There is only one way to describe it: the most rad and raucous bicycle event of the year. That is what the Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championship is. After my trip to Victoria, BC last year for the ninth edition, I knew that I had to return for the tenth anniversary in Portland. Registration sold out fast, but I was lucky enough to have gotten in under the wire.
My first task was qualifying. I was faced with two options. The traditional route consisted of a fast-lap heat with 50 other riders, a holeshot competition, and a head to head dual slalom pump track drag race. The less traditional “I’m feeling lucky” option remained a mystery other than that it was a bit less race-like. I went with option two. I was feeling lucky.
At the first event, a potato sack race, I was off the front of the peloton from the start. Unfortunately, as I was nearing the mid way point, I fell flat on my face and never regained my early form. On to event two. With one less chance to make the big event, I knew it was time to be on top of my game. Event two turned out to be something I had been training for this past season! Doughnut eating! I toed the start line, we ran to a string of donuts, I stuffed my face as quickly as possible, picked up a rotten pumpkin(as per the rules) and rushed to the race coordinator. I barely nipped my closest competitors. I was in! I was going to the World Championship! Achievement unlocked!
As I found out that day, I would be toeing the start line with recently retired Geared Cyclocross World Champion Sven Nys. To think, I shoved a doughnut in my mouth to make it happen. Race morning came and all the talk was if Sven would be willing to get the coveted winner’s tattoo if he were to take the top spot on the podium. After being a spectator for the “Everyone’s a Loser” race and the Women’s final, it was my turn. In 2015, I hadn’t qualified for the main event, so this was a special moment.
I got my pink Speedo ready, hopped on my bike and headed to the start area. We were waiting in a large group. I looked to my left and 4 riders away, there he was, Sven Nys. I glanced back to my right and sure enough, only a few riders down the line, 4 time SSCXWC Champ Adam Craig. We all circled up in a corn field, put our bikes on the ground and then were escorted to the true start area. A shotgun was fired and we all raced through the corn maze to find our bikes. I slogged through the mud, found my bike and was on my way, smiling a giant muddy grin. I rocketed down the slalom track and trudged through the knee deep pond. I warily navigated the muddy yoga ball pit. The spectators spared no one. I was handed fruit roll ups, cotton candy, plenty of beer, and I also was slammed in the face with muddy yoga balls every lap.
As I neared the three quarter point of my first lap, Sven and Craig flew past me. They lapped me before I even finished one lap! It was awesome. I finished two laps on the day, the leaders finished four. Sven and Craig battled the entire time and in the end, Adam Craig claimed his fifth championship. We will be forever left to wonder if the idea of a winner’s tattoo kept Sven off his game a bit that day.
That night at the after party, we were graced with the tunes of a Misfits cover band made up entirely of bike messengers from San Fransisco — called the Messfits. As I socialized with other cyclocross riders from around the world, watching Adam Craig get his 5th winner’s tattoo, I took a moment to reflect. This is why I ride bikes, to create memories and relationships with other members of the cycling community. I’m sure many will be shared over a bottle of wine at the 11th edition of the SSCXWC. Italy 2017, see you there.
Special thanks to Gavin LaFave – the kick-ass cyclocross racer, Madison West store manager and guest writer for this blog post.