Victoria, BC. That’s in Canada. It’s called the “Garden City.” It’s the capital city of British Columbia- and is not in Britain or in Columbia. It’s really confusing. Something about history, there is a lot of it there too. Tons of old buildings that I’m sure if they were in Seattle would be torn down- modern glass and steel condos put up in their place.
With the g
raying of the the team (Hodala) – we’ve taken to renting a big house when we travel for SSCXWC. It means that our “responsibility buddies” make sure everyone gets home, we can drink our own kegs and well- we just like to hang out together. Hodala is much more than a bike racing team- we look out for each other on and off the bike. We had a great house on the water with a hot tub and dock access. Turns out “dock access” doesn’t mean “water access” and Dirty Randy cut the shit out of his leg (spoiler alert: he was drunk) trying to climb onto the dock out of the Gorge Waters on our first night. This year we channeled this video and it served as inspiration for our shenanigans.
We were checked into our house, our bellies full of beer and bourbon, with hot tub: round one complete- so it was off to Logan’s Pub for the “Totally pointless warm up party.” We drank beers and raced roller sprints, most of Hodala opting to take off our shirts to reduce wind resistance. I won my heat against Nat “Prison Fitness,” which I will take to my grave as one of the only things I will likely ever beat him in. .CA and Hank went head-to-head in something that sort of resembled a slow/strip race. I don’t remember who won- I think the crowd won really, just witnessing such a spectacle. Victoria bars have strict admittance policies, and though we could have crammed twice as many people into the dank little hole that is Logan’s, they shut the doors to those inside and lots of folks found another watering hole to drink at. Meanwhile- those inside were waiting for the place to fill up. Since it didn’t- we opted to return to our house and drink our own, already purchased beer.
We didn’t have food at the house, only a 1/2 dozen bottles of bourbon and two kegs, so I stopped on the way home for some snacks. I saw my light at the end of the tunnel in a Dairy Queen about a mile from the house. “Can I have 15 cheeseburgers and 6 large fries?” I asked the employee.
“We close in 30 minutes.”
“Can I buy everything you have back there then?”
“But then we’d have to make more.” (her manager then comes to the front, hearing confusion in both our voices.)
I explain the situation; that I’m not trying to make a ruckus and that I’d just like to buy a bunch of shit to put in our food holes. The manager assures me that it’s not a problem. That they do actually want to sell the food that’s on the menu and that I should order what I want. I see the grill master back at the griddle look sadly at the grill he’s been cleaning and will now have to clean again. Then I get distracted- what is this in the cooler!?! Ice cream cake!”
“Can I get one of these and you write on it?” I ask.
“Sure, it’ll only take a couple minutes.”
I go back to the cooler and pick out the cake that catches my eye. “I’d like this one. Can you make it say “You are horrible people.” and make it as obscene as possible.”
A wry smile on her face she says “I thought you might pick that one.”
My food pyramid of glory balanced in one hand and the other on the bars, I wind my way home without dropping anything, a feat of strength and determination in and of itself- I’m met by those that haven’t gone to sleep yet. Hungry eyes fill with joy, I’m pretty sure I saw a tear of happiness as I unvieled the booty inside. A true thing of beauty- the employees at this particular Dairy Queen are really talented on the decoration tip.
Saturday morning came early. My start time for the feats of strength was set for 10:00. The first heat. It seems that I draw that short straw often at SSCXWC. Party all night and hit it early the next day. The alcohol coursing through my veins thinned the blood that the ice cream and cheeseburgers thickened, but my head was still stuffed up from a head cold that I’d been battling for the week prior. Blowing my nose so much I was getting nose bleeds, riding hard only exacerbated the situation, so I had my nasal decongestant at the ready. I was ready to self medicate the shit out of myself in the name of single speed cyclocross. Had my first couple beers at 9am and it was off towards registration singing my anthem for the day:
Ain’t nothin’ gonna to break my stride
Nobody’s gonna slow me down, oh-no
I got to keep on movin’
Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride
I’m running and I won’t touch ground
Oh-no, I got to keep on movin’
One of my favorite parts of the SSCXWC is the qualifier. It’s the only part I take (somewhat) seriously. Most people want to qualify and it’s a point of pride for me to qualify without cheating. That isn’t the same for everyone. SSCXWC is as serious of a race as you want to make of it. Just because you are fast does not mean you will win. You must navigate the 85% of attendees and participants that are trying to fuck you up on the course. You will get beer thrown on you. You will get pummeled with heckles and maybe even snowballs. If you have a sensitive demeanor- you are probably in the wrong place. That said- when you fall, you will be picked up- put on your bike, handed a beer and sent on your way. We heckle because we love, and sometimes love hurts®. Those in the top three know their results- all other participants should just accept their results as being “not a winner.” It’s better than the results coming back as “positive.”
Sam and Jeff were our ride leaders and they were awesome. The 5 feats of strength were on a “passport.” If you passed you got a white zip tie and if you failed you got a black one. A casual to brisk group ride connected the locations of the feats around the fine city of Victoria- The feats included:
- The pump track: A stair run up to a sweet downhill pump track. For our group it was set up in 3 teams as a relay. Our team didn’t win. I did my one lap, blew my nose- and the flood gates of blood opened up. Fuck. Oh well. Guess I’ve resigned to drinking my way through the qualifier as opposed to qualifying. I opened another can of Budweiser and went to work.
- Footdown: I did foot down- because I’m ok at it and it didn’t involve any exertion- I did qualify there. I drank 3 beers.
- Eliminator: It took place in a sewage leach field. Literally. Local kids have been building a trail of jumps and not so flowy downhill in an area unused by anything else. You got whiffs of anaerobic composting shit as you passed through some areas more than others and here was our miss-and-out race. With not many opportunities to pass, 5 racers went down to 2. I drank four beers.
- Hell Climb: A steep driveway that finished up at a big fancy house where I told everyone Tim Horton lives. Some of the riders believed me for some reason. I felt a little bad that they did, but I’m a pretty awful person- so I didn’t let it bother me too long. Instead I drank 2 beers and walked up the hill with Sam and Jeff. They told me of a fixed gear race they did at night- that came down this hill. One of the riders didn’t know what they were into and slammed right into the first corner- a 7′ tall stone wall. Ouch.
- Sand Trap: We rode through a beautiful park (which bikes aren’t supposed to ride in, “sorry”) to a beach that was not sand, but gravel. The object: to ride as far down the beach as possible- farthest 5 riders getting the coveted white zip tie. There were two groups. Those that made it 20′, and those that made it 1/4 mile. It was a polarizing affair. I hung out at the far end of the beach, marking the longest distances ridden- and drank 2 beers.
Returning to my bike- turns out I pinch flatted coming down to the gravel. Mical Dyck gave me a tube and after a very messy tube swap, we were on the road to Wheelies to turn in our manifests. More beers consumed there as we waited for the rest of the riders to show up- then home for some pizza delivery, ice cream cake and whatever else we could scrounge up.
Giro Party that night, with an alleycat for those that wanted to try their luck again had they not made it into the race during the qualifier. Then home for a hottub and more beers.
Raceday morning. The costumes were out- beers flowing at 9am. We weren’t going to make the group ride- but we were rolling 15 deep and making our own group. No one was racing the first race anyway. It was about 45 minutes of riding- and we passed the sign going into the venue thinking there was another entrance and not seeing any cars, bikes or other indicators that anything was going on. We doubled back after realizing that must be it and rolled in. Western Speedway.
The womens race was met with a healthy number of beer hand ups and friendly heckling. Smiles on their faces, even beneath the mud. Mical Dyck started in the top 5 and finished in first- looking just as strong in the end as she did in the beginning.
The mens race was like the women’s but with far more dicks on bikes. Adam Craig had some competition- though ended up taking the win in the end. That means win number 4.
So congratulations to Mical Dyck and Adam Craig! Everyone else: thanks for playing.
The ride home was amazing. A Canadian that sounded English took us under his wing and brought us back through a linked route of double track and off road trails. It was super fun and we were lucky to find such a guide. He stopped to show us the spot to get us home. Thanks, guy- whoever you are.
Then we were home and we decided it would be a good idea for DR to climb into an inflatable doll’s skin a la Buffalo Bill or Ed Gein:
The next two days were spent relaxing at our amazing digs and we had a parting breakfast with the organizers on our last day in town. Drew, Andrew and Parker as well as all the others involved, nice work. It’s time to relax and take a deep breath. Next year it’s party time. The ride home took much longer than planned due to a cancellation of the clipper and reroute through Port Angeles and a motor coach ride- but we made it.
Also- Victoria worked with Raleigh to put together one of the best looking SSCX bikes out there together and they’re selling framesets. $666USD. That’s $840CAD. Here’s a sweet build that Broad St. Cycles did. Get yours HERE
As with most things these days there were some sweet edits to come out of the event- below are 4 of them. They put into moving pictures some of the things I wrote above.
As for next year- it marks 10 years since the beginning of SSCXWC. Though many cities wanted the opportunity to host- it seemed appropriate to send it back to it’s origin, Portlandia.
So we’ll see you next year.