Ten Years. That’s how long it’s been since the first Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships. The race has moved from its home in Portland, Oregon, over the years, but it returns this year for the 10th anniversary.
We sat down with the race’s founder, Dani Dance, to get her take on what she thinks of the event she put together with some friends now that the SSCXWC become a bit of an institution.
Cyclocross Magazine: Back in 2013 you said “I would love to eventually bring it back to Portland. We will have to win it back at some point. Maybe for the 10-year anniversary?” Here we are, at the 10-year anniversary of the SSCXWC and the race is back in Portland. What are your thoughts?
Dani Dance: I don’t know what I was thinking! It’s chaotic. I have a kid now. there’s more work this year. In the past we always coincided with Cross Crusade, but this year we aren’t doing that. So now we have more of it all on our own, so it’s busier. It’s a fun process, but a lot of work.
CXM: How involved are you in the planning and preparation for this year’s race? When is it?
DD: There are five of us that are really entrenched. It’s not just me! I couldn’t do it alone, especially as a mom and with a husband who travels a lot.
As for when, you will be one of the first to know that we’re in the middle of nailing down the venue, which will determine the specific date. We have a couple of weekends in mind. Ultimately, we want to make it right. It’s so important. We want to keep it close to Portland. But there aren’t a lot of affordable venues. Having said that, we have some good ideas. We’ll hopefully nailing it all down in the next couple of weeks.
CXM: Clearly SSCX and the SSCXWC have exploded over the intervening years from the race’s first edition to now, perhaps even more so that cyclocross in general. Besides your event and Cyclocross Magazine’s coverage what do you credit for that?
DD: [laughing] I think singlespeed in particular the folks that do it want to keep it simple and have fun. Those racers are really out to enjoy it and not too worried about where they end up for the most part. They want to go out and have a good time.
You know, every city has done a good job making it their own. Each put their spin on it and it’s still really popular. So that has helped.
I will say that what we want to make sure this year, is that we make it a race again. We want a balance of course, we want it to still be fun, but we want the racing to come back. Let’s make it a fantastic race first and foremost. That’s our goal.
CXM: Considering the possible venues you have in mind, what’s the winning gear ratio going to be?
DD: I think it’ll be a bigger gear–think a little flatter, not so many crazy hills. But…with one of the venues we’re looking at, there’s one you’ll need a low gear for. Depends on the venue. You’ll definitely be in the wrong gear regardless!
CXM: Like a typical singlespeed race! What can those who attend the race expect in terms of 10th anniversary fanfare?
DD: There will be some surprises and some fun for sure that will hopefully make everyone happy. We’re keeping that element there for sure.
CXM: In the past you’ve not raced when the event has been in Portland because you’ve been buried in promoter duties. Think you’ll be able to line up this year and race? Will Rich Maile make it to the 10th anniversary he helped dream up?
DD: I’m going to try my best [to race, Ed.], but I’m so out of shape! I’m going to make Rich’s ass get up here!
CXM: What does it feel like, 10 years on, knowing you got this off the ground?
DD: It’s surreal. I didn’t expect it actually. I didn’t think future when we started. I was doing it in the present and flying by the seat of my pants. I didn’t know if it was going to fizzle or really grow. After the first couple of years it became a cool annual thing. At the time we started though, I was more flying by the seat of my pants. We knew it could be big because singlespeed here was huge.
CXM: What will the process be to choose the host city for the 11th? Now that it’s been outside the US with the 2015 event, would you welcome the event moving overseas? Anyone from overseas inquire about hosting the event? Any locales you think would be nice stops for the event?
DD: We don’t have any idea really. And we haven’t been contact yet by anyone other than Italy. They have a cool venue have a singlespeed race there. And it should totally go there or overseas.
CXM: Wow. Italy, very cool. We’d guess that the attendance will be off the charts for the 10th anniversary, making qualifying for the finals tough. What should traveling racers expect?
DD: We’ve talked about that. I should talk to the last few cities to see how they handled large fields. Victoria may have limited it to 300 if I remember right. It’s so popular here, we’ll get numbers here just of locals wanting to do the race. Plus there won’t be another race happening. So we’ll get a big turnout. We’ll likely have to limit the qualifier course.
CXM: You predicted the race coming home for the 10th anniversary. Are you making plans for the 20th anniversary in Portland?
DD: No! Not even thinking about that! We’ll see. If it comes back every 10 years, that might be cool. But there are other cities that deserve to have it. Maybe we release it into the world until the 50th.
CXM: The event has a history of some ink-related controversies, with a few winners opting not to get tattoos and the rules at the time not mandating them. Some (we’d fall into this category) welcomed their participation in such a fun event, while others thought it was blasphemous not to get a winner’s tattoo. Any chance you’d welcome back those riders to participate in the event?
DD: There are only three blacklisted as I recall. I’d have to say most of the folks on the committee say it’s a done deal. There’s no coming back from that.
CXM: We gotta ask, because we always do. Will zip tied and other similar conversions be welcomed for those who don’t have a dedicated SSCX rig?
DD: I think there’s controversy there too. When we started we didn’t want folks to have to buy a bike just for this race. But now…we’d have to go to the committee and see. I’d lean towards having to have a dedicated singlespeed bike, but again would have to talk to the committee.
CXM: Thanks for your time, Dani. We’ll see you at the race!
DD: Thanks! Looking forward to it!