And now for something completely different...
Many Pinkbike readers are familiar with the XC Singlespeed World Champs: a raucous circus of an event that is equal parts fun, chaos, and serious racing. And in no way is it recognized by the UCI as a legit event. The Singlespeed CX World Champs take that level of chaos and turns it up to 11. And dials the serious racing waaaaaaay back. And in no way, no how does the UCI want anything to do with it. The original race was held in Portland, OR ten years ago. After a few years, it was turned loose to run amok about North America, with stops in Seattle, San Francisco, Kentucky, Philadelphia, and Victoria, BC. This year, the race came back to its spawning bed in PDX, an ungainly adolescent with zits and an attitude as compared to the goofy toddler that wandered off a seven years ago. Attendees included the four-time master of fun and SSCX winning Adam Craig, Belgian Cross legend Sven Nys (the Nico Vouilloz of CX racing), Josh Bryceland, EWS racers Mark Scott and Iago Garay, Jessica Cutler, and Mical Dyck, and 593 of their friends (the field was capped at 600). In other words, a lot of people interested in having a ridiculously good time. So sit back, relax, and enjoy a photo epic that is completely different from what's typically found on Pinkbike. Special thanks to Dylan VanWeelden, Brad Urban, and Nikki Hollatz for helping me be in four places at once.
Registration... the line was long but the beer was good, and the collection of souls was even better. I mean where else are you going to be able to rub shoulders with people like Adam Craig, Sven Nys, Chris King, Mical Dyck, Jessica Cutler, and Josh Bryceland?
This year's event was capped at 600. But that didn't mean an automatic entry into the SSCXWC elite races. Oh no. To make the cut, riders had to qualify in a time trial format with only the top seven male and female riders from each heat securing an arm bracelet entry into the main event. Fail to qualify, though, and not all was lost; racers had 3 other chances to qualify: the hole shot challenge, a dual slalom race, and karaoke (only a few were willing to submit to this torture).
Ready, set, go! There were thirteen qualifying heats to make the elite races. it didn't matter if you were Josh Bryceland, Sven Nys, or Mical Dyck; you still had to qualify.
Drag strip courage. A hole shot on a long straight like this means nothing if you can't hold on for one of the top seven spots.
So you didn't qualify. Not a big deal. The "hole shot challenge": a dead sprint across a soggy infield to a safety cone. The first one to knock over the cone was in. Organizers would take 3 from each field of failed qualifiers, so determined singlespeeders had three additional chances to qualify. The resulting collection of give no f-ks, all out sprints saw loads of carnage, and some truly inspired battles.
Another rider earns his wings.
And he's IN!
So you failed at the Hole Shot Challenge? Well just maybe a bit of head to head Dual Slalom racing will see you redeem your piss poor qualifying time trial failure and your utter lack of sprint legs, and thus secure you an entry into the WC races. If not, riders had only karaoke left in order to gain a chance to vie for a tattoo and the coveted gold speedo/bikini.
The DS track was fairly legit, if sloppy in places. Some races were blow outs, but some were fairly tight.
You cannot unsee some of the highlights of the DS qualifying: Some you don't want to forget: like Ratboy Bryceland punishing the corners on a flat bar rigged Santa Cruz Stigmata, or the guy on the tall bike getting after it. But some others? After the guy in the one piece rolled by Adam Craig (doubling up as a course marshal) he had no choice but to crack a cold one in an effort to wash away the spectacle.
Pretty hard to stake a top seven place on a tall bike. Or take down a hole shot win. Consequently, it was DS for this beast.
A big shout out to Kruger Farms and Farmer Don for hosting this event out at Sauvie Island, just north of Portland, OR.
With Qualifying in the bank, most participants headed for the showers and an early night. Sure, a few got loose at a party in North Portland, but with heavy rain in the forecast, many of the riders opted to save their livers for the after party and get rested up. After all, to be at your peak for a hard day of riding and partying, you have to get some sleep. And it did rain. In buckets. All night long the sound of pounding rain was the only sound heard. But come morning, the clouds blew off and revealed a completely mud bogged venue, but glorious sun.
Race day plea: donations, please.
The last stop for the Grinch before diving into the chaos of SSCXWCPDX. Hell, the last stop for all the racers before the main event. #thegrinchwhostoletheportajohn.
It ain't a CX event without caffeine and waffles.
Words elude me.
This was an event where safety first and common sense kind of took a back seat to good times. As in, "Hold my beer and watch this!"
That "oh shit" moment, where you hope that whoever is holding your beer leaves some for you or is sober enough to drive you to the hospital.
Faces from the crowd.
Bacon hand ups are so passe; now it's all about cotton candy hand ups.
As if a dual slalom track, a water crossing, and ankle deep mud weren't enough of a hindrance, Transition Bikes added in the "Amazeballs of Fury" segment with racers in the middle. Other course segments included a bubble machine spewing out a wall of white and a run up over a pile of wood chips that continued to grow throughout the day as more chips were tossed onto the pile.
Definitely a theme here...
Pain face or a grin? Maybe a bit of both? But there's no denying that it was a ridiculously good time.
By the time the main event went down, the course had devolved from gnarly to horrific.
Most CX races have a call-up. At SSCXWC, bikes were placed about 100 meters from the start with racers doing a Le Mans style sprint for their bikes. But this is SSCXWC, and it's Portland, an epicenter for two-wheeled chaos...
Organizers got creative with the Le Mans start: racers were routed straight into a field of corn. Not a corn maze, but rather straight through corn that towered overhead. Pure chaos...
The chaos didn't end at the bikes, either. Zealous spectators were encouraged to do a bit of rearranging of the bikes that so many of the racers had so carefully placed for a quick start. One guy in the men's race was still looking for his bike in the corn some three minutes after the start.
She may be a Kiwi to the core, but Rosara Joseph opted to fly some red, white, and blue for the event.
Hidden on the far reaches of the track, well away from curious children, was the "awesome" bus. The rules were simple: for a dollar, racers could "legally" cut about 120 yards of the track. And get an eyeful.
Getting the dollar bill hand ups was key; there was after all, a toll for the short cut. No dollar? Enjoy an ankle deep mud slog around the bus while the rider 30 seconds back gets ahead of you.
Mical Dyck getting aboard the short bus.
The bus was staffed to provide equal opportunities for the racers: one male and two female dancers were on board.
Dude! When I ran through the stripper bus on lap two he wasn't wearing any pants... it was... big.
And then the hotdog could no longer hold the pace and got spit off the back... Not the kind of trackside announcing you're ever likely to hear at a UCI event.
Full tilt boogie.
One bike to rule them? Sven Nys' ride for the SSCXWC.
Sven Nys was here for the same reasons as everyone else: a good time.
Singlespeed and legal, but not easy to ride: the CX swing bike.
Nys through the bottom of the DS course.
Huck to flat.
Nys escaping some aggressive exercise ball throwing.
Hodala! Ben Popper keeping the beat for Seattle SSCX fans somewhere on the back stretch.
Craig and Nys with post race grins. Nys may be "retired" but this very easily could have been his race. Maybe he wasn't interested in getting inked? The rules are that if you win, you get the tattoo; failure to get inked relegates you to the losers bracket.
Is there anything left in there? Adam Craig with a finish line cure for pain.
Five SSCXWC wins for Craig. And four tattoos with one more in the wings.
Why race a singlespeed for CX? Kruger Farm doled out exactly the reason why.
Jessica Cutler fishing for dollars.
Take note: Adam Craig made damn sure to step on the largest denomination bill he could find as he was closed into the money booth.
Adam Craig cleaning up with prize money on offer during the money grab. Craig later tipped tattoo artist Papa Tong with a hand full of bills from the loot.
It ain't over til the Ink has been applied. The rules are simple: Show up. Race. Have a good time. But if you win, you are not officially recognized as the "winner" until you get inked. Failure to step up will relegate you to first loser status vs life long bragging rights. Big thanks to Papa Tong for the on sight art work application.
And that's a wrap! The coveted "Golden Speedo" presentation and your 2016 SSCXWC Winners: Adam Craig and Jessica Cutler.