A distilled history of The Stupor Bowl in Bike City, USA

the-geekFrom the reasoning of the Dawg name to the best comic book authors, from the history of the Hot to a timeline of industrial music, Cory has the trivia, and the opinions to mouth off about it.

I just got back from Minneapolis, a city with some of the absolute best history in cycling here in the USA. Last year, Bicycling Magazine crowned Minneapolis the number 1 bike city, dethroning Portland, and swapping nicknames from Portland East for Minneapolis to Minneapolis West for Portland. Having been to Minneapolis in the winter a few times now, and growing up in a slightly warmer Midwestern city, i will say that the cyclists of Minneapolis are more hardcore than anywhere I’ve ever been. Riding on ice in negative Fahrenheit temperatures is insane, but it’s almost blase there.

Here’s a fantastic video on the Stupor Bowl, which i’ll describe a bit more below the break. Be aware that this is NSFW due to cussing and a bit of vomiting towards the end. All in good fun…

DOWN BY THE WEEP HOLE: The story of the Stupor Bowl from Nathaniel H. Freeman on Vimeo.

Lots more info below.

The Stupor Bowl is a Cyclocross race started in 1997 by a few misfits, including some good friends of Kona that are in Minneapolis and NYC.I talked to Chuck Cowan, Owner of Behind Bars bicycle shop in Minneapolis about it, who can be seen intermittently throughout the video, but actually sitting down to talk with his wife Stephanie at about 6 minutes in. He’s been there from the beginning, and when i asked who actually started it, he said “Everyone had some involvement. All the messengers had something to do with it. There’s probably 10 guys or so that really got it going.”

Chad Selberg, (who is mentioned at 5:00) a sales guy at NYC Velo in the East Village who hails from the Minneapolis messenger scene and five time Cycle Messenger World Championships finalist had more details on the beginnings of the race. “The MBMA (Minneapolis Bicycle Messenger Association) rented a space downtown called The Space. It was just a big room witha bunch of couches that all the different messengers could hang out and drink beer. We had monthly meetings, and that’s where the Stupor Bowl came about. There was probably about 10 of us.”

I’d heard some murmurings from three different people now about one person that, like Fight Club, was not talked about. Finally, Chad relented. A bit. “Yeah, there was this one guy, but we don’t talk about him any more. We all agreed that he was bad news.”

“I do want to say that I was not psyched about the name Stupor Bowl. That was the time of these other cool alleycat races, and I wanted a racier name. But we took a vote, and it stuck. Looking back, it’s a pretty cool name, especially when Christian and I started the Stupor race five years in,” Selberg reflects. If you watch the video, you’ll know that the Stupor Race is the drinking race, and not the speed race — which, knowing Chad is pretty funny, because he’s always been very fast. Maybe it just shows how big the race had gotten, or that it needed a nice renegade element.

This race could exist in other cities. It could even do well, but it would never be close to what it is anywhere other than Minneapolis, the coolest and most hardcore bike city i’ve ever been to. What’s so great about this race is that it’s just one tiny, tiny fact of the bike culture there, and doesn’t even begin to touch on some of the other awesome things going on bike-wise there.