Friday, December 9, 2011

it's a long story

The SingleSpeed Cyclocross World Championships took place last week in Sacramento. A fun time was had by all, though it seems some rules were not adhered to by the winners. Add to this that the winners (of the respective mens' and womens' races) were pros sponsored by Rapha, the company I love to dump on, and you have a full-blown turd-fest.

(Thanks for the folks over at Drunk Cyclist for keeping it real.)

Since no one has yet made a t-shirt that reads "F*** Rapha" -- and since there are admittedly few places in my life where I could get away with wearing one -- my vote goes for this little number instead.

Not that I'd ever enter this race myself -- the entry fee is considerably higher than a Cross Crusade race and there is a lot of drinking going on -- the fact is that if you enter a race where the winner is required to do certain things immediately following the race, and you win, then you stick around and do them. Even if those things include getting a tattoo and donning gold lame underwear in public. That the Rapha-sponsored riders disappeared immediately after their races to avoid the tattoo and the undies (and presumably thereby saving the brand from sullying, somehow) is simply bad form.

The bad form was apparently highlighted by the fact that at least one of the the Rapha racers elected to race the event on a bike whose derailleurs had been rendered inoperative (probably with a couple of stout zip-ties), rather than on a true singlespeed bike with only one cog and one chainring. As a singlespeed purist I consider this to be the bigger insult, but I digress.

This is less about the tattoo and more about respecting the promoter's attempts to maintain some semblance of independent, grass-roots bicycle culture in the face of a racing category that is being dragged into legitimacy despite our best efforts. Now that there are national champion's jerseys for Singlespeed cyclocross, things will simply never be the same. But give the promoters some credit for trying to imbue some grass-roots culture into an event that is slowly being sucked into the UCI whether we like it or not. It's not an alleycat; but SSCXWC is also not a UCI/USAC-sanctioned race. I'd say that if you're going to enter, respect what the promoters are trying to do and play by their rules. If you don't want the tattoo, don't enter, or at least don't race to win.

Next year's SSCXWC will be in Santa Cruz, California. The promoters have made it clear that they intend to enforce their rules (meaning that this year's winners will not be allowed to enter another SSCXWC race unless they get their commemorative tattoos). I hear Santa Cruz is lovely in December.

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