No-brakes bike race sweeps cycling world

At top speeds around hairpin turns -- and at the competitors' own risk -- the Red Hook Criterium, or "The Crit" for short, is a high-stakes, no-brakes bike race sweeping the cycling world.

More than 300 cyclists from 29 countries rode on New York City streets Saturday. Thousands crowded a course in Brooklyn to watch a race in which bike messengers can take on pros and Olympians.

Without brakes, sudden stops are not an option, reports CBS News' Adriana Diaz. Riders can only push against the fast moving pedals to slow down.

Kacey Manderfield Lloyd ranked number one in the women's division and placed third in Saturday's race.

"It is like your video game and you're in it. And somebody crashes and burns, it could be you. Literally," Lloyd said.

The Crit takes place at night. Riders speed around a three-quarter mile course 24 times. If you're lapped, you're out.

The mixed bag of bikers all share a crowded track that can lead to major wipeouts and injuries. Ambulances are always on standby.

The Crit has expanded to Milan, Barcelona, and the cobblestone streets of London. Spectators line the course just inches from the action.

"It's just a tunnel of noise and everyone screaming and cheering and it's exciting that way," Lloyd said.

But this international cycling movement began as a birthday party. In 2008, David Trimble was looking for a way to celebrate his 26th birthday in his Red Hook, Brooklyn neighborhood.

The Crit isn't sanctioned by an official cycling organization, which would restrict course layouts and provide deep pockets for insurance to cover injuries. In 2013, 15-year-old Joshua Hartman fractured his nose, eye sockets and jaw while competing in Brooklyn. He reportedly received $1,200 from Red Hook Crit organizers, but it wasn't enough to cover more than $100,000 in medical costs. Participants are required to sign a waiver that lays out the dangers of the event.

"Really, all bike racing is dangerous and pretty much any sport we are going fast is dangerous. I don't think the Red Crit is more dangerous than even an amateur race in Central Park," one participant named David said.

"It is seen as being more risky in general by most racers," Lloyd said.

It's part of the draw to the race.

"It's hardcore! It's bad ass! It's all of those things, you know. And people like to be a part of that, right? They like to, 'Oh yeah, I did that,"' Lloyd said.