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SSCXWC – November 8-9, 2008

“To all that ride one speed bikes, like to keep dirt under their tires and don’t suck at life… Saturday, October 18th, for those not familiar, the ride will feature some of, but not all of, and certainly more than the following:Single track,Booze drinking,Sweet jumps,Park shredding,Public urination,Cheap beer,Chevil wasted,Swag,Condemned buildings ,A skeleton skinsuit,Joy and prosperity,Primus,A Canadian (it’s an international event),Roadie mocking,Racing,After party,Human sacrafice,Feats of strength,And a really fucking sweet belt. Meet at The Fresh Pot (4001 N. Mississippi Ave.) at high noon!”

This was the email that showed up in my inbox via the Veloshop group mass email system. After perusing the details I decided that one or more of these applied to me (the part about singlespeeds and, well, “joy” I guess).

Due to the cryptic invitation I wasn’t sure what this event would involve, but I had an idea of what would happen: I’d show up, be the only girl, kind of have fun until everyone got so drunk that they got offensive, and get left in the dust as the dudes belligerently tore down some steep hills that were just too X-treme for me. And that was about 10% of what it happened.

However, the other 90% was pretty awesome.

The Noise Ride is an annual event that is designed by whoever won the year before. This year that person was Jacob Furniss. In addition to planning the next ride, the ride’s winner also gets to don a large leather belt proclaiming him the king of singlespeed mountain biking. The belt is passed down to the next winner the following year. And it’s free, which is a breath of fresh air after the bank-breaking cyclocross races we’ve all been doing as of late.

As I pulled up to the Fresh Pot I scanned the SS MTB-ers for familiar faces. I spotted a few guys I knew from messengering and a couple I knew from racing. There were no women, and in fact, there were very few people who didn’t have some kind of beard. No one was wearing spandex, but no one was wearing a wig either. I grabbed a spoke card, signed my name on a clipboard and waited for this event to start making sense.

By 12:45, a crowd (including 2 other women!) had gathered, wheelies were being ridden, “cold ones” were getting cracked open, and the MTB-ers were getting antsy to embark on the mystery competition that awaited us. Finally Jacob stood up and gave a brief explanation of what was to come: we would ride to different locations around Portland, compete in a different event at each site, and be judged cumulatively on the entire day to see if by the end we had earned the right to become foster parent to a giant belt. We got on our bikes and followed Jacob to the mystery area that would be our first battleground.

After some twists and turns we arrived at the Skidmore Bluffs. Our first event: drinking some beer. I declined all the PBRs that were immediately offered and thus came in last in this competition.

Our next stop was park off of Lombard. When we arrived Thad unveiled our next challenge: a game that resembled capture the flag, played on bikes and with some sort of rag doll goat effigy, based on a game played with a real goat in the film Rambo III.

Bikes crashed and flags captured, I eagerly awaited our next step. After another round of beers we rode down to the railroad tracks and into pirate town, a superfund site featuring abandoned warehouses-turned-bmx-ramp-graffiti-clubhouses. We pulled up to find a bunch of models and photographers using this gritty urban landscape as their backdrop. People rode the ramps anyway, and of course everyone had another beer.

We then rode a ways up the tracks to where a dirt ramp had been built and the six or seven people brave enough to ride it did so to the oohs and ahhs and jeers of the assembled crowd. Jacob took note of the extreme shredding on his clipboard as onlookers goaded the ramp jumpers into doing crazier stunts. After Todd Danger 360’d his bike into some blackberry bushes for a sixth time, we packed up and headed towards the Saint John’s Bridge.

From there we had an actual race up a trail into Forest Park. This was the only event of the day where I felt like I knew what to do: ride up a hill as fast as you can. But everyone else was pretty drunk by then, so to them it was just, “get up this fucking hill without throwing up.”

The last event of the day was riding down Tonkin Trail. I had never ridden that trail before and can safely say I still haven’t as I had to get off my bike and run most of it.

We regrouped at the bottom of the trail, tired, mud splattered, and ready to go home (me) or go to a bar (everyone else). Throughout the 5-hour ride everyone had enjoyed themselves and no one had taken any part of it very seriously. The overall sentiment was, “why do we only do this once a year?”

After serious examination of points earned, jumps jumped, antics instigated, and general hot-dogging, a guy named James (the Canadian mentioned in the invite) was crowned (belted?) “Best At Riding Off Road Bikes Without Gears”. Congrats, sir!

The next day I saw most of my fellow Noise riders all spandexed out and game faced at the Cross Crusade at Rainier High School. That race was pretty fun too, but I have to say despite my trepidation and the extreme dude factor, the Noise Ride was one of the finest cycling events I’ve done this year. The only thing it was missing (besides women) was free, delicious, Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal. Oh well, there’s always next year.

Some great pictures of the event have been posted here.