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Bikes. Parts. Chaos.

Almost every year Surly sends a few of their workers to Single Speed World Championchips. We like events that are about the people, the atmoshere, and less about racing.  Plus the booze.  This year,of course, SSWC descended upon the Ballyhoura islands outside of Kilfinane Ireland, which has lots of atmosphere, good people, and also booze.  We sent our 'purchasing agent' Phil Raitt, our graphics lackey A.Wood, and one of customer service slam pieces, T$, to infiltrate the fun people, and this is the report they took their sweet time writing. 

Manuel Transmission


A workplace notice sign, with black text and yellow background, posted on an interior wall

Phil: Several weeks back I was fortunate enough to cross the pond with T$, A-wood and our bikes to partake in the festivities that is SSWC and enjoy the splendors of history and scenery of Ireland. 

Wood: Yeah, there was a lot of old stuff to look at. It sure was pretty.  I was the tallest person with the tallest bike in Ireland.

T$: Being ¾ “black Irish” descent myself, I found myself quite at home; Guinness for breakfast, lunch and dinner…Jameson for desert. My countrymen don’t judge.

Front, right side view of 3 Surly bikes, with 3 cyclists standing with them, on a road with stone walls on the sides

Phil: It was a rather drunk week.  The details are quite fuzzy. 

Wood: I didn’t have to drink to have fun but I did anyway. I like Guinness.

T$: Drunk?! I call it subsistence alcohol fueling.

Front view of a person holding 4 glasses of Guinness, with other people standing around them, on a sidewalk at night

Phil: We were, however, in the place we were supposed to be to ensure that The Man paid the bill.

Wood: Indeed the right place to be.  We went to the Jameson distillery and thought about taking the walking tour but instead decided to take the tour in our tummies...the true Surly way. Jameson had a real full bodied aroma, initially sweet with ripe fruit notes of melon, bananas and dark fleshy plums. The unmistakable but still spicy character combines to give hints of treacle, cinnamon and liquorice.

T$: Lesson learned about costly guided tours: Spend all the money that you would have spent on the tour to sample the product. You will not remember those dates, names or fancy verbiage anyway but you will walk away a happier man.

Front view of 2 people sitting next to each other, on a couch inside a room, with a glass of whiskey in the foreground

Phil: We travelled in luxury --a moving van we dubbed ‘the Mullet’.  Party in back!

Wood: Glad I didn’t have to sit back there with those short people.

T$: It was pitch black and the road was bumpy, I could scarcely find my lips with the can.  And Chewies feet…don’t get me started on Chewies feet…

Three people sitting in the back of a cargo van with bikes packed in behind them

Phil: Met some locals

Wood: This was weird.

T$: A mute witch is nothing to be trifled with.

Front left side view of Surly Ogre bike with a cyclist on it, next to a person in a witch costume, against a stone wall

Phil: Watched the local hurling tournament

Wood: Ireland plays many sports that I never heard of.  Beer and bikes I know.

T$: And here I thought this sport was only played on the streets after the pubs closed!

Front, right side view of people sitting and standing on a long set of stone steps, with their bikes in front of them

Phil: Visited castles and cathedrals

Wood: Lot’s of great castles. Can we go find something to eat?

T$: I’m not going to lie. The grim stone castle scenes and other ruinous medieval wastes had me quite excited. Too many lyrics from a thousand metal songs swam in my head.

Ground up, rear view of a black Surly bike, leaning against a rail on a paved parking lot, next to a castle

 Phil: Found a nice derby local

Wood: Pre race warm up.

T$: Derby On!

Left side, blurry view of a cyclist riding a bike around a curve on a city street

Phil: And eventually made our way to the SSWC events.  Thursday night was spent in Limerick where the Locke Bar was the sight of next year’s hosting competition.  South Africa was the winner.

Left side view of a person singing into a microphone, in a dimly lit bar with people standing around watching

People in a dimly lit bar, competing in a hula hoop contest, with others standing around watching

People dancing in a bar with spectators watching

Phil: There was plenty of this…

Wood: I don’t remember this, I must have been in the men’s room or looking at handmade bikes outside.

T$: This spread was downed by 3 teams of two. Ladies on the guy’s shoulders drank the Jag shots, then dropped the Jamo shot into the Guinness pint that the male counterpart then had to drain…I think…Wait, I don’t remember this either.

Side view of glasses of beer lined up on a counter top in a bar with people standing around

 …which resulted in a rather slow start to Friday.  We finally rambled into the tiny village of Kilfinane.  Race Day started with a parade roll out through town.

Front, left side view of a group of cyclists, riding their bikes down a city street, with buildings along the side

Phil: After 7-8km we made it to the start line where the pre-race nourishment consisted of donuts and beer

Wood: Um, don’t think about the outfit. I already have people stalking me. I have to say that donuts are an amazing pre-race food at least for the first lap.

T$: Just think about the poor freezing 8 year old school boy Andy stole that outfit from. Seriously dude, just because you’re a freakin’ walking redwood tree doesn’t mean you can just push people around like that. I can’t believe you stole his donut too.

Front view of person wearing a bike helmet, red shorts and an orange t-shirt with a clown graphic, eating a donut

T$: Chewy and I are both in league with you know who \m/. The gent in the painted-on onesie seems to be in league with with his daugter’s ballet instuctor and the masked crime fighters behind him were having a lover’s quarrel if I remember correctly. 

A group of cyclists, wearing costumes, standing in front of a canopy

Phil: I gave up my shot at the tattoo and title somewhere around the 5k mark as this young leprechaun from the Netherlands and the little lady from the states required the services of ‘the Bishop’

Wood: Silly Phil. I guess this is what happens at the end of the pack. People fall in love and get married to leprechauns.

T$: I didn’t experience anything on the trail except white knuckled fury and the pain caused by my gear ratio that was intended for the flat Midwestern prairie lands.

Left side view of a cyclist sitting on a bike, next to people in costumes, on a dirt trail with trees in the background

Phil: It was a happy occasion enjoyed by all but too soon it ended.

Wood: Yeah, it ended because it was cold as shit.

T$: Why aren’t these people racing?! Don’t they care about “winning”?!?!

A group of people in costumes, and cyclists riding bikes, on a dirt trail with trees in the background

Phil: We made some new friends, reacquainted ourselves with some old,

Wood: These were all new friends to me. We are all best friends now.

T$: What a bunch of jerks.

Front view of a group of people, standing together side by side and posing, on a paved lot next to the back of a van

Jim: We did some fun things and some dumb things and a lot of dumb fun things and when it was all said and done, we all felt and looked a little like this…

Wood: Wait, you can’t smoke it like that.

T$: Wait, I don’t smoke. Slander!

Front, chest up view of a person, with a cigarette in their mouth backwards, standing in a parking lot at night

But we can’t wait to do it all again next in South Africa.

Before I sign off, I’d like to say extend our sincere thanks to the organizers.  We know that a lot of time and effort is put in to organizing these events.  To say thank you we like to offer a frame of choice to the top volunteer, chosen by the organizers.  With that said we would like to congratulate Andrea Sharpe.  From Canada. She came out to the event early to volunteer her time in whatever way she could simply because she likes SSWC and is a good person.  She rocked it. And she was super stoked to get a Surly.  Andrea, welcome to our dysfunctional family.  See?  Look how happy she is.

Front, waist up view of a smiling person, holding a pint of Guinness beer and a Surly business card in their hands

Bonus (?) video of our, excursion.