Thursday, 30 January 2014

Where I’m (maybe) going

Part III: 2016

Well, 2016 is a long way away so alot can happen. But I have a longterm goal (or is it a dream?) to ride the Race Across America About 5000 non-stop kilometers, solo with a support crew across the USA! In my age category this distance has to be completed in under 12 Days. Tough.

I have been inspired to do this from two perspectives: 1. was when Gunnar Ohlander rode it in 2012 and it was just incredible to follow his feat and has been incredible talking to him about it since then and 2. was when I realised after Sverigetempot 2012 that maybe I would be capable of actually doing this.

RAAM requires alot more than just being able to ride long. There are daunting logistics involved to qualify, sort out a team to drive support car(s) (at 30km/h for nearly 2 weeks...), pay for the registration fee, pay for everything else, sort out the actual trip for everyone involved, carry on with a full-time job at the same time and so on.

So alot still has to work out before 2016. Some preliminary fishing for indications of support has already shown that I may have support to pay theregistration fee, KBCK may assist with cre members I may get bike support from Markus at Alviks Cykel and Jan at Norvelo in Stockholm. However, before anything concrete is planned all parties want to wait and see how the lead up goes first. We all want to see if Sverigetempot 2014 is a success and if my body holds. That would give a good indication of how realistic my BIG 2016 goal is...

But, now this is on internet so I better do the best I can!


Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Where I’m going

Part II: 2015

After what promises to be a pretty intense 2014, my goals for 2015 are maybe, at least so far, quite modest. They can basically be described as: Paris – Brest – Paris.
This mastodon event was my introduction to riding longer than 1000 km in 2011 (a little bit about my PBP2011). As I mentioned earlier, this was the ultimate KBCK roadtrip. We stayed in a fantastic hotel, in which we plan to book exactly the same rooms, opening up to the hotel courtyard, in 2015. We had a great couple of days prior to the ride, including the legendary night eating couscous, drinking couscous-appropriate schnapps and talking couscous-appropriate bollox (I won’t show the couscous-appropriate video here). The part that was most legendary was Johan the next morning (the day before PBP) quietly wailing in his bed “why does it always end up like this?” KBCK preparation for a long ride… The actual ride was sort of an interlude before we drank some wine to celebrate and ordered a ton of pizza because you need protein after training. On the way home to Sweden we ended up buying a busload full of Belgian beers.

The team bus to Paris in 2011
It went so well and KBCK is planning the same trip again next year. For myself, I have vague plans of riding under 50 hours, but without a support car (which I don’t want to have there) that’s tight. And it is still quite a while away, so I’ll see what happens.
PBP requires qualification. This means that I need both a preliminary qualification this year, which I hope Sverigetempot will take care of, but also a complete brevet series of accredited 200, 300, 400 and 600 km rides in 2015 before PBP. But they are fun and quite routine!

A few days ago PBP came out with its first official English version of their 2015 homepage. Only 563 days left.
Can’t wait!!!!!

At present there is only one other aim for 2015. That is to make sure that by the end of the year I have a qualification ride completed for the Race Across America (RAAM) 2016.
But more about that later…




Saturday, 25 January 2014

Blitzes in Kitz

Why not combine the year's absolute skiing World Cup highlight, Hahnenkammrennen in Kitzbühel, with a bit of physical pain?

An hour Monarking with brilliant, nostalgic entertainment with dramatic finish, beautiful scenery, huge crowd and lovely town! Listening to the crowd, the oompapa music, seeing the familiar hills and slopes I could almost smell the sausage stands and taste the Stiegl.

Strong boys those.


Friday, 24 January 2014

Two extremes of the training spectrum
I've just had a couple of days in Liverpool enjoying eggs, bacon, beans, brown sauce, sausages ETC for hotel breakfasts, publunches and pints of local ales. I'm afraid my solid training start to the year has just been obliterated. Liverpool is pretty cool though.

Luckily here's someone who has obviously had a great period of training behind him! A vintage Cadel attack on Corkscrew Hill and full out time trial to the finish. Gave him the overall lead in the Tour Down Under (which he however lost again to Simon Gerrans today). Can't wait to see him in the Giro d'Italia! 

I did still manage a snowy run last night at Bosön. So at least one of the pints may have been neutralised now :-)


Thursday, 23 January 2014

Where I’m going

Part I: 2014

OK, I didn’t start a blog to write about the past. So I thought I’d write down what’s buzzing around my mind for the future. Then you can laugh at me when I afterwards summarise how much of this actually happened. I like a laugh J

Well, sorry, even my future starts in the past: For me 2014 started on the 20 December 2013 with the 3rd Ötzi XL, 315 km in not really winter weather, but good fun anyway.
“Fun”, Michel, Peter and Per recharging in Köping after about half of Ötzi XL 2013

This was quickly followed by KBCK’s 200 km brevet the 4th January. So,over the two week Christmas break I managed to collect over 700 km winter riding. Together with some solo rides, intervals while riding to/from work and training indoors on my Monark (which I’m sure you’ll hear more about another time), I think, or maybe hope, I’ve had a pretty solid training start to 2014.
I have one major goal and two major but less certain goals this year.

The major one is Sverigetempot  (my Sverigetempot 2012). Jonas and I completed this in the fastest time in 2012. So of course, boys will be boys, I have to defend this! Just to be cocky, I contacted Peter Toner to ask if I could have number 1 in 2014. He couldn’t guarantee this, as the system dictated that the first to register would get nr 1. So I was forced to stay up alone, drinking wine, in the middle of the week and stay awake (I usually go to bed quite early) to register at exactly midnight on the 1st November. Childishly pathetic of course – but I did get nr 1 (startlist) J It looks like Sverigetempot this year will be a qualifying ride for Paris-Brest-Paris 2015, which would be great, because I wouldn’t have to worry or think about how to qualify with other rides.
Peter has divided up the start groups and I am in the last one, at 9.00 am on the 26th June. There are already over 40 registered, which is crazy for a ride of over 2000 km! Most of it on the same road through the same-looking forest; just look at it on a map! I think having the successful 2012 ride in fresh memory helps me a lot psychologically, and I am really looking forward to 2014. I wonder if that is pathologic? I’ll see if I can find some fun way of keeping you updated during the ride here.

Jonas and I, happy to have made it, 2012
I have decided against riding Vätternrundan this year to bash into my head that I should concentrate on long distance, mentally exhausting (in Swedish “pannben”)  training. So I am doing as much distance as possible already now and will leave harder, more VO2 maxish and faster training until closer to spring. I’ll hopefully be able to train with the Conti Test Team a few times – if they let me and if I can keep up!

The fast boys from CTT
Foto: Natasja Jovic, Hillside Cycling

My aim for Sverigetempot is under 100 hours. I don’t have much choice really, because I have to be home for my daughter’s birthday on the 2nd July and a day later I have a flight to the USA booked…

As with Sverigetempot, my two more wishy-washy 2014 goals are also organized by Peter and CK Distans. The first is the first Ultra event to be held in Sweden; 610 km solo but with an accompanying car. This would be a great first try at ultra-cycling! It also fits in well with our summer holiday plans because the route is located around the summer house near Hällefors where we spend a lot of time. So my family could come out onto the road and cheer me on TWICE during the ride, which would be very cool. If they are even interested in seeing a slowly riding, ghostly looking, brain-dead pappa glide past. Presumably at night. Probably in the rain.

The other maybe-goal in 2014: I’ve ridden the Stockholm – Göteborg event (about 560 km) twice. This year Peter’s gone completely wild and crazy and decided to include a Stockholm – Göteborg – Stockholm option. He’s threatened to only have this much fun once though (its some sort of jubilee year, which I haven’t got track of), which means I’d quite like to take the chance and join in. The good part about this cunning plan is that it solves the problem of how to get back home after riding all the way to Göteborg.

So, that’s them. I’ll also make sure I get a few normal brevet rides in. Especially seeing that KBCK has its inaugural complete series this year. KBCK has revolutionised Swedish randonneur cycling with its brevet series which is planned so that the first finishers should always finish at Lilla Barkarby roughly when the bar opens.

If all goes to plan the year will once again conclude with an ice-cold Ötzi XL and then some summer rides in Australia! Wihee!
Where I'd like to ride at the end of the year...

2014 could be good!


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

In Australia the aborigines talk of the long time ago, old legends of sky fighting against earth, animals being invented and long walkabouts sort of time as the dreamtime. Sitting here in the cold, Swedish winter I’ve found myself slipping into an Australian dreamtime the last few days.

The Tour Down Under is on in South Australia at the moment and that reminds me of the summer trips to Australia that my family, my bike and I have made in the last few years with brilliant, sunny riding in fantastic scenery.

Along the Coastal Drive north of Wollongong

On Mt. Keira, looking out over the northern suburbs
On one of these trips my sister lived in Adelaide so we visited at the same time the TdU was on and I got to ride the people’s ride, where one of the stages is open to recreational riders who can then wait at the finish for the pros to turn up a bit later. Right now, reading about the race with Simon Gerrans, Cadel Evans, Caleb Ewan (watch out for this young talent!) and the others, brings back these memories. They are racing in the Barossa Valley, up Mengler’s Hill and the other roads I had the chance to ride on. It will be exciting to see who takes out the TdU this year; the field is perhaps the highest class international field ever.
I’m dreaming of long, warm rides through eucalyptus bush, with aweinspiring views over valleys and dams, of rolling farms landscape and steep passes up the Illawarra escarpment. Of Bulli Beach swims with my family and parents after early morning rides…

Somehow the cramps I got due to it being too hot don’t seem a problem when looking out the window into the dark with the thermometer on -5.

It’s a nice dream.


Sunday, 19 January 2014

Yes I do ride for real!
Winter wonderland
Well I can't just sit and write about my modest cycling background all the time can I! So this morning I got up before the rest of the family for an early 2,5 hours ride through the beautiful Swedish winter countryside. As I am such a professional blogger now I charged the camera battery last night and took the camera with me today to share some of this scenery with you. I stopped at a suitable spot on a nice curvey bit of snowy road with droopy white pine trees, spent a few minutes getting my hands out of the gloves and the camera out of my pocket, wanted to take a picture, but realised the charged battery was lying in the kitchen instead of in the camera. Professional , huh!
Imagine my winter wonderland picture here
Of course if there's no photo on a blog or instagram something hasn't actually happened. So I can offer this at least:
Sometimes its strange that all the bits still work
I rode about 55 slow, heavy km  around Södertörn at  an average temperature of -6 degrees. A big juicy omelette at home tasted fantastic aftewards!
More real riding coming soon!

What I ride
Part II: Pearls

Despite all its merits, and an uncanny ability to keep up with faster bikes on long rides, the cult-Klein is of course not a racing machine. Once I decided to get into road cycling to ride my first Vätternrundan in 2007, I bought my first racer, an aluminium Monti with cool Campagnolo Record components. This was also too small, but I’m quite insensitive to such details and really enjoyed this bike. Unfortunately it decided to steer me at high speed into a signpost during the finale of the Stockholm Cykel City Gran Fondo race in 2009 and, although I managed to ride the last 2 km to the finish before being ambulanced to hospital, the bike never recovered.

With the help of a good insurance cover, Jan from Norvelo helped me get an early prototype Pearl Dice, which after my initialization with the Monti also had Record components.

The first Pearl Dice
My first real, carbon racer! I joined KBCK on a road trip to Belgium to ride the recreational version of Ronde de Flanderen with the Dice. On the morning of the ride I went down to the hotel’s bike storage room and discovered that mine and about four other bikes had been stolen. So after the 24 hour drive and all the other planning and travelling hassles, we realized we weren’t even going to be able to ride the event. We took a complicated majority vote to decide that 5 am was a good time to open the hotel bar instead. The trip was saved by a great day watching the pros ride their race the day after and the boxes and boxes of Belgian beer we took home with us. We had to somehow fill all the extra room we had in the van now that the bikes were gone!
After this Jan again helped me to buy a new Pearl Dice, which I loved. It felt so fast. So cool.

So sexy.

Then my nemesis race, the Gran Fondo, turned up again in 2010. I ended up in a really silly crash, going UPHILL(!) when the guy in front of me stopped dead and I just fell over. No harm done, just sat on the road. Unfortunately the guy behind me sat down as well, on the rear triangle of my bike. At first I didn’t even notice any damage and in real frustration because the lead group had disappeared, I rode in a little group the last 30 km to the finish. It wasn’t until I checked the bike at home that I saw that the carbon was in tatters. So; it was time for insurance, Jan and Pearl againJ
This time Pearl sent a Grace SL, which I’ve ridden ever since. Its been fantastically versatile for training, pretend fast riding on a few Vätternrundans and some recreational races, and quite long riding. This is the bike I used for both Paris-Brest-Paris and Sverigetempo.

I’ll see what happens in future with racing bikes, but can definitely imagine continuing with Pearls. Love ‘em.
So, what now?


Saturday, 18 January 2014

What I ride
Part I: My Klein

I’m not very good at bikes and seldom upgrade them or buy new ones. So I’ve been very faithful to those that I use.

As I mentioned earlier, my real introduction to cycling was in the European Alps when I bought a second hand Klein Pinnacle to play around in the hills with my wife and daughter with. This was in 2000 and if I remember correctly, it was already 7 years old then, which makes it about 20 years old now J. It’s a no-suspension, pretty heavy, aluminium mountainbike. Its a little bit too small for me, but I couldn’t be bothered looking any more to buy something when I saw it in the shop, so I just bought it on sight. I think it cost 6000 Austrian shillings, which must be my best investment ever.

The Klein has a great, distinct, Kleinish orange colour and has been my workhorse all these years. It has taken me numerous times on long winter rides, with heavy studded winter tyres and a few bags hanging on it. These rides have included about 10 times around the short, 200 km Mälaren loop and three, 320 km Ötzi XL rides.
Helping Gunnar and Nils along on Ötzi XL 2010

  The Klein loaded with essential cycling energy drink on a short Mälaren loop
Apart from these often sociable, often KBCK-inspired, often concluded with a beer or two, training rides, the Klein has been my mode of transport to work for all except for the most summery days of the year. In Sweden, that means pretty much all days of the year. In the years when we still had to take our children to kindergarden or school the Klein was also a great toy to get them there.

Taking kids to school, Swedish style
A few months ago I rode it to my son’s soccer training and while I was watching him, it disappeared. You can ask my family what sort of rotten company I was the following days. "Gee, you’re fun to be with aren’t you dad?!” Not very sociable I think… A few days later, after putting up a “STOLEN” note at the soccer club, some boys rang me and said they had found it, so I went and got it back and was over the moon! Presumably these were the same guys that had stolen it, but I didn’t go into those minor details and actually paid them a reward. The little brats skipped and danced excitedly away after this, utterly convinced they’d succeeded with the best coup ever. Brats!
After this emotional reunion the Klein has, at least in my own mind, become even more of a cult bike, and if I can ever afford it I will send it away for a well-deserved new paint job by a Kleinpaintingspecialist. Its deserved it!

Watch this space for other things I ride J

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Where I’m from

Part III: Long and hard
In 2007 Johan and some other world famous celebrities from happymtb rode Paris Brest Paris (1200 km) and I followed it feverishly on the internet and was incredibly impressed. PBP is the holy grail of randonneur cycling and is held every 4 years. Already while I was following them on internet I decided that that’s what I’d do 2011.
This meant getting used to real distances. So I joined in the standard randonneur, brevet series of 200, 300, 400, 600 km rides around Stockholm. We in KBCK had a ball. These rides were great. And I seemed to enjoy the 600 km distance the most; it always included riding overnight and finishing early in the morning. I absolutely loved it. The ups and downs, the laughs, the complete exhaustion and suffering when energy reserves were at their lowest and for me always the slight problem that I have a tendency to fall asleep on my bike. Then finishing. Its magic. It wasn’t until after I’d ridden a few of these that I remembered my earlier dream (nightmare?) that I’d end up roadcycling in Sweden; how right you were Nostradamus.
My long distance riding so far has had three clear highlights. In 2010 I had this really clever idea to organize a 320 km ride around Mälaren. We had done this a few times. In nice weather. Usually in winters we chose the shorter, 200 km route, the legendary, KBCK inspired “Tour de Ötzi”. Well mine was in December, and it was Ötzi XL. Hopefully some from Sweden will also follow this rambling, so here’s the story of Ötzi XL 2010. After (I think) 9 started from our clubroom at Lilla Barkarby at 9.30 pm after a beer or two, some dropped off already in Stockholm. It was cold.  After Södertälje, where we missed the closing time of the the petrol station we were hoping to warm up in, there were only Gunnar, Nils and me left. I will shamefacedly admit that I was so cold that I only continued because the other two did and I felt obliged to because I started the whole stupid thing. It was -17 degrees at times and the warmest was -10. We were out in that for 22 magic hours.

Gunnar, Nils and myself in a truly beautiful Swedish winter landscape

After this PBP 2011 turned up, which was more than twice as long as anything I’d ever ridden, so my goal was just to finish. With a “secret” vision of maybe finishing in under 55 hours. KBCK hired a minbius and we had the best road trip ever (through Belgium of course to buy some beers). The whole trip was like a party with a bit of a ride in the middle. A few of us finished in 51:36 hours, in about 60th place out of 5000. This was KBCK's huge national breakthrough: PBP 2011 Swedish results . I felt strong.

John, Johan, Ari, myself and Calle trying to work out what we had done.
John and myself making sure we don't dehydrate when we get back to the hotel. Dehydration is very dangerous.
I guess I was on a bit of a roll, so why not register for Sverigetempot 2012? Anders (nypan): had said that in Sweden when planning a cycling summer you could either have a really nice cycling trip to Italy’s Mille Miglia, you could have a lovely cycling holiday on Mallorca or Gran Canaria, or you could ride Sverigetempot and become cult. I liked the latter idea. But this was scary. 2109 km from north (Riksgränsen) to south (Smygehuk) through the whole of Sweden. Ouch. This is a strange event that is held whenever anyone can be bothered to hold it. Luckily Sweden has Peter Tonér, who is unbelievable in his energy in arranging rides like this. Anyway, after a few glasses of wine one night my name was on the list. Swedish long distance cycling has become really popular which is fantastic and the list of 49 starters pretty much doubled the population of Riksgränsen when we met up there with nervous expectations in the end of June. This was a long story so I won’t repeat it here, but for anyone here who feels like reading it in Swedish here's my trip    
But of course you who read it here demand exclusive content so I will treat you to a portrait of myself in the metropole Hyltebruk (where we honestly in a whole hour didn’t find a single person). Feel free to hang it up on your fridge:

Gee this is fun. Great idea Toni!

Prior to 2012, RAAM-Gunnar held the record for Sverigetempot with 132 hours (although of course being a brevet ride IT IS NOT A RACE). Jonas and I rode it in 106:20 hours. Although we had both 96 (4 days) and 100 hours as utopian goals, we were of course unbelievably proud of this.
And I started to realize that being able to ride pretend fast, and pretty long, I could maybe ride long and hard as well.
Watch this space for what happened next J


Sunday, 12 January 2014

Where I’m from

Part II: Pretend fast riding

After a few years back in Sweden, during which my wife and I played around a bit on our mountainbikes, but didn’t really think about it much, I suddenly got this wild and crazy idea to ride Vätternrundan, all 300 km of it! I got a cheapish, 10,000 kr roadbike (Monti) but didn’t have a clue what to do. So I googled. And of course got an answer in first. Since that day I have happymtb to thank for pretty much everything I have done in cycling. Especially the inclusion in Sweden’s best cycling club, KBCK (just don’t ever ask what it stands for). You can google pretty much anything and happymtb is likely to come up. I once wanted to know what the plastic bags were called that really drunk people at the Oktoberfest in München were transported in. Google gave me happymtb as an answer!

In 2007 I joined happy’s sub10 hours group for VR and it was quite easy (I ended up alone but rode in 9:30 hours I think). After that I continued in happymtb’s very own Leo’s first Finax-sponsored, then Continental sponsored groups at VR. Our times have been: 8:05, 7:34, 7:28, 7:12 (then I missed their 7:08 in 2012).

Taking a turn at the front in the Continental Test Team at Vätternrundan 2011
(photo Natasja Jovic)
In 2013 I was for the first time involved in a serious effort to ride under 7 hours (about 43 km/h average over 300 km). But the wind killed us and in the end we realized it wasn’t going to work and came in in 7:17.

CTT 2013, me 4th from right, front row
(photo Natasja Jovic)
I’m not registered for Vätternrundan 2014. But who knows what will happen…

During these years I started to realize I could ride pretty fast and played around in some recreational races. I generally came in in the first group and started feeling a bit cocky about the whole thing.  

Riding solo after a puncture to come 4th in the Sörmlandstrampet 2007

Wheelsucking in 5th place in theTrosatrampet 2009 (3rd )
Of course I started to realize that I was nowhere near properly fast. There are some amazingly strong cyclists, even of my age, out there! At the same time the magical KBCK influence washed my brain with Belgian beer and forced me into more and more longer rides...

Watch this space for what happened next J


Where I’m from

Part I: Mountains

I guess it all started when I got a job in southern Germany in 2000/2001 at the base of the Chiemgauer Alpen. I bought a second hand Klein mountainbike (more about the bike later) and a ditto Trek for my wife in a friend’s shop in Kirchberg, close to Kitzbühel: We’d just had our first child and bought a bike trailer for her. Work was crap, so we spent most of the time riding up in the Chiemgauer mountains, enjoying fantastic views in little Alm-restaurants with simple cheese sandwiches and Weissbier accompanied by the characteristic scents of manure piles and grazing cows. Our closest, favourite ride was up Kampenwand with a stop at the really small Maisalm, which on occasion gave us a beer out of the fridge even though they weren’t open. Awesome!

                                                       The Maisalm on an overfull summerday.

We also quite often drove the 1 hour to Kitzbühel where my wife and I had met about 10 years earlier and rode up some of the mountains there and caught up with old friends. A favorite ride was up the Hahnekamm side to the Einsiedelei alm to enjoy some afternoon sunshine and a beer. It was great. I probably have some paper photos from this time but can’t be bothered scanning them, unless of course the public demand is really overwhelming!
We had a lot of difficulties down there though, and my wife just couldn’t feel at home in Bayern, but the mountains and cycling we will never forget. Because of the non-cycling rest of it, we decided to move back to Stockholm. We knew we would miss the Alp-feeling, our friends and the cycling and I had this ridiculously strange, uncomfortable vision that, hey, I may in future change to road riding and one day start riding really long rides. Maybe even as far as about 600 km, which is the distance from home to my wife's family's summer place on Öland. You know; sort of with a few overnight tent stops, lots of bags hanging off the back of the bike and so on. Ridiculous! I forced back this stupid idea and forgot about it.

In Sweden there were other things to do. Work was good and we had another two children the following years. So my cycling interest was more or less limited to an annual craze watching the Tour de France on TV. The ridiculous road riding idea was well and truly forgotten.
Watch this space for what happened next J


Thursday, 9 January 2014

Well, here I am. Just a middle aged, proud father of 3 children. I like riding. Bikes. On this blog I'd like to share my fun, excitement, pain, pride and fascination of cycling. And as the name suggests I like long, hard rides.

I have a few exciting plans the next couple of years and would like to share my journey on the way with you. I hope its fun!

Its definitely going to be long. And hard.