Mud. Blood. Scrap metal. Glory.

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“It’s that time! Get your tetanus shots, get your knobbies, and come out for the most unusual cyclocross event in the country.” – Isis Shiffer

For those of you that aren’t familiar with this event, the Bilenky Junkyard Cyclocross Race is just that. Every December we host a cyclocross race in our adjacent junkyard. It started out as a combination holiday party, Bilenky open house, and a fun conclusion to the cross season. Anyone who is brave enough races over junked cars, through hollowed out school buses, around scrap metal and puddles of oil. This year’s race director was the lovely Isis Shiffer with lots of help from the rest of the Bilenky crew (thanks Jake, Naomi and Kasy!), and a handful of hardworking volunteers.

There are a few essential ingredients for the Bilenky Junkyard CX. First and foremost you need the awesome Bilenky crew, followed by a junkyard (thanks Big Guy’s Auto Parts for making this possible every year!), several kegs of Yards beer, and a food truck. It may sound simple but the result is crazy enough to bring people from Asheville, Chicago and even Quebec.

The race is now in its 6th year and has grown to over 150 registered racers and 4 kegs! To accommodate the growing number of racers we decided to incorporate smaller heats for a less chaotic race. 80 semi-drunk (or completely drunk, depending on whom you survey) guys going through obstacles involving a mostly metal and asphalt course can get hairy. We are happy to say that the majority of our injuries this year were just loose gravel road rash. Oh, and one separated shoulder, shout out to Andy Glaser. The medic recommended treatment as soon as possible, but he stuck it out for the entire event and made the smart decision to switch to beer instead of racing. All injuries (other than the shoulder) were tended to by the man himself, Stephen Bilenky.

The race had four categories: Men’s “A”, Men’s “B”, a Women’s race and an alternative bike category. If there were a prize for the craziest alternative bike, I would have to go with the tall bike tandem. We had a great mix of full racing kits, street clothes, costumes, and of course the token cx dresser. A larger than life fish created by Naomi Littel directed race traffic to the first off-road section. At 19’ and made from 30 french-fry oil containers and 1,000 plastic soda bottles – the fish actually floats. Also new this year was the VIP bleacher section at the start/finish line. Maybe next year we will introduce a red carpet for all the celebs that attend. After all, a video of the race did make it to the Bicycle Film Festival.

Dan Chabanov, racer on the Richard Sachs CX team took first in the Men’s “A” race. This led us to wonder where our reigning champion, Ed Bush of Wissahickon Cyclery, disappeared to. BrittLee Bowman won the crown for the women’s race. Congratulations to all of our winners! The super fabulous, couture victory crowns were fabricated by Isis out of bicycle parts, of course. “All I know is I will keep coming back as long as you guys keep putting it on. It’s the best bike race/party/thunderdome of the season.” –Dan Chabanov

And now for some of my favorite quotes from the race:

“When you feel like you’re getting too serious about racing, throw on a lacey dress and feather boa and get back on your bike.” –Izzy Cohan

“Dude this is my most favorite event of the year. The whole Philly cycling community comes together. Guys, girls, bmxer’s, MTBer’s, and cyclocrossers. We’re all there for the same reason: the love of the junkyard.” –Damien Talese

“If we have to explain it, you just wouldn’t understand. Good work Bilenky Cycle Works.” –Bicycle Times

If you missed the race or if you just want to reminisce, check out the awesome videos by In the Crosshairs, Erik Silverson, a helmet cam memoir, and many more photos posted here

The Bilenky Junkyard Cyclocross Race is bike shenanigans at its best. Some might say it’s even tattoo worthy. Tony Lepetit and two of his buddies got matching cowbell tattoos to commemorate the fun times at the junkyard CX. We salute you Tony and your tattoo twins. Whether or not you find the event deserving of ink, we know that you will have an awesome time. A big thank you to everyone who attended and our hardworking set up and race day crew. Can’t forget our prize sponsors: Urban Velo, Bicycle Times, White Industries, Chris King, Primal Wear, Pedal Pushers Club, Bicycle Revolutions, In the Crosshairs, and Fi’zi:k. See you for year seven!!

*Tattoo photo courtesy of Tony Lepetit
*Fish and winners photos courtesy Bilenky Cycle Works
*All other photos courtesy Patrick J. Engleman
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