Corey Hilliard raced The Mid South on his fixed gear, and didn’t find it a big deal at all to tackle 103 miles of rugged and hilly gravel roads without the ability to coast or shift.
Hilliard, AKA “Corey the Courier,” has been riding a fixed gear off-road for 16 years, in addition to his many years working as a bike messenger on a road fixed gear in Philadelphia and New York City.
Hilliard was not the only rider on a fixed gear at The Mid South; for instance, Leo Rodgers, a one-legged cyclist, was also there, coming through the finish on his fixed gear at 8:30 p.m.
Hilliard is the 2015 fixed gear cyclocross world champion, with the tattoo to prove it. (VeloNews has galleries of the mad melee that is the singlespeed cyclocross world championships for 2013 and 2014, but, alas, not for 2015.)
At The Mid South, Hilliard finished the 103 miles in 7:49:54, which put him 34th in the 88-person singlespeed category. We caught up with him after the finish in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Besides his gearing, Hilliard took a different approach to hydration than most other riders at The Mid South.
A long hose extends from the bottom of the reservoir up to his handlebars for hands-free drinking while pedaling away.
The saddle doesn’t need to be padded when a Kinekt suspension post is taking the edge off.
The bars are suspended as well, thanks to a Kinekt stem, which moves about 15-20mm. The stem can be tuned with three different spring tensions.
What gear is he running? “You know, that’s like asking somebody how much money do you have in your wallet? That’s improper,” Hilliard said. “No, I went pretty big today, 42-14. My thinking was that it’ll be hard going uphill, but on the flats and the downhills, I could keep up with the shifty people, and ride in pacelines and echelons to shelter from the wind.”
Hilliard finished with plenty of daylight, but it never hurts to err on the side of safety.
Wait, number plate 666? You know who had this same number plate at Big Sugar? Floyd Landis, who sponsors Hilliard. In both cases, Hilliard and Landis said they ended up with their number randomly.
Corey Hilliard was relaxed and energetically chatty at the finish of the 103-mile Mid South. He had a front brake on, but not for his sake. “I know what I’m doing, but organizers are very concerned about riders’ safety.”