I think you need a log-in to read the article to read it, so I've re-pasted the whole thing here. Number 13 below is John Ktel, the eventual third place finisher...
The old cobblestones on the Red Hook waterfront in Brooklyn have felt the weight of many kinds of vehicles, from wagons to tractor trailers to the snazzy cars and S.U.V.’s of the neighborhood’s newer residents. But as a soft drizzle fell on Saturday night, the stones felt something new — a clandestine bicycle race.
From shortly after 11 p.m. until nearly midnight, about two dozen cyclists hurtled over the bumps and around the tight turns of several blocks near the East River while spectators cheered from sidewalks.
The race, called the Red Hook Criterium, was organized by David August Trimble to celebrate his 26th birthday, which had been a few days earlier. Among the participants were art dealers, bike messengers, graduate students and at least one man who said he was happily unemployed. All were riding track bikes — fixed gear bicycles fit with narrow tires and aerodynamic frames for racing. And no brakes.
Before the race, bicyclists arrived at Mr. Trimble’ s home on Dikeman Street, where they pinned numbers to their shirts. Mr. Trimble, a designer for an architectural firm, explained that he had conceived of the criterium — a contest usually run on a short course on city streets — to draw together divergent strains of racers.
“It’s a combination of two different scenes,” he said. “It’s part road racing and part fixed-gear alley cat.”
As in road races — like the Tour de France or the Giro d’Italia — contestants followed a set course, riding in packs nearly wheel to wheel. But they also benefited from skills usually honed in outlaw messenger races, called alley cats, in which participants speed along urban streets weaving around potholes, pedestrians and moving vehicles.
Mr. Trimble spread the word to friends, and the race aroused attention in the blogosphere, where the setting appeared to elicit nearly as much interest as the contest itself. Bikeblognyc.com, for instance, described the criterium as “an unsanctioned race through a desolate, postindustrial part of Brooklyn.”
Perhaps drawn by the visual prospects, several photographers showed up. And a filmmaker named Kalim Armstrong arrived with a nine-person crew and eight digital cameras, including one mounted on a bike helmet that he hoped would capture the vertiginous feeling of speeding through dark streets.
About 11 p.m., the racers left Mr. Trimble’s home and assembled on Beard Street, where the cobblestones studded the surface of the road and tall shipyard cranes loomed on the horizon.
Although the organizers had not sought official permission, there were several police officers on hand. They did not try to stop the race but warned the riders to avoid the parking lot of the Ikea store on Beard Street.
The race began with a sharp whistle, starting the cyclists on the first of 16 laps around a three-quarter-mile course running in a rough rectangle along Columbia, Van Dyke and Richards Streets.
They sped past the Erie Basin Auto Pound, where the police keep vehicles that are being held as evidence, and past hulking brick warehouses and wood frame residences. They passed stacks of marble slabs in a dirt lot surrounded by a fence topped with shiny barbed wire and a mural on a sheet metal wall that depicted an unplugged television.
Car traffic was sparse and the race course was nearly silent except for the hiss of rubber wheels and occasional cries of encouragement from small groups of spectators, some of whom had gathered at a spot where Sigourney, Ostego and Van Dyke Streets formed a treacherous stretch that included two sharp, swerving turns.
The race ended 30 minutes after it began, won by Neil Bezdek, a 24-year-old management consultant. Mr. Trimble finished second, about 30 seconds behind.
Then riders and spectators adjourned to Mr. Trimble’s backyard, where they drank from a keg of beer as Mr. Bezdek was awarded several prizes, including a jar of homemade granola, a bottle of olive oil and a cobblestone from Beard Street, which he victoriously hoisted above his head while standing on a winner’s podium of stacked milk crates.
Nearby, the third-place finisher, John Kniesly, 27, analyzed the course.
“The cobbles got dicey,” he said. “A lot of slipping and a lot of near falls.”
Mr. Armstrong, the filmmaker, said he was looking forward to viewing footage from the helmet cam.
“It’ll be dark and grainy and there’s going to be rain on the lens,” he said. “But that’s O.K. because our idea was to show this race how it actually is.”
-By COLIN MOYNIHAN
-Published: March 29, 2009