Monday, November 9, 2009

Portland goes over the top for SSCXWC send off

PHOTO: The Thunderdome at PIR set a new standard.

PORTLAND – What kind of recipe calls for a grass field covered with niche bicycles, a Black Sabbath cover band, a heart-pounding drum corps, a geodesic Thunderdome, a pair of fire dancers, a bus full of strippers, a brewery’s worth of beer and a lone bagpiper?

I don’t know either, but those elements and more blended beautifully Sunday at PIR when the world’s craziest bicycle race bid farewell to the city where it was born.

The SSCXWC unleashed itself on Portland’s cyclocross scene for one last time following a full day of Cross Crusade racing. Canada's Drew MacKenzie won the men's race for the second year in a row, while Seattle's Kari Studley rode away with the women's top prize at an event described by the keenly insightful eyes of PDXCROSS as the "Singlespeed Crazy Cross World Slapstickships."

Seattle won the battle to host next year's party, beating out San Francisco after two days of debates, riding and mud wrestling.

But the big winner, as usual, was Portland’s cycling scene as the event drew a sizable crowd of race fans and onlookers just curious to find out if the buzz about the race is true. It is!

With daylight running short, the 250 participants launched themselves for better or worse into a le Mans style start with a 50 meter run to the bikes, then a 180 turnaround to ride back through the slow, grass course, all the while dodging confused spectators who didn’t realize the racers were going to return in that direction. Mixed in with the costumed racers, Barry Wicks dressed in proper prep school attire while Bend’s Ryan Trebon flew his Kona-FSA stars and stripes jersey of the national cyclocross champion next to a rider dressed like a member of the '80s band Devo.

Then things got confusing and weird.

Riders made their way along a course well-trodden from a full day of Cross Crusade contests before they eventually faced the Thunderdome and its raucous crowds. With fans hanging from and on the scaffold-like structure, riders weaved into and then around and through the people hanging from hammocks suspended inside. Marshmallows flew while cheers, jeers, thumping heavy metal music and general mayhem added to the surrealistic feel.

Racers had been warned to bring dollar bills along for the ride, and they met an unexpected choice at the far end of the course where they could take a significant short cut through a stripper-filled bus if they tipped the dancers. Trebon commented on his Twitter page that the highlight of his race included “putting my muddy glove and $5 down the stipper’s pants at the webcyclery short cut.”

That doesn’t necessarily explain why he came through the Thunderdome on lap two without his bicycle but with his leashed dog enthusiastically leading the way. At the end of the day, MacKenzie outlasted Portland’s Joshua Berry to repeat as the men’s champion.

“It was pretty chaotic at the start, and I just kind of slowly worked my way up,” MacKenzie said. “I realized there were about five or so of us. At the end it was back and forth between me and Josh near the stripper zone and the shot short cut.”

Berry was leading as they approached the far corner of the course with the bus, but he missed out on the winners’ mandatory tattoo and rainbow striped Speedo by lingering too long with the entertainment as MacKenzie went past.

“I was told he was a lapper,” Berry said. “So I didn’t think anything of it when he went past.”

And so it ended with MacKenzie (pictured at left) scheduling an appointment for his second champion's tattoo and Berry holding on for second. In the women’s race, Studley sealed the deal for Seattle’s right to host the race next year by taking the top prize.

This golfer has no idea of the debauchery that is about to occur next door.

People have been known to lose their heads over this event.

But is it a singlespeed?

Ryan Trebon reminds a member of the '80s band Devo to hold his line.

Some seats were better than others.

Obstacles and distractions came from all directions.

Ballerinas and mud don't usually go together.

This guy has multiple monkeys on his back.

Confusion ensued once the race started.

Josh Berry lost the lead after lingering at the "short cut."

Sunday, Nov. 8

1. Studley, Kari (Bothell, Wa) Velo Bella
2. Faris, Megan (Portland) River City Bicycles
3. Gilbert, Sunny (Corvallis)Pacific Power Blue Sky
4. Hartlaub, liza (Berkeley, Ca.) Shelia Moon
5. Guynup, Joele (Victoria, B.C.) Island Racing Club

1. MacKenzie, Drew (Victoria, B.C.) Island Racing Club
2. Berry, Joshua (Portland) Team BODE
3. Brown, Ian (Portland) Tonic/River City Bicycles
4. Scholz, Henry (San Francisco)Team Roaring Mouse
5. Breeden, Byron (Portland)Team Cthulhu

Complete results are HERE.