photo courtesy of Oregon VeloOh. my. god. How can I even begin to capture and describe the madness that was SSCXWC 2009? Frankly, I can't, and I'm not sure anyone can. So when gazing upon the few pictures I've managed to dig up and the measly accompanying text, keep in mind that this is an event that defies all blog entries. It eats blog entries and race recaps for breakfast and then shits them out in a stream of mud, blood, beer, and more mud. That said, you can read a better write-up than my own over at Cyclocross Magazine.
A few of my favorite parts of the race:
- The 250-rider strong Le Mans start, with 2 opposing lines of racers, all running towards the middle to grab their trusty steeds
- Random jumps placed in random spots along the course
- Wet mud
- Hearing racers get chastised for not having costumes on
- Beer hand-ups
- Popcorn hand-ups, bacon hand-ups, baguette hand-ups, etc. etc. etc.
- Getting pelted with hotdogs and marshmallows while riding through the Thunderdome
- Thick, sticky mud
- A school bus filled with strippers, parked on the course, serving as a course shortcut, for those lucky enough to have brought some dollar bills along on the ride.
- Black Sabbath cover band with a lead singer that sounded exactly like Ozzy.
- Slippery mud
- More mud
While I'm super thrilled that I'll be able to do this again next year in my own backyard, I'm sure that I wasn't the only Seattleite who thought about the recent 'cross race that got cancelled at the last minute, due to complaints by 2 (2!!) neighbors. I've got no idea where a good venue would be, that would be far enough away from all the NIMBYs, but that wouldn't be way the hell out of town somewhere. Magnuson Park? Discovery Park? Some gnarly industrial area down by the Duwamish? Hopefully someone's got some good ideas up their sleeves. Makes me think of this recent comic from the always excellent Married To The Sea:
Image courtesy of Married To The Sea
From the moment we arrived at Portland International Raceway, where the event was being held, I could tell that this was going to be unlike any other race I'd been to so far. The SSCXWC race was being held after the end of a normal days worth of Cross Crusade racing, so there probably a lot more people there than there would have been otherwise. It was great to see so many people out racing and spectating, especially since it had been raining all day and the course generally looked like this:
and like this:
image courtesy of Bike Portland
After the elite categories finshed up, the costumes began to come out. I recycled my lumberjack costume from Halloween, after my buddy Joe made a few last minute "alterations" to my shorts in the parking lot with a knife. I know that technically, the theme was Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome", but in reality, it was more like "gratuitous and unflattering male nudity". Despite the fact that there was literally a bus-load of strippers present, the flesh exposure was clearly dominated by the men.
After the crazy start, when everyone had finished tripping over other people's bikes, and had finally found their own, the pack crammed down into one narrow section of the course, and trudged up the first run-up, packed in like sardines. The mud was incredibly slippery, and I fell right away, falling forward as my feet slipped out from under me. Luckily, my face was there to stop the fall, connecting with the back of someone's bike. 30 seconds into the race, and I'm bleeding from the face. So far, so good. It didn't hurt much (maybe it was the cold, or the adrenaline, or a little bit of both), and the next few laps, I took in the "sights", while still trying to keep my eyes on the road enough to keep it rubber side down. The thunderdome in particular, offered plenty in the way of distractions, as you can see here:
Find more videos like this on Cyclocross Magazine
Things were going swimmingly, until I hit a "puddle" that turned out to be a deep pothole with sharp edges. Instant pinch flat. Turns out that when you're riding through 4 inches of mud, a flat rear tire doesn't hinder you as much as you'd think. Amazing. I finished the race out like that, and after winding down with a few post-race beers by the fire that someone had built, I came to the conclusion that it had been one of the funnest times I've ever had on a bike.
Thunderdome at night:
Our post-race gnar faces:
here, and here, and even more here.
If any of this seems even remotely interesting to you, then start planning your costume for next year. I know I'll be there.