Falu red cottage, bicycle & bread

If you ask Swedes where they’re going to spend their next vacation don’t expect to get a list of 196 different countries. There are basically two answers to that question: Spain1 or “på landet”.

You can’t blame the Swedes for wanting to escape for a sunny weekend away but you sure can’t blame them for loving their countryside either. “På landet” is like a country within the country, a place where one can live without electricity and running water less than an hour drive from Stockholm. In cycling lingo “på landet” is also just another word for paradise.

Sure the lack of running water can be an issue for some – especially after long rides – but there’s always a lake nearby for those who insist on hand washing their bibs. And for the rest of us… well… that’s part of the experience. Can the cyclist (the one not too concerned about laundry) in you imagine a better resort than a wooden cabin in the middle of close-to-nowhere with great riding all around? Can you imagine a better way to start the day than a 30 kilometre cycling round trip to the grocery store so the family can enjoy fresh bread for breakfast? I can’t.

Cycling in the Swedish countryside is pure pleasure with beautiful landscapes (classic Swedish red houses, forests, lakes & fields of rape seeds), pretty good roads and almost no motorized traffic (I met one car during that trip to the bakery). You pretty much get the whole pavement for yourself and, once you’re cruising at whatever speed you think is fast, you can just let a “yeeehhhaaaa” go (even two if you want to since no one can hear you anyway).

A Falu red cottage and a bicycle is what I would choose over Spain if you asked me (I could import a few extra degrees from down there though) but if you still don’t believe “på landet” is the place where you should spend your next (cycling) holidays, just see for yourself.

Sweden countryside cycling

Doesn’t she look happy? Does she look like she’d rather be in Spain or in the shower after that long ride she just took to the nearest shop? I think she’s doing just fine… “på landet”.

  1. In 2013, Swedes took 2.04 million trips to Spain. – http://www.thelocal.se/20140603/swedes-top-travel-destination-revealed 

were people cycling back then?

Sometimes we wonder how it was back in the days. Were people cycling in Stockholm or just walking because, you know, they did not have carbon frames, spandex clothes & GPS trackers, right? Could they possibly commute on two wheels without these basics back then? Well…

Cycling in Stockholm, 1945
1945 – one car to smoke them all

Cycling in Stockholm, 1946
1946 – bike parking facilities (replaced later with beautiful asphalt)

Cycling in Stockholm, 1946
1946 – Stockholm Central Station before mad taxi drivers conquered the spot

More bicycling vintage pictures of bicycle cycling Stockholm here thanks to Stockholmskällan.

the MBK project – cleaning up

I thought I’d spend Christmas day on the couch letting all the available body energy flow to my busy stomach but my obsession with bicycles had other plans for me.

A couple of months ago my dad bought a brand new road bike but did not throw away his old school MBK Super Sprint even though pretty much nothing on it was in working order: rusted brake callipers, stucked derailleur and shifters. The frame being in rather good condition with compatible drop-outs I could only think of one solution to get that bike back on the French country side roads: I had to start with my first conversion and build a fixed gear bike.

Since I did not know I was going to convert a bike during the Christmas season I did not have the parts I needed to complete the work but I started anyway and removed all the useless bits and pieces I could find on the frame. It did not take long and the bike is now waiting for new components and I’ll make sure I order them in advance or find them in my own stock before next time I pay a visit to my parents. Here’s what I need before I can ride this “back from the deads” MBK: a front brake, tires & tubes, a fixed gear rear wheel, a chain ring and a chain. Duly noted.

the MBK project

I’m now back in Stockholm, Sweden and the project is on hold for a while but stay tuned (subscribe to the RSS feed if you don’t want to miss the followup to the MBK revival).