Long distance cycling was calling for me. I been trying to learn to cycle short distance for the last two years but I couldn’t resist when Randonneur Stockholm made a big effort with a major effort arranging the Pilgrim brevet from Uppsala to Trondheim and back again. I signed up for the adventure without any consideration. It is difficult to describe the appeal for riding a bike for hours and hours. For me it’s a meditation to travel through beautiful landscapes and at the same time learn about and push the limits for the body.
Ingvar ”The Dictator” and myself had made an optimistic plan for the race. The idea was to finalize the 1500km within 72 hours. At the race check in we meet Eje, Stina and Sven who also had similar ambitions. We decided to join our forces and try to help each other on the journey.
Saturday 21 July – 07:00 – The laminated time schedule was placed in the back pocket and the bike was packed with somewhat to much stuff. We rolled out from Uppsala in a gentle rain. It’s always a nice feeling to start and longer race.
The whole first day continued with good speed. A puncture after some hours created the first break. When we were about to leave the control in More a spoke came loose. Luckily it was nipple that was broken and not the spoke. I decided to try to repair the spoke in Mora while the others continued to the next stop in Älvdalen.
However – everything was closed in Mora so I decided to cycle to Älvdalen with 23 spokes on my rear wheel. I Älvdalen the race organizer had their support van with a whole bicycle repair shop, including a nipple for my wheel. I repaired the wheel while my friends feed me with dinner.
It was a so nice feeling to continue towards Särna together with my friends and with a wheel that hopefully wouldn’t break. It was a beautiful sunset on the road to Särna. The sun became deep red due to the forest fires in the areas. We arrived in Särna at half pat ten. Oh, what a Saturday night party they had there. All youngster in the area where drunk and having a good time. All the old American cars were out driving playing music at highest possible volume. We continued to the control for food and sleep. Even through the broken nipple we were still on our time schedule.
At 04:00 am we left Särna. A fantastic morning! The plan was to go all the way to Trondheim and start the return back – 490km – and arrive at 11pm in Stugudalen. It is always something special with sunrises. After an hour or so we started the climb towards Högvålen which is the highest altitude for a Swedish village. We had now gotten company by Peter and Rasmus who contributed in keeping the speed up. Ingvar was however not in perfect shape. Normally he is a slow starter who is warmed up after 300km and doesn’t complain for anything. So when he seemed to have some pains, it was obvious a real problem.
The weather was great; sunshine, light winds and nice temperature. We stopped for food at the controls at Tänndalen and Röros. I manage to be first passing the Norway-sign. Even at longer brevets there must be some sign-sprinting. The decline from Röros to Stören was awesome -7km with an average above 50km/h, it is fun when the speed goes up. The last kilometers into Trondheim became slow, cycle lanes with turns and turns and turns + headwind. But finally, we reached the halfway point – Nidaros Cathedral. Oh, what a good feeling.
Ingvar’s heal now declared that he would change to a slower pace. Somehow he although where faster to Hell. Unfortunately he couldn’t finalize UTU and finished his adventure in Stugudalen after 920km ridden in two days.
A 1500km brevet do include both light moments and more challenging ones. At 9:30 pm in Selby I was down for count. Low on energy after 841km of riding in two days and no appetite, I was shivering. Stina noticed that I was pale and asked how I was feeling. I couldn’t state an answer since I was more concerned where to throw up. Somehow I managed to focus on getting into a warm house in Stugudalen 74 km ahead. I got on the bike and slowly started to pedal. After forcing me eating some gels I got some energy back and also manage to become warm again. The others waited for me slowly climbing up towards Stugudalen. Finally we got to the control at Stugudalen which had food, a warm shower and real beds to sleep in. Our time schedule was broken and I wondered how I would be able to get up six hours later and continue our journey.
Our bodies are amazing – a few hours of sleep, more food and clean cloth – that was it takes to get back into the game. In the climb up to the highest point of the track (920masl) my legs started to wake up again. The open landscape on the high altitude road was magnificent. Soon we were back in Tänndalen for stamps in on our cards and more food. Stina was feeling strong and discussed heading all the way back to Uppsala, while Erik, Sven and myself thought at a night in Älvdalen would be enough – only 270km day three and 330km remaining for the last day. When we arrived in Älvdalen, Sven and myself went to a restaurant and got a proper dinner with cold beer.
An early start at 4am – the first hours of summer morning are beautiful. The legs were not feel crisp any longer, some pains on varius places but we pedaled through Dalarna. We got company by Pontus who we found sleeping in the ditch. Just before the climb before Garpenberg I got my third puncture. After replacing the tube we got to the last control where they served pancakes.
After Garpenberg the heat struck us. My Garmin showed 33.5 C at most and a lot of water was needed. Until this point I mostly drank energy drinks, but now it was not possible to get that much sugar any longer. Water was needed inside, on the cloth and in the shoes, all to keep the temperature under control.
The last kilometer always takes long time. I was longing to in headwind bicycle the 20 km straight road that heads towards Uppsala. Finally we came to Old Uppsala and then the small gravel road to the finish. We missed our time schedule with half a day and came in after 84 hours. The race committee gave us a warm welcome with cold drinks.
What an adventure to remember! A warm thanks to the organizer and all volunteers that staffed the controls. It helps a lot to get all the support and we participants can stay focused on cycling. All your cheers help to keep on pedaling.
Thanks also to all participants I meet on the journey. You not only help to keep the speed and motivation up, it also pleasant to get new friends.
Here is a youtube from my UTU – https://youtu.be/qew3rzwJTOQ