Monday, 28 December 2015

Like a child at Christmas

After the dark, snowstormy ride last night (well afternoon, well no lunchish actually, but still dark) the countryside has turned beautifully crispy, cold, white and has ignited some sort of primeval childish Christmassy playing in the snow urges. I couldn't resist another ride today and even felt like I'd won the lottery of which hour or two might be sunny!


Despite studded tyres it was pretty treacherous out there somtimes so I shortened down my ride a bit to avoid roads with lots of traffic, and that was well worth it.

Give me roads like this any day

The temperature, tyres and conditions all contributed to an embarrasingly slow speed, but lots of fun and beautiful scenery.

But it was cold, about -8 most of the time, so I wasn't too sad to get home and jump into a warm bath with a well-deserved beer!


Sunday, 27 December 2015

Let it snow

I felt pretty dejected all day after having missed , an inaugural winter edition of Vätternrundan limited to 50 starters. I would have loved to test the new Bianchi on this ride - but work and family priorities the last few weeks have meant I couldn't get the logistics worked out in time. Pictures from today showing magical snowy winter weather on their ride haven't helped. Although I'm glad they have such brilliant (tough) conditions!

After a few hassles changing to studded tyres on the Bianchi cross, and the fact that the same snow storm had made it to Stockholm, I managed to find a couple of hours this afternoon to at least have a short personal winter adventure. A good opportunity to not only gently roll in the studded tyres (what DO they actually mean by that?!), but also to test battery times for my lights, new Zanier superduper electronically warmed gloves and overkill Bontrager wintershoes.

Say what you want, but the reflexes on the new tyres sure do their job!

My cockpit and view for a couple of hours: on the left one new glove (lowest level was fine for snowstorm and -3 degrees), Dinotte light on the right. Psychadelic snowflakes in front.

After 60 km I got randonneur petrol station withdrawal symptoms and stopped for some light beers in Skogås. As accompaniment for the sauna at home.

It ended up a great winter wonderlandy sort of ride, but in the worst of the storm out on quiet roads on Södertörn, I sort of understood the cars tooting at me trying to tell me there were probably safer things to be doing this evening.

Ride safe and careful everybody on the Vintervättern!


Friday, 25 December 2015

Ötzi XL 2015

After a really successful PBP a few months ago (48.53 hours and 25th place) I have been motivated to be in top form for Sverigetempot again next year. With more and more time restrictions due to work I need to plan my training well and it ends up being mainly high intensity intervals. However I am planning on including regular long (200+ km) rides to get really comfortably aquainted with distances.

The first one of these was the Ötzi XL ride based on the happy forum which I try and initiate whenever I am here in December. 320 km around the lake Mälaren in the middle of December should entail ridiculously cold temperatures, snow and alot of misery. The warm winter this year however meant that noone even had studded tyres on and I decided to ride in shorts :-) And I was really looking forward to riding on a CX (Bianchi Zurigo) for the first time!

Lovely looking bike, kitted for a long dark ride

After meeting at Lilla Barkarby and eating as much as possible a happy group of 10 started off into the pitch black at just after 9 pm. 

Eager, slightly nervous anticipation of the night to come

We unfortunately dropped one after only a few km's when his crank came off and he couldn't sort out how to replace it. But it was better this happening now than 7 hours later far away from anywhere. Riding through town at night in a group is always a bit nervous and I was glad when we came out onto the open road towards Södertälje after an hour or so. We weren't stressing so we stopped for a quick refill of energy and some chatting to get into the spirit of the ride and then soon got out onto the even more open, real roads out towards Strängnäs. Here Mika dropped off, but with his experience I was not worried about leaving him to himself.

This is what we looked like for about 11 hours. Between Södertälje and Strängnäs

It was a brutal headwind so we weren't going fast; I often looked down at my Garmin and realised we were struggling to ride faster than 20 km/h... But by skipping the stop in Strängnäs which felt unnecessary seeing we weren't at all cold, we made it to Eskilstuna in good time anyway. There we stopped for everyone to check equipment, fill bottles and of course the traditional 4 am McDonalds together with the cream of Eskilstuna society on their slightly wobbly way home after a long night out.

Still looking fresh and nearly halfway

A McJäger with extra Jäger please

After Eskilstuna we turned north and started getting the wind from the left instead and in Köping we finally turned east and suddenly didn't have to work hard to ride at 35 km/h. Most of us had short sleepy periods, but nothing extreme. Also Johan (baggy) from happy, met up with us here and escorted us for a few hours in our very own support car all the way to Västerås.

The rearview from baggy's car, somewhere in Sweden
Photo courtesy of Johan (baggy)

Västerås is always special; it is where everyone is most knackered but also where we realise there are only about 100 km left and the finish is in sight. Considering the tailwind, that it was finally light and the balmy temperatures, everyone was quite positive and looking forward to the remaining ride. It was an amazing group working well together, looking after eachother and always chatting away happily and encouragingly.

Ready for the final sprint, only 100 km left!
Photo courtesy of Johan (baggy)

After Västerås we were treated to not only a great atmosphere in the group (not sure what they put in their McMuffins in Västerås!), but also the only rays of sunshine for the whole ride. This was my big moment to work on my cycling tan! Oscar also decided this was a good time for our only puncture of the journey and after a record number of people assisted him, we were on our way to Bålsta (via Enköping, which we just rode straight through).

I did a monumentous sprint for the random Bålsta prize, which obviously surprised our new German friend Hagen, but he was strong enough to pass me after a while. However, as he doesn't know where the finish is I decided I won. As promised, Gurra was waiting in Bålsta with a final Jäger before the last stage to Barkarby. Here our peleton disintegrated after a few hill sprints and apparently there was a traditional sprint for the Barkarby sign, but I was trying to keep some style in our group and missed it.

Photo courtesy of Karin_P

After the warmest and fastest ever Ötzi XL, 16 hours 36 minutes, we were back at Lilla Barkarby. Before they opened! We enjoyed a good meal and a beer or two before everyone slowly and sleepily started going home.

Great ride! Thanks everyone. A special mention goes to Isabella who was the first girl to complete this ride. Strong! Thanks of course also to baggy and Gurra.

The Bianchi? After getting used to that it is less responsive (probably mainly due to larger, less pressure in the tyres and less stiff wheels) than both the racer and the Klein, I started feeling really comfortable on it. Looking forward to many more km's with it! 1000km over the Xmas break?

The route.

The total distance was 316 km. Somehow it is getting shorter and shorter. I guess Mälaren must be shrinking. Blame it on global warming!