I’ve attended SSEC (Single Speed European Championships) a total of four times now. In 2007 I was invited to this race by my friend David Guillot, to Piolenc, in the south of France. David was the organizer that year and did such a great job with it that I didn’t go back until five years later. It’s not that he did a poor job (I just said he did a great job, didn’t I?), but for a number of reasons I was unable to attend it for the next four years. After attending it for the second, third, and now the fourth time this year, this event has become somewhat of a tradition.
This year the event was held in Northern Ireland, at Castlewellan Forest Park. My traveling partner Fleck and I arrived in Dublin and proceeded directly from our hotel into town for some grub and a few pints.
Nothing fights off jet lag better than a few fresh pints of Irish beer.
After the pub we decided to have a look around Dublin in the rain.
Black Sabbath was blasting in my head as I framed this photo.
The next day we picked up our rental motorhome and hit the Irish expressway for the event. Castlewellan is only a two hour drive from Dublin, so we didn’t have far to travel by motor vehicle.
We saw many sheep along the way.
This is base camp at Castlewellan Forest Park. Note the mist rolling through. This happened pretty much every evening as the sun set.
One side of the camp was lined with the flags of all participating European countries, including the most dignified of European countries: the U.S.A.
These are the Belgians. They brought some good beer for us to drink, which pretty much makes us friends for life. They did not bring any waffles though.
These are the Brits. They also gave us beer, so we had no choice but to be friends with them.
Fleck cooked food in the camper van. This is why I brought him along.
Castlewellan Forest Park has a beautiful lake within its borders, fully stocked with Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout.
There is also a hedge maze there that puts the one from The Shining to shame.
Sometime during the weekend a race was held. I didn’t take any photos of it but here’s one of Fleck and Charlie working on their winning strategy prior to the start.
I’m pretty sure their strategy failed.
We handed out a ton of Racing Sucks patches to many puzzled looks, but I think the single speed crowd gets the message, regardless of language and cultural differences. This sums up the reason why we attend SSEC on a regular basis: because it’s FUN. Fun is what bicycles are all about, and we want to continue to reinforce this through the many friends we make at these events.
Here’s one last shot from the camp. It’s the final sunset over the lake during our stay.
Special thanks to Rick, Davey and the Trail Badgers for organizing a great event. This one will go down as one of the best SSEC events ever.
I hope to see our many friends and to make some new ones in Sicily in 2015.