Party Dungeon), we met with my teammate Bud Abile so he can get his custom Predator Mojor bars on, eat and get enough rest for the race qualifier at the Minidrome. Even though I already qualified to race in the main race, they asked us to put our time in for seeding in the Ride & Style Race. I’ve been looking forward to riding the Minidrome so I had no problem putting time in. Riders from all over the country came to give the minidrome a shot for a chance at racing the main race. The structure was tight and very steep. Officials gave the riders up to 4 laps to get used to this tiny velodrome, then riders got up to 10 laps to set their best time. I put on my skin suit and transformed into a super hero, I gave it all I had. Top 32 times advance to the main race, to 16 got to compete head to head in an eliminatory bracket. Bud Abille qualified in 17th and I qualified in 4th. Addison Zawada from Jacksonville, Florida Kills it on the Minidrome, takes 1st place and $250 home.
Friday I participated in the Tic Tac Toe Alley Cat, organized by Chris “Six” Nguyen. The Alley Cat consisted of 8 checkpoints placed in a grid, there was a big “X” in the middle. Racers didn’t have to go to all the checkpoints as long as they completed three “Xs” or three “Os” in a straight line. Simple, right? I decided to cut my race short after going to six checkpoints, two of which didn’t have any volunteers. I didn’t get the winning combination and I didn’t want to do laps around San Francisco when I had to save my legs for the big race the next day. Frustrated and a little bit angry I headed to the finish line, handed my manifest and went to the Chrome Bag store where the registration party was occurring. Met up with all my friends from all over the country, picked up my Athlete credentials, my goodie bag and called it a night.
Saturday was the day we were all waiting for. The big race was upon us. This year officials changed the course, the course was wider, shorter and a whole lot faster and more entertaining for the audience. Starting head to head from an elevated platform about 100 meters from a massive berm going to the left, followed by a hip style jump, up and down the platform again into the finish line. First eliminatory round was one lap, the rest were two laps. I won all my races until I got paired up in the semi finals with and old team mate, Walton Brush. I got 3rd place after my victory versus Jason Clary, defending Red Bull Ride & Style Champion. Walton Brush finish 2nd after his match against Addison Zawada, Ride & Style 2012 winner, who dominated all weekend.
Sunday was rough, after a long night of partying and celebrating, racers had to get ready for the most brutal race of the weekend, The MASH SF Twin Peaks Race. Last year the race consisted of a there and back race from the MASH SF store to Buena Vista park up a 14th street (And when I mean “up” I mean steep and painful in every sense of the word) as many times as we could hit them in 30 minutes. And if that wasn’t enough, top 10 from that race advanced to the final race. Another there and back race, but this time from the MASH store all the way to the top of Twin Peaks (the highest point in San Francisco). This year they changed the first qualifier race to a good old fashioned San Francisco Alley Cat, I was very happy they did. The main race was another alley cat heading out of the MASH store up to some of the steepest and highest streets in San Francisco. I followed last year’s winner around as my tour guide hoping he would get me a decent placement. Last year I got 5th place on a bike much different than the one I’m riding these days, my expectations to do better this year were not there. I was happy hoping I could do as well as last year. Walton Brush from the MASH SF team won the MASH SF twin Peaks race; representing Predator Cycling, Wolfpack Hustle and Brooklyn Machine Works, Hernan Montenegro (me!) got second and Kyle from MASH SF in 3rd. The MASH SF Twin Peaks Alley Cat race is no joke, on a brakeless Fixed Gear or on a road bike. It’s a very challenging race, physically and mentally. Even though I didn’t win, I feel like 2nd place was a huge accomplishment.
It was an absolute treat to make it out to this event and do my best to represent Los Angeles and all the people who support me. I wanna give special thanks to Aram at Predator Cycling, Austin and Joe at Brooklyn Machine Works, TJ and all the Orange 20 Bikes staff, Steve Tortorelli, Mike Martin at MASH SF, all the Red Bull people who set up this awesome weekend, Sean Spaulding and all my friends who made this weekend so amazing. Thank you all.