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The wildfire known as the Singlespeed World Championships (SSCXWC) roared into Portland this weekend for its tenth edition, fueled by the most pre-event hype in its history. Those flames were further fanned when the community got wind that Trek was bringing its best-known evangelist, living cyclocross legend Sven Nys.

The firestorm of SSCXWC doesn’t just make for a raucous cyclocross race. It changes the sport. Remove the ability to shift gears in cyclocross and social and sporting norms follow the missing cogs and chainrings into the spare parts bin.

For some, finding their bike was only half the battle. 2016 SSCXWC Women's Finals. © M. Estes / Cyclocross Magazine

For some, finding their bike was only half the battle. 2016 SSCXWC Women’s Finals. © M. Estes / Cyclocross Magazine

Do so under the six letter authority of a championship, and toss in a gold bathing suit and a permanent tattoo and you’re certain to end up defying all conventions.

Drop bars and skinny knobbies? Who cares.

Pit bike and crew? Stay home.

No contact from the spectators? Only if you’re really lucky.

Pre-scout the fastest lines? Throw them out and put on a show.

Race to win? Even that’s not always the goal.

The Sequel Returns to the Original Director

As the final stuck-in-the-mud car exited the Kruger’s Farm parking lot, after Mother Nature did her part to make sure participants and fans drove home sober, the 10th edition of the SSCXWC finished just as the first one in 2007 did, with a pile of dirty one-gear bikes, and much of the Portland cycling community and a few hundred singlespeeders from throughout the world eager to look through their digital photos to confirm whether everything they just witnessed and experienced was real.

Start of a qualifying heat. The 10th SSCXWC in Portland, 2016. © M. Estes / Cyclocross Magazine

Start of a qualifying heat. The 10th SSCXWC in Portland, 2016. © M. Estes / Cyclocross Magazine

In many ways, SSCXWC founder Dani Dance and her team brought the 10th edition back to its original roots of an event based on racing, with a few unexpected twists. Although the large number of participants made reenacting the qualifying time trial of 2007 impossible, racers had to still pass a test of speed through the one-lap qualifying heats to make the finals, and if such an attempt wasn’t successful, push their way in through several short last-chance qualifying sprints.

Video: A Day in the Life of SSCXWC Day 1 Qualifiers

Holeshot races replaced one-lap last-gasp mass start heats, dual slalom heats were subbed in for aerobar coasting races, and the surprise reverse call-ups from nine years ago became selective hiding and burying of top racers’ bikes, but the original spirit of 2007 was there.

#sscxwcxpdx women's start

A post shared by Vive La Tarte CX (@vivelatartecx) on

The infamous event has certainly morphed over the years, as it passed between cities and promoters, and as a result, some argue, became decidedly less race-oriented and more of a course-cutting shortcut to the closest beverage hand-up, with Saturdays filled with leisurely city tours, pixie bike races and feats of strength. These evolutions, save for an optional  “I’m Feeling Lucky” qualifying potato sack race, were largely gone. Nys was in town to race his bike after all, and feats of strength would be needed on Sunday just to make forward progress in the thick mud of Kruger’s Farm and stay out of his way.

Defending a Streak, and Ending an Unwelcome One

Anyone on Sunday thinking the organizer’s motto stating “We’re going to Make Singlespeed Racing Racing Again” was just lip service probably didn’t see Nys pre-walking the course, or Jessica Cutler dialing in her ride and trying to get a proper warm-up. Both had plenty of motivation to put in good rides. Nys had a full Trek Bicycle media team documenting his every move, and flew from Belgium just for the weekend, not to rub shoulders with weekend warrior racers stopping at course-side watering holes, but to inspire them by riding through the watering holes and representing sponsor Trek in the process.

Meanwhile, Cutler was tired of wondering what could have been after one-gear championship cyclocross races. Despite recent retirement from professional racing, Cutler made it known that the 2016 SSCXWC was her top priority “A race of the season” and she was out for redemption after three straight podiums in the singlespeed race at the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships, including two back-to-back silver medals. Yet she knew as with any race, it was the unknowns that represented the most danger, whether in the form of inflatable shark-infested waters, head-hunting mud-covered exercise balls, the naked distraction of dollar hand-ups, or perhaps some recent Stanford grad who had been racing Women’s B races just two years ago but now was on a Cross Crusade Elite Women’s tear.

For some, finding their bike was only half the battle. 2016 SSCXWC Women's Finals. © M. Estes / Cyclocross Magazine

For some, the tables were turned, with naked talent paying dollars to appreciative fans. 2016 SSCXWC Women’s Finals. © M. Estes / Cyclocross Magazine

While winner of the last four SSCXWC editions Adam Craig played it cool, helping out with the event and getting philosophical and a bit spacey, he admitted to Cyclocross Magazine, “I mean Sven sorta stressed me out. I was pretty worried about Nys. Sven can ride. Have you seen him ride?”

“I mean Sven sorta stressed me out. I was pretty worried about Nys. Sven can ride. Have you seen him ride.” -Adam Craig

Riding with Intent

Every attendee of a Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships event has his or her own reasons or making the trip, whether it’s to watch and further the shenanigans, have a few drinks with friends, compete against some of the top one-gear ’crossers in the land, put on a good show for sponsors, or simply overdose on a reminder of the fun-oriented aspects of the sport that might have escaped the weekly training and racing routine and points hunt.

Most attendees’ intentions were revealed once the ceremonial hatchet was buried, the torch was lit and the Le Mans start kicked off the championships.

Others telegraphed their priorities when presented with opportunities to grab a cotton candy hand-up, jump the shark, or grapple with an unruly fan.

Some attempted to jump the shark, but most just got dunked. 2016 SSCXWC consolation round. © M. Estes / Cyclocross Magazine

Some attempted to jump the shark, but most just got dunked. 2016 SSCXWC consolation round. © M. Estes / Cyclocross Magazine

While Nys powered through the knee-deep lake on his bike, Craig took to the ramp and bristled when asked if he could ride through the lake like Nys. “No, No, No. Because I was jumping in, he was skipping the jump to pedal, and I wasn’t willing to make that sacrifice,” Craig told Cyclocross Magazine.

Even though his fifth-straight victory was on the line, he also wasn’t willing to sacrifice the opportunity to even the score with one of his fans:

So glad I rode out to watch the insanity that is #sscxwcxpdx

A post shared by Taylor Phillips (@taylor_phill) on

 

Nys was feeling the SSCXWC spirit, grabbing a dollar hand-up and a beer, but he was riding, powering a big 42×17 gear in the thick mud. He poured the beer over his head, and tried to lead or stay locked on Craig’s wheel, and for much of the race, appeared to do so with some ease. “Yeah, he was riding,” Craig recalled. “That dude can ride, which was cool for me to see, fun for me to see as fan.”

 

He also got beer and mud-covered exercise balls thrown in his face, but unlike his reaction to an infamous beer-throwing incident in Europe, Nys embraced the hop-laden face wash. “It’s a very good atmosphere and everybody is in a very good mood,” Nys told Cyclocross Magazine. “It’s amazing to be part of this event. They are yelling and throwing beer but that’s part of the game.”

THE @svennys in Portland! Such an incredible rider! #sscxwc @velofix

A post shared by Velofix Portland (@velofixportland) on

“It’s amazing to be part of this event. They are yelling and throwing beer but that’s part of the game.” -Sven Nys

Part of the game, at least on an official basis after Rapha-Focus swept the titles in 2011 in San Francisco but skipped the ink, is to get a winner’s tattoo. Speculation started the instant it was disclosed that Nys may be attending the event whether the Belgian would be the first European to proudly wear such branding, but flying under the radar was Englishwoman Angharad Porteous, now working for Nike after earning a Stanford degree. Porteous, an avid golf fan, might have been worried about the appropriateness of a dirty event’s winners mark in the clubhouse.

IMG_1242

She kept Cutler in sight, but after a string of impressive Portland cyclocross victories, wasn’t fueled by the same runner-up motivation that the leader had.

Cutler pushed her 39×19 gear to finally land on the top step of a singlespeed championship race.

 

There’s No Debate

The singlespeed community and one-gear curious will debate for years as to whether gifts were given or ink was avoided, and even Cyclocross Magazine’s team of three on the ground couldn’t agree as to how hard certain racers tried to win or not win. Creative captioners couldn’t either:

What most people do agree on is that it doesn’t matter.  “I [enjoyed being] in this race and I [would] love to come back also,” Nys said after his race, and stressed on social media that the goal was fun.

As well as partaking in Portland cyclocross culture:

SSCXWC Chaos Says Ciao for Now

It’s off to Italy for 2017, as founder Dance alluded to, placed in the hands of a crew that has already demonstrated the ability to balance racing with good times.

After that? Perhaps in Belgium. Nys thought about the suggestion, and liked the idea. “They are not used to an event like this, but I think it’s possible,” he said. “We have some crazy people in Belgium also. We have the culture of cyclocross so…”

Where in Belgium could it land? “My place,” said Nys, referring to his GP Sven Nys in his hometown of Baal held every January 1. Would you make the trip to ring in the New Year with Sven Nys, fellow singlespeeders and a hundred thousand fans?

“They are not used to an event like this, but I think it’s possible. We have some crazy people in Belgium also.” -Sven Nys

As overnight rain turned to snow and covered up the tracks of the 2016 event, the torch has been burned to the ground and its ashes, just like Nys, are on a long flight to Europe. It’s been a fun, crazy North American ride.

Lee Slone and Andrew Yee contributed to this report.

See our SSCXWC 2016 men’s championship photo gallery here and our SSCXWC 2016 women’s championship photo gallery here. Full results below and here.

2016 SSCXWC Men's Results - Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships, Portland, Oregon (PDX)

PlNumNameLaps
11Adam Craig4
2578Stan Nice4
3450Stephen Ettinger4
4617Scott Chapin4
5466Rotem Ishay4
6366Sean Babcock4
7456Parker Bloom4
8371Cody Cupp4
9387Steven Beardsley4
10370Ryan RINN4
11358Spencer Powlison4
12414James Williams4
13509Michael Gallagher (G-Force)4
14289Paul LaCava4
15600Lucas Strain4
16352Ben Guernsey4
17511Alex Martin4
18538T Rex4
19310Cliff Eslinger4
20492Brian Kesselman4
21535Timothy JOSLIN4
22242Dylan Stucki4
23245Kolben Preble4
24171Colin Frazer4
25580Scott Daubert4
26267Lucas Clarke4
2714curbwzrd4
28413Spence Gerber4
29403Jacob Huizenga4
30314Great White (Mitch) Hammer (Trux)4
31383Richard Knutson4
32524Jimmy Volcano Esquire4
33194Rainier Schaefer4
34533Joshua Liberles3
35506Fred Mills3
36579Micah Moran3
37560Kristopher Auer3
38507Carter Warren3
39480Alex Marganski3
40230Nick Stroud3
41319Rory JACK3
42587dace lawler3
43634Dax Massey3
44175Alistair Hardy3
45499Cam Smith3
4611Hagai Tavori3
47620Mark Scott3
48448Brian Lynch3
49364Charles Christianson3
50418Zack Phillips3
51307Sean A Carline3
52277Scott Barker3
53303Brian Myers3
54359Sean Corey3
55324Nick Bennette3
56421Greg MacDonald3
57216Joe Santos3
58446Halldor Gunnarsson3
59322Pete Groblewski3
60385ZZ Über3
61391Joey Martinez3
62229Danny Weikel3
63692Stephen Kincaid3
64510Derik Archibald3
65312Steve Black3
66477Anthony Broadman3
67283Christian Reed3
68292Sean Gibson3
69378Matt Fox3
70179Steve WASMUND3
71586Ian Brown3
72597Sterling Quinn3
73224Kyle aka ginger spanky Ireton3
74628Kellian Rusk3
75321Alex Strandell3
76248Cody Phillips3
77222Jason Hendrickson3
78449Benjamin Farver3
799Kristopher Celtnieks3
80568Bryan Smith3
81262Clay Anselmo3
82514Billy Bergen3
83203Hans Van Housen3
84440Ryan Barrett3
85503Clayton Webb3
86293Lucas Seibel3
87411Sven MacAller3
88526Andreas Hagen3
89517Dieter Laskowski3
90111Tony Kic3
91589Marc Ouellette3
92354Martin Fuss3
93521Doug Graver3
94591Steve Sevilla3
95457Mike Udelhofen3
96545John Stambaugh3
97447Josh Patterson3
98219Zack Hewell3
99191Craig Harrison3
100338tyler boucher3
101602Timmy McAfoos3
102441Shane Beers3
103251Nat Johnson3
104396Collin Van Slyke3
105525Aaron Barcheck3
106513Trevor Lane3
107550Damien Salerno3
108341Matthew HORNLAND3
109369Scott Heather3
110424Spencer Maughan3
111275Jose French3
112476Andrew Morrison3
113237Aaron Radspinner3
114465John Gulick3
115416Forest Wilson3
116467Robert Jackson3
117263Paul Sasseville3
1185John Graham3
119173Adam Sklar3
120206Daimeon Shanks3
121395Hahn Rossman3
122270Maxwell Kullwasi3
123444Sam Zivin3
124195Derek Yarra3
125574Florent Carriere3
126247CJ Bryan3
127611Alex Work2
128372Giancarlo DALLE ANGELINI2
129427Darrin Seeds2
130376Gabriel Linn2
131350Jeremy Russell2
132384Lee Slone2
133160Kip Zwolenski2
134569Michael McGovern2
135328Patrick Croasdaile2
136618Iago Garay2
137558Tad Hodgert2
138502Andrew Demeter2
139196KENT SANCHEZ2
140408Aaron Erbeck2
141386Dave Roth2
142462Carl Anton2
143274Aaron Huebner2
144430Robbie Douangpanya2
145530James Underwod2
146343Lt. Hamster Style2
147287Gavin LaFave2
148445Donavan Miller2
DNF570Frank Hammond2
DNF6Jason Bavuso2
DNF7Gregory Heath2
DNF228Brendan Lehman2
DNF234Andrew Howe2
DNF308Christian Folk2
DNF349Joe Huber2
DNF365Jobe Handy2
DNF367Rhys Haydon2
DNF392Paul Valentine2
DNF420Matthew Slaven2
DNF422Drew MacKenzie2
DNF559Jay Drasher2
DNF567Ted Clausen2
DNF340Jim Bowes2
DNF469Blake Crouch2
DNF113Andrew Erickson2
DNF519Abel Tomkinson1
DNF226Cody Goodman1
DNF460Jason Bogan1
DNF435Christopher Igleheart1
DNF536Mike Keller1
DNF348Erik Borghoff1
DNF8Peter Eby1
DNF13Patrick Monteith1
DNF165Aaron Amin1
DNF177Brad Nelson1
DNF190Brandon Harrison1
DNF202Michael Brazel1
DNF261Nat Pellman1
DNF271Jordan Krema1
DNF272Jeffrey Anderson1
DNF317Tyler Smith1
DNF379Eddy Bach1
DNF389Slate Olson1
DNF394James Rennie1
DNF429sebastian boyington1
DNF432Jason Britton1
DNF436kyle von Hoetzendorff1
DNF471Jim Wood1
DNF475Aidan Sullivan1
DNF478Joey Mullan1
DNF496Bryan Harding1
DNF498Jeff Johnston1
DNF564Cody Riggs1
DNF577Cameron Vander Stoep1
DNF619Josh Lewis1
DNF623Curtis Inglis1
DNF626Landon Masterfield1
DNF259Benjamin Popper1
DNF546Brad Hunter1

2016 SSCXWC Men's Results - Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships, Portland, Oregon (PDX)

PlNumNameLaps
11Adam Craig4
2578Stan Nice4
3450Stephen Ettinger4
4617Scott Chapin4
5466Rotem Ishay4
6366Sean Babcock4
7456Parker Bloom4
8371Cody Cupp4
9387Steven Beardsley4
10370Ryan RINN4
11358Spencer Powlison4
12414James Williams4
13509Michael Gallagher (G-Force)4
14289Paul LaCava4
15600Lucas Strain4
16352Ben Guernsey4
17511Alex Martin4
18538T Rex4
19310Cliff Eslinger4
20492Brian Kesselman4
21535Timothy JOSLIN4
22242Dylan Stucki4
23245Kolben Preble4
24171Colin Frazer4
25580Scott Daubert4
26267Lucas Clarke4
2714curbwzrd4
28413Spence Gerber4
29403Jacob Huizenga4
30314Great White (Mitch) Hammer (Trux)4
31383Richard Knutson4
32524Jimmy Volcano Esquire4
33194Rainier Schaefer4
34533Joshua Liberles3
35506Fred Mills3
36579Micah Moran3
37560Kristopher Auer3
38507Carter Warren3
39480Alex Marganski3
40230Nick Stroud3
41319Rory JACK3
42587dace lawler3
43634Dax Massey3
44175Alistair Hardy3
45499Cam Smith3
4611Hagai Tavori3
47620Mark Scott3
48448Brian Lynch3
49364Charles Christianson3
50418Zack Phillips3
51307Sean A Carline3
52277Scott Barker3
53303Brian Myers3
54359Sean Corey3
55324Nick Bennette3
56421Greg MacDonald3
57216Joe Santos3
58446Halldor Gunnarsson3
59322Pete Groblewski3
60385ZZ Über3
61391Joey Martinez3
62229Danny Weikel3
63692Stephen Kincaid3
64510Derik Archibald3
65312Steve Black3
66477Anthony Broadman3
67283Christian Reed3
68292Sean Gibson3
69378Matt Fox3
70179Steve WASMUND3
71586Ian Brown3
72597Sterling Quinn3
73224Kyle aka ginger spanky Ireton3
74628Kellian Rusk3
75321Alex Strandell3
76248Cody Phillips3
77222Jason Hendrickson3
78449Benjamin Farver3
799Kristopher Celtnieks3
80568Bryan Smith3
81262Clay Anselmo3
82514Billy Bergen3
83203Hans Van Housen3
84440Ryan Barrett3
85503Clayton Webb3
86293Lucas Seibel3
87411Sven MacAller3
88526Andreas Hagen3
89517Dieter Laskowski3
90111Tony Kic3
91589Marc Ouellette3
92354Martin Fuss3
93521Doug Graver3
94591Steve Sevilla3
95457Mike Udelhofen3
96545John Stambaugh3
97447Josh Patterson3
98219Zack Hewell3
99191Craig Harrison3
100338tyler boucher3
101602Timmy McAfoos3
102441Shane Beers3
103251Nat Johnson3
104396Collin Van Slyke3
105525Aaron Barcheck3
106513Trevor Lane3
107550Damien Salerno3
108341Matthew HORNLAND3
109369Scott Heather3
110424Spencer Maughan3
111275Jose French3
112476Andrew Morrison3
113237Aaron Radspinner3
114465John Gulick3
115416Forest Wilson3
116467Robert Jackson3
117263Paul Sasseville3
1185John Graham3
119173Adam Sklar3
120206Daimeon Shanks3
121395Hahn Rossman3
122270Maxwell Kullwasi3
123444Sam Zivin3
124195Derek Yarra3
125574Florent Carriere3
126247CJ Bryan3
127611Alex Work2
128372Giancarlo DALLE ANGELINI2
129427Darrin Seeds2
130376Gabriel Linn2
131350Jeremy Russell2
132384Lee Slone2
133160Kip Zwolenski2
134569Michael McGovern2
135328Patrick Croasdaile2
136618Iago Garay2
137558Tad Hodgert2
138502Andrew Demeter2
139196KENT SANCHEZ2
140408Aaron Erbeck2
141386Dave Roth2
142462Carl Anton2
143274Aaron Huebner2
144430Robbie Douangpanya2
145530James Underwod2
146343Lt. Hamster Style2
147287Gavin LaFave2
148445Donavan Miller2
DNF570Frank Hammond2
DNF6Jason Bavuso2
DNF7Gregory Heath2
DNF228Brendan Lehman2
DNF234Andrew Howe2
DNF308Christian Folk2
DNF349Joe Huber2
DNF365Jobe Handy2
DNF367Rhys Haydon2
DNF392Paul Valentine2
DNF420Matthew Slaven2
DNF422Drew MacKenzie2
DNF559Jay Drasher2
DNF567Ted Clausen2
DNF340Jim Bowes2
DNF469Blake Crouch2
DNF113Andrew Erickson2
DNF519Abel Tomkinson1
DNF226Cody Goodman1
DNF460Jason Bogan1
DNF435Christopher Igleheart1
DNF536Mike Keller1
DNF348Erik Borghoff1
DNF8Peter Eby1
DNF13Patrick Monteith1
DNF165Aaron Amin1
DNF177Brad Nelson1
DNF190Brandon Harrison1
DNF202Michael Brazel1
DNF261Nat Pellman1
DNF271Jordan Krema1
DNF272Jeffrey Anderson1
DNF317Tyler Smith1
DNF379Eddy Bach1
DNF389Slate Olson1
DNF394James Rennie1
DNF429sebastian boyington1
DNF432Jason Britton1
DNF436kyle von Hoetzendorff1
DNF471Jim Wood1
DNF475Aidan Sullivan1
DNF478Joey Mullan1
DNF496Bryan Harding1
DNF498Jeff Johnston1
DNF564Cody Riggs1
DNF577Cameron Vander Stoep1
DNF619Josh Lewis1
DNF623Curtis Inglis1
DNF626Landon Masterfield1
DNF259Benjamin Popper1
DNF546Brad Hunter1