Chris Rea of Simi Valley spends a lot of time on wheels, mostly on two. As a highly ranked national cycling competitor, Rea has been on his bike since 2013, when he took up the challenge. In October, Rea will travel to San Antonio, Texas, to compete in the Red Bull Last Stand, a criterium-style race (a race on a closed course with a set number of laps) that pits 50 cyclists against each other on a loop course wherein the slowest each lap is eliminated. This year, Rea will cycle not only for glory, but for charity, as his team (dubbed the UltraMOs) will race to raise funds for prostate cancer research.
VCReporter: Tell me about the Red Bull Last Stand
Chris Rea: It is a criterium format of bicycle racing, which is basically a short circuit that we do laps on. This one’s got a twist in it where it is an elimination-style criterium, so the last person to cross the line on the lap is eliminated. You start with 50 riders and go down until you have one person doing their victory lap. It’s a really fun race; I got to do it last year. It’s one of the first of its kind since I started racing in 2013. I had never heard of elimination-style criteriums.
How do you prepare for something like this?
You ride your bike a lot. I’ve put in 3,500 miles this year so far. Last year I was at about 5,000 before I went to the race, and then it’s all in regimented workouts. I have a coach that I work with that I do specific intervals and styles that are going to put my muscles into the best shape possible for doing the work that I have to do on that day.
How long does the race last?
This race will be 50 laps. Typically we race 90 minutes, depending on how fast we’re actually going will determine how far we go. I got third place in state champs in Thousand Oaks last year; in a 90-minute critierium we did 42 miles. Last year I got sixth place in the main event, made it through 44 laps before I was eliminated. That took us right at 70 minutes, 60-70 minutes.
How long do you think you’ll be able to keep it up?
I don’t want to go in and think that I’m only going to make it 20 laps, I’m a competitive cyclist, ranked in the top 10 in the nation in the different categories I’ve raced in, and done well at this event last year. Unfortunately, you need a lot of luck to win bike races. If I get lucky and all the cards fall in the right place, then there’s no reason why I can’t be on the podium.
Why did you choose to do this and which charity are you supporting?
I have been a supporter of the Movember Foundation since 2010. After I graduated, I wanted to do something with bike racing and with my fundraising, so I created a team called UltraMOs Racing, as in, ultra-mustaches. Through the generosity of 15 people last year and nothing but word of mouth, I was able to raise $3,000 for the Movember Foundation. Because I have a full-time job this year, I’m really going to push it hard for the Red Bull Last Stand. Sponsors will donate $25 just if I show up. The 50 people with the fastest qualifying laps make the main race. If I qualify for the final race, then it’s another $25 and then basically they pledge $1 per lap made in the final race. If I qualify and end up winning that would be a $100 donation.
Both my father and grandfather are prostate cancer survivors. The Movember Foundation donates heavily to the American Prostate Cancer Society and helps people who currently have it. For me, because of my family history, it’s not a matter of if but when I get it.
The Red Bull Last Stand criterium will take place in San Antonio, Texas, on Oct. 7. For more information, visit https://www.redbull.com/us-en/events/red-bull-last-stand. To follow Chris’ progress and training leading up to the race, visit www.ultramos.wordpress.com.