A long bike ride in my future? Sam dreams of Sweden


I’m no fan of bucket lists, see Bucket lists bug me, but there are some rides I’d really like to do. One of them is the Vatterrundan, THE WORLD’S LARGEST RECREATIONAL BIKE EVENT. I found out about last year when I was at a conference in Sweden (Children’s Rights – origins, normativity, transformations, prospects, Linköping University, June 7 – 9, 2016) and asked the conference organizer Bengdt Sandin  about the sign pictured above. He enthusiastically told me all about the event as he’d done it several times in the past.

It’s 300 km and is held at a time of the year when there’s lots of daylight in Sweden. My usual worries about running out of light were somewhat allayed.

Vätternrundan (pronounced vet-turn-rund-an) is the largest recreational bicycle ride in the world. The 300 km course follows the shoreline of the beautiful Lake Vättern and early starters can see the sun set and rise over the lake during the ride.

Vätternrundan starts and finishes in Motala, Sweden, whose population swells to three times its size during the cycling events. The cyclists, their friends and relatives and the thousands of bicycles create a festival atmosphere, making the bike ride that extra special. Many cyclists return year after year to be a part of this large and welcoming cycling community.

The course appeals to all sorts of bicycle enthusiasts and the level of service along the course is very high. Word of this well-organised event has spread far beyond the borders of Sweden. More than 50 different nations is represented.

Because Vätternrundan is a recreational ride, no winners are listed. Instead cyclists wear a timing chip that registers their individual times. These times can be seen under Results. Everyone can check what time they started, when they passed the check points and what time they arrived at the finish in Motala.

There’s more about the history of the event on its Wikipedia page.

Here’s a shot of the lake around which the cyclists ride:


What appeals to me? It’s not a race but it is a challenging distance. I’d have to train up to it. It’s a beautiful, friendly part of the world. And also I love breakfast and coffee in Sweden.

I’ve even blogged before about my dream of doing this ride!

What’s your big, dream event? What attracts you to it? Why?

2 thoughts on “A long bike ride in my future? Sam dreams of Sweden

  1. Have a go at Vatternrundan – it’s completely amazing. The warm, thickened bilberry juice stuff at the drink stops, meat balls and mashed potato for another food stop – not what you usually get on sportives. And everyone is so encouraging. I did it a few years ago with a couple (Brit/Swede) that I knew from cycle camps in Mallorca. The guy was a triathlete and fit as the proverbial butcher’s dog, but his wife had had quite a nasty cycling accident (no cars involved) in Mallorca that March and was not really well prepared. Then the sister of the guy decided to have ago too and she was a real newbie to cycling (but young and strong). Normally this would spell a disaster for a 300 km ride. But it was OK – husband and I were strong enough to tow the other two when we were alone, but usually there were quite big groups riding together – there are so many people you’re bound to find a few going the same speed. There are a few hills (big enough to seem like Alps when you’ve done 200km) and a lot of folk in full lycra kit and clip-clop cleats were walking them so when our ladies made it up in the saddle, it was a real boost to their confidence and they started to feel they were going to make it. Consequently we started mixing it with the fast guys who start later and ride at more than 20 mph. That was probably a mistake as the sister came close to bonking (Hitting the wall) and we had to feed her guys pretty much continuously for the last 50 km. But we all made it. We sat at the finish line (with a beer) watching all manner of cyclists come over the line – a bit like watching the finishers after 5 hours in a big city marathon. Brilliant day.

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