Giro d’Italia takes place in Italy and the Tour de France takes place in France, right? Wrong! More and more they are visiting other countries including England, Northern Ireland and Denmark. And now the Giro may be coming to Sweden1. It’s not going to happen any time soon with the discussions mentioning some time after 2017 but at least it’s being discussed. It could be done in conjunction with Vätternrundan which would mean that most of the infrastructure is already in place and that us mere mortals would be able to join in and ride the same course as the professionals on the same day. Assuming I make it round my first Vätternrundan next year, this would definitely make a second more interesting for me.
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?
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).
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 exactly 100 days I will participate in the ITU World Triathlon Stockholm but unfortunately I enjoy neither swimming nor running. I don’t enjoy swimming and running as regular sport activities I should say since I’m perfectly fine with a refreshing swim during summer and also fine with a quick run to the bus stop when I’m late in the morning (or a 10 kilometer race once in a while with the wife if she insists but that’s if she really insists).
Stockholm triathlon 2012 (or 2011, I can’t remember which summer it was so warm and we had so little ice)
Lucky for me there are such things as triathlon relays and people who actually do like swimming and running (weird but convenient)! “- Joel, wanna swim 1.5 kilometers? – Yes. – Jukka, wanna run 10 kilometers? – Yes. – Alright boys, I’ll bike, let’s go for the relay. – Sure. – Sure.” And so it is. Our it-took-less-than-one-minute-to-form team is on its way to its first triathlon.
I’m still not sure I’ll be able to get my hands on a proper racer for the day (I’m sure not going to buy one) so I just pretend I won’t and get ready for the 40 kilometer ride on my loyal single speed Kona Paddy Wagon (I’ll skip the fixed gear and go freewheel to get a chance to rest my legs if needed). The bike came with a 42T chainring and a 16T sprocket and the gear ratio – which is quite alright for relaxed commutes to work – would be way too small if I want to cover the distance in a decent time.
I now am on 46:16 and I will ride that for a month or so before I put on a smaller sprocket and so on. 46:16 is quite alright at the moment but I will need a bigger ratio to reach my objective: 1 hour 15 minutes and under (not sure I’ll manage but it’s more fun with a goal).
My main concern is the wind though: I ride the course almost weekly (at commuting speed) and it’s rather flat but it’s along the water and exposed. It’s around 6 kilometers one way and then back on the other side of the river (so the race will be 3 laps): with north to south winds it’ll be alright and means side winds the whole race but if it’s east to west winds then it’ll be harder with headwinds half the race.
As for the weather it does not really matter: it could be warm, cold, sunny, rainy or even snowy (it was 1°C for last year’s marathon in June so..) I embrace rule #9 and have a spare set of studded tires in stock. Our runner (Jukka) should be fine too but it might be a bit trickier for our swimmer (Joel) if he has to swim with an ice tool in each hand. But as long as we all have fun (Joel can always wear gloves) it does not really matter, we are the it-took-less-than-one-minute-to-form team on its way to its first triathlon and we’re going to smash our current record!
Joining the race too? Want to share your triathlon experience on one gear? Please don’t hesitate and leave a comment.