Single Speed World Championship
The Single Speed World Championship, or SSWC, is an annual event. It is only open to bicycles with a single gear ratio. Those bicycles can be either singlespeeds or fixed-gears. Most of the bicycles used in these races are mountain bikes however some people choose to take part in the event on cyclo-cross bicycles, racing bicycles and bicycles defying easy categorization.
The first SSWC of any kind was held in 1995 and called "W.H.I.R.L.E.D.". The first official Single Speed World Championship was held in 1999, however, it was less of a race and more of a bike rally focused on fun and not competition. About 260 people showed up for the 1999 event.
World Champion bicycle races usually award the victor a title and the right to wear a special jersey denoting their win. The SSWC does award a titled but instead of a special jersey winners are forced to accept either a tattoo or branding. Most race promoters and organizers have always issued the warning to competitors, "Do not win, if you do not want the tattoo." As yet no winner has attempted to fight off the tattoo or branding artist. Some other organizers have attempted to move the focus from racing to make it more of an event, but each year the event becomes more like any other race.
Unlike most World Championship bicycle races, the SSWC is not sanctioned by any governing body. This recurring event has little organization other than the individuals putting the race on each year. The right to host the event next year is usually decided with some sort of drinking contest.
Venues and Victors
|Year||Country||Location||Male Winner||Nation||Female Winner||Nation|
|2014||USA||Anchorage, AK||Ryan Miller||USA||Sierra van der Meer||Canada|
|2013||Italy||Cogne||Angus Edmond||New Zealand|
|2012||South Africa||Winterton||Burry Stander (RIP January 3, 2013)||South Africa||Amy Beth McDougall||South Africa|
|2011||Ireland||Ballyhoura||Niall Davis||Ireland||Heather Holmes||USA|
|2010||New Zealand||Rotorua||Garth Weinberg||New Zealand||Heather Logie||Australia|
|2009||USA||Durango, CO||Ross Schnell||USA||Heather Irmiger||USA|
|2008||USA||Napa, CA||Carl Decker||USA||Rachel Lloyd||USA|
|2007||Scotland||Aviemore||Adam Craig||USA||Kelli Emmett||USA|
|2006||Sweden||Stockholm||Sveinung Bjørkøy||Norway||Tiffany Allmandinger||USA|
|2005||USA||State College, PA||Brian Keich||USA||Marla Steb||USA|
|2004||Germany||Berlin||Florian Eschenbach||Germany||Linda Eckhart||USA|
|2003||Australia||Castlemaine, Victoria||Clinton Jackson||New Zealand||Linda Eckhart||USA|
|2002||USA||Downieville, CA||Travis Brown||USA||Stella Carey||USA|
|2001||Wales||Afan Argoed||Jeff Wherlock||UK||Alison Rushton||UK|
|2000||USA||Minneapolis, MN||Jay Hollywood Henderson||USA||Stella Carey||USA|
|1999||USA||Rancho Cucamonga, CA||Travis Brown||USA||Marla Streb||USA|
|1995||USA||Big Bear Lake, CA||Adam Briggs||USA||unknown|
The event was presented by Bob Seals and called the "W.H.I.R.L.E.D." (Wasted Hairy Insanely Retro League of Enlightened Degenerates) Championships. The first part of the race was not to run to your bike or start riding, but to finish a beer.
The event was held in the Afan Argoed Country Park, near Port Talbot, in southern Wales. The park is within valley's forest, which has the distinction of being the largest urban forest in Europe. One of the most memorable prizes were awarded to the fattest and skinniest racer. These titles were determined by the crowd's cheering at the award event. Prizes were also awarded for best seen crash, most vomiting during the race (4), person most in need of a new frame (award a new Bianchi frame), best male legs (decided by the top ten women), pimp-est bike and most hungover.
Saturday October 12 Downieville, California, United States
The 2002 event was the first to awarding the winners branding instead of tattoos. Stella Carey said the branding hurt much less than the pain endured during the race. The brands were applied by professional brander, Michael Hare, of Exotic Body in Sacramento, California. Additionally, Stella and Travis were each awarded a pig trophy. The trophy's frames were made by welding expert and bike frame maker Rick Hunter. Steve Smith assembled dissected piglet embryos into cylinders of formaldehyde and/or urine, that were held within each trophy. Sixth place women took home a stock Independent Fabrications frame with custom paint and 66th place men took home a custom Independent Fabrications frame with stock paint. Bay Area favorites Three Years Down were supposed to play the after party, but broke up on the Friday before the race. Sticker Guy Pete (who also owns 702 Records, Three Years Down's label) drove from Reno and spun records in their absence.
The 2005 SSWC course was a single 25 mile (40 km) lap with three major climbs with a total elevation gain of approximately 3500 feet (1070 meters). The race started with a 1 mile (1.6 km) trail run to separate the field of 400 plus riders. The 2005 event highlight did not award the title of World Champion to the winner of the bicycle race, but to the winner of a Go-kart race after the primary event. The bicycle race was just used as a qualifier for the Go-Kart race. The fastest 20 men and 10 women qualified for the Go-Cart race. The fastest two men in the bike race were Jesse LeLonde and Travis Brown and the faster two women were Abby Hippley and Tiffany Mann. None of them won the championship, despite their premium Go-kart starting positions. Miscellaneous prizes were awarded for the person requiring the most stitches, drinking the most the night before, mistakenly riding another person's bike in the race, and doing the most damage to your bike during the race. Surly Bikes won the derby, allowing them to choose the venue for the 2006 championship race.
The right to decide the location for SSWC06 was determined via bike derby, at SSWC05. Applications were submitted and evaluated, with the winning entry (an application and video submitted by Tobias Jönsson and Joakim Simonsson of Stockholm) announced on the Jan 6, 2006 Surly Blog. One of the primary motivating factors for the choice was the proximity of world-class trails, within easy riding distance from the city center, making it a car-free event.
The event was organized primarily by Tobias Jönsson, Phil McNaughton (a.k.a. Dr. Spoke) and Dane Thomas. Pre and post-race activities were based at a local art, music and design market called Street.
Pre-race rides were organized via the SSWC06 website and HappyMTB forums, so that local riders would have the chance to show guests the wide variety of trails available.
Race day saw a gathering of approximately 300 riders moving from Race Central to the start and finish area, at the base of Hammarby Ski Hill. Just over 200 participants from 15 different countries were issued race passes. The race course covered two 12 km loops, consisting primarily of root covered rocky technical single-track, through an area called Hellasgården.
Female: 1. Tiffany Allmandinger (United States) 2. Alison Rushton (United Kingdom) - Winner of SSWC01 3. Johanna 'JoJo' Reeder (Sweden)
Male: 1. Sveinung Bjørkøy (Norway) 2. Brian Keich (United States) - Winner of SSWC05 3. Luca Mara (Sweden)
The race winners were tattooed directly following the event by Theo Jak and were also awarded certificates for custom Retrotec steel singlespeed frames to be built by Curtis Inglis, the primary sponsor of the event who also attended and raced in Stockholm. Second place riders won their choice of hub-sets from Phil Wood, while third place riders won WORD rear hubs by Paul Component Engineering. All other prizes were awarded based upon factors, other than finishing position. Some examples being a bottle of Scotch to the older gentleman who managed to negotiate one full lap of the course on his ancient Swedish military bicycle; tires from WTB to those who flatted on the course or pre-race rides; a freewheel from White Industries for a competitor who destroyed his freewheel during the race; cogs from Phil Wood for all competitors who completed the race on fixed-gear bicycles; wool Brooks riding jerseys provided by Cykloteket for those competitors coming from the farthest south and north.
The selection process for the location of SSWC07 was held on Sunday, 20 August. Contestants were told that it was to be a boat race and that those nations wishing to be in contention should present four person teams. The "boat race" turned out to be a beer drinking relay race which was handily won by the team from Scotland, winning them the right to host SSWC07.
Athletes competed from Germany, United States, Hungary, Italy, Canada, Switzerland, Australia and many others. Drinking Cairngorm Brewery beer, the course was specifically modified by local trail builders Andy, David and Nash, resulting in an array of prizes from a range of generous sponsors.
Kelli Emmet and Adam Craig took home top honors, acquiring Custom Inc. Tattoo Studio tattoos. Kelli won the Sycip custom singlespeed frame, with Adam winning the Black Sheep custom titanium frame.
Females: 1.Kelli Emmett (United States) 2.Jenn Hopkins (United Kingdom) 3.Sinead Fitzgibbon (United States) 4.Tiffany Allmandinger (United States) 5.Rebecca Tomaszewski (United States)
Males: 1.Adam Craig (United States) 2.Carl Decker (United States) 3.Travis Brown (United States) 4.Gareth Montgomery (Scotland) 5.Sveinung Bjørekøy (Norway)
Late August, Napa, California. So, you’ve got top US pro rider Carl ‘The Deckerator’ Decker. He’s truly multi-talented and races mountain, road and cyclocross. Today’s a bit different though. Carl is dressed in a black Borat-style man-kini, Zorro mask and a flowing cape. He’s covered in dust and sweat after three, tough laps at the 2008 World Singlespeed Championships at Skyline Park, above this pleasant town in the heart of one of the USA’s great wine regions, the Napa Valley. He’s talking with another top American pro, Barry Wicks. Barry is a bit more conservative in a gold helmet, cape, speedos, socks and shoes…
SSWC08 is the usual party with around 400 riders in the mix, but, at the sharp end, it is hugely competitive and damned hard.
Decker’s a great guy and deserves the title following a titanic, race-long battle with Downieville legend, Mark Weir, and Wicks. Mark in team race kit and rode a tricked out full suspension single speed, prepared by the Santa Cruz factory team. Decker and Wicks were on factory rides (Giant and Kona, respectively) with the names of their sponsors written backwards in marker pen on their chests.
The women's title went to Rachel Lloyd from the USA with newcomer, Annika Smail, a Swiss-born New Zealander in 2nd and Linda Eckhart, USA, 3rd.
Rewind to the start, two and a half hours earlier. It was pretty messy: Curtis Inglis was the organizer, his pre-race briefing was sketchy and in mid-sentence he paused and said “Go”. Some racers reacted immediately, others were slower to start the run around a horse corral then down a gravel road to where all the bikes are laid out. The Worlds course was demanding with some serious, anaerobic climbs and tricky, technical, rocky descents and temperatures in the high 30’s.
Jackie Phelan, one of the pioneers of mountain biking photography, races in a full men’s suit with dreads poking out from under her helmet, roaring round the course on a pink cyclocross bike.
At prize giving, Women’s champ, Rachel Lloyd, says: “I’d rather let my voice do the talking.” Then she breaks into a beautiful, soulful, acappella version of the US national anthem. Impressive.
September, Durango, Colorado.
1000 riders in one of the great MTB destinations in the world. Two top US pro riders took out the tattoos - Rad Ross and Heather.
Durango is a town alive with a fantastic bike culture. One of those rare places in the world where you able to get on your bike and hit the trails straight out of downtown, just ride down the dual purpose walking/cycle ways meandering down the Animas river.
Walk downtown and all the cafés, shops, libraries and salons have bikes chained up outside them. You find lots of bikes and riders of all types and shapes riding around town.
A new experience for a lot of first-timers in Durango was adjusting to the altitude; 6500 ft above sea level, at the base of the Rocky Mountains. It's harder to get oxygen into the lungs and muscles, so expect the throat to start burning. Some local riders say it takes anywhere between six weeks to six months to adjust.
The course was a real test, suited to those who like hiking up hills with bikes and then racing downhill on very technical rocky terrain. And the course designer picked some of the hardest local trails for this event.
23 October - Rotorua, New Zealand
The event was run by the Rotorua Singlespeed Society, Nduro Events and bluedog media. It was held in the Whakarewarewa Forest and supported by some fab local sponsors: KiwiBikes, Pig & Whistle, Speights, Rotorua - feel the spirit, Agroventures and Bike Vegas plus other great friends of MTB.
A lot of the team involved worked on the 2006 UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships in Rotorua. A world champs without the UCI was too good an opportunity to miss... The RSSS organised the 1st and 2nd Pig & Whistle New Zealand Singlespeed Champs in 2008 and 2009.
SSWC10 was run on the Whakarewarewa network (www.riderotorua.com). This has over 130 kilometers of fine trails, mainly built and maintained by volunteers. When entries closed over 1000 had registered from 30 countries.
A tight race saw local hero, Garth Weinberg squeak the win and tatt just ahead of US pro rider, Rad Ross Schnell, who won the 2009 SSWC. 2009 Women's winner, Heather Irmiger, USA, was also racing. Aussie Heather Logie won the women's race, bringing both titles down under for the first time, on a beautiful spring day in the MTB capital of NZ.
There was a 3-part process to decide the venue for 2011 - part 1 at Agroventures eliminated the Aussies; part 2 at the Big Tent Event HQ in town saw Italy and Canada drop out. Part 3 was a horizontal bungee comp between South Africa and Ireland after the race at Waipa race HQ. Tomas Madigan and his crew of leprechauns won by the width of a Speights can...
The full story and heaps of photos are still on www.rotoruasinglespeed.com
Early in 2012 a decision was finally reached on Best-Dressed at SSWC10 with a muppet from the South Island city of Christchurch taking the prestigious award. Manamana...
Since 2010, the RSSS has run the 2013 Pig & Whistle New Zealand Singlespeed Champs.
The spirit of single speeding is strong in our town. In 2015 the Society is organising the Anzac Singlespeed Champs.
They will be on Anzac Day weekend, April 25-27. It is the 100th anniversary of the WW1 battle of Gallipoli, in Turkey, when the Anzac tradition was forged between Australian and New Zealand soldiers.
The New Zealand Singlespeed Champs have always been run on Anzac Day weekend. When they are in Rotorua the Society always organises a ride to the dawn service at Ohinemutu Marae (meeting place) on the shores of Lake Rotorua.
2015 will be no different. Entry opens on September 1, 2014.
Latest updates on the RSSS Facebook page...
The 2011 SSWC was held on Saturday August 27th in Ballyhoura in Southwest Ireland. The 580 registered riders faced two laps of a 12 mile course at the Ballyhoura trail centre. The 2010 SSWC Garth Weinberg finished a close second to the champion of the day, Niall Davis. Heather Holmes was the female winner.
29 September - Spioenkop/Winterton Kwa-Zulu Natal province, South Africa
Single speeders from far ends of the world over were treated to a truly South African bushveld route just outside Winterton in Kwa-Zulu Natal. The majority of the route was single and jeep track with some tough climbing close to the famous Spioenkop battle site, awesome descending and a riverine section along the mighty Tugela River. And appropriately beer fueled as expected. Racing was tight and came down to the wire, with the late Burry Stander taking the spoils. Local lass Amy Beth McDougall took the ladies tattoo.
The official results were:
Men 1st Burry Stander RSA 2nd Macky Franklin USA 3rd Stephan Reyneke RSA 4th Nate Adams USA 5th Garth Weinberg NZL 6th Nic White RSA (first rigid) 7th Insert your name here
Women 1st Amy Beth McDougal RSA 2nd Someone From USA (if you found our stolen clipboard, please return, along with our memory) 3rd Insert your name here
Link to the official/unofficial SSWC2012 video: http://vimeo.com/59221422