I’ve been on the road a lot lately. The road trip to San Francy for the Bicycle Film Festival with a couple buddies. Then a coast to coast “work” trip with the homey Bubba from Boston to Seattle. Got back, spent a few days at home and then hit the road again for two weeks with the lady in our new home away from home. It’s been a lot of driving- a lot of time away from the computer (and the blog) and not enough (is it ever enough?) time on the bike. I got to see some amazing things, met some fantastic people and drink beers in some strange places.
This last trip was pretty spectacular because it finished off with the Single Speed Cyclo Cross World Championships (SSCXWC) in San Francisco. You may remember last year- when I had the pleasure of helping put it together in Seattle. Well San Francisco had some big shoes to fill- and though we were a bit skeptical about how they would do- I for one was pleased. I had a smile on my face the whole weekend. Seattle came down in a very large squad- including the Hodala team as well as Soft Like Kitten, who’s kit I wear proudly (until I saw myself in the skinsuit.)
Friday was the kickoff party in the East Bay, which I didn’t attend because I was invited to a gathering of the elite in the cycling world at American Cyclery in San Francisco. If you have never been there- go there. Though I rarely like to admit it- I attended high school in the East Bay. (I feel the Bay Area is a nice place to visit but a better place to leave) When I got nutty into bikes and started making a little money to spend on them, I somehow found American Cyclery. This was the mid nineties. When I found myself in SF- whether because I was surfing Ocean Beach or otherwise, AC was always a stop for me. Fascinated by the history on the walls- the guys at the shop were always cool. Super helpful and not pretentious at all. When track bikes became of interest to me- they were the only shop that had any knowledge of them- let alone any interest in telling me about them. There were of course couriers riding them around the city, but not many in the mid to late nineties, and “the craze” wasn’t even a sparkle in Urban Outfitter’s eye. Every time I visit American Cyclery I get that kid in a candy store feeling. Just looking around at all the crazy shit on the walls. Bikes from the early days, old parts in wood and glass cases, posters. It’s really a great place. Well THIS time I got really lucky. The current owners- Bradley and Kimo are rad folks. Bradley took me downstairs with a couple guys from the Santa Cruz squad and showed us around. A library of old publications, posters, clippings, race reports…. So much awesome. I could spend weeks down there just flipping through the history of cycling in California. Kudos to American Cyclery for keeping up the good work and keeping the dream alive. My lady had the truckhouse in the East Bay- so Hodala allowed me to accompany them back to their living space(s)- having rented not one, but two houses by the beach. They brought good beer and we proceeded to drink it. It was a late night from what I remember and my qualifier start time of 9am came all too quickly.
Saturday was glorious. With a couple hours of drunken slumber under my belt- I gathered my gear and was the first out of the house. Riding to Mojo Bicycle Cafe was 4.4 miles of hills- and not being familiar with the flatter routes I just plugged away. A good warm up on a brisk morning. I had a small group (5 of 12 showed up) which turned out to really work in my favor. Our ride leader was Fred- a physics teacher at a local college. Super friendly and really helpful in telling the history of SF- showing us some really neat spots on our ride around the city. The qualifier itself was a 23ish mile ride based loosely around what somebody described as “the butter lap” circling the city. It was great that they had lots of photographers at the stops taking pictures of the racers. Of course finding photographers in San Francisco is much like finding sand at the beach but hey- they did it and it worked great. Very picturesque with amazing views and a blue bird day. The organizers decided to take what would otherwise be a pleasant ride and throw in 5 “feats of strength.” Jerks.
- Riding up California street from Montgomery to Powell!?! Ouch.
- Remove a front wheel and run through bark to bike, reattach and run/ride to finish. I hate running.
- Lyon St. Staircase. Really? They made escalators for a reason.
- Field of Dollars grab. I did alright in this. I’m a money grabber. Even if I have to run to do it. Too bad I couldn’t keep it.
- Ocean Beach run. Running- Especially in sand- sucks. Thankfully I didn’t step on a dirty needle.
All in all it was fun- we grabbed coffee and toast at Trouble Coffee afterwards. I ended up riding through the park with some other folks back to Mojo. Unsure if I qualified- I was apprehensive to start drinking until I found out. Hahah. Yeah right…. I got myself a beer, then another, and started getting primed for whatever shenanigans may be required if I didn’t pass this first test.
A very bumpy ride was had in the back of the Raleigh van with Stevil and Chevil- with Johnny and Randy’s ass in the front. Went back to the Hodala house, and drank some more beer. For events such as these I don’t worry about a pit bike. I should however be looking into a pit liver- because a breakdown must be on the horizon. It’s been ridden hard, put away wet- abused, misused, and unfiltered. If my liver was a muscle it would be the strongest in my body. Alas, it is not- and I’m thankful that it keeps on keeping on.
At who knows what time- we decide it’s time to pony up and head to the party at the Sports Basement, which happens to be in the basement of the sports basement. So literal. I see on the list of those who’ve qualified- none other than myself.
To the store I go, returning with a bottle of whiskey to celebrate. Before I know it it’s gone, and into the beers I dive. The end of the evening a bit blurry- flashes of me shirtless in the crowd. Possibly wrestling. I remember a shirtless Canadian as well. I remember dancing dirty with a wolf. I remember running against the grain on the pixie course. Then they kicked us out. I then remember thinking it was a good idea to accompany Stevil to a bar. Like a little kid who gets to stay up extra late on a school night- I don’t want to go to bed. So off we go. Drinks may have been drank. I may have nodded off once or twice- and Stevil sent me home. I went to find tacos- which always seems to be where I head after a night of drinking. I got home around 4:30 in the morning. Melissa was set to be at the park at 7am- so I had 2 1/2 hours to sleep myself into race condition.
I may have slept in a little on Sunday. M had the truck parked in a great spot on course had the tent up and was drinking coffee by the time I got there. Saw Ashley and Charlie race the first race at 9am- then took a nap.
The big crowds started showing at noon and building. The Raleigh van posted up next to us and the Hodala squad got their sparkle party on. The course was awesome. Treacherous and a might bit dangerous, but awesome. I may have drank more beers on course than I did race laps, but I had a blast nonetheless. I have got a DNF, but hey- I qualified- which is more than I can say for the “winners” Chris Jones, the men’s winner was supposed to be in my qualifier group. He didn’t show.
With that- I’ll put in my two cents on the Single Speed Cyclo Cross World Championships:
I’m of the mind that there should be some guidelines followed for SSCXWC. Though not sanctioned, it’s not an alleycat. Permits must be pulled and money put down by the promoters. That means that SOMEBODY has to be in charge. The SSCXWC should travel to different hosting locales (across the globe) and to prevent this game of “bike race telephone” where rules change at each spot I think there should be some ground rules put in place. Like maybe these?
- Single speed only. (duh)
- You must qualify in order to race on race day (This is important- as it sounds like neither the men’s or women’s “winners” qualified on Saturday. Poachers will still race- but won’t be given a number)
- If you win and don’t receive the tattoo that accompanies the golden speedo- you aren’t eligible to win future years until tattoo is done
- No pros. This isn’t a USA Cycling event- from my understanding they aren’t allowed to race unsanctioned events- but it happened. I like that there are pros bringing attention to SSCXWC, but at the very least they should be in a different category.
I don’t know- that doesn’t seem so bad. 4 simple things. Not asking too much. If those things can be held up- I think it would make for a much better event. At the very least there would be less confusion. As it is now there is a lot of debate on how it SHOULD be. Because there are no groundrules in place.
If you want photos, there are lots. Just not from me. My whiskey bottle camera that I lugged around all weekend took shitty pictures so I drank them all.
A massive thanks to everyone involved with the SSCXWC this year. Thanks to Hodala for giving me such a luxurious couch to sleep on. I found a video that is a pretty good representation of what went down that weekend:
Next year it will be in Santa Cruz, CA (Get this damn thing off the West Coast, already!) I’m going as a UC Santa Cruz student- so I’m starting to grow my dreads right now.