It’s Friday November 12th and we find ourselves in Leeds meeting up with good friends and long term race partners Restrap who’ve kindly prepared a weekend of film, bike rides and factory demos, expertly curated around making friends and reaffirming old bonds while having a bloody good laugh. If you’ve never managed to join us on one of our Gathering events then you really should, the emphasis has always been based around ‘The Clan’ and meeting like minded people who share similar passions. The idea being that when race day comes around there is a sense of familiarity, a feeling of belonging and of being welcome.
Clan members journeyed from across the country with excitement building for the live premiere of our 2021 race film at Archive Leeds, with the brewery ‘next door’ filling up with familiar faces as new friends arrived with handshakes and warm welcomes. The spirits were high and the evening brewed strongly before disappearing into a hazy blur. To say we were blown away by the reaction to the film would be a huge understatement, the kind words mixed with fond memories and tales filled with reminisce left us feeling full with content. A huge thanks goes out to Archive for the wonderful ambient setting for us to share the film, what a beautiful location!
Saturday morning saw the Clan come together at Restrap, a few sore heads accompanied stories of a late night and shots that tasted like curry!?, before we rolled out into the gorgeous autumn light heading in the direction of Ilkley. The weather was AMAZING (could this really be a Pan Celtic event!?, or was it just a dream?), mild and still with the season putting on an absolute show as the hills beckoned and the roads ebbed and flowed, a route to put a smile on even the most tired of faces.
Pasties pies, ice-creams and coffees consumed along the way before a dash back through the city centre to the factory for a tour and a hands on demo at Restrap. This really was a special treat as the team showed us their state of the art equipment that allows them to produce everything in-house and to the highest quality, before we learned just what skill their machinists possess as we sat and stitched our own Key-Rings and Fast Straps, a class memento from a wonderful day.
Another evening spent around the pint glass ensued, talking everything Pan Celtic, sharing stories, laughing, plotting, and generally just being happy to be together again in such good company.
Sunday morning arrived and with it a shorter route in the opposite direction with the single mission of finding breakfast and coffee, the group somewhat smaller (for various reasons, including incurable hangovers) but another gorgeous weather window saw us grinning from ear to ear as we cycled the canal tow path back to Leeds before waving goodbye for now to those who came.
Words: Toby Willis
Photography: Toby Willis & Alex Dyson