Riders pass the Alamo in qualifying heat during the Red Bull Last Stand held Saturday Oct. 13, 2018 in Alamo Plaza.
Riders pass the Alamo in a qualifying heat during a competitive cycling event in 2018. Sunday's race will be the first event by globally recognized L'Ètape in the United States. Credit: Edward A. Ornelas for the San Antonio Report

During her first-ever visit to Texas, California bike racer Danielle Morshead got a chance to see the Alamo for the first time.

And a second time, and a third time, and a fourth time.

On Saturday, Morshead was among the more than 200 riders who circled the Alamo in the closed-circuit Red Bull Last Stand bike race, which returned to San Antonio for its third year.

The event drew more competitors from all over the country. The race is a criterium, or “crit” race, in which road bike riders circle multiple laps, reaching speeds of more than 30 miles per hour. Men ride 50 laps; women ride 30.

Racers said the event stands out from other bike races for its format, in which the rider in last place on each lap is eliminated until only one remains. The event is also notable for fixed and geared bike racers competing at the same event.

Aside from bragging rights as last rider standing, winners received a $5,000 prize, race officials said.

“I was gapping everybody in the corners,” said Morshead, 22, a racer in her first pro season from San Anselmo, California, who won the women’s fixed final riding for Aventon Factory Team. “I was finding the fastest lines that I thought no one else was taking in the bunch.”

Other winners included San Antonio native Ian Anderson, 18, riding for Team CCR Roofing. Anderson came in first in the men’s fixed final after keeping a wide gap between him and the rest of the pack for most of the race.

“I think about circles so the legs keep moving,” he said after the race. “It helps a lot, surprisingly.”

Asked what’s next for him, Anderson said he’ll head back to classes Monday at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Frank Travieso, 38, of Athens, Georgia, won the men’s geared event riding for EDA/Evolution Cycling Team.

Sammi Runnels, 26, an eight-year Austin resident, won the women’s geared event as the lone rider for the Squid Bikes team.

“I love San Antonio,” Runnels said. “The riding here is really awesome and the night scene is great. The parties after this race are some of the best all year.”

Several local teams competed in the race, including a team representing Bottom Bracket Bicycle Shop. Before the finals, Bottom Bracket co-owners Tito Bradshaw and Clayton Baines talked about the growing bike racing scene in San Antonio that’s attracting more attention from outside the city.

“We started doing basically underground midnight crit races, which still continue to this very day,” Bradshaw said, describing races held around midnight on Sundays in San Antonio.

“Other cities have these big races,” he continued. “Luckily, [Red Bull was] like, ‘Hey, San Antonio’s pretty cool enough to where we want to try and do a big race.’”

He and Baines said homegrown races and just-for-fun rides like the Friday Downtown Highlife Social Club rides and SATX Social Ride, often held on Tuesday nights, are signs of growing local enthusiasm.

That’s partly what drew Red Bull’s attention to San Antonio, race director Ravi Rajcoomar said Saturday. San Antonio makes a great host city in part because of the diversity and vibrancy of the local bike scene and the opportunity to center the race around an icon like the Alamo, he said.

Brendan Gibbons is a former senior reporter at the San Antonio Report. He is an environmental journalist for Oil & Gas Watch.