3 December 2012
Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships
Los Angeles Historic Park
Lisa Mueller and Ted Burns contributed to this article.
Adam Craig and Mical Dyck get to wear tattoos after winning at Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships (SSCXWC 2012). Dyck held off a late charge by Ellen Sherrill to win the Women’s race. Craig recovered from a poor start, hindered by exuberant spectators, to beat Ryan Trebon in a sprint finish.
Murphy Mack had to put on his substance-abuse thinking cap to come up with more obstacles that were in keeping with the best of SSCXWC traditions. There were the Le Mans-style running starts that had riders off their bikes from the get-go. The “Cesspool of Filth” made its return, and the terrific folks from SoCalCross had their flyover in the field. The weekend included the CXLA race ‘Cross after Dark on Saturday and UCI racing earlier on Sunday.
Three new hurdles introduced at this year’s event included a set of plastic tube cannons firing corn starch and paint at riders, a soon to be infamous tequila shortcut, and, for the men’s race, an “ever-tightening birth canal” (terminology coined by Adam Craig).
The “Birth Canal” saw the course tape gradually closed in to narrow the racing line and produce a cozy tête-à-tête between racers and spectators. The tequila shortcut was a dart sans bike through a minivan—yes, a minivan—followed by a shot of tequila. The cannons, less of an obstacle for some riders, doused racers with green and yellow liquid, and was an instant crowd-pleaser. It even proved to slow a few unsuspecting riders.
The Women’s championship race was first to taste the new obstacles, starting with the spewing cannons. The tequila shortcut was implemented during the second lap to keep the field on even ground.
Mical Dyck, Pepper Harlton, and Ellen Sherrill took an early lead despite the cannons and other obstacles in their path. “I hadn’t ridden single speed before,” remarked Dyck, “My game plan was just to stay upright and not crash! I didn’t know what was going on at the start. I was actually expecting to do something really embarrassing and ridiculous. It was a little milder than I thought it would be. I think I was eighth going into the first corner. I was trying not to step on anyone’s bike when we started.”
Dyck took a novel approach to quickly get in and out of the minivan. “Yeah, whatever happens, happens. I was pretty excited about the tuck-and-roll into the van with the tequila shots,” continued Dyck. “The trunk was open and you had to dive in on some matting. And they had the side door open, so you exited on that side with the tequila shots right there. You threw your bike and some guy caught it and then you did the roll through the van. I had four shots and two beers.”
By the time there were two laps remaining, Dyck had built up a 40-second lead on Harlton, with Sherrill a good distance back in third. Riders continued to receive volleys from the paint cannons, as Sherrill put in a big effort to close the gap to second. At one lap to go, with Dyck still out front by 40 seconds, Sherrill took over second place. Sherrill was closing fast on the lead, but was too late, as Dyck took the win with ten seconds to spare.
“The way they did the Le Mans start, you had to jump over more people’s bikes,” said Sherrill. “You had to run over everyone’s bikes, grab your bike, and then run back over anyone’s bike that did not sprint to their bike quicker. So I had to deal with that. I slowly made up the time and ultimately I finished only about 200m behind her [Mical Dyck].
“There was quite a bit of attrition—potentially more due to the snot cannons,” remarked Sherrill, “but I think the biggest thing was the tequila bypass. That definitely affected my speed more than anything else. There was no way I could hold my position without going through that minivan and taking a shot of tequila.
“Waldo [Pepper Harlton] was obviously stronger than me and made up quite a distance on me,” continued Sherrill. “I caught up to her real quick, she bobbled her bike, she got off. She was pulling up her pants and I thought, ‘Uh oh, Waldo is drunk.’ I weigh less than 110 pounds and I have now taken four shots of tequila. What does that make my blood alcohol level…anyone, anyone, Bueller? I can’t drive home!”
Sherrill assessed the course obstacles, saying, “I didn’t really appreciate the snot cannons, because I needed windshield wipers for my glasses. The ‘Cesspool of Filth’ was kind of fun but kind of cold. I would like it better if they put heated water in it. I guess, even though I am cursing the tequila bypass, it was fun and unique. More than anything, I just enjoyed the hecklers.”
Sherrill’s pre-race comment was, “I figured I’d better stay warm with a full-length lace body suit!” Perhaps that played highly in her regard for the cold-water cesspool.
Hailing from Victoria, B.C., this was Mical Dyck’s first SSCXWC race. “I kept meaning to do it, but it was always too far to travel,” said Dyck. “But this year, with the UCI races happening at the same time, I figured I might as well. It was handy, because next year I probably won’t have the chance to do it.
“It’s pouring in Victoria, so I was thinking I’d go down to California and get some sun and dry weather. But it was good fun. This is how ‘cross is supposed to be!
“The cesspool was pretty interesting! It was hard to get into it! And once you’re into it, you’re trying to feel as you walk through it to get stuff [there was a second-lap prime to the racer who found a sunken bottle opener], but I didn’t find anything. I got a dollar over there. This is an awesome event! Dorothy Wong did a great event with CXLA and the single speed was fantastic and fun! But no more beer! And no more shots!”
Balance in the Universe
The men’s race was the last of the weekend. Ryan Trebon was first to the cesspool, with Joshua Robot immediately behind. Robot suffered on the next lap with the tequila shortcut. Choosing to avoid inebriation, the Geekhouse rider lost ground taking the long route around the minivan. Unfortunately, inebriation of other riders later in the race did not slow the competition enough for Robot to make up the gap.
By the second lap, Trebon was well established in the lead as Adam Craig, 2010 Single Speed National Champion, made up for a poor start. Craig reported, “I hung my bike in a tree thinking that [it] was going to be really easy to get it. Then some jerks took it down and tied course tape all around it. So that delayed my progress a little bit.”
2012 US Nationals Single Speed Champion, Aaron Bradford, worked his way into a solid third place. Bradford put on a one-man show as he thrilled spectators with “Rock Lobster Style” big-air antics on the downside of the flyover.
Trebon and Craig continued to lead the race with a short elastic gap between them, with Trebon taking the lead most of the time. As the race came down to a sprint finish, many favored Trebon for the win. Craig surprised the crowd when he took the win by a bike length. Fading late in the race, likely due to the minivan short cut, Bradford still managed a third place finish.
“Here’s the thing,” said Craig at the end of the race, “Ryan doesn’t actually ride single speed. He’s really fast but he doesn’t know the nuances. I mean, you’re gonna sprint standing up? You’ve gotta sit down. Track racers don’t stand up when they’re sprinting, they sit down. It’s all about the leg speed.”
Craig went on to say, “The course was sweet. I’m impressed and shocked that the only muddy cyclocross race I’ve done this year has been in Los Angeles. It was sweet. The perfect amount of slip and grip. Good lines out there. I liked the ever-tightening little birth canal thing.”
“The bus [minivan] would have been better if there wasn’t that grippy thing in there. If it was just a slip and slide and you could have slid through it, tackling your opponent. So that got kind of a ‘neh.’ And it’s from Swiss people. Swiss people can’t be cool by giving their bus up for a tequila shortcut. It doesn’t balance the universe. So I’m gonna go with the birth canal. That was awesome. Those guys laid obstacles in there and money and it got tight. That’s where I reconnected with Ryan.”
Bradford favored the double plank barriers and cesspool, saying, “That was a pretty rowdy section. The least favorite was the tequila shortcut. [I'm] definitely feeling that one. Overall it was a lot of fun. Toward the end, the only thing going through my head, aside from getting to the end, was a cheeseburger with some bacon on top. I was feeling pretty tired. It’s a long day.
“It’s actually been a long weekend and there’s been a lot of bike riding going on. I am all about putting on a show and having a good time. That’s what I do, anyways: hop the barriers, spin the flyover, get people stoked. Sometimes you’re just too tired to do that. It’s all good.”
Only at SSCXWC
At the presentation of the winners, Craig announced a less-than-honest approach in his race win, as he had “skipped a double run-up”. He put it out for a “jury of my peers.” Murphy Mack and the crowd would not let Craig off so easy and a chant of “cheat-to-win” sealed Craig’s victory.
Single Speed Cyclocross World Champion is synonymous with tattoo, and this year both Craig and Dyck were whisked away, wearing golden Speedos, to put a “tattoo you” stamp on last year’s controversy. With their ink, they officially became the 2012 Single Speed Cyclocross World Champions.
Top Five Results
1. Adam Craig
2. Ryan Trebon
3. Aaron Bradford
4. Benjamin Bostrom
5. Eric Colton
1. Mical Dyck
2. Ellen Sherrill
3. Selene Yager
4. Pepper Harlton
5. Katie-Jay Melena
For fans of NorCal cyclocross, Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster placed three riders in the top five of the both races: Ellen Sherrill, Aaron Bradford, and Katie-Jay Melena. Also in a top-five spot was Eric Colton (Cynergy Cycles/Specilaized), a frequent racer at BASP and CCCX.
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