War on Wheels

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San Francisco is a bicycle battleground. The road bikers hate the mountain bikers, who hate the BMX bikers who ride their trails. The fixies hate the nonfixie single-speeds and, come to think of it, everyone else who isn't on a fixie. All factions hate the cruisers because they ride slow and seem to be happy. Don't they know there's a war going on? Bicycling is serious business! The organizers of Cross Palace hope to attract some of this energy to their monster cross race. Why? It's the perfect way to break someone's game face. “Monster cross is shameful and humiliating,” says Greg Fisher of Bike Monkey magazine (whose title suggests it doesn't take anything seriously). The races, held in conjunction with the San Francisco Bicycle Expo, take place on an ad hoc course designed to be as obstacle-heavy as possible. Stoppers might include mud, steep vertical drops, and walls. If the weather is good, more obstacles are added to guarantee misery. The pace is furious because each match is timed, and whoever completes the most laps wins. Fisher says most races last 30 to 40 minutes, but the exertion is equivalent to a three-to-four-hour ride. “At the end you're usually filthy, cold, wet, and muddy,” he says. Did we mention there's beer-drinking, and that “moderately offensive” heckling is encouraged? So leave the serious attitude at home. Otherwise, Fisher says, “it's a shameful spiral, and everyone will enjoy it but you.”
Sat., Nov. 6, 10 a.m., 2010

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