Vätternrunden, ‘The Swedish Adventure’
(By Mark Crowther)
Vätternrundan 300km (Road-bike-Sportive) 17-18th of June 2016! http://vatternrundan.se/en/
Vätternrundan takes place in June every year. Over 23 000 riders register and we always look forward to a great (Road) bike fest. Participants from all over the world come to Motala to take part in this unique ride that is part of The Swedish Classic series.
The first Vätternrundan took place in 1966 with just over 300 riders, and since then the ride has grown into a ‘must do’ for riders worldwide. The pressure and demand to get an entry is always sky high and the ride is popular for many reasons. 2015 was the 50th event, (Ed. believe it or not 3 chaps have completed every single one!!. Oh and the course record was broken last year with the Bianchi team completing the 300km’s in 6hrs 30 ish. But its NOT a race! )
Lake Vättern with its breath taking scenery is the setting the riders enjoy around the whole circuit. Although it is a recreational bike ride, the challenge is great and you need to be well prepared. Accomplishing 300 km on a bike around the beautiful Lake Vättern with start and finish in Motala is something to be proud of. Will we see you in Motala?
2014….Atyrau Outdoors Swedish Invasion
Around this time last year the possibility of entering a group from Atyrau Outdoors was just a crazy idea. Intrepid Reporter (Yours Truly, Mark C) entered the event for the first time in 2013, completing the route as a solo entry in just over 12 hours- so it IS possible for normal mortals! The big question was asked, resulting in a brave group of 5 ready to tackle the 2014 Vätternrunden with a whole winter to train, plan…and get cold feet.
Go or No Go?
The biggest challenge was to secure entry. Each year the event sells out in record time (and I mean minutes!). Many entries are block booked by established cycling clubs, so how was little “Atyrau Outdoors” going to get a ‘cleat in the pedal’? Well, one little known fact is that Veterans, repeat riders and foreign entries do get priority. SO.. we formed a group and set up to press the button on the first seconds of the entry registration. Amazingly we got the entry! With a start time or 0006 , ‘Crikey..thats the middle of the night!’ was the immediate reaction.. No worries.. this is summer in Sweden, and it just doesn’t get (very) dark for (very)long.
Winter training in Atyrau is not difficult especially for those committed to the unique ice riding experience come wind/snow and -20degC temps, its fun, (really!) Combining the ice rides with a good indoor program on the trainer or in the spin class the riders hit the spring trails in great condition and spent a few weeks ahead of the event training on the Peshnoy road for ‘Roadie’ skills, drafting, calls, signals etc.
The annoying forced summer ‘exodus’ for work permits actually worked out quite well for those affected. The team arrived as planned in Sweden on the Wednesday before the event (Held over Friday/Saturday). We based the group in the beautiful town of Orebro (here) and managed a gentle trial on a local 50k training route. Spectacular countryside and real trees, with the group posting a time several minutes better than Marks solo PB. (Ed. ‘Grrr’), just showing the power advantage of group riding!
Nathaniel’s bike delivery disappointment was fixed by an excellent rental facility at Gustavsvik (http://www.gustavsvik.se/bo-hos-oss/#attgor ). Bikes were all racked or stowed and we set off in a single vehicle to the start early Friday evening.
300k’s is a very long way in anybody’s book. That said, setting off in groups of 50 every two minutes, you do get the feeling that you are never isolated. Constantly passing (and occasionally being passed!-yes really!)
The kilometers seem to melt away and the focus is firmly kept on the next intended rest stop. Vatternrunden arrange 9 formal food/drink stops, from which we selected 4, intending to spend a max of 15 minutes at each. Best laid plans however never work and the stops were much longer, so room for improvement next year. That said the early pace was very comfortable if rather quick! This proved to be the undoing of our aspirations to get the group in under 12 hours at the finish. The first 100km to Jonkoping saw the group racing hard to beat the summer cold. Unexpected temps of 5 degC came as a big surprise and forced the pace.
The 150k West coast push North, even with a partial tail wind started to take its toll and our vow to stay together as a group was questioned on more than one occasion. But stay together we did and crossed the line in 13 hours 13 minute to medals, applause and a carnival atmosphere in wonderful Motala…. Much re-hydration followed!
A very sensible rule states that entrants to Vetternrunden are not allowed to drive for 6 hours after finishing. Very kind volunteers in our support vehicles did the job and we were back in sunny Orebro by Tea-time… After a (very) long sleep, options were open for return trips home via excellent rail and bus links or stop overs in Stockholm and other NW European delights. All that remained was to start planning for 2016.
This is a great event, and with some commitment to some regular training is entirely possible for the average Atyrau Cyclist! Depending on demand we will try to set up groups for sub 10, 12+ or ‘just lets finish’ pace.
The “INTEREST TO PARTICIPATE” registration has opened. This registration is mandatory in order to confirm the participation for the event itself. As we intend to ride as a group, please send an email to Mark Crowther for the group code you will need at the time of registration of interest. You will also receive instructions on how to register your interest. Please make sure you do this as soon as possible and latest before 30-October 2015.
Go to www.vatternrunden.se available in Swedish/English and others (even American!) have a good read, if you would like to consider joining us drop Mark an email and register for the group when he sends you the code. It doesn’t cost anything to register interest and you can opt to take updates/info etc by mail/facebook etc, and opt out at any time up to the point when payment (1350 Skr or approx 150 EUR) is due approx November 9th. That’s all you need to do until ACTUAL RACE REGISTRATION which is scheduled this year for 7pm (Swedish time) (2300-Atyrau) on 4th November 2015.
Once the initial panic for entry is completed on November 4th we will know if we are in (or not) and the ungodly hour we have been given to start.
All instructions are in the Vatternrunden website, but once the expression of interest has been made and the group membership set, we will hold a meeting to discuss options on accommodation, logistics etc.
SEE YOU IN MOTALA!