Last year's Singlespeed World Championships were the end of an era. The race/party was first held in Portland in 2007 and the 2016 SSCXWC brought the shenanigans back to Rip City for one more year before the single-gear festivities said "arrivederci" and moved across the sea. Stan Nice, Sven Nys' alter-ego, made an appearance, and Jessica Cutler and Adam Craig took home the famous champions' tattoos. A fitting end to an era, indeed.
Although dubbed a "world championship," the SSCXWC had never been held outside North America during its first decade. That changed in 2017 when the race sailed the ocean blue to start a new era in the "Old World" in Verona, Italy.
Given where the event was held, the term "Old World" is very apropos. The race venue was the Porta Palio and Bastione di Santo Spirito in Verona. The Porta Palio is a gate of Verona's medieval walls that dates to the 16th century and the Bastione was built in 1836. Several parts of the course weaved in and out of the old stone walls and others traversed the steep slopes surrounding the Bastione.
The SSCXWC has increasingly become known for its irreverence and party-like atmosphere. In the past riders have been able to qualify based on feats of strength and courses have been littered with every obstacle imaginable. One of the questions for the event in Italy was whether the Europeans could provide a level of craziness perfectly opposite to the aura of history and timelessness conjured up by the race's medieval Verona setting.
Women's winner, and American ex-pat, Megan Chinburg said the atmosphere lived up to the level of "debauchery" she expected from Singlespeed Worlds, "There were required beer stops, a burning log pile to jump, human barriers, paper-ball peltings every lap, a priestess blessing mid-pinwheel and of course, mad heckling and cowbells."
It should be noted the blessing mid-pinwheel was cited as debauchery and not the pinwheel itself. Pinwheels have been increasingly maligned as cyclocross features, so given the amount of side-eye they generate, perhaps it only made sense that the SSCXWC included one.
Although SSCXWCITA did not have the same level of media hoopla as the 2016 SSCXWCPDX (that Stan Nice is such a media darling), the winners were still crowned as single-gear World Champions and received the customary winners' ink.
There is no official word on where the 2018 SSCXWC will be held, but based on cryptic comments from Stan Nice in 2016 and rumors suggested by Chinburg, the answer very well may be the motherland of cyclocross.
Italian photographer Francesco Bartoli Avveduti braved the inflatable crocodile and other perilous dangers in Verona to provide a stunning gallery of photos that capture the venue, atmosphere and to a lesser extent, the racing.
Enjoy his photography below, and if you like what you see, give Francesco a follow on Instagram.