Friday, October 9, 2015
SSCX is HARD!
SSCX is HARD. There I said it. Its not just a: Hipster Tractor Pull/Donut Race/Costume Race/Freak show. Its fucking hard. Real hard. You know all those times you shift racing CX? Try not doing that. You know when you climb up some nasty muddy off camber in your 34 x 32. Yeah try 42 x 18. See how that that goes for you. Try riding a flyover. Its hard enough with ALL the gears. Do it on a SSCX and tell me how silly SSCX is. Its not an equipment choice its a big F U to the system. The system that tells us we need more gears to be faster or to have fun. The system that tells us $5,200 bikes are budget conscious. The system who tells us we can't take hand ups but totally screws up results at races. The system who says its trying to "grow" the sport and then holds an industry race and a donut race during prime Nationals race slots. Yes. SSCX is a bit of an F U. Doesn't mean we don't love CX. We do. We just get tired of 200+ fields and $45 race fees. We want to race our bikes. And have fun. And yes we are the red headed stepchild of CX. Or the Omega in this CX Wolf Pack. Go ahead take yourself too seriously. Kick down 6k on carbon wheels and a $200 skinsuit. We will laugh our asses off as we ride up over your back on a sketchy off camber in VT. Seriously. Racing SSCX is hard.
So why do it? Why strip off 20 gear options on your cyclo-cross pedal bike? For the glory? The hand ups? Sure. Yes. Is there glory winning (or top tenning) your special snowflake masters age group? Yeah sure. But true glory comes with suffering. True confession time. I have only dabbled in SSCX. Yes I know. I have been promoting a SSCX series for five years. That is weird. Not really. SSCX is an oddball. I have had my hands full trying to grow this. Racing and promoting at the same time doesn't always work. But the last two years I have been able to race. But this year was really my first year "racing" Its still participating as we have been so successful I am getting my ass handed to me every weekend. But I have gone all in. Dedicated bike. Freak outs about gearing. Settled on 42 x 18. Which is great but isn't. Because that is how SSCX is. Your gear is going to be great 30 % of the time. The rest is going to suck. You think you can get away with not running for CX? Yeah maybe. But not for SSCX. If you run a gear to do well....aka BIG. You are going to run way more than usual. And momentum while always super important to a CX racer now becomes life or death to a SSCX racer.
You don't carry momentum you run. Or stand and pedal. Or go harder. Or get dropped. And in SSCX when you get dropped its over. There is no big ring and heroics courtesy of 21 speeds. You have One. Fucking. Speed. But its awesome. I have really grown to love it. When we first started the series. I honestly was like "yeah this is just for fun" A way to support the grassroots races and build from the bottom up. In New England I was honestly worried the grassroots races would be smashed by the big UCI races. This is not Oregon. The UCI rules here much to my dismay. Its not about handups and costumes and fun its about growing a sport from the grassroots UP. Not from the top down. Or mortgaging the beginners, masters, women and promoters futures for 3 PROs who could maybe one day compete in Belgium. You want to compete in Belgium? Move to Belgium. No way racing in the US will prepare you for Belgium. Just look at the palmares for US CX (not named Katie Compton) and its not pretty.
So yes. I want to grow the grassroots. No I do not want to be PDX. FPDX. I like costumes but as a man who is 50 years old I don't need to engage in LARPing. I do like a beer hand up and hug from my good buddy Shoogs. And I like rad courses. I do not need PRO only sections. If you can't ride it walk it. If you can't walk it slide it. Do they have PRO only sections in MTB? No they don't. And we wonder why we suck on the World stage. But back to SSCX. What we have built in the NECX is something different. Everything here is serious. We welcome everyone. We let people lock their gear out with zip ties. Or singulators or what not. Just make it one speed. We don't care how you do it.
But holy crap the racing has been fierce. I was poised to retire. Seriously. At 50 I have zero interest in age group racing. 3s are way out of my league. But SSCX is how CX used to be. Fierce. Great battles. But you hang out before the race, rub elbows and battle during the race, drink beers after and make lifelong friends. I have made more legit friends in SSCX the last five years than during my entire life. And contrary to public opinion it is family friendly. Just ask Syd and Elliot. I am not a huge fan of the whole drunk fest that seems to predominate "real" SSCX. Sorry. Not Sorry. If you need an excuse to get that wasted maybe its a sign of a problem. I am not against the whole SSCXWC. I think its cool. Its sort of jumped the shark. I didn't go to Louisville but Philly was to me the Pinnacle. No way anyone tops that. Ever.
So do what you want to do. Come join us. Or hate us. Its up to you. We have something really special cooking. Like I said its how CX used to be. I miss those days. We have two amazing races this weekend. Mansfield Hollow and MRC. Then we head to NH for Hanover. Then a double VT weekend. Then Cheshire. The ICE WEASELS! We are at about the half way point. Thank you to all who have come out and raced and made this season incredible. Thank you to our amazing sponsors - Zank, Mad Alchemy, Harpoon, and our supporters. You all rule.