There’s a splendid lake in central Sweden that one can ride around. I had a go in 2008, and took a leisurely 14 hours. 300 km around the edge, wetter if you cut corners.  It.was.nice.

Lake Vättern, inc. cake stops.

A very, very well organised event.

Having done a few races in California, where there’s quite a particular sort of roadie type, who can be quite particular about what is worn/ridden, I was heartened to be able to join folks here, some riding MTBs, some on shoppers, old timers wearing trousers and shirts with a wicker basket (having made an early start).  Nothing exclusive or snobbish. Great.

Official website here

I’ve built up a new bike especially for 2014: See how it shines in the sun.

See how it shines in the sun.

Despite the heady optimism (and shiny bike) going into the 2014 event, it was the lack of training and harsh headwinds (but mainly the lack of training) which became my undoing.

vatten2014 startWith an early 22:18 start, and with hearts full of optimism we headed off at good speed and joined a small cluster of like minded folks.

After a mere 30km I started to flag at this reasonable rate, and it wasn’t long before my cycling chum Richard (and his everlasting patience) were waiting for me at the top of hills and at the depots.

After a labourious 210km, with more headwind than I considered reasonable, my knee blew out. Richard was on ahead, and I was pretty much empty, and running precipitously low on moral fibre. I took the only reasonable course of action available: I texted Richard, set my alarm, then had a snack and a nap in the sun.

Thanks to the very early start, there was a lot of time before the broom wagon was due. The headwind should, in theory, last until Hammarsundet. This was to be my penultimate event in the Swedish classic, and I couldn’t not finish, so I pushed on, one legged, for the last 90 km.

I had hoped the knee injury would just shake off, but that didn’t work out, and at the next depot, a kindly lady in the first aid station massaged the damage, and strapped up the knee to see my through to the finish. I completed the 300km in a nippy 19hr 16 mins, knackered, but chuffed with myself for cracking on with a very slow final third, when it all looked and felt pretty bleak. Extra thanks go out, once more, to my chum Richard.




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