Avid pro cyclocross fans may not recognize the name Drew MacKenzie, but rabid singlespeeders should, as the Canadian dominated the SSCXWC in 2008, 2009 and 2010, building a collection of Golden Speedos and SSCXWC branding, and having the “honor” of being the first male to get the tattoo after inaugural winner Barry Wicks declined the ink.
Now the NISSCCOTU winner and three-time SSCXWC winner is co-promoter of the SSCXWC 2015 in Victoria, Canada in two weeks, and along with Parker Bloom, Andrew Packham and Halldór Örn Gunnarsson, is deep into preparing for a party and race that will be fitting for the event’s first foray outside of the U.S.
MacKenzie may have won the event three times, but don’t make the mistake that this year’s event will be anything close to straight-up, straight-laced racing.
Cyclocross Magazine caught up with MacKenzie to see what’s in store for this year’s event, and find out what should lure singlespeeders and the one-gear curious to the island of Victoria.
This is the first of a multi-part series on SSCXWC 2015. Stay tuned for more on the event.
Cyclocross Magazine: SSCXWC is happening in Victoria, the first time outside of the States. What can racers expect this year?
Drew MacKenzie: It is pretty cool that we are getting the opportunity to host the first SSCXWC that will actually take place internationally. We are stoked to be bringing the chaos to our hometown.
People can expect fun on, and off, bikes: a few bonus fun group rides throughout the weekend, a great Feats of Strength ride around Victoria on Saturday, parties on all three nights, the opportunity for debauchery and a fun championships race course, whether hammering or just riding around taking handups.
Also it’ll be late November in the Pacific Northwest, so expect mud!
CXM: What will make this event different than previous events?
DM: There will be a lot more polite Canadians at this one! Honestly we don’t want it to be hugely different from previous years. Our race course and venue is going to be a little different to some of the previous years, and we’ll try to show off our quaint little coastal town and the great community that we have here on the Island, but otherwise we aren’t going to try to fix something that ain’t broke.
We had such a good time in Louisville, racing, drinking, and riding around at all hours of the night. And in past years we attended, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, those were all such wicked weekends too, so we just want to keep that going, and put on an event that upholds the legacy.
CXM: As a repeat winner of the SSCXWC, we imagine you appreciate the racing aspect of the event, while others think of it as one giant party with a bit of riding. Does this year’s event lend itself more to one of those categorizations?
DM: I definitely appreciate the racing aspect, but to me SSCXWC is one giant party that also has a race. It’s a whole weekend of celebrating good times and bikes: rides, parties, debauchery and for many there is also some real bad-ass racing to be done. This year’s event is going to lend itself to both aspects.
The truth is that SSCXWC is really just a traveling circus and it’s the people coming from far and wide to party who make it what it is, so you know the debauchery will unfold and then as organizers we just need to put together a race course and features that will be fun to ride, but also allow for some real racing. The whole aim is to make the weekend a blast for everyone. It should be a good time for those that want to revel in depravity and for those who want to be sorta serious about the racing aspect. Everyone should come away from the weekend stoked.
CXM: Travel planning to the event is confusing as to airports and ferries. For folks flying to the race, do you recommend a certain airport and ferry combo? Or whatever is cheapest? Is there an opportunity to ship bikes to a certain address?
DM: So Victoria is a pretty big tourist destination spot, although not ragingly busy in November. As a tourist destination we are well serviced by various modes of transportation: plane, boat, transient killer whales, helicopter, stand up paddle board. There are resources aplenty available online as to how best to get here based on your starting point and other specific logistical considerations. As to what is cheapest, there is no one answer as it largely depends on where you are coming from, preferred mode of transportation, routing and airline pricing. Tourism Victoria’s website is a good starting point.
Victoria is on an island, but we have an international airport. So unless you are flying into Seattle to hang with Hodala for a few days of degeneracy leading up to the event, you likely should just fly straight into Victoria. Generally speaking, if your plan somehow involves airports and ferries, you are likely spending more money than if you just fly straight into Victoria. If you are really struggling with figuring out how to get you and/or your bike to Victoria give us a shout at [email protected] and we can help sort out the best solution on a case by case basis.
CXM: Singlespeeding can be beautiful due to its simplicity, yet some singlespeeders obsess about gearing. Any input as to gearing or how hilly the course and qualifiers will be?
It won’t be too hilly. The course has a couple of spots where you will want to get up your mo’, but otherwise it’ll just be flattish, rolling, corner-y, technical and muddy.
The qualifiers will have some hills, but I would just ride what you plan on racing. Maybe avoid bringing a fat bike with a 1:1 gear.
CXM: How did Victoria end up winning the rights to this year’s event? And any early info as to how next year’s event will be decided?
DM: Victoria ending up winning the rights to 2015 in dominating fashion after collecting many, many playing cards, and by collecting, I mean stealing, and placing some super good bets on the various races that took place on the Sunday after SSCXWC 2014. We didn’t really have a master plan when heading down to Louisville, we just sort of threw our hat into the ring somewhat on a whim and much to the displeasure of Cleveland, we won it.
Next year’s race? Hmm, good question. 2016 will be the 10th edition of SSCXWC, so it’s probably time for some accountability for those who started this mess..
Predictions are difficult, especially about the future.
CXM: You’ve won a couple Golden Speedos and tattoos. Do those Speedos see the light of day?
DM: Every once in a while the tattoos see the light of day. The Speedos I save for the dark of night.
CXM: Singlespeed cyclocross is filled with controversies, including tattoos, pros racing US Nationals, and whether zip ties are allowed. Would you welcome back Barry Wicks and Chris Jones? Are zip tied bikes welcomed?
DM: Much drama. Much controversy.
I heard Barry Wicks was gonna get a tattoo of Chris Jones’ face just so he could come back from the terrible life he leads getting paid to race geared bikes!
Anyway, zip ties. It’s the world champs yo! For such a super serious important race I hope people can at least commit to a 1 x 1 set with a chain tensioner, but we are welcoming to all, including the zip tied.
CXM: How big is singlespeed cyclocrossing in Canada? Do most local races host the category, or even several ss categories?
DM: It’s huge, even our new super handsome Prime Minister singlespeeds. I think. Definitely singlespeed cyclocross has grown over the last five years up here and almost everywhere has it as a category, but we still have a ways to go to catch up with the likes of some of the bigger scenes in ‘Merica.
CXM: When you’re not racing singlespeed cyclocross, you are….?
DM: You know right now I am really passionately working away at getting my weekly singlespeed cyclocross lifestyle blog off the ground. It’s not that I am desperately longing to be heard, it’s just that I really feel strongly that the world is yearning for my raw life and authentic words. And affiliated products (laughs).
My day job, which keeps me pretty darn busy, is with Triathlon Canada as the Operations Manager for our Canadian National Team. So lots of work with our select group of Canadian high performance triathletes and coaches, trying to keep things organized and gearing up for some Olympic and Paralympic medals in Rio 2016.