Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Danger Zone

Liz Lukowski Glitter Bomb by Jon Nable
This photo of Liz Lukowski running through the Danger Zone at Ice Weasels by Jon Nable captures all that is great in the Zank SSCX series. A super rad racer just having a blast in a glitter body suit being chased by one of the best mechanics in the country. SSCX can and should be a place to let your hair down. Or wear wigs and body suits. Liz gets it. She is probably one of my favorite people in our circle of friends. Tough as nails, creative, adventurous spirt and just brings the funk. She texted me the week before Ice Weasels asking what type of wig I wanted. I wasn't really sure what she meant. I joking replied I wanted a Hockey Mullet wig. Preferably blonde as I always wanted to be a blonde. I had a head of shock blonde hair from ages 2-7. Sadly my Billy Idol hair do turned darkish brown. So sad. So when Liz pulled a wig out of her race bag and told me to zip tie it to my helmet I didn't ask questions. Once I affixed said wig to my helmet I noticed it made me look like I had a muskrat attached to my skull. It wasn't a bad look. Made me look a bit like Davy Crockett. It complemented my 20 year old Crusty Cruiser Cup Swobo wool vest very nicely. How that vest still fits is beyond me.

WWCD by Meg McMahon
I got to Ice Weasels and was hyped. Like very, very hyped. This season has been really special. Lots of reasons. So many people to thank. I set up the HUP tent next to Chainline Cycles. They really have become such good friends. I love Eric, Kevin, Keith and Sam. Sam finally returned from being oversees and it was so great to see him. The Chainline crew don't mess around. They had two heaters. One which almost blew the roof off the tent but a mere detail when its in the teens and you are standing around all day cheering on bike racers. I had come down the day before to help out a bit. Upon inspection of the course and in large part because I am counting down the days til SS Mtb season I got the brilliant idea to convert my geared 29er to a SS. The course at Ice Weasels is rad. Super techy. I raced it last year on the SSCX and had no problem. But I knew it was going to get nuts. And when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. So I converted that 29er to a SS. I knew 32 x 18 was going to have zero chance against 42 x 19 in the upper grass fields. But it really didn't matter. I was in this to shred the berms and ride everything. I did a quick lap in between races and felt really good about my choice.

Myette in Beast Mode by Meg McMahon
 A days worth of racers had smoothed the course down pretty nicely but there were some pretty tricky sand sections and the ground was in a thaw freeze cycle. You had to look out for some sneaky slick spots or else you were going to lay it down pretty good. At the start it was full party mode. Utah was giving out Rolling Rocks out of a messenger bag. The people with something on the line were up on the front row ready to rock. The rest of us were goofing off. Until the whistle went off and then it was utter chaos. Not sure if people were just drunk (duh) or amped but man there was some shady chopping and poor line choices. We somehow survive to the first pinch point. Chainlink fence on the left drop off on the right. Time to party. This was really my main reason to go with the 29er. It wasn't a matter if someone crashed in front of me it was when. Hopefully it wasn't on some insane drop in or high speed descent. Things sorted out pretty fast. I was locked in with DJ Robert. Bert is one of my HUP teammates and often brings along the beats. He gets a playlist on his iPhone and then putt a blue tooth enabled speaker in a water bottle cage. Nothing like racing SSCX to Mettalica.

Lesli and Jesse by Meg McMahon

 We get to the Danger Zone and it is pure Chaos. Last year's Danger Zone was wild. Someone had put Roman Candles on the barriers. Now this sounds very dangerous. It isn't. Not if you have half a brain.   It is a classic example of threat analysis. You know what is more dangerous than Roman Candles? Physio balls. Or Yoga Balls. Or in this case Sex Balls. Thanks PDX. So I somehow get through alive. Lots of ass slaps and cheers. Shouts of "GIVECHIPTHEGOODSTUFF!!!" I love all y'all but I am #sportsdad. And I had places to be after this little shindig. Dad can not show up to a hockey game later that evening smelling like booze and drunk (or high) off the "good stuff" Its not the '80s anymore. Sorry. For this Weasel I was keeping my drinking to a minimum. A pre-race Rolling Rock and a post-race bourbon ball. That was it. I was high off the race trust me. I didn't need supplementation. Things settle in a bit for a lap. I am just loving the course and having a great time. I get down near the river and see a frenemie who beat me last year on this course. He was a target. I was excited to see him. Until I see him hit the deck and look like he just broke his leg. I don't think I have heard screaming like that before. As he is writhing on the ground in pain and screaming. My brain sort of refocuses and things slow down. I am going about 18 mph. I am about to hit him full on. Usually racers get off the course. Then he grabs his bike and the wheel is heading right towards me. I somehow either hop the wheel or get around it and somehow don't die.

SSCX Viking by Meg McMahon
 I knew my spidey sense was right about my bike choice for this day. I get back on it and try and chase down Zank. I know its not happening. He is flying. But I catch a few people. And am having a ton of fun. On the swoopy turns into the finish I see my friend Roni. She is in a hot pink glitter body suit. I go by her and almost crash my brains out as I am blinded by all that glitter. I stop for her at the barriers and we exchange high fives. She is so awesome. I take off and am caught by my own bike right before the skate park. I start laughing. I had loaned my SSCX bike to my good friend Guthrie. He is an awesome guy. Just a blast to be around. I can't believe I am about to be beaten by my own bike! I look at it as converting one more geared rider to SSCX. We ride together for a bit but that green SSCX bike is just a magic unicorn and it is gone in a blink of an eye.

Welcome to the Terror Dome by Meg McMahon
My last trip through the Danger Zone gets a bit handsy. I guess the Danger Zoners were tired of me not taking hand ups. So when I am humping my bike up that nasty runup a slew of hands just pull my bike and me up the hill. Then the bike is gone. It goes into the crowd. I have to run after it and grab it and run back out of the crowd. I am covered in beer and god knows what else. As I am trying to remount one more super fan is attached to my bike. I honestly don't think I just instinctively put my hip right under his thigh and send him off into the trees and crowd. I remount and head down the drop off. I can't even believe the mayhem that just occurred. I can't even stop laughing to be honest. The Danger Zone was off the hook this year. So much fun.

Clothing optional by Meg McMahon

I finish up even more hyped about the race than when it started. That is a sign of a special race. When the dust settled Pete Smith the overall title on the men's side. Melissa Downs won the overall title on the women's side. The season ends on such a high note I can't even begin to process it. This season has been amazing. HUGE thanks to Pete Smith and Mad Alchemy, Mike Zanconato, Melissa Downs and Bob Stine, Lesli Cohen, The Chainline Pain Train, NECT, The Zank crew, Agent Utah, all the racers and promoters, Feedback sports, Castelli and Starr Walker, Roni Vetter for the podium pies, Thom for his rad Dirtwire TV coverage, Jon Nable for being official photographer, 3Cross for the amazing podium beer. Thank you to everyone. You all are amazing. We are already plotting and scheming for 2017. I can't wait til next season. If you have ideas on how to make this crazy circus even better don't be shy. You know where to find me. See you on the flip side my friends. And always keep it SSCXy

Roni looking absolutely fabulous by Laura Kozlowski


  1. thank YOU chip! You probably don't want or won't accept much credit for this glorious shit show but like it or not it probably falls apart pretty fast without your measured guidance. "sheep without a Shepard"

    ideas: Zanc series road trip. pick a race outside of new england (NY?) to be in the series (unofficially if needed) somehow convince everyone to all stay in the same hotel and then paratrooper infiltrate the SS race and then escape into the mist possibly never to be seen again.

    next year have series leader jorts instead of vest. Then if you win 2 yrs in a row you have a killer outfit.

    this isn't really Zanc specific but I want to make trivia heckles a thing. ask a quick question and a correct answer gets.....?

    Series specific secret handshake / high five?

    I'll have more I'm sure but I'll let these marinate for a bit. See you at NATz lol.

  2. You had me at jorts...I love all of these ideas!