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Colin Strickland. Nine laps for the glory

Come from Texas, USA, Colin Strickland left the entire audience speechless with his exhibition during the final of RHC Milano No.6. He managed to distance himself from the leading group and maintain a pace to get the victory of this spectacular race through the streets of Bovisa.

Who’s Colin?

I’m just a hard working guy who has a serious addiction to bikes. I took the traditional path of university, career, house, but all the while I was riding and building bicycles for fun. These days I’m focusing on racing bicycles first, working on restoring my home second, and working for an environmental consulting firm third. I love playing guitar, working on motorcycles in my garage, and watching the 20 laying hens I keep in my back yard.

What represent cycling for you?

The beauty of cycling is the variety of the people, bikes, and attitudes that you encounter. I love being able to race the fastest guys in the USA, and also ride with the local guys who end most rides with a few six-packs of beer. From the most serious road racers, to the guys who only carve dirt trails, to the fixed gear die-hards, we are all addicted to the feeling of flying. Finally the feeling of freedom and flying is the same.

Crits, road bikes, cyclocross… We’ve realized that you’re really good rider in different kind of cycling… What’s your favorite and why? What about cycling in Texas? Tell us about racing and Aventón Factory Team…

I am a pure fan of racing. I love it all. Every discipline has its own thrill and dynamic, but the energy of racing is the same. I love the speed and G-forces of criteriums. I love the prolonged suffering and mental toughness of road races. I love drifting through slick turns and powering through mud in cyclocross. I love the physicality and energy of the Red Hook Crits. All races are a thrill for me. If there’s a bike race, I’ll be there.

Racing bikes in Texas has made me the racer I am today. We have international talent in the state and it shows in the racing. Coming up in Texas was incredible for developing as a bike racer. ELBOWZ Racing has always dominated in Texas and in Pro races across the country. The team was founded by multi-time World Superbike champion and retired Moto-GP racer Ben Spies, and we have tried to keep his tradition of winning alive.

The Aventón Factory Team approached me about racing for its program in August 2015. Aventón FT has incredibly talented teams competing in both the male and female fixed-gear criterium disciplines, and it was an honor to get an invitation. From the expert management, to the awesome race bikes, the Aventón Factory Team makes winning races easy.

How did you get into Red Hook Criterium?

The first race I ever competed in was actually an alley cat held in Austin during the NAHBS show in 2010. It was a 60 mile circuit around Austin at night, and was hosted by Fast Folks bike shop. I raced my Seven Cycles Titanium track bike, as it was my only bike at the time. I believe I won by several minutes, and got a Cinelli Gazetta frameset for the win. I absolutely loved the feeling of competing, digging deep, and winning! From there I was hooked. Dave Trimble was at the race, and he made me aware of the RHC series. I travelled to NYC to race the RHC in 2012 and 2013. I placed 5th in both races, but I had not yet honed my racing craft. Still, it was a huge thrill the make the “brodium” in both attempts. I knew I would be back, and that I could win. Trimble’s events are such incredible productions! It is an honor and a thrill to get to race in one of his events.

How was your first time on a track bike?

I came from a background of track bikes, and while I’ve never raced on a velodrome, I spent most of my early twenties tearing around Austin on fixed-gears.

What’s the difference between RHC race and the other kind of races?

The main difference between a RHC and other races is the energy! The crowd, the incredible courses and infrastructure, the international phenomenon! Like I said, Dave Trimble’s races are the most expertly run races I’ve ever raced, and I’ve raced quite a bit. He knows how to turn a bike race into a fantastic experience for everyone involved. Racers and spectators alike.

Miilano man it was a show! Tell us what do you live in that amazing performance!

Well, I went into the race knowing that I was on excellent form. I knew that if luck went my way, and if I got the chance to ride away in a small group, I had the fitness and nerve to back it up. I raced more than 50 very tough, often wet criteriums in 2015, so I was tuned for the discipline. I went to Milano with confidence, but I know how many variables there are in RHC and how tough the competition was.

I had a rough start, and it took me half the race to make my way through traffic to the front of the race. As soon as I got there, I rolled with a surge on the back straight of the course and decided to dig in and give it a go. I passed the lone rider off the front and just kept pushing on, trying to snap the elastic, or at least motivate a select group to join me off the front. The peloton was within sight, chasing hard and with 9 laps to go, I was pretty sure I would soon be caught. I briefly rested, then gave another push just because, why not? That push was the one that broke the elastic, and the gap quickly grew to 20 seconds. The next 6 laps were about staying aero, recovering in the turns, and smashing the straights. With 3 laps to go, I it began to sink in that the race was won. I still felt strong, and the peloton was only barely visible at the far end of the start-finish straightaway. The last lap was pure joy. I will never forget it.

Any motto?

No matter how badly you are suffering, those around you are suffering too. Just keep pushing, and they may break before you.

Thanks to…

The Aventón Factory Team, team manager Sean Burke,  ELBOWZ Racing, and my mom and pop for coming out and watching my local races over the years.