The words debauchery, unicorns and thongs aren’t usually associated with cycling. That is, unless you mix with the type of cyclists who ride single speeds. Last weekend in Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island, an even smaller, more rowdy and raucous subset of that group gathered for the their own unique annual event. The Single Speed Cyclocross World Champs. Riders from across Canada and the USA descended on BC’s capital and did their best to show the unsuspecting locals the dirty underbelly of off-road cycling. We sent long-time Kona employee Dale Plant and World Cup cross country racer, and all around bad ass, Spencer Paxson to get amongst it (and hopefully bring home a fresh skull themed tattoo).
For the uninitiated, the event is divided into two days, the first day is qualifying via what are called the Feats of Strength and the second is race day. Qualifying via the feats of strength meant riding 30km around the city and stopping to compete at five separate “courses”, and we use that term in the loosest sense. The Feats consisted of a three story stair climb (complete with pumptrack descent), a game of foot-down in an elementery school yard (where you ride around slowly trying to make your competitors dab), a classic ‘cross loop through a nice wooded glade (although on this track cheating was encouraged), an ultra steep narrow climb, and finally my personal favorite, the beach sprints (or slows). The organizers didn’t really take into account low tide, which meant what was supposed to be an impossible feat was in fact quite possible, but only for a few, including Spencer and that guy on the fatbike. Oh and at every feat, beers were consumed, shots shot and hip flasks emptied. As Spencer put it, “single gear and single-minded this weekend, all about having a good time with friends on bikes and exploring a new city.”
Race day is essentially a more condensed version of Saturday, except the feats are rolled into one hilarious course, the alcohol is consumed at a far more intense pace and all of it is done in front of a solid crowd, one not afraid of public displays of genitalia, foul language or general insanity. Again cheating is encouraged, as is not taking yourself too seriously. Spencer reflected, “Like they say, it’s always good to make sure you’re not taking yourself too seriously, and I think events like this are good for that. It’s always very refreshing, for me anyway, to experience my bike racing “world” as it is being totally turned on its head, for untamed fun and ridiculousness. Just a good reminder that at the end of the day it’s all just about good times with friends.”
So how did Spencer do? Obeying the rules cost him a good start and he had to work his way through the 100-strong field, past Captain Hook, Peter Pan, and Robin Hood, before eventually catching three-time winner Adam Craig. Spencer’s hopes for the win and a Skull tattoo were dashed though, when, with three laps to go, he pushed things just a little too hard on the boat step-up-step-down and flatted his rear tire. Channeling his inner world cup downhiller, he rode the the three remaining laps on the flat and still came across the line at the pointy end of the field. Adam Craig took the win with Spencer a few places back. Unfortunately, there is no second place at #SSCXWC and no official results were posted. “I almost ended my purity by getting a tattoo,” Spencer told us, “but then I popped my tire instead. Adam needed to complete his arm-band collection of tats anyway…”
If you haven’t checked out the Private Jake Spencer raced, we posted up a full look at it on Friday night which you can find here. Saturday was Spencer’s first ride on the Private Jake and after the weekend of chaos he had this to say about it, “The Private Jake is such an intuitive steed! I primarily ride MTB, and the angles of the Private Jake allow it to behave a bit more like a mountain bike when needed, yet always like an agile, swift ‘cross bike… good thing, ’cause there was a lot of melée to contend with out there…”