The bicycling community was swept up in the exhilarating Red Hook Crit on Saturday, which returned for its eighth annual run cozied up along the harbor. This year the weather panned out (unlike last year’s rain-filled event), creating a thrilling night for both spectators and competitors alike.

For those who don’t know, a criterium (crit) is a bike race where messengers and urban cyclists are able to compete against seasoned pros, all done on a closed course on fixed gear bicycles, which have no brakes. Throughout the race, a ringing bell signifies that the “primes” (prizes) will awarded during certain laps, keeping everyone at attendance on their toes the entire time. The ride is the ultimate test of endurance, fitness, and street savvy cycling and usually lasts up to an hour. This year’s crit was a whirlwind of blurred cyclists, screaming fans, and a chorus of cowbells as more than 300 cyclists flocked in from 29 countries looking for the chance to compete.

The day was filled with qualifying times and last chance races for the men, and officially kicked off with an impressive 5K. Runners ran five laps around the course, amping up the crowd for what was sure to be a night filled with amazing races. With a Sixpoint brew in one hand and a Red Hook Crit cowbell in the other, spectators were ready to root on their favorite riders.

Following the 5K was the Women’s Crit where 24 women from around the world took the track by storm. From the start, the race thinned into groups where the ladies gave it their all for 18 laps, a total of almost 14 miles of high-intensity cycling. Until the last minute, it was a tight race but ended with a win for Spain’s Ainara Elbusto Arteaga. Right behind her was France’s Fleur Faure and 2008 Red Hook Crit winner, Kacey Manderfield Lloyd, pulling in at third.

The last event was the Men’s Crit, which was a staggering display of more of the fastest cycling I’ve ever seen. There were 50 cyclists that took the 24 laps (nearly 19 miles) with ferocity, and the entire race was over before any of us even knew it. The men stayed mostly in a large group for almost the entirety of the race with a few riders pulling ahead periodically. Ultimately the win went to Italy’s Ivan Ravaioli followed by Spain’s Luis Junquera San Millan and Mexico’s Raul Torres Pagaza.

Overall the event was intense and amazing, and I can’t wait for next year’s crit already. Red Hook is a neighborhood worth exploring as it is, full of little gems along its cobbled roads, and hosting the crit gives it the much-deserved attention it truly needs.