sscxwc-janet-hill059.jpg It wouldn’t be a true Portland ‘cross race without a big rainstorm, lots of mud, a ton of singlespeeds, a bunch of crazy costumes and bikes. And that’s what exactly came out for the Day 1 qualifiers of the Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships in Portland, Oregon.

Portland‘s Single Speed Cyclocross “World Championships”

Report by Stephanie Chase, Photos by Janet Hill:

There’s a reason that time trials aren’t done on single speed bikes and that reason is fairly obvious. It’s kind of stupid. Efficiency in racing partially comes from a smart choice of gear usage and wattage, and with one gear you’re stuck. This reasoning is probably why the promoters of Portland’s Single Speed Cyclo-cross “World Championships” choose to have an uphill single-speed ‘cross time trial as an event qualifier. It isn’t sensible and that makes it a great idea.

The first thing to know about the SSCXWC is that it is not an official “world championships.” Apparently something called the UCI has “rules” and “controls” what races count for these kind of things. Winners of the SSCXWC aren’t fettered on a podium by smiling, wholesomely-dressed, nubile girls; the SSCXWC victors get groped and dosed with Pabst in addition to winning a golden Speedo and commemorative tattoo.

The second thing about the SSCXWC is that qualifying doesn’t require anything superfluous like “points” or “winning” or being Belgian. That’s why I’m standing in the parking lot of Chris King components looking at guys in Rainier jumpsuits who are drinking beer at ten in the morning. There are a couple of serious riders here who are actually warming up on trainers and stretching, and it’s apparent these riders are here to win. Fortunately for the rest of the riders who are more about style and less about speed, there are other categories that count just as much as time. “If we feel you belong in the race” the promoters announced at the beginning, “you’ll be in.” This is good news for the rider who’s soldered a rocking horse to a children’s bike.

Third – as alluded to above – costumes and beer are the standards of the race. Again, these are things are frowned upon and are actually illegal during sanctioned races. Most of the riders are saving their best outfits for tomorrow but a couple have put on their best (skin)suits for today. One guy is dressed as a cop reminiscent of the Village People. I doubt pleather is a wicking material but it doesn’t really matter for this.

At eleven thirty around two hundred riders headed up Portland’s Saltzmann drive, a gravel packed trail intersected by single track trails meant for mountain biking. There were some crashes on the slick mud, most survived and headed off to rest up and recover at a local brew pub. Being that this is a weekend of superlatives, tonight is “The World’s Best Pub Crawl” hosted by Team Beer (yes, that is their name), which starts at the Vanilla Bicycles Workshop. This will be excellent preparation for the race tomorrow which will be held after the Cross Crusade races at Portland’s International Raceway. I can’t wait to see if Barry Wicks and Wendy Williams will defend their 2007 titles. But more importantly, I can’t wait to see who has the best costume. Viva la SSCXWC!

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does it matter?

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