So apparently I forced myself into writing something down again. This time I will write about the longest bicycle ride I ever made. Vätternrundan 300.
Bike race held in Sweden. The race starts in city Motala and goes around lake Vättern – second largest lake in Sweden. Usually on the longest day of the year. Around 20 000 participants take part in 300km race. Starting from 19:30 60 participants start every 2 minutes.
Actually, I don’t know how/when I ended up registering for this race, but I know that one friend was mentioning that he did it/ would like to try it. So I registered as well. 300 km sounded challenging to me and since I like challenges I decided to join. Another interesting fact is that you are supposed to ride over the night. Another challenge 🙂
This time I had to do some real research since this is not a race you can just show up at and ride. The main issues were the following.
How do I train for it?
This was easy, I did a few ~50 km rides around Munich and one other competition. Imst bike marathon 110km/2300m. This competition destroyed me pretty much since I had 2 cramps in both of my legs (4 in total) during the last 40km. The learning from this was that I have to add some magnesium and salt into my body during the competition.
How do I get there?
My initial plan was to drive there which would be some 16h (1500km) of driving. Boarding on a ferry between Germany and Sweden. Not great, not terrible. My girlfriend asked me: “Why don’t you go by airplane?” I did some research if there are any good flight options to/from Sweden and there were, so I decided to take an airplane. However, I have never flown with my bike so I had to get some bag for my bike. After some research, I ended up with Scicon Aerocomfort Road 3.0 TSA. Some website was mentioning that half of the pro teams are using this one, so I just blindly trusted them. Packing went well and I could easily fit my bike into the bag.
So I have packed my bike, went to the airport and flew to Stockholm. The small problem was that I landed around 22:00 and still had to drive to my Airbnb which was located close to the city “Nyköping”. All in all, I went to bed around 0:30 which is not the best if you have to cycle 300km next day.
Nutritionwise, I did not do anything special before the race. The only “boost” was that I ate pasta 3 or 4 times. Actually I don’t know if the body can store that sugar somewhere but I guess so. Maybe I should read something about this 🙂 For the race, I prepared 2 bottles of water, each one consisted of:
– half liter orange juice
– half liter water
– salt (1 teaspoon? , I don’t remember how much I put)
– 2 tablets of magnesium
– 1 tablet of something, I don’t know what that is but bought it in the bike shop, it had some minerals, caffeine, etc .
I have also taken energy gels (3 or 4) and some grape sugar (glucose). Also, I put a few tablets of glucose into my water.
According to the organizers, food stations should be roughly every 30 kilometers, so I did not want to overpack.
The race – Friday 14/06/2019
I got up like I do every day, and realized that I have slept around 8 hours, a great success.
Then I started to work since I was still employed and the home office was not an issue.
I was done around 15:00 with my work and bike assembly so I decided to head to “Motala” , where the competition was starting from. I have noticed quite a lot of cars with bikes on the highway. Once I got there I parked my car at the dedicated parking place and picked up my starting number.
Funny thing is that I was starting in the 1st wave with some old-schoolers, who did this race multiple times.
So we started at 19:30
- The first ~15 km were pretty peacefull since it was mostly veterans we did not do much of a pace
- Next 10-20 km was more fun since 5 or 6 of us made a break and went to the front (one guy chain broke, what a life 😀 )
- I think it was on 30’th km when a huge group of fast guys overtook us. It was probably some team since all of them were wearing the same shirts 🙂
- I was able to go behind them which was good, since riding in peloton is much easier.
- Everything was smooth, pretty good pace, but around 100’th km, I started to be quite thirsty and one other cyclist told me that sometimes those clubs have their own refreshments stations where only members can stop.
- So I was cycling thirsty and secretly hoping that they stop at some official refreshment station.
- At 130’th km, we stopped at the official refreshment station 🙂 Amazing. I drank some water, reffiled my water bottles, ate some bananas and cakes. And of course, took a piss.
- The whole refilling procedure took maybe 2 min, and then we rode again.
- Riding afterward was much, much better. No wind, no rain. Just darkness.
- So we rode again, I don’t know how long since my computer was broken.
- We stopped again at roughly 230’th km at a refreshment station. This time a few guys puked, one almost puked at me while I was refilling my water bottles 😀 Damn amateur 😀 just kidding. He did well most likely.
- And then guess what. We rode again. Also, the sun started to go up again.
- One time I had a hard time since I was not paying attention, and went a bit of the road. Actually I almost fell but I managed to stay on the bike. The hard part came afterward when I almost died while trying to catch up the peloton. I knew that if I won’t catch them I am fuc*ed. But I did it.
- We reached the finish line around 3:45 among the first riders.
After the race, you had to rest for at least 4 hours, since you are not allowed to drive and I heard that police was checking it, so I slept for a few hours in the car.
– Perfectly organized race. A lot of information prior to race. Amazing traffic control and so on.
– Thousands of people cheering and shouting along the whole race. Amazing atmosphere.
– I did it in 8:13h which is good. My aim was around 9 hours.
– The biggest pain point was my neck and not legs. Legs could do 100 km more. Maybe 😀
– I will also go next year and you should join me 🙂