cycling · fitness

300 km bike ride? Dreams and aspirations

I like riding my bike a lot even long distances, like Toronto to Montreal, but really long distances all at one go haven’t held much appeal. See Ultra-distance cycling: I’m in awe but I’m not tempted.

The longest I’ve ever ridden in a day is about 175 km. We were aiming for an American century, 100 miles, and got lost. Pre-GPS, we were tired, hungry, and stupid. No more details needed. Let me just say by the end no one was speaking.

Since then I’ve twice said I’d do 200 km rides and bailed. Too far.

Part of what puts me off is riding in the dark. My eyesight isn’t great.

But I’m in Vadstena, Sweden for a conference and I’ve been struck by the long evening light. It’s still light at 11 pm. The sunset over the lake is beautiful. It’s light again at 4 am. Yes, I’m sleepy.

There’s also a 300 km annual ride around the lake here. Our host for this conference has done it at least twice, once in a speedy 12.5 hours, once a more leisurely 15 hours. His description of the event made me Google the registration page and start wondering about doing it.


Wikipedia describes it this way:

Vätternrundan is a 300 km (186 mile) long recreational bicycle ride held over two weekends in June every year. In 2011, 27 973 cyclists passed the finish line (18 272 on the 300 km course, 3 686 on the 150 km course and 6 015 on the 100 km course). The 300 km course circles Lake Vättern in Sweden, with start and finish in the town of Motala. Approximately 20 per cent of the participants are non-Swedish and in 2011, 37 nations were represented on the course.

For the 2012 event, registration for the main event was limited to a maximum of 23,000 participants.

The cyclists start in groups of 60 or 70, in a two-minute interval between groups. The first group starts at 7.30pm on Friday and the last group starts at about 5.30am on Saturday. In 2010 a new element was introduced as the number of faster cyclists have increased. Groups of cyclists aiming for completing the event in less than 9 hours can start between 9-9.30 am on Saturday morning. In 2011, 720 cyclists took advantage of this possibility. By allowing these cyclists to start later they will have fewer cyclists to pass, thus lowering the risk of incidents and accidents. The course has to be finished by midnight on Saturday.

Vätternrundan is a non-competitive event, and only measures the rider’s own time using RF transponders on the helmet (mandatory equipment). An unsorted list of starting times, checkpoints passed and finishing times is published on the website after the event. This type of event is called a motionslopp (recreational ride) in Sweden.

Vätternrundan has nine stops offering food and beverages, and also first aid and free massage. At the finish line riders are awarded a medal and a certificate of achievement, and offered a meal. For safety reasons support cars and personal resupply stops are prohibited. Cyclists returning home by car are prohibited to use their cars within six hours after having finished the event, since fatigue has caused crashes – even fatal ones. The police perform spot checks of drivers after the ride.




5 thoughts on “300 km bike ride? Dreams and aspirations

  1. What a cool (in theory) event! I’m enthralled in principle, but really don’t think all that saddle time would be fun. Or would it? BTW, I love it that the local authorities make everyone rest after the race, and try to deter people from driving. How sensible!

  2. You know, 300km/12hrs = 25km/hr. That’s not crazy speed. If it was June and you timed your start right you could do the ride from, say 6:30 to 6:30 which would be all daylight. And your uh… Strava profile pegs your longest ride at 275km. You could totally do it.

  3. I think I would need to stop every 3 hrs…for a snack. I don’t eat while biking.. It would be a tempting try.. I’ve only cycled at most 120 km. in 1 day..have done this several times. I’m weaker than others on this blog.

  4. Wow, this race sounds amazing and I bet the views around the lake are fantastic. It’s definitely something to aim for and sounds very well organised.

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