Handlebar mustaches, cyclists’ caps, Red Bulls and spectators lined the De Haro Street sidewalks, cheering on cyclists as they rode past during the 2018 Red Bull Bay Climb on Saturday, Sept. 8.
Atop De Haro Street and Southern Heights Avenue stands an inflatable, blue Red Bull arch, signaling the finish line that cyclists from around the globe compete to cross.
Cycling commentator Gabe Lloyd gave play-by-play commentary while cyclists battled it out to see who could reach the top of De Haro Street the fastest.
Lloyd’s voice poured through the speakers at every De Haro Street intersection, from 18th Street to Southern Heights Avenue.
SF State international student Charlotte Brass competed in the women’s open competition.
“I entered and thought, ‘Oh, I might not be able to get up the hill,’” Brass said. “I did a test on Monday just to see whether I could. Even going slowly, it burns your lungs and you can taste the metal.”
De Haro Street ranges anywhere from a 12 percent to a 21 percent incline.
“This race was shorter and really steep,” Brass said. “Intersections aren’t really a thing in the UK, so you get these flat bits and you suddenly speed up and you’re like ‘Yes!’ and then you hit the hill again. At home you are at a continuous line with the slight fluctuations, but this was a shorter hill climb.”
Riders powered up De Haro Street while the crowd cheered them on from the sidewalks. Music was playing, along with cycling commentary from Lloyd.
SF State student Max Levchenko’s bike chain snapped during his ride up De Haro Street.
“About three quarters of the way up, on the steepest part of the hill, I started slowing down a lot and trying to make it to that flat part,” Levchenko said. “All of a sudden I felt no tension on my pedals so I looked down and my chain had snapped.”
Levchenko exited the race immediately after his chain snapped. Although he had a mishap, he still found the experience to be an enjoyable one.
“It was fun. Everyone out here bikes and so it’s cool to see everybody kind of form a community,” Levchenko said.
Brass placed second in her first qualifying heat, representing Cardiff University’s Road Cycling Team. She went on to the semi-finals, where she placed 10th in the women’s open.
“I’m only here for like five months so I was just like ‘Fuck it! I’ll just do it,’” Brass said. “It’ll be fun and I think that’s what the whole Red Bull event is about.”
Featured video courtesy of Mira Laing/Golden Gate Xpress