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Single-speed ‘crossers head to “world championships” in Washington

The freak show that is the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championship rolls into the PGP Motorsports Park in Kent, Washington, Sunday. The SSCXWC is a lot of things: booze, costumes, a lot of people in not a lot of clothes and even a bike race. Sue Butler will start Sunday’s World Cup in Pizen, Czech Republic, with a single cog champion’s tattoo on her thigh. Barry Wicks won the inaugural 2007 edition when he pipped Adam Craig at the line after the Rabobank-Giant pro stopped for a beer hand-up.

The tattoos and winner’s golden Speedos are on the line outside of Oregon for the first time this week. In a three-pronged competition of debate, racing and wrestling, Raleigh Bicycles’ Brian Fornes won the rights to host the race that serves up Pacific Northwest bragging rights for the year. Local promoters Zac Daab and Terry Buchanan of Low Pressure Promotions are hosting the event in conjunction with the Washington Unified Single Speeders, or WUSS.

Fornes and Stanley PMI’s Joanne Anderson are half of the WUSS group and Anderson called the weekend “total debauchery.” Anderson wasn’t shy about her city’s ability to top Portland’s string of championships. “We are a bigger, better city,” she said of the rivalry. “We’re going to show them how it’s done.”

The championship event will follow a full day of ’cross racing at 3:30 p.m., and will feature a number of special course provisions not seen in the day’s earlier categories. Included in those extras is a fly-over, but Anderson kept the details under wraps. “We have a couple other special features that will go unmentioned at this time,” she said. “They definitely involve our beer sponsors and excellent fun in the mud.”

The course in 2008 included a giant bubble machine reminiscent of dank Cancun nightclub and last year’s track wound through a giant jungle gym dubbed the Thunderdome.

The PGP raceway is a competitive go-kart track that Daab says reminds him of the Zolder, Belgium, course. “It’s the perfect ’cross venue because everything is in a bowl, so you can see practically the entire course,” said Daab, owner of Cascade Bicycle Studio. “There’s off-camber, corners, straight pavement sections. There’s even a ride-over.”

Sure, the venue is top notch for a competitive event, but the SSCXWC is as much party as it is bike race. The mix of lycra and costume is telling. Canadian Drew Mackenzie is a two-time winner and Ryan Trebon finished third in 2007 (and 199 in 2009). Wendy Williams won the women’s division in 2007, but like Trebon and Wicks, won’t be in Seattle.

Mackenzie and women’s defending champ Kari Studley are on the preliminary startlist. Anderson and Daab tipped a number of locals to contend in the men’s race. The men’s favorites include world courier champion Craig Etheridge and Jason Williams. Daab pointed to Idaho’s JT Fountain as well, though Colorado’s CrossVegas singlespeed winner Matt Provonost (Steamboat Velo-Moots) should be tough to outmatch. Of their rivals to the south, Daab said, “We’re all suspicious if they’ll even leave Oregon to come up here.”

Heavy rains are expected for Sunday and the skies were drizzling Saturday morning for the CrossCat Qualifier. To earn one of 150 spots in Sunday’s race, riders completed a circuit south of downtown Seattle, marking off questionable tasks at checkpoints along the route. The 10-rider heats, including four women-only groups, set out at 11:00 a.m. with bib number 283, David Norris, the final starter at 12:52 p.m.

There are 11 rules for the qualifier – 10 more than the championship – and number six is most indicative of the true nature of the SSCXWC: “You must race the bike you intend to ride on Sunday for the qualifier … unless the bike you’re riding on Sunday has a pony on it (man that bike is awesome!).”

Regardless of who wins the main event, the race is certain to be one thing: a giant, rolling, muddy party. “There will maybe 50 people racing, 50 not knowing what to do and 50 going backwards,” said Daab. And there may be more than 50 riders that don’t remember what happened when the party ends late Sunday night.

If you can’t make it to Kent, Washington, on Sunday, you can watch the event Live on the InterTubes.

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