Elena, Aida and I left the house Friday morning at the scheduled hour of
Then it was to bed for the ladies and I rode up the hill a bit for the big pre race party. It was cold and rainy, but there was beer food and peoples and after a while I was having a good time. I met new people and ran into old people I knew, such as Ned, alleged internet stalker "gas sucks":
Jay from TN again:
and my old pal Jeff Lockwood fresh in from belgium:
There were some good bands and a pretty silly karaoke contest for the first round of the SSWC10 hosting contest. Italy killed it though. Somehow more beers were consumed and I ended up riding a 36" black sheep mtb, not crashing it and ended up rolling to wendy's with what I presume was lockwood and some dirtrag homies.
Biggy fries please:
Most people got cheese burgers, I got some trailmix from a nearby convenience store and Karen Brooks (?) and I nearly got flying west nile avian pig flu from a death rattling convenience store worker who should be nominated for co-parents of the year with her baby daddy for leaving their sleeping children in a running car parked out front while they closed the shop. After that horror, I rolled back into town and sort of slept.
Thankfully the race did not start until 11 and thankfully Elena and Aida woke up early and went for a walk and brough me espresso and muffins for breakfast. I got ready for the race and rolled downtown, not feeling all that hot, but excited for the race.
I got to the start line with about 15 minuted to spare and was wowed by the mass of single speed humanity. I took a bunch of photos and videos to give you the feel.
After a bit of photo taking, I noticed Jacquie Phelan had coalesced next to me:
I introduced myself and explained that I was a big fan and we both are lapsed bloggers on veloquent. After that she was even more friendly. It was great to finally meet her for real. A big biking hero of mine wearing a beard sewn from her own dreads.
Also check out her excellent bike made by her husband Charlie Cunningham:
Anyhow, the race rolled out and I was solidly in the smack dab middle of a billion singlespeeders.
We rolled through town and up into the hills on progressively steeper streets leading to steep bikepaths and then to singletrack and double track and then to a conga line of walking cyclists and then to a steep hikabike. I went pretty fast up this, but was not feeling great still, but having fun just rolling along. We had a nice break in start and stop traffic which allowed me to take lots of photos and recover a bit, but it was pretty hot and my camelback contents were not sitting well with me.
The conga line up the slope with the stunning views across the valley:
Cycling legends were just behind me, here is Greg Herbold:
There is something special about the two photos above, first correct answer in the comments gets a sponsored blog post and a pile of crapped up single speed freewheels. Answer is not Greg Herbold, although he is pretty special.
Anyhow, as we passed from scrub oak to pine at the top of the ridge we began to ride.
Using my tiny 32-20 gear I spun around a whole bunch of people, got a nice beer feed from the crowd at the top, blew the log pile obstacle and continued onto the ridge.
The ridge! It was technical, exposed and had great views and severe consequences if you actually watched the view while riding. There was also a hug thunderstorm on the next ridge over that convinced me to be expedient on getting the hell off the ridge. I took no pictures here, but I was pretty pleased with how much I cleaned, and when I did not clean it, I was pretty smoothly crossing on and off and making good progress. Greg Herbold passed me easily and I passed a bunch of crashed and cramped racers, but I was pretty much riding on my own for most of the ridgeline. It was pretty sweet, especially after the long lines to get there. After what seemed like half an hour of technical descent we transitioned into an area of really really steep descents with tricky bits thrown in. I rode it all, but not that fast, lots of people were passing me at this point. I did see a bunch of good crashes which steeled my resolve to finish the race without hurting myself! I was feeling a little ill at this point, none of the liquid I had been drinking was processing, just sloshing around in my stomach. Stupid pre race party. I was also periodically eating gummy clish shot squares which usually are my go to race
It took me about 5 minutes from first audible evidence of the crowd to hit the start finish line. It was great. I was grinning like an idiot, the crowds were packed and screaming and it was really loud. They routed us through some fun loose chicanes and I got another extremely tasty beer handup and quickly quaffed it and took off for the second part of the course. I was very amped for the rest of the race for about 5 minutes and then I realized I was pretty much feeling like crap and probably would bonk soon. 9 miles or so to go.
The second half of the course was a blast, especially if you had not done the first half. Technical short descents mixed in with rolling smooth singletrack and steady climbs. It was almost all singletrack and it went by reasonably fast. I had pretty much drained my camelback but alas, I was still bonking hard. Lots of people were passing me, but still I pressed on. Actually I rode this pretty well and was having fun, but was dreading cramping up. There was a last demoralizing hike-a-bike and I got some fresh bacon and whisky feeds that were actually pretty welcome before heading on the last few miles of descending. The last bit was sandy twisty singletrack with no sight lines due to scrub oak tight around the trails. Almost immediately I started making pretty bad descisions on lines and speed and weight distribution so I shut down my already slow pace and survived my way to the finish, I think it took me somewhere around 3:15 of riding time for the 21 ish miles of the race, but I am not really sure how long I was out there.
When I got to the finish, I noticed piles of beer cans everywhere, lots of loud music, lots of partiers, lots of racers, yet no actual beer. Alas, I had ridden slower than the party. I was pretty cooked, so I sat in the shade, snapped some pictures and met a flickr/blog friend Lauren Haughey and her husband morgan, I would have loved to talk to them some more, but I was almost incoherent with the bonk. Next time.
Me with salt stained jersey, look closely, you can see the face of the jesus in it:
Gratuitous crowd shot:
I think I have made it clear that I was not feeling so hot, so I rolled on into town, found Elena and the baby, had a shower, failed at napping and headed to a nice dinner where Aida impressed with the mad spaghetti skillz.
I finally felt better and ate two dinners worth of food including a plate of olives, delicious salty salty olives, and drank about 2 gallons of water. We headed back to the hotel and I was feeling good and left Elena and Aida for the evening and hoped on the bike again and rolled a couple of miles up the nice Animas river trail system to the huge party at Ska Brewing company. There was quite a crowd there including pretty much everyone in durango who knew what a bicycle looked like. There was also lots of food and beer at reasonable prices. I got some hoppy beer and third dinner from an airstream based Zia taquaria and settled in for the festivities.
I watched the atrociously played but well uniformed Italy vs NZ match for SSWC10.
I ran into Curtis Inglis and spoke with him for a while:
I checked out the color contest/art show, which was actually pretty well done:
"I spend them all on the goats" no really, click through and read it:
And finally I watched the impressively sunburned Heather Irmiger get her SSWC09 winners tattoo for a bit. Go on, click through for the cheesecake. With that I was getting sleepy and was pretty much all partied out, so I rolled back on to the hotel and slept like a rock. Until 7 the next morning when Aida convinced me that it was time to go for a walk.
It was a pretty fun weekend indeed. I wish I had been able to digest on race day, but that was my own fault probably. Other than that, it was pretty much all good. This was the fourth SSWC I had attended, Rancho Cucamunga in 1999, Minneapolis in 2000 and Downieville in 2002, they were all pretty much different. I think I still enjoyed the one in Minnesota the best, but overall they were all really fun. I did 1999, 2000 and this year on the same Kelly Singlespeed Cruiser. I might actually get a new bike now, 10 years is long enough. I think I might be getting too old for the shenanigans part, but NZ would be a nice place to visit next year, we will see. Huzzah bicycles and silly races.