By Colin Meagher
Drew MacKenzie racks up win number three, while Wendy Simms takes home her first win the 2010 edition of the Single Speed CX World Championships held just outside of Seattle, Washington.
Beer seemed to be the underlying theme of this event. Don't get me wrong: beer and bike racing have a long and storied history. One I'm not inclined to delve into too deeply here…But put it this way: the current World CX champ is Czech, and the Czech Republic has a solid foundation of pilsner underneath it. As do the Belgians—the legendary hard men of the CX racing universe. And Seattle, this year's host city for the SSCXWC, has a history steeped in foaming, malty, alcoholic beverage. Thank the lord! Consequently, it was with very little surprise that the "qualifying" event, the day before the main event, had a start/finish at the Schooner Exact brewery (featuring the "Skidmark Ale" brewed specifically for the event).
For qualifying, participants headed out in small groups on a Randonneur style of CX course from the SODO district of Seattle that featured pavement, stairs, dirt, bums, tunnels, run-ups, and check points with exercise gone wrong 'tasks' to be completed in order to get into the main event. "Exercise gone wrong", you ask? Simple: required tasks at each check point varied from "shake weights/chug beer" for 30 seconds to "thigh master/chug beer" for 30 seconds to the always entertaining "spin head down 'round the baseball bat ten times and then try and run"—in this case over a barricade and a picnic table. This last task was not pretty—shoot, none of the tasks were pretty.
Baseball bat and barricades completed, it was a mad dash for the finish line at Schooner Exact, as only the top four from each group would make the cut—so competition was pretty fierce. Failure on the qualifying track wasn't the end of the road, though—there was an alternative qualifier to be held Saturday evening at the Belltown Underground in downtown Seattle: four-up roller races with twenty slots up for grabs.
In a side note, there was also a beer chug competition at the Roller Race venue to help determine the host city for the 2011 event. San Francisco took top chugging honors.
Race day was fairly epic. A local Seattle CX race series was the under card to the SSCXWC main event, and having literally hundreds of racers take to the course combined with absolutely torrential rain immediately prior to event saw a soupy and technical track shape up at the Pacific Speedways just outside of Auburn, Washington. As costumed and beer-infused racers took to the field, it was nothing less than the pure sweet hell that CX racing truly is, albeit with a generous dollop of ludicrousness: Luchador racers were in abundance, as were super heroes, racers clad in tighty whiteys, and assorted other random racing kits. One racer that reigned supreme was two-time winner Drew MacKenzie of Canada. That mullet kitted dude was fast. Fast enough, in fact, to notch win (and tattoo) number three for the 2010 edition of the SSCXWC. That's right: three SSCX World Title wins for the Great White North with McKenzie as the "Great Canadian Hope" (Can Adam Craig or Carl Decker or Todd Wells please make a trip to SF this next year? Do it for your country, dammit!). On the women's side, Wendy Simms took home the win (and a podium appearance in the coveted golden bikini), making it a Canadian sweep. D'oh!
In a second side note, the San Francisco contingent's racing "pony"—their pre-selected champion racing for the honor of hosting the 2011 race—edged out the Seattle "pony", thus establishing SF as the field of honor/conflict for the 2011 SSCXWC event.
All in all, the SSCXWC event in Seattle was everything that a non-UCI sanctioned World Championships should be: raucous, ridiculous, unpredictable, and a damn fine time. See you all in the Bay Area next year.