Sunday, 27 April 2014

Täby 300 km
Yesterday it was finally time for the start of the spring brevet series for my part. I managed to find time on a Saturday to ride the 300 km brevet from Täby in northern Stockholm. Always a bit nervous on the first long ride whether or not the training during winter has been sufficient to keep up with the others, so I had as a plan to enjoy the ride, not push too hard and be sociable. There had been alot happening at home during the week so I stressed a bit getting the Pearl ready and twice on Friday night the rear tyre exploded. It didn't exactly feel comforting having to ride on new tyres that had already popped without any test of whether they would hold. Oh well, the things one does for a bit of excitement :-) In the end I thought I was organised though. Up at 4.58 without an alarm and out into the -4 degree morning.

Grrr said the bike. Brrr said the weather. 

The forecast was for a sunny warm spring day so I gambled a bit and only had shorts on my legs. This ended up being a great move as we had sunshine and over 15 degrees nearly all day, apart from a freezing first hour. I drove to Täby where there was the usual excited small talk in anticipation of the ride. There were a few newcomers to this sort of ride which was great to see!  Then at 7, off we rode, about 35 excited happy randonneurs.

The first 100 km were as I had intended - not much intensity, alot of happy chatter, and lots of people taking turns at the front. I started to get anxious that this wasn't even training, so I took a turn at the front and tested a bit. When I turned around there were only 5 of us left, which was quite nice so that we could have more action in the cycling. I later realised that there was a red light involved in this selection and apologise for that!

We rode hard to the half way control in Grisslehamn where we took a long healthy lunch with pizzas and hamburgers. The others caught up and we decided to stay together again after lunch. The ride in the afternoon was magic on small, windy, rollercoaster roads through beautiful Swedish scenery.

Somewhere in Roslagen.
An icecream in Gimo, a sour Finn and Danne in a traditional randonneur pose. What more can you want?
Cycling at its best.
A few more "unintentional" increases in intensity by Danne and me meant that we in the end suddenly only had company of a couple of others. But once we had tumbled into the final control in Täby, the others came in as well and a satisfied group talked childish rubbish about the ride until everybody started drifting off home. Thanks everyone for a great day!

A fantastic photo of a tired, satisfied bunch of handsome randonneurs in the picturesque final control in the Täby Shell petrol station.

Guess how good the beer at home tasted!

Hopefully I can follow this up with the Södertälje 300 km next weekend and then our own KBCK 400 km two weeks later. If I continue feeling as good as yesterday I feel well on track for the bigger goals this summer.


Thursday, 24 April 2014

Inspired by Cadel

What can you say when a world star writes this after a team time trial? Make sure you read until the end...

Tuesday, 22 April 2014
Back racing again, in Trentino for my second participation of Giro del Trentino.  A nice start for us, but the highlight of my week has been the presence of my young friend from Mazar Sharif in Afghanistan, Nur Halimi. I was lucky enough to meet Nur through a priest, Don Agostino Frasson, who looks after the 'Casa Don Guanella' in Lecco. One of five Don Guanella 'communities' in Italy that take in, care and educate young orphans mostly from outside of Italy.
Nur, although only twenty years old, has a frightful but interesting story of how he came to be here in Italy. The eldest of six children, Nur's father - in fear of his children's lives - was forced to sell some of the families farmland to put his eldest son on the back of a truck, with all the family's money, in hope of arriving at a better place. For two and half months, the then 16 y.o Nur traveled by truck, bus, train but mostly by foot to arrive in Italy. With only the clothes he was wearing, a small bag, a little hope and I suspect a great deal of fear, Nur saw people fall down mountain sides to their death, walked for up to 12 hours a day in company of 'minders' to find himself sleeping alone in a forest in Italy. Without identification, police found Nur - and from here - Nur found his home at the Casa Don Guanella in Lecco.

The Casa Don Guanella in Lecco also has an association with cycling -  hence how we met - and learning about Nur's interest in bicycle maintenance, the BMC Team invited here as guest in Giro del Trentino to gain some experience from the team mechanics, ride in the team car behind the TTT and stand on the podium with us. A frightful but interesting story that we can all learn from, with a happy ending... 

If anyone would like to know more about and support the Casa Don Guanella and Nur or one of his sixty-nine friends, information can be found in Italian here at:
Don Agostino is working to raise 250'000€ to renovate and convert the 'Cascina Don Guanella' from a beautiful 60 acre farm into an education, therapeutic and sustainable cycling themed Agriturismo, run by Nur and his friends. All going well, the Agriturismo in the hills above Valmadrera (Lecco) will be open within two years. You will probably find me there, either carting manure or being fattened up by the farms vegetables, wine, olive oil and Gianna's great home made biscuits. 

Oh, there was a bike race here today too, we won. Our local boy Daniel Oss is in the jersey...and I will have my work cut out for me... 

The day after he took over the leader jersey and today he won the mountain stage. With 45 s lead he should be able to control the final mountain stage tomorrow. In the interview he talked openly about missing the tour, doping and being who he is. Cool.

I'm sure he's proud to get his picture on my blogg after that effort.
I'm not sure if his form will be enough to win the Giro, but it's very close and going to be brilliant to watch!

Monday, 21 April 2014


I have had this nagging frustration inside me for quite a while now. Perhaps mainly because my dedicated priorityranking of 1. family - 2. cycling - 3. work - 4. blogg (:-)) has been disturbed with new responsibilities at work. For quite a while and definitely this morning I was starting to wonder whether places 2 and 3 on that list had been permanently exchanged.

Then the congress trip to Korea was an awakening as well with the international group of friends there. An absolutely fantastic feeling with both social and scientific exchange with friends from up to 20 years ago and always new and exciting people as well. Coming home after that is scary sometimes, when you realise that these people just aren't there for eachother apart from a few days a year. I really miss that and perhaps don't have the same work - friendship situation in Sweden.

So I've had this nagging frustration that didn't really even abate during our otherwise great Easter holiday.

Until today :-) Not only did I finally shave my legs for the upcoming season, which has surprising psychological effects. Not only was it fantastic weather. But my legs even felt fast considering the low key training over the last few weeks. I rode a 60 km TTTT - 4734 with 35 km/h over the first hour. Well, ok, I was alone so it's easy to say I was fast. BUT I FELT IT :-)

And looked this happy.

Oops, that didn't work. I'll blame it on my borrowed work mobile phone from about 1826. Still haven't got a new one...
There you go! More shaved in some places than others :-)
I then had a beer in the sun at home, then a beer in a nice bath and have now completely forgotten why I was frustrated half a day ago.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

A beautiful Easter weekend with sunshine, barbques and even a couple of swims is drawing to a close and this is the closest I got to riding:

A Pearl going 130 km/h
The water in central Sweden wasn't quite as warm as the air yet...

No not quite. But I have been using all my spare moments writing an application for funding for work, but have promised myself and my bike at least a couple of hours out in the sunshine this afternoon.

I spent a week in South Korea on a conference, which usually means a compulsory break in training. But having active conference friends means I got in a few runs and gym sessions, and the hotel gym even had a decent bike. Well decent enough to get me really tired anyway. Korea with its hospitable, friendly people, fascinating food (you can't miss the Chinese penis fish for example :-)), scenery and huge population is pretty exciting by the way and a visit there can only be recommended.

Hotel room view in Busan, Korea. Beautiful clear water and at least a few degrees warmer than at home :-)

Apart from a panicky feeling with missed training, which doesn't get better by coming back from trips and reading about the endless kilometers everybody else seems to be riding, there have been a few developments on the planning front. I will write more on that soon.

The best part is that there are a few 300 and 400 km brevets coming up and it looks like I can ride at least a few of them. That will feel like a real comeback! Yippeee!


Saturday, 5 April 2014

Another week

Another week expired and no sign from me. I've started to notice that when work has to be done it has to be done. When work AND riding has to be done riding gets sacrificed. This is sad. But not too bad when you also enjoy your work and when getting your work done means you feel more harmonious and at ease so that important things like family and riding can actually be enjoyed more as well.

So a few planned rides have again been sidelined and I have instead been sickenly effective at work. At least I have kept my Pearl occupied by riding it to work in crispy fresh spring weather.

Continuation of the blåsippor theme. From my ride to work yesterday.
I rode past Jan's at Norvelo and he kindly used a considerable portion of his day's allotment of precious helping-spring-cyclists time to try and find mysterious noises the Pearl is making. We found a few, I bought a few other goodies and rode home. And it's still just as noisy. I'm really hoping to get a new Pearl frame soon so that I can get to the bottom of this problem.
I just spent most of the day with my son at a football cup. You know how it is; when some things need to get done, it's not unlikely that riding doesn't get done. Enjoying the sun now. And a lovely fresh Weissbier :-)