Further debrief – June 21

It all seems a bit of a dream now. Physically, I recovered very quickly. The bottom was never sore thanks to Edinburgh Bike Co-op shorts. The
knees were a bit stiff for about 24 hours after but are fine now. I even went for a run on Monday (how macho am I?).

Cycling through farming country bathed in moonlight was quite magical. People were camped out along the road having large boozy evening meals and cheering the cyclists. There were people out all along the course and at the end it was quite Tour like. I dipped a bit at about 4:30am having feasted on smash and frankfurters. Other delicacies at the rest stops were salted gherkins (who needs electrolyte replacement drinks!) and blueberry soup.

I started to really have fun about half way through when I realised my legs were still ok. Managed to jump on the back of a few groups blasting their way along, hanging on for grim death to the wheel in front – drafting really does work though but you do get a bit obsessed with the alignment of the rear mech in front of you. I even organized a chain gang with four strangers (for the non-cyclists this is a good thing) without even saying anything. I got a bit pissed off with everyone hiding behind the one person so I went to the front did a stint and then peeled off. They didnt get the hint so I did it again and then it started up. Very satisfying for a rank amateur like me.

The final few kilometres were quite special as they were very flat through woods and twisty country lanes, and as our last energy gels kicked in so the pace cranked up one last time, Dermot leading us out as usual.

I must record my huge thanks to Dermot and Antony who got me through that early morning dip and generally made the whole thing fantastic fun.

As an aside, engineering aficionados will be interested to know the course went through Husqvarna.

I could go on at even more length about it as it was a great experience – it was a true mass participation event with every shape and size of person and bike. There were 8 or so guys who had done all previous 39 outings and were now in their 60s and 70s. A lot of Bianchis swept past me – I can only assume this is due to Magnus Bakstedt.

On Sunday we managed a nice afternoon in the sun in Stockholm. We mainly wandered around but did go to the Modern Art Museum – small but very interesting and with a cafe that has a grand view over the city. Highly recommended as a holiday destination for a weekend break.

So it only leaves me to thank the lovely people who sponsored me (kiss kiss kiss). We are up to £1800 so far which is a fantastic sum and there is a bit more to come in. Its much appreciated. Also thanks to Rachel and the boys for putting up with me, the training (or bemoaning the lack of), and for a great reception on my return.

Now, there is this thing called the Race Across America….

Vätternrundan completed in 14.5 hours

Its official -the Vätternrundan’s site confirms that we started at 23:22 and finished at 13:50 on Saturday afternoon. The cycle computer reckons 12 hours were spent in the saddle, with the rest of the time dawdling in rest stops. 15108 people started and 14121 finished. It rained for the first 3-4 hours of the race but with the luck of the Irish (thanks Dermot!) it stopped by 23:00 and we started dry and remained so the whole way. The sun really broke through at the end and it started to get steamy. Its a great feeling to have done it and while there was the odd low point the highs were superb. Talk about a sense of achievement. More later.

36 hours to go – June 16

Only 36 hours to go until we set off. The forecast has been stable all week – sunny, low 20s and a light wind – which is just as well as I can’t find my rain cape. Sunday could be a corker reccuperating on the shores of Lake Vattern which I learn has “some of the most pleasant small towns of Sweden, like Vadstena, with its lake views, old town, Renaissance castle overlooking the harbor, and abbey.” The pictures certainly look charming.

I was up late last night as I underestimated the amount of time needed to pack a bike up. Got a few top tips from the What Mountain Bike site, particularly concerning the placing of the rear mech in the seat/chain stays.

Right off now to Dermot’s, Prestwick and beyond!

June 15 Two days to go

Two days to go before setting off on the Vatternrundan from Motala in Sweden. Seventeen thousand people enter but about 15-16,000 people actually do it. Entry was closed by the 28th January this year. Its a bike trip of 186 miles around Lake Vattern. There are a lot of nutters out there.

Weather is looking good – light cross wind, sun and a very nice 20 degrees. Last year it rained the whole time which doesn’t bear thinking about. I have found only one helpful report about this race on the web. It seems to be a bit of a secret in the UK. We saw it mentioned in passing in a letter in CyclingPlus magazine last year. In fact its all Dermot’s fault.

I was aiming for a total time of 15 hours but I’m not so sure now as the training for this kind of length was tricky to schedule. My longest rides have been 60 milers and I’ve ben inconssistent too. So, just getting round will be achievement enough. We set off at 23:22 hours on Friday and must have lights on. Apparently you can turn them off at 02:50 Saturday. Woohoo!

This isn’t a charidee event but for much needed extra motivation we are doing it in aid of Leukemia Research and will accept any contribution large or small on our JustGiving page. All contributions gratefully received and many thanks to all those who have given so far, you’ve been so generous.

Finally, a big shout to Allister Short for helping me to prepare by piggy backing onto his IronMan triathlon training runs on a Saturday morning. I just wish I had been able to do more of them. He is doing Ironman Germany this year. Its ‘powered by duracell’ so he should beat the little rabbits at least.