–By Collin Snyder, Team OAM NOW Cyclist
This weekend, the most prestigious race in Michigan went down. You may be asking yourself, what could be bigger than the upcoming Iceman Cometh? Well the answer is, the 12th annual Poto Single Speed World Championships or PSSWC2016 for short. This race (it’s officially not a race –Ed.) is only open to the most dedicated of racers (people who have a Facebook account or heard about it some other way, and happen to have a single speed mountain bike –Ed). The event is held each year on the last Saturday of October at the Potawatomi trail in Pickney Michigan and draws thousands (closer to 75-100 riders –Ed.).
In the past two years participating in this race (it’s not officially a race –Ed.) I’ve earned the title of “Poto Single Speed World Champion!” twice. Based upon my past performances, Giant created a special edition rainbow world championship XTC+ complete with a ROY-G-BiV color scheme for this year’s ride arriving just days before the big day (no they didn’t, he just happen to have a bunch of miss matching parts in his stock pile that happen to complete the hideous ROY-G-BiV rainbow color scheme -Ed ) (Okay you’re right –Collin).
On the line, there were a few grand contenders, Todd Ace, Stephen Cain, and a few dark horses thrown in. The race started in a hurry. I did my best CX style start and was screaming down the opening dirt road at 150 rpm. Right before the trail head, Cain jumped around me to get first tracks. The pace was heavy, and an elite group quickly formed with myself, Todd Ace, and Jon Robul in tow. A few miles into the trail, I was feeling feisty, and made a pass around Stephen for the lead. I put a good dig in and a small gap quickly followed.
Although early, I thought this might be it as the gap increased. That’s when tragedy struck. My seat post slipped! My mechanic is fired. (Collin is his own mechanic. He didn’t use a torque wrench –Ed). With my seat about 3 inches lower than the ideal position, I couldn’t keep a high cadence in the saddle and had to stand up pretty much the whole time. The gap quickly shrank, and Todd Ace made it back on my wheel and put a flyer in shortly thereafter. He kept me honest up the hills, putting in a bit more effort than I would have done solo. After a hand full of miles of not shaking me, he allowed me to lead at the first road crossing. I kept the pace up, flying down the sketchy stair step descents. Ace being a great descender wasn’t fazed. On the following uphill, I took a line right over a big root which required me to do a bunny hop over it. Ace didn’t and smacked his front wheel hard. The next thing I hear is disappointment in his voice as he had cracked his China-made carbon wheel and slashed his tire.
My hopes of a solo victory returned. I put it in tempo mode and was thinking of a 2015 Peter Sagan World Championship style win. However, with very little sitting, those dreams fizzled as my legs faded. Up a steep sandy climb, I peer back to see Stephen closing in hot. When he eventually caught me, he didn’t even take the time to rest on my wheel and went right around. With less than a third of the race (it’s not a race, it’s a spirted ride –Ed.) to go, it looked like if I had any chance of pulling off the three-peat, I had to hold Cane’s wheel. He was running a bit easier gear than me and he knew it, so he put hard digs up every climb, putting the screws on me. In the closing mile of the trail, his home court advantage was showing. He was taking lines that were completely foreign to me, and was getting an ever slight advantage at every rock garden. When we get to the final quarter mile stretch of dirt road before the last bit of single track, Stephen had a good 4 bike length gap on me. I dug deep, seeing a heart rate I haven’t seen in some time and closed the gap right before the final 100 feet of single track.
That’s when I made my winning move. I know what you’re thinking, hard attack right? Nope. The PSSWC uses a crude form of timing. When you enter, you get a small wooden paint sample card with your name on it. When you finish, you put your paint chip through a small metal pole at the finish table. The placing of your chip determines your final placement. Bottom is first, and so on. For the past 2 years, the overall chip drop turns out to be the deceive move. Fumbling for your chip is not an option and will cost you dearly. This year was no different. My winning move was made well before the parking lot. On that final stretch of dirt road, I pulled the chip out of my back pocket and placed it in mouth for easy access. As we raced (rode aggressively –Ed.) through the parking lot, Stephen opens up his sprint and got to the general start area a half second before I did. However, with my paint chip ready and the fact I scoped out the finish area before the start, I rode right to the timing can and placed my chip on first. Although not the story book finished I hoped for, I had made it a three-peat World Championship title.
Stephen was a bit bummed with the overall outcome but eventually came around after I offered him some of my large fortune of prize money (a six pack of Pale Joe from Founder’s Brewery). Always big thanks to The Potawatomi Mountain Biking Association who puts this great event on. Finally, huge thanks to Giant for making a proper single speed bike! The new XTC+ is a blast to ride.
Now it’s time to focus on some less serious stuff, like that silly race up in Traverse City.
Editors Note: Collin Snyder takes single speeding way too seriously. While most people figured out how to use a shifter, Collin never really did. He also tends to be the king of riding ugly bikes and can turn the coolest looking bike into a monstrosity with odd color parts lying around.