im - 7/05/2006 11:56:00 AM
Wednesday, July 5th, 2006
SSWC2006 Stockholm Rather Lengthy Recap
Day 1 in Stockholm- Hurl and I slap together our bikes and go for a cruise around town to get rid of the airplane butt. On this warm and sunny autumn day, we meet some guys we knew from the US. Rolling through old Stockholm on narrow cobbled streets that are older than the United States of America is humbling. These people have been here doing their Scandinavian thing for so long, it's hard to not respect their way of life. They even have ramps down the stairways for baby strollers, which we found to be excellent riding. In the evening, that "one last beer" phenomeonon happened at the bar next to our hotel.
Day 2- The sun is beaming into our hotel room telling us to get up and ride off the beer fumes. The locals have organized a long trail ride right from town. After the standard hard boiled egg, ham sammich and coffee for breakfast, we roll across town to meet everyone. The ride goes through town, hops a 5 minute ferry across one of the abundant waterways in town and eventually hits some trails. If you read my previous blog about SSWC2006, you'll know there were tons of roots and rocks on the course. Each time our ride leaders said "it is about to get more rooty and more rocky up ahead" I thought there was no way it could. But it did, and you found a way through it all. Then you heard them say it again, and again, and again. 4 1/2 hours later we were off the trails and almost at the train station to take us back into town. The original 20 riders had been reduced to 12, we hopped the train and talked about how good the beer was going to taste. Jonas and Johan took us to the cheap bar in town for happy hour. Sub-$3 beers is almost unheard of in Stockholm, so we took advantage.
Day 3- Wow, what happened last night? My head hurt and the only cure was to go for another ride. We meet up with a few folks, mostly Americans this time, and try to not get lost. Nobody in the group knew the trails, but there is so much parkspace around town all you have to do is wander around to find it. There were some folks from Finland also, one of them on a Karate Monkey fixed gear. Only his fixed gear did not hand a left-hand lockring, so he was riding "suicide" fixed gear without hand brakes for the whole week. Nuts! The ride was a short 2 hours so we didn't cook our legs for tomorrows race.
Day 4- Race Day- Only two people in the entire world knew the race course, so it was going to be a surprise for us all. It was announced that we'd be riding two 14k laps, then we slowly rolled out of town towards the start line. The bike path was filled with locals walking and biking and I couldn't believe there was not a head-on collision with our mass of 200 riders. Being completely car free made this event really nice and cheap. If you want to read more on the race report, see my previous blog.
Post race party was really good, tons of prizes, we gave away a frameset to the best volunteer of the event who marked all 14k of the course the night before. There was a DJ pumping music and at one point they played Prince and Violent Femmes. Hearing two local Midwest US bands play in Sweden was odd but good. Locals mixed with bikers and eventually a chunk of the party moved down to a dock along the lake. Swimming, beer, fire, 30 people from about 8 countries and a sunrise pretty much sums up this part of the evening/morning. This marked the 3rd day in a row that I stayed up to watch the sunrise.
Day 5- Post race day was quite slow. Eventually everybody wandered down to see what damage was done to eachother and see the race winners' tattoos. The big event to choose where SSWC2007 was going to be held was supposed to be a sailing boat race. What does sailing boats have to do with biking? Who cares. But there was no wind that day and the event turned into a speed drinking contest with teams of 4 from each country. UK, USA, New Zealand, and (I think) Netherlands competed. Each person eventually drank two beers each and UK crushed everybody. Their secret weapon was a sweet innocent little girl named Mel. So if you haven't heard by now, Scotland will be hosting SSWC next year. Exactly where and when are TBD, but I can assure you these folks show up every year and are often the last people standing. Top notch people, so I imagine it will be ace.
Later in the day, Hurl and I caught a movie in the park and then wandered back to the bar. After 4 days of riding and partying, people were amazingly still in the mood to rally. It was Jessica Stein's (Spot Brand) birthday at midnight and people were starting to get rowdy by derbying and sprinting. Just about the time Hurl and I were thinking of getting into the mix, SSWC2005 winner Buck and perennial goofball Deejay wrastled eachother into the bar window. I mean in through
the bar window. That put a little damper on us being at the bar, so everybody split up. Nobody got seriously hurt, nobody went to jail and we all helped the bar pay for a new window, which was repaired before the next morning. There was no derby, but I saw the sun come up again for the 4th day in a row.
Day 6- Mellow and rainy, coffee shops, walking around town, absorbing all we could during our last day there. None of us wanted to leave Stockholm, to the point where I thought about selling half my belongings to move there. Have you ever wanted all your friends from around the world to live in the same city as you? Or have you ever been to summer camp and didn't want to go home at the end of the week? That's what SSWC feels like every year for me. Anybody who thinks SSWC is dead, 200+ people just proved you wrong.
A massive thank you to all you Swedes who made it happen, especially Tobias for being the main man, Jonas and Johan for showing us the trails and the cheap beer, Dane and Phil for organizing everything, Magnus for the beer stop and for my new friends who taught me what it's like to be a viking.
Some things about Sweden that really kick ass:
- You are charged money to drive cars into the central city
- There are more bike and pedestrian lanes throughout the entire city than anywhere else in the world I've been
- Cyclists and pedestrians have the right of way over motorized vehicles. Although it got busy during rush hour, nobody ever came close to having an accident
- We witnessed only two events of road rage the whole week, one of them by a cab we were in
- The abundant parkspaces are for use by all, except golfers and motorized vehicles
- Everybody has access to healthcare
- Zero obesity
- People wearing business suits on bikes
- Low pollution
- Really nice people
- Dense housing
- No bumper to bumper highways