Wow. What a blur. This was my first SSWC. I’m hooked. There is no way to put the nonstop insanity and anarchy of the event into words or photos. People keep asking, “How’d you do?” – Well, this was not a traditional race by any means. In fact the “winners” had nothing to do with racing prowess. No times were recorded, no bib numbers. So considering I met a bunch of new friends from around the world, re-connected with old friends, drank a lot of beer, participated in shenanigans, and spent a crapload of time on my bike riding world class trails, I most definitely won. We ALL won. Here are a few random notes and pics from this never to be replicated adventure.
Dropped my bike box easy cheezy to a dude that thought it was a flat screen TV and promised to treat it real well. Don’t you hate it when automatic toilets flush your ass gasket before you can get your trowsers down and seated?
Arrived in AK
I made it. Bike made it. Jumped in a cab and made it to the Spenard Hostel in under 10 minutes. Immediately ripped the bike out of the box. It was still light out at 11:30pm – I forgot about the “land of the midnight sun” – crazy – only gets dark for a couple hours this time of year. I also found out that when any highway is built in AK, it’s mandatory to build a bike route along side it. Nice. More of the world should follow suit. Built up the bike, and everything was in good shape. Stoked. The hostel had a work stand bolted to the picnic table and a floor pump. Sweet. Retired to my dorm room, fell into my bunk, and crashed out.
Next morning, rode to a Korean bakery called Yummy’s and grabbed some chocolate chip cookies. Also rode by a cremation center that was very busy burning bodies. The smell was nasty… can’t imagine the holocaust. Anyhoo, met some cool peeps back at the hostel. Matteo from Italy, Danijel and Ursula from Slovenia, and Bryant – a Kiwi that now lives in Toronto. We grabbed lunch at Bear Tooth behind Speedway Cycles and rode around town. Danijel had this Slovenian pear brandy that was sooo good!! He was proud of the 25kg of pears used to make it.
We met up with about 50 other SSers from all over the place, and did a group ride around the Hillside Trails – lots of roots and ruts on the lower sections, but super sticky fun fast flow trails up high with nice views of Anchorage. Good times. The local ride leader took us on a sweet loop including Queen Bee, The Hive, Jill’s Jive and Drone Lane. Somehow I lost my gloves while taking a rest and got blisters on both thumbs, but picked up another pair on the cheap. Met a cool cat named Scott from Austin who was also riding a green One9. Met Kat and Chris from Atlanta – stoked, I’ll have friends to ride with when I go to ATL in September to work on The Red Road. After the ride, I made my way over to Speedway Cycles for packet pickup. There was already a mafia of drunkards piled out front chugging cases of gratis Oskar Blues. Danijel was chugging out of a flamingo beer bong. I was one of the last ones to show up, and unfortunately they ran out of t-shirts and beanies… oh well… they gave me an extra pair of Swiftwick socks (which are my favorite) – and the stainless steel growler is sick! Can’t wait to fill it up at June Lake Brewing.
Off to Don Jose’s Mexican Restaurant for group dinner and Decider competition #1 for the 2015 SSWC. The countries competing were Japan, Slovenia, Canada (B.C./ Rossland), and USA (Utah/Gooseberry Mesa). This is where shiz got crazzzyyyy.
We were eating dinner and drinking margaritas at 10pm, and the sun was still out! Decider #1 was a blind-folded gauntlet ride with your teammate trying to verbally guide you through the course without dabbing. But the whole crowd was yelling and it was mayhem. The giant dildo popped out of nowhere. Bottle rockets were blasted off the seatstays of one guy’s bike, and as he did wheelies, you better run. Some naked chode greased his sweaty sack on some poor fellas bike and attempted to ride the gauntlet. Some generous bloke gave up his right sock so the smelly fat naked dude would wrap his package. The “cock sock” wound up being used to blind fold the rest of the peeps riding the gauntlet. GOOD TIMES!!
Had reindeer sausage and eggs for brekky at Gwennies. SO GOOD.
Met up with Paul and Bryant for a jaunt around Kincaid Park – where the race was rumored to be taking place. Hit the Raspberry Trailhead, rode up middle earth, hitting the X-Zones along the way, and eventually made it to the coastal trail with gorgeous views of the ocean. This area is all flow trails, sticky dirt, meticulously constructed singletrack with big berms, doubles with pristine landings and just enough ups and downs that you can pump and peddle and coast and jump and zig and zag – SICK!!! We made it over to some primitive coastal trails and also to Toilet Bowl, Bowling Alley, Kitchen Sink, Power Tower, etc – also super fun. Pretty much everything we rode wound up being part of the race course. Thanks to Paul and Linda from Toronto for the ride in the RV- and the ice (I got stung by a bee in my head on Toilet Bowl) and post-ride apple and beer. My legs were tired after that ride. Those guys are animals.
That night, it was Decider #2 at Carousel Lounge, where it was mandatory to stay til 3am for info on the race course (and that we had to be back at the Carousel Lounge, in costume at 7am… yes, in 4 hours). The decider consisted of riding a trainer while thrusting a flaccid dildo in and out of a rubber pipe coupler on the handlebars with a furry moustache glued to the top. All the way in and all the way out for max points. Who won? Who knows? It was disturbing and I’ll be forever scarred. Also really good live music from the Thunder Fish and Black Owls. Mosh pits, more schwag, and whiskey out of the SSWC leprechaun.
For the group that made it to the Carousel at 7am, we took the coastal bike path about 8 miles to the race start at The Chalet in Kincaid Park.
It rained all night , we were all hung over, and in costume. It was surreal. Great way to warm up for a race. Then we finally got the scoop. 3 loops. Pink, orange, blue. Pick one to start with and follow the markings. All three end with a short, steep climb to the big gong. Bang a gong! Once you’ve done all 3, you’re done!! Each loop had chores – shoot a tin pan with a slingshot, throw a rock in a trash can, or chug a beer, etc. Mandatory whiskey shots as well. All part of the fun!! Once you finished these tasks, you got playing card, uno card, etc as proof. The pink loop was the best. It was the primo flow trails mentioned above- toilet bowl, bowling alley, etc Orange was really good as well, hitting the mother earth side. Blue was the primitive trails including an ocean outlet about 2 ft deep and then a long hike-a-bike up the side of a mountain – sick views!!. Loved it!! Great format for a race – really encompassed everything the area had to offer.
After hanging out at the gong and cheering finishers across the line, we were treated with BBQ salmon, brats, and reindeer sausage for lunch… and more beer of course. After a bit, it was time to pick the “Winners” to be tatted. After grabbing random bikes we circled up and played an old-fashioned game of foot down. In the end, tattoos were given to one guy and one gal – and each will be tasked to explain how they earned such markings as life goes on. Magical. Female Winner: Sierra Van Der Meer / Male Winner: Ryan Miller / DFL: Ursula Kordis (no tat, but a sweet custom cog from Endless)
The last event of the “festival” was Decider #3 – a volleyball match between Japan and Slovenia – they all sucked, and somehow the Japan fought back, won, and got a beer barrel thrown like gatorade on Ditka. 2015 SSWC will be in Japan.
There has been lots of hate and crap talking filling the SSWC facebook page as I pen this 34k high in a cramped airline cabin… grumpiness about how it all went down… no “real” winner, no schedule, etc – but I’m not gonna get in that cuz negativity is toxic so instead I say my dos pennies: I had a blast. Went with the flow. Made friends and made shreds. Once all the mandex murphies are plucked – we will all look back on this as a tipping point in our lives. My 5 year-old who is usually at my races with cow bell in hand (and now doing her own races) – always asks me after, “Did you win?”. I always say yes, no matter what place I finish ( sometimes, although rarely, I actually do get podiums). Going out, challenging yourself, experiencing trails and nature, riding bikes with friends- that is winning!! Tats and medals are great for egos, which is fine when motivation is competition- we all need motivation to ride- lose weight, see the outdoors, reflect, sweat, fellowship, etc- just ride a bike or hike or paddle or do anything outside and don’t waste away on thy couch- and don’t go to SSWC if you’re looking for an ego boost – stick with strava. Let’s ride bikes. Japan town 2015, see y’all there and u can tattoo my name on your chest. As Too Short said, “get in where you fit in, biatch.”