Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Randonneur dreaming

What better deviation from dark, cold, dreary November cycling than to have an autumn meeting with our newly formed club Stockholm Randonneurs !? 42 randonneurs turned up for a night out at Lilla Barkarby and really showed that this club is thriving.

We were fed information about 2015's brevet series and especially Paris Brest Paris, which got everyone excited. It was great seeing pictures and films from sunny, long rides from 2014 and talking rubbish about different rides we had done together.

Of course the night included a beer or two. But not quite the same quantity we are used to from KBCK meetings :-)

Bengt also gave everyone the brevet cards and medals accumulated throughout the year. I never order medals so didn't expect anything, but having done a complete series (200, 300, 400 and 600 km) in 2014 (as in the last 6 -7 years in a row), I did get a super randonneur medal, which was nice. He also had a whole stack of cards for me which looks impressive, but is actually from a few years in a row :-)

7600 km in a pile of cards.

Can't wait for some new cards in 2015! Thanks everyone for a really interesting and fun night and especially Hanna for great food and drinks as usual!


Sunday, 16 November 2014

CTT initiation 2014

Mats "Pilen" Pihlström and Erik Vrang invited everyone from the Continental Test Team for a sociable, get to know eachother 90 km ride today as an initiation for our goal of Vätternrundan 2015, 300 km in under 7 hours. I really want to give this a good chance next year so thought it would be good to already be part of it today! It was pretty exciting already in the morning putting on old Conti clothes and for the first time in ages thinking about what sponsors may want.

Nice shirt mate!
Of course this was pretty pointless because it was far too cold, so I covered everything in long pants and a KBCK jacket :-) Those that were there today really should remember this ride: I'm sure it will be the most chatty, easiest ride of our whole campaign! Actually, if anything I would have maybe preferred a slightly faster pace, seeing I took away half a day from the family. But it really was fun (even though I missed Pilen's lunch at the end...).
Apart from complaining about our peleton technique (;-)) Erik Vrang also managed to get some pictures during the ride (I couldn't get my gloves to communicate with the phone to take any myself): CTT blog

The only time I could take a picture was during a necessary fluid relief stop :-)

We have an almost scarily strong group and talked alot about our goals and previous rides. Many were part of the 6.59 team this year that I missed out on. Alot fewer had been part of the team (originally Finax) from 2008 when 4 of us managed to straggle across the line in 8.05. Then there was the 2009 ride where we surprised the only traditionally fast, Mas-group by only mising their time by 1(!) minute. But coming 17th out of 14726 riders was probably OK :-)

Results 2009

Today, of course, that time would have no chance for a top placing, as professionals are trying to break records. But as a group of middle aged men with full time jobs and full time families, I think it's pretty cool being able to put together a fun team challenging the magic 7 hours barrier.

This will be tough, challenging but very fun! I will keep you updated.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Road

Got out early for a Sunday ride. If Cormac McCarthy had needed a Swedish setting for The Road he should have filmed this morning. Well OK - it was somebody else who directed the film, but you know what I mean!


I rode for a couple of hours at a pathetic speed which I hope I can attribute to both intervals and a run yesterday. Or maybe the early morning. Or maybe that it was cold. Surely I can't just be that slow? :-)

If I had had only one bullet left as in the book I wouldn't have known which of my legs to put out of its mysery!
Left or right? Left or right? Left or right...

At least I got out though; got lots of fresh air, got my pulse up a bit and got about 60 km in the legs. I'll pretend I'm worth a nice breakfast now :-)
 Happy Fathers Day!


Saturday, 8 November 2014

Today's bike mech quiz:

After a few rides I started wondering why the rear brakes on the Torch weren't working. Any tips?

You ride faster if you don't brake!

Then Markus at Alviks Cykel started complaining about the condition of the Klein when I left it with him for service. Apparently he found the reason why the gears weren't working properly though.

Spot the problem.

Come to think of it I'm surprised he found some gears :-) Apparently the bike is ready for some winter adventures now. Thanks Markus!

Just back from some 0 degrees intervals; perfect for blowing out the cobwebs at the start of a weekend!


Saturday, 1 November 2014


I haven't quite got my mind around sitting indoors on the Monark yet, but feel like I need some intervalwork so have resorted to my 4-7-3-4 minute intervals on a circuit around Länna/Lissma, with intervals defined by the roads and topography. It just seems too nice in the fresh air to be stuck inside!

I came back from a brilliant night's camping with my son yesterday and still squeezed in 4734 in the evening and this morning woke to rain pattering outside, so jumped on my bike and did the same again :-) A great coughing, spluttering start to a weekend!
A scary halloween monster?

(Actually my son by the campfire :-))

Happy Halloween!


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Overkill Kick-Ass Commuting

My Pearl is finally getting a thorough look-over prior to travelling to Australia with me in a few weeks. So today I mixed it with all the other morning commuters on the fastest bike south of Stockholm :-) I will take it to Jan at Norvelo after work so that it's ready for scorching, long training rides in New South Wales soon!

In the ghetto.

Another dawn. Look out Stockholm, here we come!

Sorry mate; feels like caging a tiger :-( Grrrrr....
A riproaring fast commuting ride. Overkill Kick-Ass style :-)

Sunday, 26 October 2014

A New Dawn

A new start to proper training.

Believe it or not I am still alive! A motivational dip during summer after Sverigetempot meant that I didn't ride much and wrote here even less. The rugged autumn weather has got me going again though and am loving being on my bike. Work and children's sports have however, meant that it's been hard to fit in longer rides. But today I decided to pull my thumb out and get out early for my standard 90 km Södertörn ride. This I will count as the start of my training for Vätternrundan (which I have apparently registered for in a sub 7 hour group, help!) and PBP 2015 :-) A new dawn in my cycling life.

The ride was great! Very windy, which was against me at te start but from about halfway it was behind me and I enjoyed long stretches of flying along at 40-50 km/h, alone on the roads on a beautiful morning. I wasn't sure how the legs would be after weeks of only riding to and from work. These rides have been quite structured with intervals etc though, and obviously quite effective as my time today was one of the fastest for this ride. Phew...

Inviting, empty roads. Leading me where, I wonder?

I will just finish off with praising my Airborne Torch, titanium bike which I probably write far too littel about. But while the Klein is being spoilt by Markus at Alviks Cykel prior to winter escapades, and the Pearl is sulking in the living room waiting for a trip to Australia, the Torch has taken me backwards and forwards to work for weeks, day after day regardless of weather. And also looked after me today. An awesome bike!
Heavy Metal.

I am looking forward to lots of autumn riding now and getting going on the Monark at home as well. Combined with a run every now and then and better discipline with gym visits this will constitute my training the next few weeks.

And I promise to keep you more updated!


Friday, 15 August 2014

The joys of pointless cycling.

Hi, remember me?! It's been a month now since I last scribbled something here. I had no real further ambitions for the cycling year after Sverigetempot. In fact I was sort of looking forward to an autumn of not even feeling like riding after that. But failing with my major goal of the year had the opposite effect; I've been itching to ride!

After a longer conference trip in the USA straight after Sverigetempot, our family drove around Sweden a bit on holidays. I had the bike with me and just went for spontaneous rounds when it was sunny and when I felt like it. In this way I ended up with some great rides between 70 and 100 km in Bergslagen and on Öland.

This is what bike care should always look like. A balmy evening on Öland. I might have gone for a ride the next day. Or not.

All previous years we have still been on holiday when Fredrikshofs Mälarenrunt, a 325 km ride around a lake has been on. But now I had to be back at work, the family was still on hoildays and I had no reason not to enter. I did so spontaneously and was even invited to be one of the captains of the "berserk" group :-) We did the name proud and rode like idiots on a really hot day and I had a ball! There are some photos on Mälarenrunt's homepage (me on page 2 - not sure I deserved the extra mention for pulling hard: everyone in the group was strong!). More on this ride also on bigmollo's blogg - so I don't need to say any more.

Now, even riding to and from work all week has been great. Today I could leave a bit early and instead of planning a long structured training ride, I just rode off in the sun to give the legs a bit of a workout and actually enjoy the lovely Södertörn scenery.

With a sparkle in his eyes.

I don't often stop here for 40 minutes on my rides! A big fat sandwich at Rosenhill Café.

Everytime I ride here I feel like stopping to take a picture of the sexy curves in this road. But normally it's in the middle of record attempts on Happy Rosenhill Challenge. Today I stopped.
Fast wheels, fast road,  intermittently fast legs.

The funny thing was that I road some parts faster than ever before anyway. And collapsed in between. Once again riding like an idiot and loving it :-) I got home happy and walked around for hours with frizzled legs.

How can  sitting on a piece of carbon with a bowl on my head and spinning my legs around in circles make me so happy?

No, don't tell me, that might spoil it.


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

My Sverigetempot 2014

After weeks and months of intense preparation of equipment, training and logistics, it was finally time! I got a greatly appreciated lift in to Centralen with my wife and a huge bikebox. I met a colleague from Karolinska Institute in the restaurant there and he thought I was joking when I said I was catching a train to Katterjåkk. He thought I was mad when I said I was intending to ride from there to Smygehuk.!That was a fun start to the trip.

The train ride, sharing a little room with two other cyclists, was fine. I managed to sleep really well and the Swedish countryside flew past alot quicker than the last time. In fact I was generally really relaxed and felt like I was well on top of this challenge.

The train had a short stop in Abisko, so we got off and bought some snacks. I was a bit jealous of the snacks the guy at the other checkout was getting.

I travelled up to Katterjåkk a day earlier than most because I like having time on my hands rather than stressing. That meant I could ride to the start with the early start group, 24 hours before ours, and wish them a safe and fun ride.

Enjoying the scenery on my rest day before the start.
Excited randonneurs in the first start group. Only about 2107 km left!
After two fantastic days of sleeping, checking the equipment and eating humungous amounts in Ebbes Kök I felt like I couldn't be more ready for this. It really felt like I was just off on a ride with some friends. Except that it was a ride with no end.
As ready as can be. My equipment couldn't have been better.
We rode up to the start on the Norwegian border after Peter got all nervous that we all seemed so cool and were waiting for the last minute. There was some last minute chatting, Peter took a few photos and off we went, exactly on time at 9 am on the 26th June!
Another photo shamelessly copied from Peter Tonér's Sverigetempot facebook page. Our start group lined up on the border. Yes, it was a bit chilly.
Without having planned it I took the first lead down the hill from Riksgränsen and then looked back and realised that we were already only five, after only about 2 km! This completely surprised us, but we decided we weren't pushing too hard and would continue at our speed and see what happened.
Passing the spectacular Lapplandsporten.
We rode well but sensibly to Kiruna. The wind was not as beneficial as last time so we were not tempted to try and keep a speed of 45 km/h the whole time. In fact the whole ride seemed far less like an adventure and more of a calculated mission this time. I was very confident of finishing in under 100 hours and had to ride sensiby to do this. We had an efficient, short stop in Kiruna and then attacked a few sections with gravel, but they were less dramatic than maybe expected.

A beautifully functioning randonneur group on the long, straight, foresty roads of northern Sweden.
We continued at speeds not up to those from the previous time, but we were also less and maybe didn't have equally strong riders this time. But this did not bother me, I felt great and took long turns at the front and then enjoyed gliding along at good speeds when others were at the front. We continued like this through Gällivare, where we had some quick food. After that the supposedly boring long roads are basically already finished and the section to Jokkmokk is actually quite fun. Lots of fast downhill, brilliant rivers and power stations and a happy group.

Finally pizza!!!! Strange feeling to recognise all the eating places in such distant, small towns like Jokkmokk.
It felt like I had used very little energy after the first 600 km. Perfect! But the group started reducing and before Arvidsjaur there was suddenly only Thomas and myself left. In previous years this would have scared me (not Thomas! - but only being two left), but I just accepted it and knew that with clever riding we could be efficient with two as well. By the time we got to Peter's little roadside support stop in Arvidsjaur just after midnight, it was about -2 degrees. These temperatures were not particularly pleasant so we stopped very shortly and then continued on towards Storuman.
It wasn't easy spontaneously removing gloves and taking photos while riding in these temperatures, but this one represents Thomas and a baby reindeer somewhere around Sorsele.
Thomas had a few problems staying awake, but we made it through the sunshiny, cold night to Storuman, where we hade decided to repeat our tactics from previously and eat a huge hotel breakfast and sleep a bit. But we were far more determined to save time and slept exactly 30 minutes instead of wasting what felt like about 3 hours last time. I felt fantastically fresh after this powernap! We continued riding with about 4 minute rotations to Vilhelmina where we stopped for lunch. But Thomas was getting tired and wanted to slow down a bit. After lunch, with a zombielike look and not completely comprehensible, he told me that he was going to quit because of a sore knee. This made me sad, but even now I quickly got my mind around it and decided to put my head down and finish off the last 1400 km solo. I even got quite excited about this challenge!

Where's my group?!
Being alone actually has alot of advantages; I only need to consult myself about stopping somewhere, what to eat etc. Can even just spontaneously stop to take a photo if I think it's worth it. I continued feeling good. Stopped where there were food opportunities (a kanelbulle in Dorothea, a huge plate of pasta in Strömsund), called my wife informing her that I was alone and rode and rode. After Strömsund I caught up with the first riders from the first start group 24 hours earlier, which was fun. After a quick chat and good luck wishes I continued on to Östersund.
Beautiful evening scenery before Östersund.

Being heavy and fat I hate hills. The ones I hate most are the endless ones before Östersund. But I got over these eventually and had ridden the first 950 km in 39 hours. Everything was well on track and I even realised I was quite rapidly catching up to the fastest rider from the early start group (Tom Theurer). I consciencously followed my plan of food followed by two hours sleep and then up and on my bike again. No problems at all - I once again felt very fresh after this sleep and I was really looking forward to a solo day's riding!

Optimistically riding out of Östersund at sunrise.

But it was cold. I was shaking on my bike and had to concentrate to keep moving in the hope that a higher sun would warm me up soon.

Desperately trying to warm up in an air/water cupboard in a petrol station in Åsarna.
This time I was prepared for the biggest climbs of the trip on Vemdalsskalet and could just take my own pace up them. They were slow and tough, but I got rid of them. And improved my max velocity from last time to 75.5 km/h :-) But instead of the sun warming me up it was now about 3-4 degrees and started to rain. Not very heavy but in a non-stop blanket cover of water sort of way. I didn't warm up again. I was quite well dressed, but should presumably have taken the full length leg warmers I had in a bag in Östersund. But it's easy to say so in hindsight...
By the time I came to the next control in Linsell, my right thigh, hip, gluteus were aching. It felt like maybe a pulled muscle and hurt with every pedal cycle. And I was still shaking and the coordintation in my whole right leg started feeling wrong. I called my wife again and said I wasn't doing too well but would continue to Sveg for a lunch and warmup. I knew that Tom was having a longer sleep in Lesjöfors and had for a while had a vague idea that I might soon catch up and we could be two again...
The lunch was great. I felt a lot better again and got out in the pouring rain and on my bike. I rode about 10 km but it was all wrong. It ached and ached and didn't help if I stood up or sat down. I could still move, but with the fact that there were still nearly 1000 km to go I started having serious doubts. I thought a bit, rode a bit, got mad, and then called my wife and said I was quitting. I will never forget that final 180 degrees turn on the road which symbolised my giving up.

 No comment.

I took my bike into a little track heading into the forest, leaned onto the handlebars and broke down and cried. It wasn't until the hypothermia really started hurting and I was completely soaked after maybe 15 minutes, that I had to take control again and begin the arduous, painful planning for somehow getting home. Of course I could have stayed a night in a hotel and warmed up and continued the next morning. But that didn't even cross my mind. I was going for 100 hours and nothing else was an option.

Back in Sveg I stopped a bus with "Mora" on it in the middle of the road and the driver kindly spontaneously stopped and let me on and didn't even want to get paid for a ticket. Thank you! From Mora there was a train to Borlänge where I stayed the night in a hotel and watched football with a beer which felt quite surrealistic considering the contrast to what I had intended to be doing right then. The next morning I caught a train to Stockholm after some arguments with the train staff convincing them that yes, I was getting on that train with that bike regardless of what they said. Come on Sweden; please sort out your train situation for cyclists! 
Of course the Pearl deserves a first class seat to itself!

I had bought a crap book to read on the train just to take my mind off everything else. Back in Stockholm my wife was there to pick me up and when we hugged she looked just as sad as me. I didn't know what to do with myself.

The "Smygehuk 2014" Duvel will have to wait. This is all I was worth this time.

The next few days, while other riders were continuing and finishing, I was unapproachable. I knew what I had had going and felt even more frustrated that this thinking was pathetic because I can't say how well it was going without completing. The weather this year was far tougher and of course everyone had to deal with it. Many had problems but many made it all the way to Smygehuk as well. Congratulations for your fantastic rides! And to Tom for coming in with the fastest time! Hopefully we can ride together another time. 

It hurt writing this blogg-post. I had big plans for this ride and there is nothing that I wish more than to have some summery, southern Sweden photos to add. But I don't. I rode about one Paris-Brest-Paris in a very good time. And I did finish in less than 100 hours. But I didn't make it.

Not this time anyway.


Thursday, 3 July 2014

Need a bit of time...

Well. Sverigetempot didn't quite go as planned. I need some time to digest all my thoughts and feelings. And I am also busy getting a conference trip to Boston under control. So, before I have time to entertain you with a full report of the ride I will keep you happy with this summary:

The start went great.

Feeling great on the Norwegian border. Photo courtesy of Peter Tonér from the Sverigetempot facebook page.
The finish didn't.

I will fill you in on the middle bit as soon as I am ready and have the time to write a sensible story without swearing too much.


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Still ready.

After a surprisingly comfortable train trip up sharing a "room" with Magnus and Dag that are also riding Sverigetempot, we're now in Katterjåkk in the very north of Sweden.

Dizzily spectacular arctic scenery between Katterjåkk and Riksgränsen.

Although we ate pretty much the whole 19 hour trip, our stomaches must be stretching and we decided to continue immediately with a huge lunch of raggmunkar in Ebbe's Kök which were awesome. Everybody went to assemble and fiddle with their bikes and I found a short gap to ride past Riksgränsen and to the boarder of Norway where the start will be.

Getting a breath of fresh air.

I watched the 9 am start today and will probably ride to the late one as well, because I'm itching to get away and it's nice to get out on the bike. And exciting to watch the other starts! After all the excited chatter the last day or so it would be nice to meet up with some of these friends again somewhere on the road through Sweden.

The bike and I feel as ready as we can be. All the packing has been done, I've chosen clothes and checked the weather and, well, just feel more and more ready.

The first starters of Sverigetempot 2014 crossing the Norwegian boarder = starting line.

...and climbing the first hill.

Ready to roll. And probably rock.

And, best of all, Per Eric has hacked a homepage on which all riders can easily be followed whenever they report there positions. It's extremely simple and elegant: tracking us during Sverigetempot 

Could be fun to follow!

Now for some more food, a bit of rest, maybe out and enjoy the area a bit and then meet up and try and be friendly with a new group of riders tonight. Because we will probably have to put up with eachother for many, many kilometers...


Monday, 23 June 2014


Yes, I actually feel like I'm ready for Sverigetempot 2014 now. All 2109 km of it. Bring it on!

In one week I hope to be finished. Now is the stage when there is hardly any room for anything else in my brain and all my thoughts and energy rotate about which clothes to take, small bike details, how to pack everything, what to plan in the dropbags... Quite fun actually.

The final KBCK planning evening was a roaring success.

The KBCK corner in Lilla Barkarby; the Planning Pub

With quality planning like this, what can go wrong?

I picked up my bike from Norvelo before the weekend before we drove away for Midsummer. I tested all the new bits and pieces on a 60 km, great fun ride on Midsommar afton; mainly to at least get a few kms of training with time trial pins.


What was even better was that I could ride what was my favourite part of the route last time, between Hällefors and Älvestorp. This means I will be looking forward to this part in a few days. And small motivational ingredients like this make a big difference.

Midsummer smile.

I have now said goodbye to and been wished good luck by my family. Am waiting for the train to Riksgränsen, the bike is packed and so is my bag. A point of no return. I have 1.5 days there before our start and will work on a clever way to be tracked. Otherwise I will try and tweet (Toni Arndt, @kitzblitz) on the way and should have their blogg updated during the ride too.

But it feels good. I feel ready. And in a week I hope to have earnt my reward: