Rachel Lloyd looks a little out of it when she comes into the third aid station of the day. The one where they have set up a living room scene complete with hookah and leather couches. Actually, Rachel Lloyd looks drunk as she comes into the third aid station, but “out of it” seemed like a better way to put it.
She isn’t drunk, but it’s hot and apparently, she was off course for a little while back there. It doesn’t help that as soon as you step off your bike here at Aid Station #3 you’re almost instantly handed a margarita, or a beer, or maybe a pull on that famous hookah over there by the couch? Anything and everything could happen.
“How far up ahead are they?” Rachel asks this while filling her bottles with water. She has the look of someone that’s trying to win this race. A very different look than nearly everyone that will come through after her.
“How far up ahead are who?” Ah, the old question with a question trick.
“The other women, I need to know how far ahead the other women are.”
Everyone sort of blinks in the sunlight at each other as if they’re trying to remember. Rachel, on the other hand, is having none of it and she grabs her bike and continues to stumble through the detritus that covers every bit of ground in this outcropping of rocks.
“Uh, none, you’re the first lady to come through.” A few people answer all at once, now that we’ve fully grasped what she’s after. She is back on her bike now and does a little fist pump and utters a sort of “huh!” of front-of-the-pack ambition and then takes off down the trail even faster than she came in.
And that display right there, was the last vestige of anything “race” related that we would see for the remainder of the day. Everything that followed Rachel Lloyd — your 2018 Single Speed World Champion — was a party.
It happened fast too. One minute we were ogling over those guys that were taking things seriously, Carl Decker, sure, he made the course he should take it seriously. And then, with a whiz and a bang there were a couple hundred people drinking margaritas faster than Caroline could turn them out. Her Coolest Cooler was covered in marg-slime mixed with the silty earth that was in eyes and lungs and on teeth everywhere you looked.
Cheever was there. His hair looked resplendent in that bright Bend sunshine. He trimmed it a bit to really bring out the highlights. Mullets are considered a highlight, right? Emily from Squid Bikes is also a highlight wherever she goes. She's fitter than most and faster than almost all, but she takes her time with a race like this and it's cool to see her hanging out and making sure that everyone has a good time herself included. She dropped her Fuck off Johnny bike into the bushes in front of the margarita stand and there it would remain as she navigated the finer points of Aid Station #3.
CRC Hurl is here too. He's got one of those paper masks strung around his neck. One of the ones that you might use to protect you from some insulation or a weekend drywall project. "That's actually a pretty good idea," I tell him, pointing at the mask. "Wasn't my idea, someone at the start was handing them out. Someone way smarter than me." The mask is brown in all the areas that make you think it's actually getting used. His white stubble is still white at the chin, confirming this fact.
Chris McNally was our hero on the day. We looked and searched the crowd every time a large group rolled in. Would he be part of it? Could he catch the Patagonia frisbee that we may or may not chuck in his direction as he rolled up? These were all questions that we asked each other as we mulled around near the stoney climb towards the only bit of shade on what seemed to be the entire course — the Poler tent. We knew this must be the case because of the way that riders crowded underneath it as soon as they
Dave Marchi cruised up while the McNally anticipation was high. I say “cruised up” because he looked sprightly, clean and like he was out for a Saturday afternoon cruise. I’m a little bummed that we don’t have a picture of him at this exact moment because he was easily the cleanest motherfucker to have ridden this race. That could have changed later, but at this moment he was so clean that we talked about him like he was some sort of Greg Herbold-style imposter in his own race. Was he cutting the course somewhere?
He assured us that it wasn’t true. That he had in fact ridden the same route as everyone else. Even if he was actually out on some other planet, tripping his way through a galaxy on a space odyssey that none of us would ever see or understand, he was still riding the same dirty course as everyone else.
Wait, there’s McNally! And Greg Johnson and Greg is wearing that "death to drop bars" shirt that everyone is talking about and now everyone wants I’m sure. McNally is in better spirits than we expected. He had just ridden out here with us from Portland, which was no easy picnic so we figured that this might be a bit much. But, he's seemingly unfazed by the whole ordeal and laughs and jokes with us like we're all out on an easy ride together.
Greg wanders back to our little party within a party holding a beer can and a margarita — "they're out of water" he states plainly, and we try to urge him not to go on. That he's had enough grit in his teeth for one day. And it looks like we almost made it happen. He drinks his marg and settles in with us at our outcropping.
Then, suddenly, and with a little wobble, he stands, "I have to keep going, CJ is guilting me from across the way." Our eyes move to where he's pointing and sure enough, the commanding form that is CJ is straddling his bike and looking over towards us, his head is cocked just enough to convey the guilt that Greg too easily recognizes — "I have to finish this thing." So, we slap his dusty ass — really, a reddish cloud of dust plumes from his recently cut jean shorts — and just like that he's off to another sector of dirt and another party around a turn that we can't see.
It's intrinsic to the Single Speed Worlds Party Vibe in a way. There were parties happening all over town during the weekend. They were easy to spot, these parties because they usually involved a massive pile of bikes just nearby. One such pile was so big that it actually toppled over just outside the M & J Tavern later that night. We watched as a couple saintly single speed citizens tried to right the pile, their only trouble being two older bar patrons making out in the space where the bikes had just been. They groped and fondled each other under the harsh streetlights as people navigated the bikes around them.
If it's just one speed for the day, then this was par for the course.