Race Report: Single Speed National Championships at Edmonton Canada Cup XC Mountain Bike Race

Posted by Joseph Litke

Overshadowing stage 20 of the Tour de France, the Cross Country Single Speed Canadian National Championships (widely referred to as the CCSSCC) were held on Saturday, July 23, in conjunction with the Cross Country Slippy-Slidey Canada Cup race (also confusingly referred to as the CCSSCC, –honestly who thinks up this crap?). I learned of the prestigious single speed race early this season and in preparation this spring, removed 26 speeds from my perfectly good 27 speed mountain bike and began pushing it up hills at a brisk walking pace.

My training began in mid-May and proceeded methodically, with unyielding purpose and resolve until late in the first week of June.  As a result, I lined up at the championship race extremely well rested and with about 6 weeks of carb-loading under my belt, and some hanging over. The preceding week of rain had kept me from cramming in any last minute training, and kept me from even riding the course for practice before the race.  I did not have to ride the course to know it’s condition after so much rain would be virtually unrideable.

The field contesting this prestigious event was made up of hardened veteran single speeders, aspiring young-guns, elite mountain bikers, one local single speed legend, at least one anarchist (tattoo, full face helmet, complete lack of lycra: the usual tell-tale signs of a revolutionary), and me, a siatic masochist vying for an ibuprofen sponsorship deal, or at least a frequent buyer card.

While I was favoured to loose the race, Gabor Csonka (Cyclemeisters/Bow Cycle) was favoured to win.  Dark horse in the event was my buddy Dave Roberts (Hardcore Bikes) who, though new to single speed racing, is an elite mountain biker with exceptional technical skills — if anyone could ride the disgustingly slippery course, he could. With those bike handling skills, and the off chance that Gabor would get a flat tire, my money was on Dave to win.  In the end, there were no flat tires, and Dave’s skillz brought him silver on the podium while Gabor took the top spot.  When all the racing was done that weekend, Alberto Contador and I finished assertively off the podium in 5th place.

So with that out of the way, my motivation restored, and more rain in the forecast, I resume my racing aspirations by cracking a beer and setting to work on restoring the 26 missing speeds from my mountain bike.

Special congrats to Fiera Race Team’s Cory Boddy and Keegan Brooks who contested the Novice category at the Canada Cup, and thanks to Shari, Simmon, Michelle, Laura, Gillian, and Lisa (and anyone else I missed) who came out to work the feed zone, cheer, or heckle as the case may be.

Joe at the finish "pass the ibuprofen please"

Keegan, taking a pass on the feed and heading out for more of that tasty mud

Cory at the finish. "is there mud on me?" "I think I got some on me!"

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One response to “Race Report: Single Speed National Championships at Edmonton Canada Cup XC Mountain Bike Race

  1. Joe, while I love the race report, I do take exception to being described as “new to single speed racing”. I spent the racing season of 2000 (yes, 11 years ago) on a wasabi-green Brodie Unabomber singlespeed. This was long before crazy kids like Pat Doyle and Gabor ever humiliated me with one gear. Granted, I did this out of necessity (my geared bike was back-ordered for most of the season but the SS had arrived early). But still, it was a year of much glory…despite many defeats. I’m certain there’s a Wikipedia article about the roots of SS racing in Alberta that features my picture (though I haven’t been able to find it online, as the page for “douchebag” is evidently dedicated to a different subject). I’m happy to tell long tales of that season over beers sometime (you can buy).

    Oh, and congrats on the race. You and Contador must know how to grill a steak. And I didn’t realise that you hadn’t pre-rode. Heroic. Manly. Gutsy. Maybe even a bit sketchy. But awesome, none the less.

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