Words by Barry Wicks
Editor’s Note: In an effort to help you aspiring summer stage racers prepare for your singletrack challenges, Kona XC/Marathon racer Barry Wicks gives some key tips on how to survive—and hopefully enjoy—the races you set out to slay. In this episode, Wicks—who is the athlete ambassador for the new Singletrack 6 race through Western Canada (the world-famous TransRockies Challenge that is reinventing itself with a new focus on some of Western Canada’s prime singletrack destinations)–gives us tips on recovering from massive stage races.
The first time I raced the Single Speed World Championships, Adam Craig, Carl Decker and I drove all night in a rented minivan from the Norba National at Snow Shoe, West Virginia, to State College, Pennsylvania. We had all just made the podium at the cross-country event, and Carl was training for the Avis Dodge Caravan Rally World Championships. Needless to say, the tires on that van didn’t have much life left in them when we rolled into town early the next morning. Carl was about to win the bike race too, but then his chain ring bolts fell out and he didn’t. It didn’t matter though, since the title was decided by a go-cart race, and despite our practice in the minivan, we got stone-cold smoked by a local with intimate knowledge of the cart performance. We didn’t know why he sprinted past us to get into the green car when we were getting queued up, but it quickly became evident when he lapped the field, as we putted around at half speed.
The Next time I did the Single Speed World Championships it was in Napa Valley, California, and I was wearing a golden speedo and cape. Carl had on a black mesh Borat-esque swimsuit number he bought at the porn store the day before and a Zorrow mask. Riding behind him sucked. A bunch of guys did the race in XL tightie-whites as well for bonus prizes. Basically that year your best bet was to be at the front, lest ye end up staring at a lot of hairy black holes.
This year, the Single Speed World Championships is in Alaska. I am sure with all the extra daylight there will be an above average amount of shenanigans, which is saying something for the Single Speed Worlds. I’m not going to be able to make it this year, but I will be thinking about those guys, and the spirit they embody as I do my final prep for the Single Track 6 event.
The Single Speed World Championships were born out of rebellion. At the time, the thinking was that the whole MTB race thing was getting too serious, and there needed to be an event that represented what the “real” mountain bikers liked. Mostly this was drinking lots of beer, crashing into each other and having the most fun possible with your friends in the woods.
This is still an important message to relay. In these internet days of forum bashing, raging wheel size debates, baggies vs spandex, #Enduro and endless snark in the comments section, we need to look to our brethren on the simple bikes and remind ourselves that we are all in this together. Some of us like to ride downhill. Some of us like to ride cross-country. Some like to pedal, others shuttle. Some ride wagon wheels, some ride kids wheels, but in the end, we are all part of the same family. We ride Mountain Bikes. We enjoy the woods, we play, we race, get rad and we all are drinking from the same fountain. So next time you are out on the trails and see a fellow mountain biker, pull up for the high-five and say what’s up. They might be wearing spandex, or maybe a full face and bright green shorts, but I bet if you give pause and check them out, they are as stoked to be out there as you are, and that’s what it’s all about.
Many thanks to the original band of crazy one-speeders keeping it real and reminding us every year what it is all really about. Now get out there and ride!
PS: 29” for Life!