Editor Karen Brooks initially asked me to pen a piece about the 2010 SSCXWC, which I happily obliged. However the first installment was far too long, so I shortened it considerably for print.
What I have here is the extended version.. A piece inspired by the original from this site, but with far more grammatical errors.
Read on if you care to;
What: SSCXWC 2009
Where: Portland, Oregon.
Jetting from my home base in Northern California, to the PNW’s own slice of Belgium for this year’s single speed cross Worlds was a no brainer, save for the fact that I didn’t have any money. “No matter” I thought. “I’ll just sit quietly in the corner in an attempt at conserving energy, and eat a periodic donut for strength, ala John Stamstad.”
The truth of the matter was, is that this weekend was going to be Team EVIL’s first ever official presence on the West Coast, and conserving energy was going to end up being the least of my worries.
The short version (that isn’t very) is that Friday night found the West Coast contingent of the team converging on Evil Carrie and The Captain’s house like a plague of locusts with gas and bad attitudes.
There was some football on television but Chevil (who later would evolve into his stupored alter ego, “Stan Beaver”) and I decided to make our way downtown to pick up the East Coast luminary and adjourn to the dark confines of The Magic Gardens, which is one of the oldest strip clubs in all of Portlandia. Post nudity, we went back to HQ, where there were intermittent bouts of sleep, wrestling, alcohol abuse, pants pissing, sleep walking, roasted chicken, floor pissing, face punching, and various other activities that are generally approved of by the church.
As a side note, I feel the need to describe an occurrence that has long since provided me with a distinct level of lowbrow inspiration. You see, many years ago an older fellow lived in the garage behind a bike shop I worked in whose name was Eugene. One morning a compatriot of mine named Scott took note that Eugene was drinking out of a brown bag. “Eugene” Scott started- “Are you drinking beer already today?” “It’s coffee” Eugene shot back.. Eventually the conversation meandered on to other topics when Eugene removed an empty malt liquor can from his bag and threw it in the recycle bin, to which Scott interjected “Eugene.. You said you were drinking coffee..” Eugene looked at the can and then glanced back at us saying simply “Arybody got they own kind of coffee”.
The reason I bring this story up, is that Eugene’s words resonate when engaging in this sort of illicit activity before a race, except I hear him say “Arybody got they own kind of training”, or “Arybody got they own kind of energy supplement”, of which we do, and we did.
Thank you Eugene.
Anyway, being the team that other teams envy is hard work, so like any well oiled machine of athleticism, we woke up the following morning somewhere between 6:00 and 10:00, ate breakfast, concluded that Brad, who was sleeping in the basement wasn’t being dripped on by a leaky pipe, but rather a leaky Cheever who relieved himself at some point in the evening into an air vent in the floor.
If EVIL was Public Enemy, then Chevil would be Flava Flav.
Post breakfast, we were to meet up with the throngs at a ‘Festivities Ride’, which sounded kinda fruity to me, but then again, I tend to not like words like ‘festivities’. See, last year there was a qualifier time trial in the city’s Forest Park, but apparently there was some kind of backlash, so this year the organizers opted to keep the mêlée mobile as opposed to the previous year’s static chaos. We were promised ‘feats of strength’ and a roving party atmosphere (actually, on second thought, I may have made that part up) but instead we simply showed up incredibly late, thereby missing the ride’s departure entirely.
Standing in the rain with bottles of open whisky and a thick cross section of other individuals who were in our same time zone, we formulated a plan to give chase to the main group, which we did with a fury. The rain was coming down in a torrent and I was reminded of turkeys who, in similar conditions, drown by looking at the sky.
I don’t want to be the guy who drowns while riding a bike in a downpour, but between accidentally missing my mouth and pouring beer into my nose, and the sheets that were coming at us sideways, I considered it a slight possibility.
After hours on our bikes in the woods, side streets and alleyways, we finally caught up with the group and began our return to the safe and warm confines of our respective hovels to prepare for the evening’s party and the debate that began the decision of whether or not the race would travel the following year to San Francisco, or Seattle.
*Spoiler alert* It’s Seattle.
Watching the debate was like getting hit in the balls with a chalkboard that had nails dragging across it. At one point Sally (the mouthpiece marketing guy from Raleigh Bicycles) told me that he was going to call me up on stage as a lifeline. (Each contestant was allowed one lifeline to help argue their case. I find it interesting that Seattle would choose me, and the Bay Area would not.) Except since I wasn’t from Seattle, I could not be chosen, though regardless of whom I would have been brought up for, I could have only described how passionately, and profoundly apathetic I was concerning where the race ended up the following year.
Did I mention that at this stage in the game, of the 30 or so hours I’d been in town, I had been sober for maybe four of them?
Falling out of the Manifest warehouse, back into the Magic Gardens, the next thing I remember is mentioning to some people that I had never had a lap dance.
See, bringing it up, I felt no shame, as all this means is that I’ve never bought one for myself, and my friends are all too poor to do it for me, but as soon as I was surrounded by astonished gazes and gasps of “no way.. Really?!” from men and woman alike, I felt a little like a boy scout who freely and mistakenly admits aloud that he doesn’t know how to tie his shoes.
Well, the lovely teammate Lana took care of that, and before too long I was staring headlong into a petite brunette’s nether regions, while a small army of friends stared at me.
Did it feel awkward?
Yeah.. pretty much.
Will I do it again?
Did I part ways with the young woman telling her I thought she was attractive, even though I didn’t genuinely mean it?
Did I proceed to abuse my liver and engage in conversation with the other talent in the place about “how she makes her butt do that” and how “I don’t think I could make my butt do that”?
And finally, did one of our own get bounced from said bar for smuggling his own libations in?
You’re not here to hear about the festivities though. You’re here to learn of the heart-attack serious cyclocross style athletic training feats that Team EVIL engages in before battle.
The strategy of the king’s sport, if you will.
We woke up at the ass-crack of 10:00 or so on race day and began our preliminary discussions of strategy, who was going to be working for who, and when, and a whole lot of stretching across whimsically colored yoga balls, all the while loading up on exotic supplements provided to us by our team doctor, Dr. Michele Lamborghini.
Departing into heavy drizzle, the eye of the tiger was in and on each of us as we pace lined our way to the venue, that was already absolutely a buzz with activity, as racing had been going on all day.
Now, being the anal retentive, (and not so closeted) roadie that Captain Dave is, as we were all standing together in the mud and our own varying altered states, he actually had the audacity to suggest that we as a team go out for a warm up spin.
I suppose I should also include that this was just after he himself ate a bunch of mushrooms.
Always professional, always clean.
Everyone gave a hearty thumbs down to that plan, and instead adjourned into the water and the mud to take in the sights and the sounds before our own cyclocross style athletic pursuit got underway.
Finally, as day light began to fall, the battle time was upon us, so as all of the warriors converged on opposing lines, an order to arms was exclaimed resulting in an explosion of brightly dressed soldiers running in a million different directions, the ‘CracK!’ of rims and pedals hanging up on one another filled the air, and streams of tears began to flow as custom paint jobs were reduced to slashed scars of bare metal.
My ears went deaf, save for the occasional scream of EVIL, and my eyes narrowed to mere slits, as I dug deep into my reserves. Lap after lap I turned into a short cut, which consisted of entering the front door of a full sized city bus with a dollar, inserting said dollar into one of two young women’s under things, and exiting out the back door to your awaiting bike, which was being held at the ready by any number of eager assistants. I entered the bus every lap, not to lay my hands on women of questionable moral standing, but rather to save time in the throws of the competition in which I was currently embroiled.
It was all to ensure my ultimate victory, understand.
Nothing more, and nothing less.
On my second lap I partook of a bacon handup, most of which coated my mouth in an unswallowable glaze. Luckily, a half a lap later I was able to eject the remaining portion of the hand up from where it was hiding inside of my sinuses. With the help of a woman from the Ironclad team who’s name I can’t remember, but who’s beauty I can’t forget, I was able to execute somewhere from four to six beer hand-downs, however, they paled in comparison to my newest favorite implementation- “The Porn Bomb”.
This was simply a huge stack of the very most debased pornography I could find, neatly cut out, for maximum damage, and thrown at the announcers on one of my passes.
You’ll be reading about this in VeloNews, almost certainly.
Somewhere along the way I came across the East Coast Luminary and got him on my wheel to the finish, where we engaged in the most heroic elbow to elbow- heads down- in the drops, sprint finish Portland has ever seen. It was so epic, people actually thought they were witnessing something other than a sprint for middle pack and middler pack.
Now that the dust has settled, people will continue fighting over the scraps of 30th or 50th or 70th place, and they can have them. The race beyond first doesn’t matter and due to the utter mayhem of the event, I understand that the results beyond top 40 ceased to exist. Either you were the two people who won, or you were not.
If you’re one of those people who likes the pissing match for 50th place, I hear there are races in Boulder you might like.
Now I am certain that there will be a contingent of people who will read this and huff, muttering under their breath that it’s individuals like us who have ruined racing, and to that I can only reply, racing is exactly what we were doing. In my career, I’ve lived clean, trained hard, and raced honest, and now the pendulum has swung back to the other side.
I’ve lived the life of a ‘serious’ bike racer, and I defy anyone who looks down their noses at our ilk to try and race in a similarly addled state. Sure, racing and coming in top third is hard, but I can guarantee you that it’s a hell of alot harder when there is more booze in your veins than blood, you don’t know where you are, you swear that there are goldfish in your skull, or that a likeness of Scooby Doo just appeared in the mud and is cheering you to victory.
You know… For example.
I am simultaneously reluctant and hopeful that Seattle will be able to step up and compete with the last three years of Portland’s superior effort.
Conversely, I am simultaneously reluctant and hopeful that this series retains the spirit with which it was born, and doesn’t get blown out of proportion, watered down, and co-opted.
Time will tell, I suppose, and until that untimely event should occur, I will be flying the black flag of marginal victory proudly.