What a weekend.
Very hard to put into words an overview of what we experienced at the Singlespeed World Champs 2016. But I can give you a SSWC 2016 ARSE Event Wrap.
I am not going to give a race review or a trip report, but limit myself to 4 main points – why 4? I tell my students that 3 is the magic number, as it avoids binary and one-sided thinking – and five is too many at this stage (on the flight on way home so limited time, energy and concentration) – so four is the happy medium. Also, I am hoping to synthesise a collection of participant reflections from the event later on as part of a research project I have in mind – and I want the other participants to speak for themselves. So, to avoid going over material that others will most likely cover –in no particular order (and certainly not as a definitive wrap-up on the event), here are my top 4 highlights from my first ever Singlespeed World Championships.
Out of respect for our Australian hosts, I am categorising these 4 highlights into the totally innocuous acronym ‘ARSE’ (Antics, Riding, Social and Event) – which incidentally, is the same as the Australian Recreational Singlespeed Enthusiasts Facebook page where pictures and updates from this weekend can be found….
SSWC 2016 ARSE Event Wrap
There were numerous activities organised over the weekend to satisfy all types of needs – social, hosting rights, entertainment, riding bikes, keeping warm and the like. I had a great time getting involved in some of the tomfoolery (especially during the 16” SS finish line – hilarious!!) – and a few other antics over the weekend. They still have me smiling a few days on. I love the playful and mischievous nature in which people employed and accepted all manner of shenanigans – so refreshing and entertaining.
We were staying in town with friends, so I loved having coffee in the morning at the café and getting an update of what had happened the previous night at the campsite. The best thing was that everyone had a different story to tell, as each person either saw the same thing, but from a different angle, or was in a different place and saw something completely different. I relish hearing about these antics as they were told with such personal detail and enthusiasm, the experience made all the more richer in the vivid retelling.
But for you dear reader, I am sorry to say; I am not going to rehash any particulars here. Mainly out of respect for those involved, but also, these stories are for others to tell, not mine. However, you may still read about some on this blog at a later stage! I am resisting employing the adage that you ‘had to be there’. As I am sure you can appreciate – what goes on tour, stays on tour.
To see a little of what happened at the actual SSWC 2016 ‘ARSE’ Event – check out some of the photos on Australian Recreational Singlespeed Enthusiasts (ARSE) Facebook site or Instagram photos from the event #sswc2016.
Sat ride to Hanging Rock: I had a great time on the Sat ride. We had breakfast in town with the Tassie boys and perfectly timed our departure from town to connect with the main bunch leaving the campsite. There was a decent whack of us, maybe 60 or 70, and we wound around the bike path out of town, then onto the quiet main road for the 12+ km ride out to Hanging Rock. It drizzled a little, but no one cared. We had all paired up and mingled and chatted the whole way. I had a great time getting to know the Tassie crew – it was a real highlight for me.
Sunday Race: It was awesome to be back on the bike and riding through the Wombat State Forest. I’d taken the winter off, with no early morning rides in the cold, which was a new experiment. I did catch myself thinking during the race that I was not ‘fully’ race ready/fit, but I doubt I was the only one – and it didn’t matter either way. I was there to participate. I had a brilliant Le Mans start, which was what I wanted, then settled down to relax and enjoy the ride.
The full track was a 6km prologue loop that took riders through a very muddy bog before returning to the start line (beers only after the first loop), then off on 2 x 15 km loop out from Camarray Waters through the forest to include the G-out dip and the Tardis sections. As so as the winner passed the finish line, no one else could start a new loop.
It had been raining previously, so it was pretty muddy and slippery. I really loved the track. The forest was beautiful. It had stopped raining, and the sun peaked through. Everyone was still rugged up except for a few brave souls who were bearing a lot of skin. The format was great, as it meant that there were always people behind you and always people in front. I ticked away at my own speed, sometimes passing a few, sometimes being passed, sometimes jumping on the back of a rider who was playing some cool tunes.
I knew I was going to get my social on and was looking forward to meeting some new people, but I was not fully prepared for the outstanding calibre of those I met. I was blown away by the quality of character and quality conversations I had with everyone; it was so engaging. I loved the amount of facial hair, how many red-heads were there (just a personal preference!) and how many kids and dogs were involved – all of which was a bonus for me.
Apparently, 30% of the entrants were from overseas, and from the conversations I had; I would say that was pretty accurate. I chatted to Alaskans, Kiwis, Americans, Japanese, Canadians, Colombians and Aussies from all over. I met some stalwart old school icons and some new up-and-comers – each with their own fabulous story to tell. I was impressed with the number of women there for Sunday’s race, but as always would have liked to have seen more.
It was quite entertaining to see how the local townspeople and businesses handled the unruly out-of-town mob descend upon their town. Bikes pretty much continuously lined up outside of the pub, the café and the hotel and there was always someone eating or drinking to catch up with.
For me, the Carni-velo theme worked a treat. It was interesting to hear others feedback about the 4-day multi-site festival scheduling. Satellite events (My mechanic rules) during the lead-up week in Melbourne, Friday registration and social get-together that night at Holgate Brewery in Woodend, then a night street party. Saturday ride out to Hanging Rock for day of events and races then ride back into town for evening events at the Hotel. Sunday out at Cammeray Waters for race day and follow up activities, then pretty much everyone ended up at the campsite for the Closing Ceremony (where the fire brigade only got called out once).
Some thought it spread people out too much, others saying it was a good way to showcase the surrounds and include sponsors. Either way, I would have like to have seen a designated Info Desk that had all the event info in one place, with a person who could answer all event questions that could act as a central hub. I thought the organisers did a great job considering the scale and requirements necessary to pull off such an event. I tip my hat the crew who put the time, effort and love into making it happen for the rest of us; it is no mean feat to pull off. I had a brilliant time and will most certainly be back.
NZ won hosting rights for 2017 SS World Champs next year and Melrose (SA) in conjunction with Burning Bike Festival will be hosting the Australian SS National Champs in May 5-7th 2017.