Friday, September 07, 2007

SSWC 2007 Aviemore Scotland

SSWC 2007 Gallery

Riding in Circles Around Trees

Where to begin, if I begin at the beginning this will just take way too long so I’ll fast forward through to the middle part, the racing part…with only the vaguest of details provided for anything else. In fact I’m going to sum up everything that happened prior to the race weekend in one insanely long run on sentence, here goes.
My buddy Brue flew in from Cali Wednesday AM, lame tour of town was given, got back on plane, flew to Glasgow via Iceland, Glasgow much nicer than we’d both been told, lovely place, spent the night at cousin Pam Hall’s house in Mearnskirk, beautiful place, slept eleven hours, set out for Edinburgh, missed two trains, arrived in Edinburgh, met another cousin Jennifer at her café, very cool (she gave me the title for this post), spent the night in town, amazing place, headed up to Aviemore by train the following day, met some single speeders on the train one turned out to be Jenn Hopkins, one of the fastest ladies in the U.K. (she didn’t let on), arrived in Aviemore with no place to to stay and no plan whatsoever, no worries within ten minutes we had booked rooms at The Bunkhouse for Friday and Sunday, Saturday we’d still have to work out, within twenty minutes we were chamoised up and in our silly suits tagging along on a big group ride…alright I’ll slow down now.
Leading the ride was Deejay Birtch, a familiar face from the states, he’d been out on a ride with some folks the day before and was confident he could find his was around. We ended up getting lost but like Burt Reynolds said in Deliverance “Sometimes you have to lose yourself before you can find anything” and that’s some good screenwriting. It was a nice way to begin meeting people, all that waiting, it also provided an opportunity to take in the scenery and feed the Midges (with our blood). It was also chance to begin using our bad Scottish accents, making American Werewolf in London references; “stay off the moors…stay on the road”. We made it out alive, the trails were looking good, and it was time for our first trip of many to Café Mambo.
The Single Speeders were not the only rabble rousing knuckleheads in town that weekend. When I booked our room at The Bunk House the woman warned that it would be noisy because of the “big event”. “Oh, you mean Single Speed Worlds?” “No The Big Splash”. This was Aviemore’s annual festival, it entails jumping anything from Kayaks, to skis, to shopping carts off a huge wooden ramp into the river while the locals get sotted and rock out to bad cover bands. So when I came out of Mambo two kids from Colorado came up and told me that a group of drunk local kids had tried to carry my bike away, but the wheel was locked to the frame so they had to drag it clumsily down the sidewalk. There were fifty singlespeeders out front of the pub so it didn’t much more than friendly suggestion to dissuade them from their criminal master plan. Shortly after I got back to the Bunk house I got up to use the bathroom, only problem with that was that I wasn’t awake, I didn’t wake up until I was in the stairwell. Took me a second to figure out where I was and get back to my room, Dan from Tucson let me in…he was certain I had used the hall way as a toilette…not this time anyway.
Saturday we did another group ride, saw some of the same stuff, some different, when we got back to Bothy Bikes the Rollapaluza guys were there with their roller race rigs. Brue and Hopped up and up some good times. We knew this had something to do with the venue selection process for next year but we knew it would involve more than what we saw.

That night the party started at Café Mambo and eventually moved over to The Vault.
Things started out pretty lame, the music was awful, the place was empty but within a couple hours it was jumpin’. The last thing I remember from the Vault was moshing to Motorhead, next thing I knew I was eating bad gas station sandwiches, listening to sotted locals threaten each other “Aye, c’mere, I’m gonna put yer arse up my FIST!”, and talking to Chris from Ontario about his work as a human shield. After that I met some kids from Aberdeen, they took me to their illegal tent city and we had a few more beers and I learned about “Wiggly Wigs”. I still don’t know what it means, I may never know. The plan was to leave the room key (in actuality a high tech room card) on the ground outside the hotel room window. I made a few passes around the building, nothing, I crawled around the building sifting through the grass with my hands, it was getting cold, the dew was so thick it was like rain, I tried to figure out exactly which room was mine, I though I’d have to pound on the window to get in. As I tried to work this out I saw the room card…stuck to the window with a sticker. But my ordeal was not over, when I got inside it was pitch black, there had been some discussion on reconfiguring the beds to accommodate three (they were two small singles) I wasn’t sure about how Dan and Brue were oriented and to make any lights work you had to insert the room card into the slot…which I couldn’t find to save my life. Ultimately Brue became fed up with my blind crashing and turned the lights on, it was now 4AM, awesome.
Three hours later I woke up, not sober, ate a Clif bar, drank half a cup of instant crap coffee, and looked down at my still full water bottle from the night before, not good. We were down at Bothy bikes shortly, and what would become an hour and a half roll out began. Probably should have eaten more, oops. We came to a stop, and threw or bags and jackets on a large blue tarp and the racer meeting began, all I remember “First rool, eef yew don wan theh tah-tew, don feckin’ win!”. Translation “if you don’t want the tattoo, don’t win”. In case you didn’t know the winner of SSWC gets a mandatory tattoo.
We cruised up the fire road a ways for the Lemans start, I was in mid-conversation with Matt and Jimbo from Nittany Wheelworks when the race went off, I just tried to finish the run without breaking my damn ankles. When I came to the piles of bikes I started yelling “has anyone seen a black Fisher Rig? It’s black and it’s a Fisher, it says Fisher on it” this didn’t help. I was way off the back already, surprisingly so was Adam Craig, he came blazing up behind me in his crazy get up, I drafted up him until the hill, where he pulled away from me with his slow cadence, moving deceptively fast with his enormous gear. I made up some spots on the climb and began to see some familiar people as I got into the singletrack.
My first impression was that this course was way more dangerous than your average XC course, I liked it. There were drops, really technical uphills, wet roots everywhere, all sorts of caziness. I might forget to say it later so I’ll say it now, this was one of the best courses if not the best course I’ve ever seen, absolutely amazing. By the second lap I was already cramping and I was almost out of water, I came through the start finish begging for water, nothing, beer, whiskey, no water. The climb was feeling bad, but I couldn’t wait to get back into those trails, question was, when would I get lapped by Craig?

Go HERE for more photos of SSWC 2007 from Simond Barnes

The whole thing was kind of a blur, at various points I was riding with Shaggy a super-fast Brit, Matt Ferrari, and Deejay Birtch, eventually I was with just Shaggy, he was leading when his bike went Ping! I came around him and I guess he subsequently flatted. After that I saw no one except Matt, a young Welshman, he was pushing a huge gear and somehow not slipping on the root fields. I caught a glimpse of the end of the top ten, but I couldn’t close it down, my legs were freaking out. Third lap I took a beer feed, then a woman handed me a bottle of orange Urn Bru, orange soda I think, I drank it gladly.

On the fifth lap as I came up the last little rise my legs cramped in multiple places simultaneously, I was given a slight push to the line, coming across with my legs locked solid. I had to be helped off my bike and put in a seated position. A second later I was told I had to move because more riders were coming in, I lifted my butt off the ground like a paraplegic and shimmied my way off to the side.
Only the top five spots were really recorded but by all accounts I was 11th (yeah! Top 11) on the bike. Later at the award ceremony I was given the Rockstar Award because of my exploits the night prior to the race and the fact that I wasn’t lapped by Adam Craig. They gave out a separate award fro the dude who simply got the most hammered, that guy was still asleep as the awards went off…he slept through the race, now that’s dedication.
After the race I wolfed a massive amount of Fish And Chips, took a dive while riding down a flight of stairs which nearly put me in the ER, and had a small nap.
That night the Vault went off again then spilled out into a derby, a drunk spectator walked straight into me before it even began so I hopped back in until I got properly knocked off. After that it was on to the skidding contest where it was all fun and games until a guy on a borrowed bike didn’t realize the brakes were set up U.K. style, so he grabbed a fistful of front brake as he threw all his weight over the bars, ending in a terrifying face slide. He walked it off but I have feeling dude must have had to make a trip to the hospital later on.
That’s about it for SSWC 2007 details, I could go on about all the silly tourist stuff, but I’ll just stop here, thanks for reading.
Thanks to Pam and Ian Hall for everything, Jennifer Robertson for dinner and laughs, Dan from Tucson for the Hotel hook up, and to all the folks that put this event together.


Simon said...

Nice write up.

I knew the brakes were the wrong way around, I just forgot at the critical moment! No trip to the hospital, I was fine after some sandwiches and painkillers from the 24H garage on the way back to our chalet :)

I can't see your photos, says album not found. Is the link correct?

Thom P. said...

thanks, glad you found the BLAWG.
Can't believe you "walked" that off, that was an insane crash.
The link works from my home computer, I'll try it from work, not sure what the issue is there.


Simon said...

I like to put on a show for people :)

The gallery error message says...
"The link you are using is no longer valid. If this link was sent to you in an email and you would like to view the photos, you will need to contact the album owner and have them share the album using the Gallery's share feature."

Thom P. said...

Ack! May have to get a Flickr account , can't figure out a way to make the gallery accesible, oh well.

JB said...

Rockstar award! Well done. See you out there.


CTodd said...



Congrats! It sounds like a fabulous experience.

Craig said...

Yo I want some pics! Fix the link dude...TUF 6 Starts on Wed night.

arcvelo1 said...


Its Dan from SSWC. Drop me an email sometime.