Kiwi and Aussie Win Singlespeed Worlds

Elvis, Superman, Human Disco Ball, Animal from the Muppets, Marilyn, fairies, beer grace SSWC.

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Kiwi Garth Weinberg is marked for life after winning the Singlespeed World Championships in Rotorua, New Zealand on Saturday.

The 38-year-old won the title on his home trails in Whakarewarewa Forest, and at the end of the day was branded a world champion, as the post race champion’s ritual demands a special tattoo to mark the world’s fastest one-geared off-road rider. More than 850 riders took to the trails and basically the winning time was 40km and at least two beers after the start for one and all.

What's a bike race without a disco ball? Photo by Graeme Murray
What's a bike race without a disco ball? Photo by Graeme Murray

Weinberg chose to have his tattoo go over his heart.

“This is probably going to be the last time I had a chance to win something like this so it’s going to have my heart in it,” he said.

The women’s title also came Down Under with Australian adventure and mountain bike racer Heather Logie overcoming two beer stops to hold out local “pocket rocket” Nic Leary. Logie’s choice for her tat was on her lower back.

For Weinberg, it was a case of third time lucky for the two-time and current New Zealand champion, who headed home defending world champion Ross Schnell in the sport’s equivalent of a sprint finish. That involved both riders emerging from 40km of single-track riding and devouring a can of cleansing Speights Traverse ale in the final beer shortcut before rapidly pedaling over the finish line.

Weinberg chopped it down first and following a champion’s skid, collapsed over the Kiwibikes finish line with proud wife Rachel and daughters Melissa and Hannah joining him on the ground.

There were tears, Dad trying to explain to his youngest just what had happened.

“Hannah didn’t like me crying: I told her it was because I was happy,” Weinberg said.

“Once I got ahead, I was waiting for [contenders] to come past but they didn’t come,” Weinberg said.

Weinberg joins Aucklander Clinton Jackson, winner in Castlemaine, Australia back in 2003, as the only Kiwi winners of the world singlespeed title.

Schnell was the title favourite and the American with the mutton chops sideburns led the riders through the first 20km lap transition. Weinberg was on the 10-year professional’s tail and took the lead during the second beer shortcut deep in the forest.

Weinberg hammered himself on the familiar terrain, moving the advantage out to 28 seconds at one point before the defending champ nipped it back to 10 seconds inside the last kilometre.

Women’s winter Logie had been in Rotorua for just over a week and rode in last weekend’s 100km race, then every day as she took advantage of some great single track riding.

“I’ve had a week of loving the trails here, we’ve got nothing like this back home. I’ve been out every day with a grin from ear to ear and I can’t stop smiling, it’s awesome,” said the Canberra 31-year-old, who chucked on a last-minute costume best described as sassy-stripper-meets-police girl.

The finish line thought of a compulsory winner’s tattoo wasn’t that great for the Aussie.

“I feel kind of sick now,” Logie admitted as she waited for her turn. “I don’t know where [to have it] … I hadn’t thought about it at all.”

Leary’s second spot equaled fellow Rotorua rider Anika Smail’s runner-up effort of 2008.