Australian Singlespeed National Champs

After hearing how much fun everyone had at last year’s SS Nats, I couldn’t wait to get down to Canberra for this year’s event and join in the shenanigans.  And thanks to Rob Parbery, I even had a stylin’ retro bike to ride!  In fact, I was as curious about experiencing the Robmobile on the sweet Majura trails as I was about experiencing riding with a lack of gears.

I’d noticed that the forks were bottoming out when commuting so I put about 40psi extra in them before the racing started, but the forks remained unchanged.  In hindsight, it probably wouldn’t have been a bad idea to change the tyres to something even slightly more Majura friendly, but on the bright side, at least I didn’t need to change them back for the commute to uni the following Monday.

Saturday began with a hill climb race, and an individual time trial (ITT for the acronym savvy).  The ITT is honestly the hardest thing I have ever done on two wheels.  Helped, perhaps, by it being only the second time I had ridden the Rob off-road (the first being the hill climb race beforehand where, when faced with a muddy gully, I took a deep breath in ready to find out what the forks were made of, as it definitely wasn’t air.  The bike went sideways, self-corrected, and I seemed to pedal out the other side unscathed).

The ITT used the pinchy tracks above the main fire road in Majura and quickly sorted out the real singlespeeders (everyone) from the frauds (me).  I couldn’t believe some of things I could pedal over, and wished like crazy I’d gotten used to this slow cadence stuff somewhat earlier so I could pedal over even more.  The afternoon was filled with 16″ races (my favourite race of the day), Huffy tosses, skid comps, wheelie comps, much laughter and much chatter.  I could write about who appeared to be winning each competition, but the truth is every participant brought their own special brand of rad to the event and I was simply loving watching it all unfold.

Sunday was the XC race.  Click here for results from this one, you’ll never see so many DNFs for a race that happened in such perfect weather.  I’d gotten to know the Rob better by now and improved my lack of speed by about 50% this time around.  Unfortunately my quads were in such a state of shock from all the uphills, that I couldn’t hold my body weight above the seat when it came to the fun parts.  I rode through the beer tent at lap 1.5, and never left, preferring instead to help other riders as a designated drinker.

The Rob was noticeably faster on the singletrack on the way back to race central, even with forks which, by that time, had completely blown.  Fortunately the geometry is now also more comfortable as the front end sits about two inches closer to the ground.

Dave “3 skinsuits = a long way to the pedals” Rome and I with Aido Lefmann and Anna Beck, the newly crowned Mr and Mrs SS Nats.

The SS Nats were everything I hoped they’d be and more.  Awesome riding challenges, great fun getting to know other riders and catching up with old mates, and all the fun parts of racing, with all the serious parts left out on the freeway somewhere with the roadies I saw suffering in the early morning cold.  My ticket is booked for SS Worlds in Rotorua this October, and I’m hoping this weekend of anti-training comes in handy.  If I was excited about heading to Rotoworld before the AuSSie Nats, then I am well and truly bouncing out of my skin with anticipation now!

Photos:  Gaye Camm.

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