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Singlespeed World Championships: A singular experience

Riders head off

Riders head off (Image credit: Matt Ferari)

By Jo Burt

The most recent edition the Singlespeed World Championships drew those of the one-gear persuasion to Aviemore and the challenging Cairngorm hills in the wild heart of Scotland during the first weekend in September. All were there to celebrate and ride in the unique atmosphere that surrounds Singlespeed Worlds, where just a small part of the action is the racing.

A global selection of riders, with well over a third coming from overseas, arrived by plane, train and automobile. Some came by bike, with a small group pedalling most of the length of the United Kingdom from the southwest toe of England. Singlespeeders filled the cafes and bars of the outdoorsy town, rode around the stunning countryside and, almost incidentally, raced.

Saturday saw the itinerant converge on the race headquarters of Bothy Bikes for registration, mutual bike love - be that of the shonky or the bling, guided rides and some pre-race competition. Rollapaluza were there to provide cheerful rivalry on their roller-racing set-up; two cyclists each on a bike mounted on rollers, connected to a huge dial. They battled it out to race over a simulated 500m distance. It was fast and surprisingly hard for something that only lasted about 20 seconds. The final heats were for those with the best times; eventual winner Nigel Foskett from Brighton, England, rode his opponent to a standstill.

Things then moved on to the contest to decide who would hold next year's Singlespeed World Championships. The right to host the event has always been decided rather differently. In fact, this year's organisers had won the honour for Scotland in a drinking competition at the 2006 Singlespeed Worlds in Stockholm, Sweden.

The 2008 hopeful hosts had to do a turn on the bike rollers, down a slug of the (not at all) finest whisky and then perform their best interpretation of a highland fling. Wrapped up in the fleeces, wooly hats, Buffs and Goretex traditional to a Scottish summer, the crowd was eager for somewhere warm to win. Their prayers were answered when Curtis Inglis from Napa, California, was crowned triumphant. Cheers went up and everyone drifted into the town to celebrate the decision with beer.

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