8bar team at RAD RACE Fixed42 World Championship
Race report by Maxe Faschina, 8bar team rider
Photos: Stefan Haehnel / recentlie.com
250 riders with track bikes on a 42k closed course through Berlin. When the „Fixed 42 World Championships“ were announced by the „RadRace“ organizers at the beginning of this year I was rather concerned about safety and overall practical matters. However, we approached race day and the organizing team appeared to be very professional about this event. Any doubts yielded great excitement as the team has been training hard and seemed to be in great form.
When we were younger we used to race through this city at night recklessly provoking sprints at every traffic light that was about to turn red. As we grew older many of us traded the risk of traffic for more safety at amateur races on the weekends. Still there was this tempting thought of racing the same streets with old friends like back in the day – one gear, no brakes, always at threshold.
In the year 2015 the competition at „Fixed Gear“ events does not solely consist of bike messengers and fixie kids any more. There is a considerable amount of former professionals, still active professionals or semi-professional athletes looking to compete outside of UCI regulation in these races. It’s getting tougher each year.
In preparation for this race we carefully studied the course and had to deal with many technical details. On the evening before many riders came together at various events to talk about just one question. „What ratio will you use?“ We had to consider many aspect. Most importantly wind and the length of the finishing straight with its 1000m. We were expecting an average speed of up to 45kph and decided on a 48/13 or 51/14 to be able to contest in the final sprint.
The start of the race was situated outside of Berlin and most of the riders took the train to save some legs trying to dodge any trouble with the infamous Berlin police. At the location many people tried to calm their nerves by riding the rollers or cruising around the various parking lots. I think most of the people did not know what to expect till the gun went off. Constantly swaying from fear to respect and back.
Our plan was to make the race fast and difficult from the very beginning obviously trying to avoid any of the early crashes that were bound to happen when racing with 270 people. A short neutralized start through the town of Ludwigsfelde was followed by sheer madness as the race was on.
We entered a three lane highway averaging 50 plus. Many mounted way too conservative gear ratios and could not keep up with a cadence beyond 130 in the first couple of minutes.
None of the early attacks caused too much excitement among the bunch as the pace was clearly too high to get out of sight especially on a highway. Yet it was fun and games to hunt them down or even participate in some of them. The team rode strong and was constantly well positioned in the front as we approached the first technical bits of the course. Again it was crucial to ride aggressive as there was another crash in the leading group when we turned onto the airfield of Tempelhof. Strong crosswinds caused many to blow up that were trying to close gaps after the crash.
We managed to keep three riders in the leading group and stayed alert. The upcoming course through the streets of Berlin and the crosswinds were just too inviting for anyone looking to attack with 15k to go.
In the end not a single breakaway could establish itself for more than a couple of minutes. As everyone was working for that sprint finish there were about 40 to 50 guys in the leading group as we we came across a tricky piece of road furniture.
The pace was high and we turned left into a headwind section which compressed the field significantly. 300m into it the road narrowed to a single lane within a train station. I knew what was going to happen just by looking at the course on paper and so I hoped everybody took the advise to stay in the front of the peloton. The crash was loud so I knew that not many people made it through this bottleneck.
Luckily all 8bar team riders managed it to stay on the bike and we had still full firepower in a now thinned out leading group of 20. We easily were able to dictate the outcome, but also had to chase down any last attacks in the following 5k.
Unfortunately I was tricked by a „poor mans leadout“ within the last 1500m. I had chased down that guy for 400m in a headwind when I realized that I have not even passed the Flamme Rouge yet when we turned onto this cruel finishing straight. I was able to keep the pace up for another 200m as my colleague Paul took over and delivered our sprinter Tim for a long 400m sprint.
What followed was a classic drag race between Tim and Sebastian Körber who was sitting comfortably on his wheel during the last bit. Körbi just had the better sprint that day but Tim held onto an awesome 2nd place.
Meanwhile our teammate Christin was able to ride amongst the men and finished just 2:30 minutes behind us. With 1:59 in front of Janine Bubner and Maria Jatkovic this incredible performance put her on top of the podium as „world champion“.
Having earned a first and second podium finish we could have been satisfied already. However, having managed to win the team competition by finishing 2nd, 9th and 11th was the icing on the cake.
So we are the unofficial „Fixed42 Weltmeister“ and even though we know how to hold that title with all irony necessary we are very proud of having achieved such a successful kick-off to our racing season. That will reward us with plenty of motivation for the upcoming events this summer.
An average speed of over 47 kph is proof that fixed gear racing is not some game that needs to hide behind road racing. In fact we were faster than the pros that day. Furthermore we witnessed that the alternative racing scene has much more to offer than traditional racing in 2015. At least that is true for Germany where many cooperative, committed and professional cyclists and organizers are building our community with passion. Let’s all participate and let it grow….
More infos about the race: