Our own The Sac interviewed one of the coolest persons of the whole US Singlespeed CX scene, the One and Only Mr.Dylan VanWeelden (applauses!)
SSIT: Wondering if we could start this interview off with a little history of yourself, as I understand you had a slightly different childhood growing up in Michigan. Could you share with readers a little about Dylan VanWeelden growing up and how this has impacted you?
DYLAN: Oh man, get back to me when you have the time and film crew to make a self-loathing documentary. I did grow up in the northern sticks of Michigan. It’s a place that’s hotter than hell in the summer and colder than a witches tit in the winter. I rambled around from small towns to indian reservations to traveling the Pow Wow circuit. It was nothing short of interesting. All along the way I used my bike as a proper escape method
SSIT: What was your first introduction to bikes and cycling in general, early impressions?
DYLAN: I think a lot of us use the bike as a tool to get away from everything and experience complete freedom. For me cycling has always been a feeling of self inducing power to do what you want when you want. When times get tough of life gets stressful I always try to remind myself of this basic release button we all have found in riding a bike.
SSIT: How did cyclocross come about in your life? What was your first introduction, and what made you stick with it?
DYLAN: I rode with this cat, Scott Quiring, who brought me up racing and taught me the basics. He was one of the lead builders at the once hot shit Slingshot bikes. He taught me that riding gravel roads is way more fun than busy paved ones and how to reverse your brakes to have better rear wheel braking when coming hot into the barriers. Growing up racing and seeing many of my close friends turn “pro” I quickly released that’s something I’d try to avoid at all cost. For me I wanted to keep it light hearted and fun. I guess that’s where the alliance with single speed cross comes from.
Fast forward 15 years and I found myself in charge of the mojo factor for the SSCXWC races in Portland, OR USA. We brought forth a ton of really stupid ideas like the FIRST foam pit in a bike race, setting up the thunderdome in a lighting storm, the stripper bus shortcut, windmill of death, you get the idea.
SSIT:I’ve seen a couple of photos of you racing cross with flat bars, whats the reasoning for that? Is that something becoming more popular for racers in Portland?
DYLAN: Flat bars are just simply better, everyone knows that. Oh, wait, Italian’s don’t know that? Why do you think UCI bans them? Yeah, because they’re better. First of all you can corner way better. That’s why our mountain bikes have them right? And they put you in a better position on the bike to handle the bike and the rider to your outside. Remember, you own people with your elbows. It also helps you clear the barriers like the champs on Team Poler.
SSIT: Describe your riding style. Any other forms of cycling you race or partake in?
DYLAN: I try to dabble in it all without ever becoming good at anything. Now that’s a life motto kids. I’ve raced most all forms of cycling from road, cross, xc, enduro, track, etc. Ultimately it’s all about the good times you have with your buds traveling to and from and riding along the way. Lately I’ve been digging learning how to jump in our new indoor mountain bike park, The Lumberyard.
SSIT:Why single speed? How long have you been riding single speed?
DYLAN: I’ve been racing single speed bikes since the old Bianchi C.U.S.S days. The simplicity of it all really feels nice when complimented with the experience of riding a bike. It’s just easier to escape when you have less things to deal with.
SSIT: Congratulations on your recovery from your accident, I understand that you are back at racing cross. What kind of impact did that accident have on you, physically and mentally?
DYLAN: That was a tough one for sure. I got hit pretty hard by a truck and now have a tibial rod after breaking my leg in 4 spots clean through. I also got a nice plate in my arm with a bakers dozen of screws holding my should together. On this accident I had to process that whole living and dying thing. I don’t know if I’ll ever be back to my former racing form but since I don’t really care about winning I guess it doesn’t really matter. I’m just happy I’m able to walk again and now riding a bike feels like a blessing. Last weekend I hit the cross track to feel it again. Although I had absolutely no fitness it sure was fun to rub some elbows and snag some dollar bills again. I mean, that’s what being pro is all about right? Making a buck.
SSIT: The accident must have created a lot of down time for you off the bike, what kind of interests and activities are you involved in outside of cycling?
DYLAN: I have a lot of hobbies but since I couldn’t get out of bed for so long my only enjoyments where asking for my pee jug to be rinsed out. I watched A LOT of television which is something I rarely do so it kind of blew my mind. If their is one reality tv show to check out I’d put all my chips on Gold Rush. It’s basically a show on a bunch of Oregon rednecks loosing their dreams in Alaska while hunting for gold. Beyond that I love playing music, creating photographs and adventuring with my wife and dog.
SSIT:Describe the Cross Crusade movement that has been going on in Portland. Any particularly memorable race stories you could share with readers?
Dylan: The Cross Crusade crew is an amazing group of idiots. It’s really wild to see such a group of misfits continually pull off such amazing stuff. It really comes down to the fact that they all truly have a deep passion for what they are creating and doing. It’s about making folklore as opposed to dollar bills.
As for a cross story:
After (the real) cross worlds last year I was (nicely buzzed) and in the elevator with a nice looking chic and some dude pouting in the corner. I started chatting with her and asked her if she wanted to go with us to a foam party and take off all her clothes. The guy gave me a death stare from hell. I shook my head to get the alcohol out of my brain for a split second when I realized it was Niels Albert and his wife. Whoops, sorry about your race dude. Needless to say she didn’t join me naked at the foam party that night.
SSIT: Any personal plans or goals for the upcoming year, cycling and non-cycling related?
DYLAN: I just bought tickets to SSCXWC in Philladelphia, PA USA. I can’t wait to get wasted with those fools. I’ll pass on racing but instead bring you some images from behind my camera lens. Are the rumors about it moving to Italy true?
SSIT: Final thoughts? Shoutouts?
DYLAN: SEATTLE SUCKS. Oh and as Bob Roll said, keep the rubber side down
Words: The Sac and Dylan VanWeelden Pics: Dylan VanWeelden and Ben Moon