by Andrew Yee
Today’s SSCXWC 2011 Day 1 qualifying heats provided a new twist on qualifying for the main event at the singlespeed “World Championships.” While past editions offered time trials, second-chance races, and even an alley-cat style, partially off-road race, this year’s promoters prioritized showcasing the beauty of San Francisco by combining both a scenic, guided tour of the city, along with five stops for some some challenging, run-heavy “Feats of Strength.”
These qualifying, scored tests sent riders racing up a San Francisco 26-percent grade climb, sprinting up six flights of stairs, running across the sand of Ocean Beach, and grabbing dollars and doing wheel changes. Points were awarded for the place you finished in your heat for each test, with the best scores in each heat moving on to make Sunday’s championship start list. Low gears, road tires, and fast feet were essential items for the day, and more than half the men were left on the outside looking in.All but the hill-climb were off-the-bike challenges, but between the tests, racers casually rode through the city, taking in scenic spots and getting a personalized, knowledgeable tour of San Francisco. Even locals (including this author) got to see some popular tourist attractions and ride some roads for the first time, while getting to know fellow singlespeed racers, both local and from out of town.
Racers from 24 states and a handful of countries gathered in the Bay Area for this year’s SSCXWC event in San Francisco, and recent wet weather parted perfectly for the qualifying heats, granting racers with sunshine and clear skies. Just hours after the qualifiers ended, the skies opened up again, promising sloppy conditions for the Sunday’s event.Heats varied in talent based on the random assignments. Some heats had UCI pros, while others were hotly-contested affairs by closely-matched amateurs, and the scores reflected such diversity. In one heat, a score of 18 points (an average of just better than fourth for the five events) would be fourth place and may not qualify), while in another, a score of 22 would be second. Racers were kept in suspense as the final scoring was determined and final spots were allocated, all to be presented later that night. After the qualifying heats were over, racers gathered for a party and second chance qualifiers at San Francisco’s Sports Basement. Pixie ’cross heats provided 10 coveted spots for Sunday’s championship event for those who weren’t fortunate to qualify earlier in the day.
Stay tuned for full coverage of the weekend, including video and results from Sunday’s Championship event.
Photo Gallery by Kevin White
Photo Gallery by Andrew Yee