Where to start with this Philly Worlds post? Most epics go from past to present in a linear fashion. For Philly though the most epic part of this Odyssey was the last day. So that is the place we will begin. This will be part one of a three part Philly Worlds recap. Sort of a Manga version on Lord of the Rings meets Hunger Games meets Beowulf. Not sure who plays the part of Grendel in this. Might be the Lizard King aka Yarnell who was almost the death of me on more than one occasion over this past weekend. For now grab your beverage of choice, wrap yourself in a warm bear skin rug and cozy up to a roaring fire and come with me on a journey into ICEWORLD. Apparently it is not Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Leading into this weekend I was FREAKING out. Not about the usual stuff one freaks out about leading up to a bike "race" more real shit. Like what clothes to bring so I don't die. Get snow tires on the manvan so I don't die. Pack lights and reflective gear so I don't die. You get the idea. Most of my freak out was actual responsible shit about trying to stay alive. The 70-car pile up triggered by black ice on the fine highways of Massachusetts a week before this trip was a wake up call. I got brand new snow tires and weaponized the van for all Winter could throw at it. Sometimes being the sour monkey pays off. Big time.
First let's get to the important stuff. Huge thanks to my fine hosts and new BFFs Ryan and Jen. Nicest people on the planet. HUGE hugs to both of them for putting up a bunch of dirt bag singlespeeders from the #NECX and treating us like VIPs. HUGE thanks to Lone Wolf Cycling. I have a new wolf pack. True story. I still can't get over how friendly and welcoming riders in Philly are. I kept trying to picture how New Englanders would have handled this weekend. People would be left for dead. In snow banks. But 'nuff of that. My guides on Saturday's Pizza Strength Tour de Philly were incredible. Such talented riders. Strong as hell and skills on top of skills. Pryor and his crew that put on the event deserve high fives all around. Bilenky, Philly all the SSCX freaks who traveled far and wide. I LOVE U ALL! Philly SSCX Worlds were held at Belmont. An urban mtn bike park. We rolled up and it was COLD. Snow was on the forecast but it was supposed to come in around 3 pm after the race was over. We got out of the car and went to registration. Bumped into so many cool cats. Got our race "numbers" We were all pinning up race plate number 1. Well all of us that were in the "B" race anyway. I have no idea how many people were in the B race. Let's call it a swarm. We lined up ala Braveheart and were told to ride down the hill and take a left onto the course. Dave only gave really one instruction. Don't be a dick. I am going to see if all race promoters can adopt this policy. Be better for all parties involved I think. So I got the "holeshot."
Which was more driven by pure survival to get to the bottom of the hill without a horde of Visigoths running over my back. Unfortunately for me I might have been distracted when Dave gave out the instructions about where we would "enter" the course. I had about 50 people to my left. And two trees and a park bench. I cleared all of that only to see that the course tape blocked off my entry to the actual course. So I skidded my rear tire out and slid under. And watched 50 dudes in costumes go by me. Hahaha. Did I mention I was wearing an artisanal burlap bag of dicks as a costume? Luckily my gracious hosts lent me a costume for the event as I had forgotten this crucial piece of equipment for Worlds.
So I get my ass moving again and start passing people. Now I know who reads this "blog" aka diary of a madman. You are all serious cross racers. But believe when I tell you this. The SSCX Worlds course was one of the hardest races I have ever done. Imagine if Larz Worlds, Putney and Lowell had a love child. Yeah. Then ride it in a burlap bag with frozen hands and a bunch of dronk fans crowding the ENTIRE course. It was the greatest day of bike racing/participation of my life. I have never been around a crowd like this. Ever. Ok one time. And it was when I first fell in love with cross. Last time I have seen a crowd this stoked was Seatac Nationals in Seattle in like the year 1860. See I have been around CX longer than Adam Myerson. True story. Somehow I get back to like 5th wheel. Part of it is the grass climb up to the start/finish is horrible. Steep tall grass. Just kicked you in the nuts (or ovaries) each and every lap. At the top of the hill there were two options. Singletrack or a cut through spiral of death on the cross course. Which option do you think I took each time? So we hit the singletrack and predictably people start crashing into logs and trees as its pretty greasy from all the rain Philly had been hit with the last couple of days. I get through all the madness unscathed. Then hit Parachute hill. Brutal. Steepest longest "runup" I have ever seen in a cross race. More a mtn bike hike a bike. And of course the Lone Wolf Cycling party zone. Someone hands me a red solo cup. I think thank god. I am sobering up and its 9 am. It is chili. I respectfully decline. I get to the top and see Rocky. And Greg Whitney. Greg hands me a beer and gives me a proper welcome to Philly hug. We hang out. He steals my bike and hides it. I go find it and head back into the gauntlet. The descent on the other side is sick. In the drops just flying down a CX roller coaster.
Back into some fun singletrack with Liberty Bells hanging down on the course. I try to hit them all with my helmet. Back into a bunch of cx taped turns on a grassy knoll. I see my host (and BFF) Ryan half naked and putting on his AnonCX costume. #IAMEXCITE to say the least. He hands me a beer. We hang out. I see Lolli. His knee is all kinds of f'd up. I head back out on lap two. So much madness. At one point I come through the start/finish and I hear the announcer. He says "here comes rider...oh I can't say that on the pa this is a family event" I scream at the top of my lungs " A BIG BAG OF DICKS!!! The guy literally starts laughing his ass off on the pa and repeats "Yes here comes a big bag of dicks!" Not often you can make the announcer laugh at a CX race. Did I mention that the Mayor was at the race? And that he kicked off the event? And that the City Gov't was totally behind Worlds? Yeah not sure when that has happened at a "real" CX race. Oh yes I do. Never. The rest of the race is a blur of shredding fun CX, taking handups, laughing my ass off, wanting to die because it hurt so bad and having the best time of my life. Came down to Philly a shell of a man. Serious. I have been so burnt out this season. But SSCX has saved me. I left filled with soooo much ammunition. A new man if you will.
So my "race" and weekend was a HUGE success. If that was it, it would have been AAA plus. One of those things in life that get you through the darkness. Then the Big Show happened. And it started snowing. During my race it started snowing but really didn't accumulate. It was coming down hard enough that your eyeballs felt like they were being stung by #dronk hornets. But as we sat by a food truck eating brisket it turned into BlizzardCX. Last time I have seen this much snow was Gloucester 2005. It just started dumping. The mens race looked fun. Lots of naked dudes. And Adam Craig destroying everyone. A local put up a good fight but it was never in doubt who would win. Craig was highly motivated to get that skull tattoo. Kidding aside if Adam Craig was my hero before he is in an entire other Pantheon of CX gods now. He was beyond cool the entire weekend. Smile on his face every time you saw him. Had fun. Also heckled the shit out of Yarnell and stole that damn Lion of Flanders cape that was almost the death of me. But that is for another days post. So as we are eating our brisket and coaxing one of the woman to go race it goes full white out. We head up to Parachute Hill. And the party is off the hook. A drunk dude says "this is like the Tour de France" Seems stupid but again I have NEVER seen this many fans for a cross race. They lined the entire hill. And when the lead woman aka Batgirl came flying up that steep face a sea of fans parted and she had to elbow her way through. It was mind blowing.
I looked over and there is Adam Craig. Cheering on all the ladies. Handing up rum. Giving a few slaps on the ass with a riding crop he stole from someone. It wasn't just the ladies who were getting slaps on the asses don't worry. It got more rad or devolved quickly depending on your view. People would give women piggy back rides up the hill. Anne Rock was dressed up as a nun and her son was the Devil. I saw Beetlejuice and was sure I was in Hell. And was happy to be there. It was madness. And I was sooo stoked. In about 2 hours it snowed 4 inches. We were all covered in snow. But no one was cold. It was amazing. Vicki Barclay ie Batgirl is my hero. Seriously. She is soooo strong. And had such a rad attitude about the race. The poor woman who we saw at the food truck didn't even make it through one lap. She got halfway up Parachute Hill and I saw her on the side of the climb holding her hands. It was really cold. I couldn't feel my hands for two laps when I was racing. We ran down and gave her some hot packs. It was all good. She ended up cheering for the other ladies with all the other SSCX FANatics!
So many highlights of my trip and this day. Again its given me soooo much fuel for the Phase 2 of SSCX World Domination in the #NECX. But one of the biggest highlights was meeting AnonCX. I am a HUGE Wolverine fan. Always have been. I have faded X-Men comics from when I was a kid. I joke that they are my kids 529 College fund. Doubt it but it makes for a good story. Seeing that Wolvie suit in action kicked ass. And no I am not outing AnonCX. He is retired. I think this was the last blast. And frankly I can't think of a better way to go out. So rad. The race reminded me so much of SSPalooza. Only on CX bikes and in the snow. The bike culture of Philly is off the charts. I don't think I have ever seen anything like this. Wide open. So friendly to strangers. So stoked on riding. Love the same stuff we do. Brothers (and sisters) from another mother. Open invitation. Anyone from Philly need a place to crash in New England we got you covered. The cultural exchange is Program Go! for 2014. Tighten up your chin straps kids. Its going to be a fun year!