Beer shortcut costs Schnell
Ross Schnell figures he might have defended his Singlespeed World Championship had he chugged one more beer.
The Grand Junction professional mountain biker finished in second place, a few seconds behind the winner Oct. 23 in Rotorua, New Zealand.
“It could’ve gone about three seconds better,” Schnell said. “It was basically a sprint finish. It shouldn’t have happened that way, because I was leading the whole race. The last lap was a comedy of errors, random stuff that’s kind of funny to look back on.”
The 40-kilometer (24.8-mile) race through the Whakarewarewa Redwood Forest included several options for riders to choose, including a beer shortcut. Riders can opt for a shorter route, but must stop and chug a beer before continuing, or they can take a longer route without stopping.
“That’s what’s goofy about the race,” Schnell said. “There are guys there that have been atop the World Cup races. The guys are fit and ready to go, but are also there to have fun.
“It’s a late-season race. You get these guys that are world champions, but pretend not to care whether they win or not, but it’s a prestigious title to win.”
Schnell found himself in the middle of the 1,000-rider field at the start, but quickly caught up to the lead group.
That’s when things began to unravel for him.
“The first lap I took the beer shortcut, thinking I had a (water) bottle waiting for me going into the last lap, but the person handing me a bottle was nowhere to be found,” he said. “My legs were just seized up cramping. I stood there for like a minute trying to bend my legs.
“I finally got things going and tried to spin it out (and work out the cramps on the bike). I bypassed the second beer-chug shortcut and I think it cost me the race. I probably could’ve done it and fumbled in, because I had enough of a lead at the time. Taking the non-shortcut added enough time that the guy passed me.”
Still, Schnell was able to catch up to Rotorua local Garth Weinberg at the last beer shortcut near the finish line.
“He pulled up in front of me and got a couple seconds ahead of me, so we were literally standing on the finish line chugging beers together,” Schnell said. “If I was beaten by five minutes it would’ve been easy. The fact it came down to the line was a little tougher to swallow.”
No one has ever repeated as the Singlespeed World Champion, Schnell said. The Singlespeed World Championships take place in Ireland next year.
Schnell is racing in the Iceman Cometh event in Michigan this weekend.
The Iceman Cometh Challenge is a 27-mile point-to-point mountain bike race from Kalkaska to Traverse City, Mich. The course is mostly dirt fire roads.
Schnell won his first Enduro Race this year in Europe. He placed second at Downeville, Calif., by eight seconds and was on the first-place team in the 24 hours of Moab race last month.