Vätternrundan 2014: Part 8: It’s all over!

Sorry this took so long. To be honest I thought I’d posted it but apparently not.

Remember those sore feet I had in Karlsborg? Well I thought it was because of the stiff bike shoes. It ended up being a splinter that I’d stood on and jammed into my foot just where I press down on the pedals. If I’d looked at it then I’d have been able to solve it straight away. How annoying is that?

Finished

So, what did I learn?

Well, quite a lot actually. Firstly, that 300 kilometers on a bike is not as hard as you might think as long as you have done the prep work. Anyone who goes into it thinking it’ll be easy is either mad, stupid or a Team Sky rider (and even they don’t usually ride that far in one go!).

Apart from that, this is what I take away with me:

  • They say to do 1000 kilometers training if you want to make it round Vättern, 2000 if you want to do it comfortably and 3000 if you want to do it fast. Those numbers are pretty accurate I’d say! I did about 2800 and still had to dig deep when my energy hit rock bottom.
  • Join a bike club. They can help you with training, to find a team and, most importantly, they get priority placing when registration opens. Sure, you have to pay a little more but at least you are freed from the wild scramble to get a place. Vätternrundan fills up in minutes and a lot of people are left disappointed!
  • Cycle as part of a team. Having friends all around you to push you along and keep you going when things get hard is the best thing you can possibly have. I know at least two members of my team would have quit if the rest if us had not been there encouraging them.
  • Set a goal. But remember that it doesn’t matter if you don’t achieve your goal. Just getting round is a pretty bloody major achievement in itself. It’s more important to enjoy yourself and have a good time than to eat some time limit that nobody cares about except you.
  • Make sure you know how to fix a puncture. It might sound stupid but you’d be amazed how many people we passed waiting for service cars to come and fixed punctured tyres! You’ll ruin any chance of beating your goal time but, more importantly, you’ll get cold and stiff waiting around. Better to fix it yourself and get on your way again.
  • The right bike for you is better than the wrong bike with a flashy label on it. You’re ten times better off having a bike nobody has heard of but that fits you than a Specialized carbon fibre wonderbike that is way too big or small.
  • The people who make fun of you for spending so much time training and grinding yourself down are mostly just jealous because they are too lazy to get off their butts and do it themselves.
  • You cross the line saying, “Never again.” A few weeks later you’re thinking, “When does the registration for Vätternrundan open?” I won’t be doing it next year but I will be back some day!

Why am I not going back next year? Well mainly because my wife would kill me but also because my job are entering teams in Halvvättern and I want to be part of that. Even doing Halvvättern without practicing with the people you will cycle with is just a bad idea.

That’s it. My Vätternrundan 2014 adventure is over. I’ve also completed Vansbrosimmet and will run Lidingöloppet on Saturday.

in figures, October 2013… or not

The plan was to keep track of my relationship with the commuter over a 12 month period but I’m afraid it won’t happen. I’m sure my 3 month old baby girl has something to do with it as she likes to go to the stables at night and play with the bike computer but I obviously will never be able to prove that she pressed the reset button (if you really want to know, on October 31st, the screen said 115 kilometres which is pretty much what I rode in the last 4 days of that month).

So no figures for October 2013 but a (new) picture of me riding to work instead. Beautiful autumn in Stockholm and, as you can see, snow is late this year.

Cycling on ice

But let’s change subject to what made my day miserable yesterday: I commuted by public transit. Due to circumstances beyond my control I have been commuting to Kista the last two days (which for someone living in the southern parts of Stockholm is close to the worst punishment ever) and, to make things even worse, commuter trains traffic was cancelled after a freight train derailed right before Stockholms södra yesterday morning.1

One could argue this was bad luck and – hopefully – does not happen often but it still shows how fragile Stockholm’s rail infrastructure still is in 2013: one train derails and thousands of commuters are affected. Only two tracks (one way) support all traffic at this particular location and even a minor glitch has enormous consequences. But the issue is being addressed and the Capital of Scandinavia will spend one billion Swedish kronor on the cycling infrastructure over the next two hundred years. Oh wait… Does the railway network also need maintenance and improvements now?

The rest of the journey was business as usual with a traffic stop on the subway red line, a quick switch to the green line in Slussen and a I-am-glad-I-am-in-good-shape-and-can-walk switch to the blue line at Stockholm’s central station. Kista, here I am, one hour later.

I’ll spare you the details of the never ending commute back home via the brand new tramway line because… I just want to forget about it and pretend I did not just waste another hour of my life.

Commuting by bike to Kista

Anyway, I was not going to endure the SL pain two days in a row and so, today, I rode my bicycle instead: 20 kilometers in 50 minutes (one way). Now tell me: what was I thinking yesterday when I chose public transit over the fastest means of transportation in any (relatively) big city around the world? But like October’s mileage, I guess I’ll never know.


  1. http://www.thelocal.se/20131112/rush-hour-derailment-snarls-stockholm-train-traffic 

in figures, September 2013

Bicycle commuting is the use of a bicycle to travel from home to a place of work or study — in contrast to the use of a bicycle for sport, recreation or touring. – Wikipedia

On the slippery slope to shaved legs & spandex wear?
On my way to work

  • Time – 14:48’07
  • Distance – 330.98 km
  • Average speed – 22.3 km/h
  • Maximum speed – 49.4 km/h
  • Calorie consumption – 5563 kcal
  • Carbon offset (CO2) – 49.64 kg
  • Operating cost: 0 SEK

You can find the 14 islands bicycle commuting squad on Strava. Feel free to join the club and help us ass polishing some leather. With love.

Hammarby Hill XC 2013

Last Saturday morning was supposed to be perfect and I had it all figured out in these sweet dreams I had. The horse was ready. I was – as much as one can be with an infant around – ready and I naively thought that everyone else would be. Wrong.

So I’m on my way, all geared up, to ride the 2013 Hammarby Hill XC but as I reach the starting line and look around me I know I’m in trouble. Not only am I surrounded by the Lycra tights army – those guys are all over town already but they usually mean no harm – but there’s also a bunch of people wearing reflective safety vests! Safety vests for mountain bike racing in the woods? Seriously? Did I miss something here? Is the cyclist hunting season already open?

Vintage mountain bike commercial
Me right before heading to Hellasgården

But I don’t really have time to think about the risks I’m about to take as the organizer fires the starting pistol (I know I’m safe at that moment since the guy between me and the weapon is wearing a vest) and we’re on the move: the dense herd rides on a tiny asphalt ribbon for a while but even though we make pretty easy targets no one gets shot.

Then the fun begins and as the group enters the first (of the too few) rocky section it’s clear some of us have never cycled elsewhere than gravel paths. Bikes and parts are flying all over the place, piles of people start to form and trees are covered with bright shiny pieces of clothing. It’s a mess but I somehow manage to stay on the saddle and make it through in one piece (I think I’m dragging two guys with their fingers stuck in my rear derailleur at that time but the bones quickly snap and I’m soon back to cruising speed).

Where has the gravel gone?
Shit. Where has the gravel gone???

Just like two years ago I signed up for the 40 kilometers distance only this year I was in better shape and should have been done with the 2 laps in less than 2 hours. That was my goal at least and I was obviously not expecting problems with the derailleur (could the bones explain the malfunction?). I unfortunately had to stop twice to put it back in place and finished the race in 2 hours and 8 minutes. Eight minutes over. Crap.

I should look at the bright side though: I didn’t take a bullet that day and I should consider myself lucky to just be alive! A fine Saturday morning after all but how wrong can it go when cycling is on the agenda? Wait. Did you just say reflective safety vest?

For the 14 islands racing buns, with cycling love.

in figures, August 2013

Not much riding this month since I was on parental leave with my girls. Still, here are the unimposing figures from August, 2013.

On the slippery slope to shaved legs & spandex wear?
On my way to work

  • Time – 5:42’52
  • Distance – 129.14 km
  • Average speed – 22.6 km/h
  • Maximum speed – 51.5 km/h
  • Calorie consumption – 2422 kcal
  • Carbon offset (CO2) – 19.36 kg
  • Operating cost: 40 SEK (flat tire)

in figures, July 2013

Bicycle commuting business as usual last month (no vacation) and with my eyes on the bicycle computer screen and my fingers on the laptop keyboard I’m now typing the figures from July, 2013. Wireless. Pretty advanced stuff.

On the slippery slope to shaved legs & spandex wear?
On my way to work

  • Time – 18:51’09
  • Distance – 417.04 km
  • Average speed – 22.1 km/h
  • Maximum speed – 45.8 km/h
  • Calorie consumption – 6964 kcal
  • Carbon offset (CO2) – 62.55 kg
  • Operating cost: 0 SEK

in figures, June 2013

Sometime in May I went through the boxes full of bicycle parts, screws and other bike related things I keep in the stables and dug up an 8-function wireless bicycle computer!

I did not plan to have (buy) anything electronic on the commuter bike but since I had a computer already I could just as well give it a try – not to mention that the first function of that computer is a clock! and that’s pretty cool: until now I always had the feeling I was going to be late for the daily morning meeting but now I AM SURE about that.

The wireless part doesn’t seem to work well along train tracks though (no communication at all between the sensor and the base on Årstabron for instance) but it doesn’t really matter. Or does it? Should I upgrade to a GPS/cadence meter/coffeemaker all-in-one device like those guys who take bike commuting as seriously as if they were riding a god damn stage on Tour de France? Do I look like I’m taking the first step on the slippery and dangerous slope to shaved legs and spandex clothing?

On the slippery slope to shaved legs & spandex wear?
On my way to work

I so hope not and, all in all, it was a slow month with a bunch of days off and not that much riding.

  • Time – 13:45’05
  • Distance – 299.38 km
  • Average speed – 21.7 km/h
  • Maximum speed – 48.4 km/h
  • Calorie consumption – 4780 kcal
  • Carbon offset (CO2) – 44.9 kg
  • Operating cost: 0 SEK

The calorie consumption data is only the accumulated value that is calculated from the speed data of every second. It differs from the actual consumed calorie: 10 km/h – 67.3 kcal per hour, 20 km/h – 244.5 kcal per hour & 30 km/h – 641.6 kcal per hour.

The Carbon offset are calculated as follows: trip distance (km) x 0.15 = Carbon offset (kg). This factor of 0.15 is determined by applying the average value of the overall gasoline-powered passenger cars in 2008 to the equation of the “Carbon offset from 1 km drive of a gasoline-powered car” described on the website of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and Tourism.