On the 19th of June 2022, the cycling club Cykelintresset hosted its first ”grande randonnée” called Midnight Sun Randonnnée 1200 (MSR 1200). This page contains written reports, photos and videos from cyclists who participated in the event. In social media search hashtag #MSR1200.
Marijke De Prez
This is a short summary of my 69 hours of cycling pleasure, a very beautiful unbelievable experience: 50 hours on the bike, two times three hours of sleep and one time with two hours of sleep, the rest was spent on good food and drinks.
The event started on Sunday just before midnight with about 80 cyclists who were unknown to me. New friends were made quickly during the first smooth 180 km. First surprise at the first checkpoint at 3 a.m. a delicious dish of freshly baked salmon!
In the morning, the nice big group of 25 riders during the night fell apart, everyone started looking for his own pace and rhythm. Farewell to the three Scottish rider who had put me out of the wind for 20 km, thank you Anne for the nice chat! We took on the battle alone after that.
After 450 km, at 20:00 on Monday evening, the hotel manager offered me a nice room in the Hattfjelldal hotell. I left the hotel after midnight, beautiful scenery around Lake Røssvatnet, until it started to rain. At Yttervik Camping just before Mo i Rana we had a super tasty wrap for breakfast, followed by a long boring wet busy E6 up to the Arctic Circle. Honestly, by then, I was not happy at all.
On the way to Arjeplog I was able to join Alan and a couple of German guys for about 30 km. After 830 km I arrived at Hornavan Hotel in Arjeplog. I couldn’t sleep because of the cold. I looked for a fleece blanket but found two reindeer skins instead which I covered myself with. It was nice and warm to sleep!
I left at midnight for a trip of only 80km. But it was a long, lonely, quiet ride! I couldn’t get warm and saw on my gps that it was 1 degree Celsius below zero! Frozen with cold, I reached the checkpoint in Sorsele. Shivering on my airbed with at least seven fleece blankets on me, I managed to sleep for two hours, as I had planned. After a nice breakfast at a super nice and warm location, Sorsele Hembygdsgård, I left for the next 160 km to Åmsele.
Strange but true, this the longest section went smoothly. The long straight and lonely roads suddenly got more bends along the Vindel River. All the checkpoints were perfect but the lady in Åmsele was a hit! She prepared a typical Swedish dish for me: Palt. It was now sunny and I started out on the last stage of the event.
Tired but very proud of myself, I fell into the arms of my family around 20:00 Wednesday evening. aPhysically, I was well prepared, but mentally, you do run into yourself a few times… ah yes… and sometimes you also run into a reindeer.
Thanks to everyone I had a chat with during the event, thanks to Florian for the nice organisation, thanks to all the volunteers!
It is midnight, and I am lying awake in a hotel room in Umeå. There is a great noise from a nightclub outside, and cars passing with music turned up as loud as it will go. This is unfortunate, as it is the last full night’s sleep I will have for some time. In the corner is my room mate; my bicycle which has just been re-assembled out of it’s travelling bag.
I am here with two companions, Anne and Neil, for the inaugural running of the Midnight Sun Randonnée, a 1200km cycle event which will take us coast to coast across Scandinavia; North across Sweden and into Norway, crossing the Arctic circle before turning South and taking us back to Umeå.
The event is scheduled to start at sunset on the Sunday, 23:07 local time, at the Brännland Wärdshus some 11km outside of Umeå. The organisers have arranged for a temporary daytime resting-place a short distance from the start, the Scooby Doo set of Baggböle Manor overlooking great rapids on the Ume River. Here, we spend a few hours resting and fretting over what kit to take and what to leave. A couple of hours before the start, we make our way to Brännland. There is food provided, a Last Supper, if you will.
There are many overseas riders at the start: a strong contingent from Randonneurs Finland, and a large American contingent were highly visible. We meet many riders here including Lee, another UK rider, and Elaine of the Humboldt Randonneurs USA, both of whom we would come across on the ride. The time approaches, and we are assembled on the road. The event was limited to 100 places, and some 80 are present here at the start line. The 23:07 start is signalled by the chef serenading us out on his saxophone. And so it begins.
The 1200k event has control points at approximately every 100k. The landscape can be seen changing as we head north. The first checkpoints come easily, we ride through flat terrain; through dense forest interspersed with occasional lakes. The terrain is forest, interspersed with Alpine upland meadows. The lakes are dotted with islands and peninsulas, and each of those dotted with lakeside huts so characteristic of Scandinavia. Each of the huts is painted in the dark red which seems almost mandatory. This is called ‘Falu Red’, and is a by-product of historical mining activity. Sludge from copper mining provided a wood treatment that was both protective and breathable.
We follow the Ume River to Hotell Lappland in Lycksele which is the brevet’s first checkpoint. From here, we continue to Storuman which is the brevet’s second checkpoint. The third stage contains some off-road issues: road works where there is 10k of road surface removed, leaving rough hardcore; then around 20k of unpaved road. This was the downfall of several riders. I pass one forlorn punctured rider on the road works, and ask if he is OK. ‘Do you have a tube?’ he asks. Somewhat reluctantly, I donate one of my three spare tubes, hoping this will not be a problem for me later. It was not. I later learned that this rider had to DNF.
As we head North, we pass the control point of Kittelfjäll at 352k, where they were doing a roaring trade in replacement inner tubes. Continuing North, the terrain is beginning to change. We are riding along a valley, there is a great succession of grey-mare-tail waterfalls tumbling down the far side of the valley. We reach the Norwegian border. This is a border on an unclassified single track road. There is no border post, just a sign saying ‘Welcome to Norway’. The road surface becomes rather more corrugated beyond the border, and I lose my primary waterproof here as it bounces out of my rack pack. This comes as a bit of a disappointment to me, to say the least. We reach the first Norwegian control point at Hattfjelldal, 451 km, where we stop for a sleep stop. We aim to set off at around 3AM.
As we head further North, we are offered a red coloured juice at the controls, and also a red jam to accompany the food. This is Lingonberry, a native plant of the Arctic tundra. It is unusual in that it retains it’s leaves even in the harshest of conditions.
We set off as planned, and the rain starts as planned. We ride several hours into increasingly heavy rain. No matter how good your kit is, several hours of unrelenting rain will have you wet and cold. Then, as we round a bend, we have a long straight stretch of road. In the far distance, we can see snow-capped mountains. A true Sense of North; for this is our destination.
The next checkpoint is the rather wonderfully named ‘Mo i Rana’ control. The checkpoint is a few k short of the actual town of Mo, which despite it’s attractive name is actually a busy industrial port town. The route continues from Mo along the busy E6 main road, continually gaining height up the Saltfjellet through the Dunderland valley above the tree line, passing the Saltfjell highway’s highest point of 692m. This is not unlike riding up the A9 in Scotland.
The terrain is changing again, and we are now in proper mountain moorland, not unlike the west coast of Scotland, but perhaps on a slightly larger scale. Those distant snow-capped mountains are coming ever closer, as we head North and up. We reach the Arctic Circle visitor’s centre checkpoint, and stop for a few moments for food and photographs. The rain has been off now for a few hours; but we are still a bit damp.
Leaving the Arctic Circle Centre, the rain comes on again. Cold hard rain. We pass lakes which are still frozen over. The next checkpoint is back across the border in Sweden, 722k in, at Tjaktjaure – Sandvikens Fjällgård. This was where we had planned a proper sleep stop. We had booked cabins at the campsite. There had been bold gallus talk of ditching these booked cabins and continuing to the next checkpoint. After several hours of descent in cold hard rain in one-degree temperatures, we arrived at Sandvikens as cold, wet, drookit, sorry-for-ourselves creatures; and all gallus talk went out the window. We take the cabins, and are glad for them.
We arrive as shivering creatures, borderline hypothermic. The cabins are spacious and warm. We spread our wet kit around to dry out, and joy of joy: there is a boot-heater! With four hoses, enough to dry out all of our shoes! After a few hours of sleep, we are ready to leave. Fully re-set: we are warm, dry, and with warm dry kit. There is a saying about control points: you should never leave them without all your basic needs met. All niggles dealt with: you, your kit, and the bike. And yourself; filled and emptied in equal measure. And so it was, we leave the control totally refreshed.
On the return, the last two legs are long and have no facilities. There is a 160k leg with nothing along it, from Sorsele to Åmsele (1084k). We reach Åmsele and intend to have a couple of hours sleep, heading off around 3AM. Here, the food provided is a local dish called Palt, a meat and potato dumpling which was being cooked over an open fire braai-style. At 3AM, the rain is bouncing off the walls and roof of the cabin. A full-on storm was passing through. We decide to sit it out, and plan to leave at 6AM. And indeed, at 6AM, the storm has passed, and we make to leave. We blag a second portion of Palt for breakfast. But in the meantime, the American team have arrived; they had been caught in the full force of the storm for hours, with no possible shelter. They are very cold and wet. We meet Elaine again; she is in poor shape. Anne offers spare dry clothes, but she is reluctant to accept it. There is little more we have to offer, so we leave them; but they are left in a warm cabin with several hours in hand, and they do eventually finish in time.
The final 110k back to Umeå passes uneventfully enough save for one clipless moment. We approach the town along back roads, past the Volvo factory. We seem to be in the countryside, and then all of a sudden right in the centre of town. And it is done.
An epic ride, through changing landscapes and uncertain weather.
Each year, for a number of years now, I have participated in a brevet of at least 1200 km, preferably abroad. I not only consider long distance cycling a challenge to be completed as quickly as possible but also aim to get as much pleasure out of the rides as circumstances will allow. In MSR the opportunity to experience a genuine natural phenomenon by bike was therefore very appealing.
Many other randonneurs from around the world had the same idea. When pre-registration opened in the autumn of 2021 the list of 100 participants was quickly filled. I had already secured a place in LEL and so spent a few extra days considering the brevet. When I finally went to pre-register all 100 places were taken. The deadline for final registration was New Year’s Eve. Minutes after midnight any unfilled places were put up for sale. I was ready at the gate when five places went up for sale.
The organiser, the cycling club Cykelintresset in Umeå, presented the race as an exploration of the subarctic wilderness with the aim of discovering and experiencing the grandeur and solitude of nature. Along the way there would be long stretches without towns or civilisation. Participants were therefore expected to carry all necessary equipment on their bikes from start to finish and there would be no bag-drops along the way. Participants were also encouraged to plan ahead with provisions when possible. Finally, participants should be prepared for the possibility of major weather changes along the way. A real wilderness cycling experience was therefore set up and the organisers delivered what they promised.
On the day of the event there was registration, communal dining and socialising from 6 pm until the start at 11.07 pm. For me this gave me the opportunity to meet some old acquaintances from previous trips abroad. The weather forecasts for the brevet were studied and debated at length. A cold front was expected to pass slowly during the days of the event with some precipitation from the west on day 2 (Tuesday). The day when the majority of the participants would be in the Scandinavian mountain range on the Norwegian side. The outlook was therefore more or less rain daytime as well as frost and snow at the highest points.
After a long day of preparation, studying weather forecasts, rest, registration and one ”last supper” at the start site Brännlands Inn, 80 riders from around the world were ready at the start line at 23.07. The Inn’s cook sent us off with saxophone music into a relatively warm, clear and quiet summer night.
Day 1: Monday 20 June 2022 Umeå – Hattfjelldal
Weather: clear and sunny. 3 to 22°C. Clouds incoming from the west during the evening. Wind: Calm at first, during the day increasingly westerly winds (headwind). Terrain: 20 km on gravel road. 10 km with road works.
After the first checkpoint, Hotell Lappland in Lycksele, where we ate of noodles with rainbow trout, the group that I was riding with had dispersed so I started out in solitary majesty along the Ume River towards the second control in Storuman after 230 km. Along the way I was joined by a participant from Switzerland who was on his first 1200 km. The terrain gradually became more undulating and he seemed stronger up the hills. We therefore decided to continue separately but met up several times later in the ride.
Quietly at a moderate pace, the route followed the Ume River on a beautiful clear morning. The landscape changed as we approached Storuman. From relatively flat to slightly more hillier, still through forest, along lakes and ”outcrops” of the river, with scattered islands and peninsulas. Many were populated with wooden cottages and houses of the characteristic dark red colour of northern Scandinavia. The so-called ”Falu red” or (for Danes) ”Swedish red” originates from earlier times, when the red sludge (a by-product) from copper mining provided a wood treatment that was both protective and breathable for the wood.
At the checkpoint in Storuman, marinated moose steak, vegetables and potatoes was on the menu and it was actually quite tasty. Immediately after me, most of the Americans arrived at the checkpoint. However, they wanted to take a break for a power nap, as a few of them had become drowsy on the way. I therefore continued on alone again, seeing the snow-capped mountains in the distance. On the next stretch to the third control in Kittelfjäll, after 351 km, we had to pass 20 km of gravel road, which was actually in very good condition, also a road with major roadworks. The roadworks were a total of 10 km where the asphalt was completely removed and the road surface was very rough. On the day, the organisers had implemented a 30km/h traffic speed limit for the benefit of cyclists, as well as an assistance scheme where we could call for transport to a nearby bike mechanic if there was serious damage to bikes and equipment; as well as borrowing footwear (Crocs) if we were preferred to walk. Alternatively, we were welcome to take a minor but steep and hilly detour on gravel to avoid about half of the roadwork. I took a chance and rode carefully through the roadworks without any problems.
At Dikanäs, about 25 km before the checkpoint in Kittelfjäll, I also felt drowsy. It would be too risky just to continue so I took a half hour power nap in a bus shelter. When I woke up, my bike had fallen over with all my equipment on it. At first no problem but I soon realised that the rear derailleur was not working properly. It had been knocked and the derailleur hanger bent a bit so the chain couldn’t get onto the big sprocket without the shifter hitting the spokes. With no prospect of finding a bike mechanic with spares I cycled on with the defect. After a long and somewhat bumpy section I reached the checkpoint in Kittelfjäll at dusk. The menu was bean pasta and Arctic char with a bottle of water, a cinnamon bun and coffee.
With the prospect of a clear and quiet evening and me feeling reasonably fresh again after the nap in Dikanäs the plan was to continue to the checkpoint in Hattfjelldal, after 450 km, and take a slightly longer sleep break there. I expected to arrive around midnight about 2-3 hours before the rain was forecast to start. After Kittelfjäll the terrain changed. It became more hilly and mountainous. The route followed a valley with a number of larger and smaller lakes with a number of waterfalls cascading down from the mountainsides. Along the way the third highest point of the route was passed at 668 m asl just before the course reached the Norwegian border. A sign (no border guards) told us that we were now in Norway. The road surface immediately became uneven and even more hilly. From the border, the terrain dropped steadily towards the checkpoint at Hattfjelldal which was reached on schedule at midnight. Along the way, the clouds started to gather for tomorrow’s rain. Another round of fish (arctic char) this time served in hot soup togehter with focaccia bread, and it was delicious! Followed by sleep four to five hours.
Day 2: Tuesday 21 June 2022. Hattfjelldal – Tjaktjaure
Weather: precipitation. At times heavy rain with shorter breaks. Light snow in the mountains around the Swedish border. Clouds clearing up in the evening. -1 to 12°C. Wind: moderate from southwest to west (mostly tailwind and crosswind). Terrain: hilly with shorter 1 to 3 km steep climbs. Two 15 – 20 km long climbs in the mountains with the highest point of the course at 740 m asl.
After four hours of sleep as planned, the rain had started as planned (predicted) and wearing full rain gear, we departed from Hattfjelldal as planned for the part of the trip that I had been most looking forward to beforehand. My plan was to reach Tjaktjaure before the next long rest. The wind was moderate from the southwest and west and thus there would be a tailwind/sidewind for the next 200 km. Hattfjelldal is, as the name suggests, in a valley. The stage therefore started with a 230 m ascent in the first 6 km. This was the first of many short and craggy climbs along Lake Røssvatnet, Norway’s second largest lake, at 383 m asl. Despite the rain, a very beautiful area surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
At the town of Korgen, 75 km after Hattfjelldal, came the somewhat dreaded E6 which was then to be followed for the next 150 km. Several of us stopped, switched on all the lights on the bike and donned all the reflective and luminescent vests we had. On the first part to the town of Mo i Rana there was a speed limit of 70 km/h, then after Mo i Rana 90 to 100 km/h. Before Mo i Rana came the next control where the stop was short due to the weather. No matter how good the rain gear is, the several hours of persistent rain makes one wet and cold when standing still for too long. But I made it to a wrap with cold pasta and salmon (fish, it was getting monotonous) before moving on. It soon turned out that concerns about traffic on the E6 were unnecessarily high. The traffic culture was good and the drivers were generally very considerate of us. The lorries slowed down considerably and all drove in a big arc around each other to an extent that one is actually not used to from the Danish highways! Only a few campers came close.
As I approached the top of Saltfjellet and the Arctic Circle Centre, the rain stopped. This gave more opportunity to enjoy the distinctive, desolate, barren and partly snow-covered landscape at the top of the mountain. There was a restaurant at the Arctic Circle Centre, and this time it was a tasty reindeer burger with accompaniments. The goal was then to get to the checkpoint in Tjaktjaure in the middle of the evening, rent a small cabin at the campsite for a longer sleep and, not least, get my clothes and equipment dried. Full and reasonably refreshed, the trip continued over Saltfjellet. The wind had now picked up and turned west (crosswind), the rain had started again and the temperature had dropped. The cold front was probably passing.
After a slight descent from the mountain, the route turned off the E6 at the entrance to Junkerdal (Junker Valley) and directly onto the steepest and hardest climb of the whole race. On average 6 per cent over 2,7 km with steeper gradients of around 20 per cent. The smallest gear had been taken out of the equation after the accident in Dikanäs but I got up the climb reasonably well anyway. The border to Sweden was crossed exactly 700 km after the start. From here the ride went up over another mountain. This time in frost and light snowfall, to the highest point of the whole brevet (740 m asl) which was surrounded by frozen lakes. A 15 km cold and wet descent followed down to the checkpoint at Sandviken campsite where I arrived as planned in the middle of the evening when the clouds started to clear up in the west. Once again pasta but this time with moose, reindeer and elk which could be heated in the cabins microwave. The lodging was a nice warm and spacious cabin; after a cold and wet day. The alarm was set for six hours sleep. I regretted this a little when I later heard that the weather had cleared up enough for the sun to have been out a little by midnight.
Day 3: Wednesday 22 June 2022 Tjaktjaure – Åmsele
Weather: clear and sunny. Increasingly overcast in the evening. 6 to 20°C. Wind: Light to moderate from the west (partly tailwind). Terrain: slightly hilly.
Whether it is a sixth sense, well… but I woke up exactly 3 minutes before my alarm went go off – quite fresh and well rested after six hours of sleep. Warm and dry and not least with warm and dry clothes from top to bottom. The morning was beautiful and almost cloudless; weather that was promised for the whole day.
The plan was then to ride the last 480 km. with a shorter break along the way and hopefully reach the finish in Umeå first thing in the morning on Thursday. Despite the long sleep break, I was well within the time limit. I rode towards the control in Arjeplog in the first of two long and totally deserted sections with no food stores. Slightly descending terrain and a light tailwind meant good speed and the first 112 km were covered in four and a half hours including photo breaks. At the checkpoint in Arjeplog, Hornavan Hotell, the menu was again a wrap but with potatoes and moose steak. Like a number of other riders who had overtaken me during my sleep break at the previous checkpoint and who were now in Arjeplog, I bought a hotel breakfast which had a well-stocked menu with both hot and cold dishes.
The next section between Arjeplog and Sorsele at 90 km was also nearly totally uninhabited and the most monotonous of the trip with long flat and straight stretches of road bordered by endless trees. On the other hand there were reindeer in large numbers. In several places the animals were grazing on the roadsides. A fascinating sight, just as I saw moose from a distance in several places!
The last part towards Sorsele where we had turned to the west and got am increasing headwind I was accompanied by three Scottish riders. They wanted to take a long break at the checkpoint in Sorsele. I still felt fresh, so after the control menu of vegetable pasta I started alone on the longest stretch of the tour of 158 km in the middle of the afternoon. I hoped to arrive by midnight and expected to take a break at the last checkpoint in Åmsele if possible. The weather forecast for eastern Sweden had changed and now predicted rain overnight and Thursday morning but that could change… I was getting wiser.
The ride to Åmsele followed the Vindel River and was again largely uninhabited. One slightly larger village and 3-4 smaller ones with no facilities or food stores as it was getting late. The ride along the river was special in that the trees in many parts covered the view of the river but the sound of the waterfalls was loud.
The evening was warm and the mosquitoes became a major nuisance for the first time of the entire trip. My goggles were stained and I had to keep my mouth closed so as not to swallow any of them. Mosquito lotion prevented me from ending up as a pin cushion with red spots. As I approached Åmsele, a little over an hour ahead of schedule, more and more clouds gathered in the west. I was quite alone on the stretch. The last rider before me had come to the checkpoint one hour earlier and it turned out that the next ones, which were my three Scottish companions, arrived more an hour after me later. For the first time the meal was prepared and served warm. I was served a portion of palt (finely grated potatoes mixed with salt, flour rolled into balls with meat in the center and then boiled) that was chopped up and fried over an open fire and served together with melted butter and lingonberries. A great meal at the time! After this I found a bed in a cabin and slept a few hours.
Day 4: Thursday 23 June 2022. Åmsele – Umeå
Weather: drizzle, 8 to 11°C. Wind: Weak from southwest (crosswind). Terrain: Mostly flat.
After about two hours of heavy sleep I was ready for the final stretch towards the finish. It was still dry but cloudy and even quite warm. A glance at the rain radar predicted a heavy downpour of 4-5 hours duration from around 03:00 with the possibility of relatively strong gusts. The first drops fell quite precisely at 03:00 and within a few minutes the rain was pouring down. The promised gusts came from the side but were softened by the forest. The rain remained steady and massive for about three hours. Along the way I was joined by Lee from England (the solo rider who had arrived in Åmsele an hour before me) and we more or less followed each other to the finish. The company, the fact that the finish was approaching and that we had plenty of time before the cut-off meant that the mood, energy and enthusiasm were remarkably good, despite the harsh rain. The route to Umeå followed small roads and cycle paths so that we seemed to be riding in the countryside right up until we suddenly crossed the Ume River via a cycle bridge and we found ourselves at the hotel and finish in the very centre of the city.
My expectations for the race were definitely met (even if I missed the midnight sun) and feeling strong most of the time I was able to enjoy the brevet, the atmosphere and the nature experience along the way. MSR 1200 is not out of the question for a second time but for now I have been there and experienced the wilderness at its most beautiful and its more rugged side. However, the brevet and the experience is definitely recommended if it is organised a second time.
[English] Äntligen dags för årets stora cykelevent. 120 mil uppe i norr, kunde ju inte bli bättre. Lördagen spenderades med att cykla Vätternrundan, sen var det bara att åka hem och packa det sista för MSR. Kom i säng runt 4 på natten och fick runt 6 timmar sömn. Inte optimalt i och med att det kommer bli så mycket sömn kommande dagar. Det ryktades om att det skulle vara kaos på Arlanda så jag var där 3 timmar innan. Visade sig att jag kom igenom på cirka 20 minuter så det blev att sitta i gaten och vänta. I Umeå så byggde jag ihop cykeln på flygplatsen och cyklade iväg till hotellet för att dumpa väskan med kläderna jag reste i. Efter det rullade jag iväg till starten. Jag hämtade ut mitt stämpelkort och käkade middag. Nu var klockan 21 och starten var 23:07. När jag räknade på resan trodde jag att det skulle bli lite tight och att jag skulle komma fram till starten vid 22:30 så det var skönt att inte behöva stressa. Starten gick 23:07, vid solnedgång. Är inget fan av kvällsstart, nu är man redan trött innan man ens börjat.
I starten så körde jag iväg i eget tempo och tänkte att om någon ville hänga på i samma tempo så skulle det visa sig efter några kilometer. 5 kilometer senare var det bara Peter som var med. Det var dimmigt, himmeln var röd och vägarna var riktigt fina. Riktig kvalitetscykling! Efter några mil kom Christoph ikapp oss och vi körde på i rätt lagom tempo. Första kontrollen var i Lycksele. Vi klev in och stämplade och käkade lite innan vi begav oss igen. Peter stannade kvar och i stället fick vi med oss Paul. Vi körde vidare på blå vägen med en kort avstickare på en lite mindre väg någonstans innan Storuman. Det den sträckan var riktigt fin. Nästa kontroll var i Storuman, vi satte oss och värmde oss och åt lite älg med potatis. Vi tog det rätt lugnt och när vi rullade iväg så var vi ett lite större gäng.
Efter några mil så kom vi fram till ett vägarbete där asfalten var borta. Stora stenar och nedförsbacke gjorde att klungan blev mindre och mindre. En efter en åkte på punktering men jag trodde att det skulle gå bra. Kom förbi typ 8 av 10 partier men då åkte jag på en. Det var väldigt mycket mygg där jag stod och bytte slang så fick många myggbett. När slangen var bytt så tog jag det extremt lugnt på resten av sträckorna. Här var första gången under rundan som det inte kändes så roligt längre. Eller rättare sagt, det var riktigt jäkla tråkigt. Men tillslut kom jag förbi det. Nu var jag ensam så jag stoppade in hörlurar och körde musik och höjde tempot rätt mycket. Nu blev det plötsligt roligt igen och kroppen kändes väldigt bra. Den här sträckan var väl den enda som hade funkat med bara kortärmat, men jag körde vidare med min ulltröja. Några mil före Kittelfjäll så var det ett grusparti. Det fungerade galant med vanliga 28 mm däck. Gruspartiet var riktigt snabbt och jag tryckte på lite extra för att det var roligt. När man kom ut från det så var det runt 4 mil kvar till Kittelfjäll och energin började bli riktigt låg. Det blåste på riktigt bra också så det gick inte snabbare än kanske 20 km/h.
Framme i Kittelfjäll var det kontroll så jag stämplade och det bjöds på laxpasta. Hit var det bara 35 mil men eftersom vi startade klockan 23 så hade jag inte sovit på 28 timmar. Jag bestämde mig för att ta en sovpaus. Jag ställde en timer på 3 timmar. Jag drömde jättekonstigt att det var någon som stod och sa att jag inte fick sova där och sömnen var av riktigt dålig kvalité så det kändes som att jag låg vaken fast jag sov. Jag vaknade före timern ringde. Jag fick runt en och en halv timme sömn. Mitt knä gjorde riktigt ont när jag låg ner vilket var konstigt för jag hade inte haft så ont när jag cyklade. Jag fixade lite med cykeln och flyttade om lite kläder och saker i packningen och sen hoppade jag på cykeln igen. När jag väl cyklade så var knäsmärtor som jag kände när jag låg ner borta. Sömnen hade nollställt kroppen så nu hade jag hur mycket energi som helst. Det känns riktigt bra och vägen var riktigt fin, men då händer det igen… punktering. Jaha, bara att byta slang igen. Hade bara en extra till så jag tänkte att jag skulle laga den som jag hade i vid förra punkteringen istället. Jag hade köpt sånna här patchlappar som redan är limmade så det bara ska vara att sätta på som ett klistermärke. Problemet var att den där lappen inte faste i slangen så jag var helt plötsligt endast med en slang kvar och begränsade möjligheter till att laga eventuella kommande punkteringar. Jag använde min sista co2 patron och tyckte att jag skulle trycka i lite extra luft med pumpen men då lyckades jag tömma en hel del luft så det var bara att ställa sig och pumpa med den där lilla handpumpen. Tog bra mycket längre tid innan jag satt på cykeln igen än det borde. Nu var den här bra känslan som jag hade innan nästan borta.
Vägen in till Norge var otroligt fin. Det enda dåliga men den vägen var att det var extremt mycket insekter så jag tryckte glasögonen så nära ansiktet det bara gick men de lyckades leta sig in trots det. Jag var extremt hungrig här och det enda jag hade att äta var flapjacks och det var så extremt äckligt. Det var det enda jag hade ätit mellan stoppen sedan start och de hade börjat smaka som en klump med jäst.
Jag kom till Hattfjelldal 19:59 och matbutiken stängde 20:00 så jag han inte in och köpa något. Inne på kontrollen bjöds det på fisksoppa. Det kändes inte heller speciellt gott just då. Jag åt lite brödbitar och var tvungen att ta mig vidare till nästa kontroll i Mo i rana. Innan jag satte mig på cykeln så tog jag på mig skoöverdragen och tog fram regnjackan och vattentäta handskar. Väderprognosen visade att det skulle börja regna.
Vägen efter Hattfjelldal var det finaste hittills. Någonstans här träffade jag på Paul och han hängde på mig. Vi skulle sen hålla ihop resten av vägen till Umeå. Innan kontrollen var det några mil på E6, om jag fattade det rätt så kunde den vara rätt.trafikerad men vi körde på den sent på kvällen så det var inte några bilar alls. Vi klarade oss till kontrollen i Mo i rana utan regn. På kontrollen så käkade vi lite. Började bli väldigt less på kall mat och speciellt på lax. Så efter det snabba stoppet på kontrollen så cyklade vi till en mack och köpte en korv och en cola. Vi rullade vidare och kom inte speciellt långt innan det började regna. Det var även den delen av rundan med flest höjdmeter så det gick inte speciellt fort. Det var mitt i natten och någon enstaka plusgrad och man var helt genomblöt. Jag hade inte så mycket energi heller så det var svårt att producera några watt och i sin tur värme. Låg väl runt 170 watt det hade nog behövts 100 till för att producera den värmen som krävdes när det var så kallt. Vi kom upp på fjället nära nästa kontroll och jag ser att en bli har stannat och har tappat ett däck. Jag kollar åt sidan och ser 150 meter ut på fjället en snubbe som rullar tillbaka sitt däck.
Vi rullar in på nästa kontroll och är genomblöta och kalla. Här var det inte heller speciellt roligt. Lusten att fortsätta var obefintlig. Jag ville bara värma upp mig men det fanns inget sätt att göra det på. Jag la mig på två stolar och försökte sova, fick kanske tio minuter sömn. Jag skakade för att det var så kallt. Nu var det bara att fortsätta, nästa stopp var planen att få lite mer sömn och förhoppningsvis kunna värma sig lite. När vi rullade iväg regnade det fortfarande. Vi var uppe på kalfjället och var på den sträckan som jag hade sett fram emot mest på hela rundan. Det var säkert superfint men just då var det bara ett fruset helvete.
Vi rullade tillbaka mot Sverige och vägarna var faktiskt extremt fina men regnet ville inte ge sig. När vi kom fram till nästa kontroll så var jag inte så trött men jag var frusen så vi bestämde oss för att ta och sova lite. Vi fick en campingstuga där det fanns både element och skotork. Vi hängde upp kläderna och käkade lite. Vi ställde klockan på tre timmar. Jag hade svårt att somna av någon anledning så det tog en stund. Sen vaknade jag långt innan timern skulle ringa. Kläderna var fortfarande blöta men skorna och strumporna var nästan torra. På med de igen och dags för att hoppa på cykeln igen. Här kunde jag köpa ny energi. Jag köpte några bananer. Nästa stopp skulle bli Arjeplog. Den här sträckan gick rätt fort. Det var inte många höjdmeter så det var bara att rulla på. Någonstans här slutade det att regna. Det var fortfarande blött på marken och fuktigt och kallt men det blev bättre oh bättre.
I Arjeplog gick vi in på kontrollen och stämplade och käkade lite. Sen åkte vi förbi Coop och köpte energi för resten av resan. Nästa kontroll var i Sorsele och någonstans på den vägen slutade det inte bara utan det torkade även upp lite. Det var extremt kallt fortfarande för nu började natten närma sig. Väl framme i Sorsele så fanns det en sovsal där vi stannade för att sova i en halvtimme. Sovsalen var inte uppvärmd så det var ruggigt kallt och jag hade svårt att somna så någon halvtimme sömn blev det inte. Jag lyckades inte somna men det var ändå skönt att ligga och blunda lite.
Till nästa kontroll var det 16 mil så det var den längsta på hela rundan. Vi rullade från Sorsele runt 1 på natten. Ut på E45 igen och vi cyklade förbi ett ställe där jag stannade till under Sverigetempot för att jag hade så extremt ont i knäna. Den här gången gick det lite fortare förbi eftersom knäna höll bättre. Den här natten var även den iskall. 1 grad var det nere på under någon timme och och kändes. Jag ville bara lägga mig under ett täcke och värma mig. Benen och huvudet kändes rätt bra här. Jag kunde trycka 300 watt under längre perioder för första gången på typ 60 mil. Vi närmade oss den näst sista kontrollen i Åmsele och här var första gången som jag var akuttrött. Jag var riktigt nära att somna på cykeln. Det kom från ingenstans. Min plan innan jag blev så trött var att bara stämpla och sen köra vidare men det var inte längre aktuellt. På kontrollen bjöds det på palt. Efter vi käkat så kom vi överens om att vi skulle sova i 30 minuter. Jag lyckades inte somna direkt av någon oklar anledning så gick kanske fick 15 minuter sömn. Men det var tillräckligt för att få bort den akuta tröttheten. Nu började det även bli lite varmare. Vi rullade från Åmsele och nu var det endast 11 mil kvar.
Efter några mil ser träffade vi på en tjäder med sina ungar som stod på vägen. Tyvärr var jag för långsam med att få upp kameran. Resten av den här delen var rätt gnetig. Det kändes i benen att man hade gjort 115 mil och jag var redo för att få sova på riktigt. Tillslut kom vi fram till Scandic där sista kontrollen var och stämplade in på 61h35m.
Det var en fantastisk tur även om vissa delar var riktigt jobbiga. Otroligt nog höll knäna rätt bra. Jag hade periodvis rätt ont i höger baksida knä men inget i närheten av det jag hade under sverigetempot eller det som jag hade förväntat mig.
Det bästa med rundan:
- Fantastisk fin rutt, otroliga vägar och vyer.
- Ljust under hela rundan.
- Det fanns mat och sovmöjlighet på i stort sätt alla kontroller
Det sämsta med rundan:
- Kvällstart, trött innan man ens startat.
- Vädret, blött och kallt under större delen av loppet.
- Stäckan med vägarbete, usch för punkteringar.
Om det här loppet anordnas igen så kan jag varmt rekommendera det. Jag vill tacka arrangörerna för ett fantastiskt bra lopp och bra kontroller.
[English] Finally time for this year’s big cycling event. 1200 km up north, couldn’t be better. Saturday was spent cycling the Vätternrundan, then it was just time to go home and pack the last of the gear for MSR. Got to bed around 4am and got around 6 hours of sleep. Not optimal considering there will be so much sleep in the coming days. There were rumors of chaos at the airport so I was there 3 hours before. Turned out I got through in about 20 minutes so it was sit in the gate and wait.
In Umeå, I assembled the bike at the airport and cycled off to the hotel to dump the bag with the clothes I was travelling in. After that I rolled off to the start. I picked up my brevet card and had dinner. It was now 9pm and the start was 11:07pm. When I counted the trip, I thought it would be a bit tight and that I would get to the start at 10:30pm so it was nice not to have to rush.
The start was at 23:07, at sunset. Not a fan of evening starts, now you’re tired before you even start.
At the start I set off at my own pace, thinking that if anyone wanted to follow at the same pace, it would show after a few kilometres. 5 kilometres later, only Peter was there. It was foggy, the sky was red and the roads were really nice. Real quality cycling! After a few miles Christoph caught up with us and we went on at just the right pace. The first control was in Lycksele. We got in and clocked off and had a bite to eat before setting off again. Peter stayed behind and we got Paul instead. We continued on the blue road with a short detour on a slightly smaller road somewhere before Storuman. That stretch was really nice.
The next checkpoint was in Storuman, we sat down and warmed up and ate some elk with potatoes. We took it pretty easy and by the time we rolled away we were a slightly larger group. After a few miles we came to a road work where the asphalt was gone. Big rocks and downhill made the bunch smaller and smaller. One by one we hit a flat tire but I thought we would be fine. Got past like 8 out of 10 lots but then I hit one. There were a lot of mosquitoes where I was standing changing hoses so got a lot of mosquito bites. Once the hose was changed I took it extremely easy on the rest of the sections. This was the first time during the round that it didn’t feel so fun anymore. Or rather, it was really damn boring. But eventually I got past it. Now I was alone so I plugged in headphones and ran music and increased the pace quite a bit. Now it was suddenly fun again and my body felt very good. This stretch was probably the only one that would have worked with just short sleeves, but I kept going with my wool sweater. A few miles before Kittelfjäll there was a gravel section. It worked fine with regular 28 mm tyres. The gravel section was really fast and I pushed a little extra because it was fun. Coming out of it, there were about 4 miles to Kittelfjäll and the energy was getting really low. It was blowing really good too so I couldn’t go faster than maybe 20 km/h.
Once in Kittelfjäll there was a checkpoint so I signed in and salmon pasta was served. It was only 350 km to here but as we started at 11pm I hadn’t slept for 28 hours. I decided to take a sleep break. I set a timer for 3 hours. I had a really weird dream that someone was standing there telling me I couldn’t sleep and the sleep was of really poor quality so I felt like I was lying awake even though I was asleep. I woke up before the timer went off. I got about an hour and a half of sleep. My knee hurt really bad when I was lying down which was weird because I hadn’t had that much pain when I was cycling. I did some work on the bike and moved some clothes and things around in the pack and then I got back on the bike. Once I was on the bike, the knee pain that I felt when I was lying down was gone. The sleep had reset my body so now I had as much energy as I wanted. It felt really good and the road was really nice, but then it happens again… puncture. Oh well, just changing the tube again. Only had one extra so I thought I’d fix the one I had in at the last puncture instead. I had bought these patches that are already glued on so it should just be put on like a sticker. The problem was that that patch didn’t stick to the tube so suddenly I was only left with one tube and limited options to fix any future punctures. I used my last co2 cartridge and thought I’d squeeze in some extra air with the pump but then I managed to deflate quite a bit so it was just a case of setting up and pumping with that little hand pump. Took a good deal longer before I was back on the bike than it should have. Now this good feeling I had before was almost gone.
The road into Norway was incredibly nice. The only bad thing about that road was that there were extremely many insects, so I pushed my glasses as close to my face as I could, but they managed to find their way in anyway. I was extremely hungry here and the only thing I had to eat was flapjacks and it was so extremely disgusting. It was the only thing I had eaten between stops since the start and they had started to taste like a lump of yeast.
I got to Hattfjelldal at 19:59 and the grocery store closed at 20:00 so I didn’t go in and buy anything. Inside the checkpoint they offered fish soup. It didn’t feel very good at the time either. I ate some pieces of bread and had to move on to the next control in Mo i Rana. Before I got on my bike, I put on my shoe covers and took out my rain jacket and waterproof gloves. The weather forecast showed that it was going to start raining.
The road after Hattfjelldal was the nicest so far. Somewhere here I met Paul and he hung up on me. We would then stick together the rest of the way to Umeå. Before the checkpoint it was a few miles on the E6, if I got it right it could be quite.busy but we were driving on it late in the evening so there were no cars at all. We made it to the checkpoint in Mo i Rana without rain. At the checkpoint we had a bite to eat. Started to get very tired of cold food and especially salmon. So after the quick stop at the checkpoint we cycled to a gas station and bought a sausage and a coke. We rolled on and didn’t get very far before it started to rain. It was also the part of the tour with the most elevation gain so it wasn’t very fast. It was the middle of the night and some single plus degrees and you were soaked through. I didn’t have much energy either so it was hard to produce any watts and in turn heat. Was probably around 170 watts it would probably have taken another 100 to produce the heat required when it was so cold. We got up to the mountain near the next control and I see that a blip has stopped and has dropped a tire. I look to the side and see 150 meters out on the mountain a guy rolling his tire back.
We roll into the next control and are soaked and cold. It wasn’t much fun here either. The desire to continue was non-existent. I just wanted to warm up but there was no way to do it. I lay down on two chairs and tried to sleep, getting maybe ten minutes of sleep. I was shivering because it was so cold. Now I just had to keep going, the next stop was the plan to get some more sleep and hopefully warm up a bit. As we rolled away it was still raining. We were up on the kalfjället (the bare mountain), on the section I had been looking forward to the most on the whole tour. I’m sure it was super nice but at the time it was just a frozen hell.
We rolled back towards Sweden and the roads were actually extremely nice but the rain wouldn’t let up. By the time we got to the next checkpoint I wasn’t that tired but I was freezing so we decided to get some sleep. We got a camping cabin where there were both elements and a shoe dryer. We hung up our clothes and had a bite to eat. We set the clock for three hours. I had trouble falling asleep for some reason so it took a while. Then I woke up long before the timer was supposed to go off. My clothes were still wet but my shoes and socks were almost dry. On with them again and time to get back on the bike. Here I could buy new energy. I bought some bananas.
The next stop would be Arjeplog. This stretch was quite fast. There weren’t many meters of elevation gain so it was just rolling along. Somewhere here it stopped raining. It was still wet on the ground and damp and cold but it was getting better oh better. In Arjeplog we went into the checkpoint and clocked in and had a bite to eat. Then we went by the Coop and bought energy for the rest of the trip. The next checkpoint was in Sorsele and somewhere along the way it not only stopped but it dried up a bit. It was still extremely cold because now night was approaching. Once we arrived in Sorsele there was a dormitory where we stayed to sleep for half an hour. The dormitory was not heated so it was very cold and I found it hard to fall asleep so I didn’t get half an hour of sleep. I didn’t manage to fall asleep but it was still nice to lie down and close my eyes a bit.
The next checkpoint was 160 km away, so it was the longest of the whole round. We rolled from Sorsele around 1 in the morning. Out on the E45 and we cycled past a place where I stopped during the event ”Length of Sweden Sverigetempot” because my knees were so extremely sore. This time the section was completed a little faster because my knees held up better. This night was also freezing cold. Around 1 degree Celsius for about an hour. I just wanted to get under a blanket and get warm. My legs and head felt pretty good here. I was able to push 300 watts for extended periods for the first time in 600 km. We approached the second to last checkpoint in Åmsele and this was the first time I was acutely tired. I was really close to falling asleep on the bike. It came out of nowhere. My plan before I got so tired was to just punch in and then ride on but that was no longer an option. At the checkpoint there was Palt. After we ate, we agreed to sleep for 30 minutes. I didn’t manage to fall asleep straight away for some obscure reason so went maybe got 15 minutes sleep. But it was enough to get rid of the acute fatigue. Now it was also getting a bit warmer. We rolled from Åmsele and now there were only 110 km to go. After a few kilometres we met a capercaillie on the road with its chicks. Unfortunately I was too slow to get the camera out. The rest of this part was quite hard. I could feel the 1150 km that had been done in my legs and I was ready to get some real sleep. Eventually we arrived at the last checkpoint Umeå Plaza and were clocked in at 61h35m.
It was a great ride although some parts were really tough. Amazingly, my knees held up pretty well. I had quite a bit of pain in the back right knee at times but nothing close to what I had during ”Length of Sweden Sverigetempot” or what I expected.
Best part of the event:
- Fantastic nice route, incredible roads and views.
- Light throughout the round.
- There was food and sleeping facilities at pretty much every checkpoint.
Worst thing about the event:
- Evening start, tired before you even started.
- Weather, wet and cold for most of the race.
- The stretch of road work, ugh for punctures.
If this race is organised again, I can highly recommend it. I would like to thank the organisers for a fantastic race and great controls.
As soon as I saw the Facebook post I was smitten! What could be more exciting than a 1200 km midnight sun ride to the Arctic Circle? The webpage threw up a mixture of emotions from excitement to terror with its description of a ’demanding course profile and ’subarctic climate’ and a warning to make ’a realistic assessment of your chances of completing’. But where’s the fun in signing up for something which you think you can do?! On the booking site, for some reason our date of births were revealed to the world. Shock, horror! It looked like I was one of the oldest and one of only a few women who signed up.
In the months before the event I spent a small fortune on all sorts of new gear after realising my brilliant winter jacket was never going to fit in my saddle bag. A new lightweight, insulated gilet and jacket were purchased, a 250 GBP new front light (which wasn’t used once!), a new rain jacket was added to the list to allow for more layers underneath and then an extortionate American ’Infinity’ saddle which long distance riders swear by was the next purchase (I won’t bore you with the details but it didn’t make it to the start line).
It was with some trepidation I arrived safely in Umeå with my travelling pals Ron and Neil and the nerves were building as I watched riders set up their bikes and discuss their layers. There was no doubt about it. I’d be in full winter gear from start to finish! Sunday was a long evening but we had fun chatting to riders from around the world including Elaine from America and Lee from the UK who recognised me from a long distance ride in London last year.
Then, at seven minutes past eleven and to the sound of the saxophone, we were off into the night light!
The first 400 km were wonderful with stunning scenery. I was just thrilled to be part of the group. We were nipping along briskly in a peloton of about 20 riders There was talk of loose bears in the villages just hours before, we ate moose, salmon and potatoes. Those fabulous Scandinavian accents! I felt like I was in a Nordic Noir thriller but hopefully there would be no murders! Ron, Neil and I sometimes had company. Marijke from Belgium was with us through the gravel and road works. We found Lee on the road elsewhere. And then, joy of joys, I had a room at Hattfjelldal and slept three hours. Yes, three hours ! This was a dream come true for someone who only managed a half hour through the whole of PBP!
And then it was time to hit the road again. I’ll never forget those snow capped peaks getting closer and closer as we approached the Arctic Circle in cold, wet conditions. Much of the scenery reminded me of back home in Scotland. I could hardly believe we had cycled there when I saw the hustle and bustle of tourists dressed in full winter gear at the Arctic Circle Centre.
As the rain poured down we headed to Tjaktjaure. On arrival I was shivering so much with the cold that I couldn’t take in one word of what Lotta was telling us about toilets and showers. I’ve never been so pleased to see a cabin where I could close the door and blast on the heaters and dry out! We stayed quite a long time here to make sure we were warm and dry and ready to hit the road. Now it wasn’t so much a question of rushing round the route in good time but making sure we were comfortable enough to continue feeling warm but keeping a decent pace.
The next few stretches were fantastic. The breakfast at Hornavan Hotel was a highlight! We ate like kings and queens and that propelled us forward at a good pace to Sorsele where I’m now well and truly getting the hang of snoozing. The boys and I had a lovely hour to ourselves, My airbed in the dormitory felt like a four poster bed. Honestly it did, I was so comfy!
We rolled into Åmsele to discover another cabin for ourselves and that wonderful Palt dish really did the trick. Just delicious! We were aware of a lot of riders coming in here so cold and wet they were bordering on hyperthermic which was not nice to see. Enjoying a cosy cabin, listening to the rain, we waited longer than we expected, hoping it would dry up before we set off for the last lap. Somehow there seemed no point in rushing to the finish!
We set off at a more pedestrian pace as the aches, pains and sore bits kicked in. Ron’s shoulder, Neil’s neck and back and my knee weren’t doing so well. So it was with much relief we were back where we started all those hours ago.
Later, there was much fun to be had with those who were staying at the Scandic Plaza hotel, sharing stories and laughs. And it appears for now at least I have a new title on Strava: Queen of the Mountain for Arctic Circle Sprint!
I had the most fantastic trip. It exceeded all expectations and a huge thanks to both my domestiques, drivers, navigators and mechanics, Ron and Neil and to organisers Florian and his wonderful team for the adventure of a life time.
”It’s a bright June afternoon, it never gets dark!”
The real sense of adventure. To go cycling to the Arctic Circle during the Summer Solstice, in the search of the midnight sun. I got hooked by the idea the first moment I heard it from Tor H. And here we were, 100 riders leaving Umeå by sunset, 23:07, Sunday 19th June.
I was bundled with a strong group from Norway. We went on a relentless pace for the first two controls. Other riders joined us. We hardly had time to eat (salmon) at Lycksele (just 25 min stop, 122 km mark) and soon we were on our way to Storuman. Ah, we had a secret control during the first stage which I would definitely miss if not with other riders.
We would be gaining altitude till the border with Norway, yet very smoothly and, despite the headwind, we were doing 30 km/h. It wouldn’t last long for me at this pace, so at a diversion, the group went ahead when only I and Vesa (a Finnish who would finish 10 hours ahead me) took the right turn. Then I could slow down a bit, even chat! It was nearly 200 km. Eventually the peloton catched us. Once at Storuman (230 km mark) I went for a power nap and Tor H sided with me. I also wasted almost an hour trying to fix my front disc brake and I only got it to stop working completely. Yep, I did the whole ride with just my rear brake. We split up here. Two Norwegian fellows abandoned the event due to illness and the rest hit the road as soon as they could. But the power nap was great! It restored my sanity and relieved my sore muscles. We rode at our pace, with Tor H mostly of the time having me drafting his wheel. Not to say, but this was my fastest 200 in time, just 7h20m to cover the distance.
The roads were simply fantastic but on stage 3 we knew about a long road work stretching over 10 km and a long segment on gravel. And eventually it claimed some souls, unfortunately. Another Norwegian fellow abandoned the event after five punctures. We heard several others had issues but Tor H and I were fine, just careful. I was a tad concerned about my tyres because they were well over their half-life. The weather was quite warm and I was running out of water so we stopped at a petrol station and enjoyed an ice cream that just hit the spot. Finally, at the 351 km mark we arrived at the 3rd control at Kittelfjäll for a 40 min break. I was eating fine, but never too much. Food was good, but nearly always served cold. Though just the two of us, the pace was still great and I did my fastest 300 as well. Keep in mind that all the stages were long, the shortest was 80 and the longest almost twofold.
In the beginning of stage 4, my Wahoo failed, lost its GPS signal and I had to restart it. We were now on the way to Hattfjelldal, crossing the border to Norway. It was my first time riding across a country’s border. The route was becoming more undulating. The road quality in Norway was not on par with Sweden at the beginning. And the scenario rather changed as well from sunny meadows in Sweden to mountains, waterfalls and hills covered in snow in Norway. We knew the weather was also turning so we were sort of pushing to get to our cabin for the ”night” 15 km before control 5 in Mo i Rana, and before the rain of course. At Hattfjelldal, our first control in Norway (450 km mark, 40 min stop), a great surprise to have a warm fish chowder, exactly what I was dreaming of. However, it was not sensible to eat twice knowing we would have a steady climb just at the beginning of stage 5. Fortunately, all held up well in my stomach. We still could see the fastest guys leaving or about to leave, so we were not doing bad.
We were now roughly 40 min behind the 4 left Norwegian and eventually we regrouped together at a cabin in Bjerka, 530 km covered, we called it a day. It was already Tue 21st Jun, it was like Monday didn’t exist at all! The price I and Tor H paid was less sleeping time, but the 3 hours I got worked wonders for me. We had a 4h20 min break, the longest it ended up being.
It was now a drizzle, wet roads, but with a nice tailwind. As a group again, we left just before 5am, we went quickly to control 5, Mo i Rana, (546 km mark), had a quick breakfast and rode to the long climb up to the Arctic Circle Centre, control 6 at 643 km mark. But half way up the climb, I got dropped. There they were again riding too fast. I was fine, just needed to take things my way. I was fully prepared for the weather as well, so I never felt cold or soaked. My Wahoo failed again and I realised how cold it was getting. I was kind of leapfrogging with a rider (eventually got to meet him, Tobias, from Germany). When I finally arrived at the control, the group had just left but Tor H was waiting for me, probably for a good half hour. I did all I needed to do in 20 min, including buying a souvenir, pictures, etc. Food was a practical wrapped burrito (delicious) that I just put in my bag, I wasn’t hungry.
It was very cold by but luckily we had a tailwind. That was perhaps my favourite part of the ride, a long smooth descent, despite the heavy traffic. A snowy moonscape it resembled. Hard to believe that that road would continue further north for hundreds of miles. We left the main road and then still one more long climb, to cross the border back into Sweden, until we reach a plateau slightly descending to the next control 7 at Tjaktjaure, 722 km mark. All the way full with spectacular views of waterfalls, gorges, snow covered mountains and almost frozen lakes. I did it mostly alone as I saw Tor H away riding with Marijke, a strong Belgian rider, with no experience in ultra-long randonnés but with 30 marathons and several ultraman triathlons in her palmarès.
Tjaktjaure was a nice control. We could heat our food in microwaves and I put some of my wet garments to dry in a heater. We took a 50 min break. Only days later I got to know they had even a dryer for boots, which would work out for our shoes. But by now I was almost fully dried. Rain has long become a thing of the past.
The next stage to Arjeplog, control 8 at 835 km mark, was a nice one too, with tailwind and a group of 5, having Marijke, and Germans Lukas and Roger joined us. We kept a good pace and when some climbs came we took the time to chat. Inspiring to hear a proud Roger talking about his son Paul, doing the same ride, but hours ahead of us. And when you chat, time flies.
Soon we were at Arjeplog but that was not our stop for the ”night”. We ate and took a power nap. We spent like 90 min there. And I had hot chocolate! Anyway, we still had another 90 km before we called it a day at control 9 in Sorsele. The route was ”easy” but I was tired and sleepy. Tor H was feeling fine and even suggested just an hour stop in Sorsele, but I asked for a 3h sleep. I was a bit disappointed about not having a shower facility. In the end it was too cold and with 2 hours of bad sleep I was awake and we decided to move on so we left before 5am, Wed 22nd, with less than 4 hours of a break. We were well ahead of our schedule but now we eagerly wanted to finish the event.
Easier said than done. It was the longest stage, 158 km, with almost no possible stop, no petrol station, no towns, nothing. Just monotonous, beautifully I must say, monotonous landscape. We started strong but we chatted sometimes to pass the time (I’ve got to know about the ’&’ etymology) and to forgo the sleep. We stopped around the 1000 km mark for a quick break. I was starting to feel dehydrated. Somehow my bottles of water lasted the whole stage.
Once in Åmsele, control 10, 1084 km mark, we had an hour break including power nap. We had the very special local Palt. We left by 12:15 for our last stage. It was plain sunny with a clear sky and headwind that was sapping my body fluids. If my bottles lasted 160 km, they wouldn’t last the final 120 km. We stopped eventually at a grocery to refill bottles and I had a bottle of yogurt. At the beginning of the stage we reached Tobias and we three worked together but he was alternating good with bad moments, probably sleep dripavated. We had a few quick stops, mostly to wee as we were drinking more and more and eventually arrived at the Scandic Hotel, with a tad above 66 hours, almost 6 hours faster than my PBP19, and, apparently within the top 10. For the four other Norwegians, Knut finished first, Tore and Tor S finished together, 3h30 ahead of us. Andrea, an honorary Norseman since he’s Italian, had a longer sleep in Arjeplog and finished 2h30 after us.
That said, a big thanks to Tor H. He could have finished well ahead but instead he not only dragged on the roads but also waited for me most of the time. He also booked the cabin in Bjerka, which proved critical for our performance. Ah, again thanks to him and Anne (from Scotland), they convinced me to take my winter jersey, which proved a game changer, if not not a life-saving resolution.
I really enjoyed the whole thing, including the pre and post ride. The acquaintances with other riders, most of them very experienced, but surprisingly, some very new (some in ages, some not) to this game. A true big thanks to the organisers, in particular Florian, who was riding too! And the volunteers of course, impossible to have such a thing without them. It was the first edition of MSR and I can’t hardly think what they could improve, perhaps more warm food, soups and dals for example, at controls. There were 100 riders registered but 20 didn’t start.
Some notes. I ate light most of the time, taking veggie or fish options, but I tried the moose and reindeer meat as well. All was quite good, if only cold most of the time. However, we knew this from the beginning. We were also warned about the road works so, if several had issues (and the organisers set a rescues team for that), I tend to believe most went a bit recklessly in these sections. I still vouch for tubeless and once again, my heavy worn Conti GP5000s didn’t let me down. The good thing is that next time they may have even better roads.
I’ve slept for 6h30 in total (more than the 5h in PBP19), with a 3 and 2 hours of deep sleep and 3 half-hours power naps. Just 17 hours in total out of my bike, 2h more efficient than in PBP19 and with more sleeping time! And for comparisons… Harder than PBP? Yes, despite the lower elevation. We had to cater ourselves for everything essentially. We wouldn’t have midnight cheers giving away coffees and croissants every few kilometres. Tens of miles without a single soul. And it was like a ”road closed” event given I hardly saw cars on the secondary roads. So we had not only to bring some food with us, but we should also be prepared for the weather, which could be anything. I, for example, used my winter kit almost all the time, except for the last 50 sunny km. And I wore my shake-dry almost half of the time. As for Miglia Italia, this was still the hardest thing, not only because of the climbing and the distance but also, and essentially, because of the heat. Don’t get me wrong, but I do fare much better in cold places.
[English] Nach acht Monaten Planung und drübernachdenken, zweitägiger Anreise und einer kurzen Runde durch die Vororte Umeås begann der schöne Teil der Reise mit einem gemeinsamen Abendessen mit allen Fahrer:innen am Vorabend des Brevets. Es gab ein Buffet mit dessen Hilfe die Speicher ordentlich gefüllt werden konnten. Das wurde dann auch am Tag des Brevets fortgesetzt. Von Mittag an traf man sich im Baggböle Manor, einem alten Gutshaus, das an das weitläufige Arboretum Norr angrenzt. Dort gab es Kaiserschmarren und einen Raum mit Luftmatratzen, auf denen geruht werden konnte. Bei einem Spaziergang im Arboretum konnte ein großer, reißender Fluss erlebt werden, an dessen Ufern sich unter anderem ein japanischer Garten und Kunst besichtigen ließ.
Am Abend begaben sich alle Fahrer:innen nach dem Umziehen zum Brännland Inn, einem gemütlichen Restaurant und Startort des Brevets. Hier konnte wieder ausführlich gegessen werden und der eine oder andere Kaffee zur Unterstützung der Aufregung konsumiert werden. Nach der Brevetkartenausgabe um 20 Uhr kam etwas Ruhe in die Anwesenden, einige schliefen auf Bänken oder dem Boden. Fahrräder wurden ein letztes Mal kontrolliert, aufgepumpt und Setups mit anderen besprochen.
Um Punkt 23:07, dem Zeitpunkt des Sonnenuntergangs, setzte sich das Feld zum Klang eines Blasinstrumentes in Bewegung. Nach kurzer Einrollphase kam schon die erste leichte Steigung und das Feld teilte sich. Eine starke aber kleine Gruppe setzte sich ab, gefolgt unter anderem von einer etwas größeren Gruppe in der ich mich befand. Leicht wellig ging es in einer guten, etwa 20 Fahrer starken Gruppe durch die helle Nacht zur ersten Kontrolle in Lycksele bei Kilometer 122, nur unterbrochen durch eine Geheimkontrolle bei Km 68 mit Kaffee und Schokokugeln. Bis hier arbeitete die Gruppe gut, wir fuhren einen 30er Schnitt ohne besondere Anstrengung. In der Kontrolle gab es Lachs mit Reisnudel und Gemüse, dazu Haribo. Nach dem Füllen der Flaschen brach eine Gruppe aus Roger, dem Lipperlandexpress Rainmar, einem starken Finnen, einem ähnlich starken Israeli und mir schnell wieder auf. Bis zur nächsten Kontrolle bei Km 230 in Storuman auf wunderbarer, sonniger und von Seen umgebender Strecke, hielt unsere kleine Gruppe ganz gut durch, doch in der Kontrolle brauchten Roger und ich erstmal eine kleine Verschnaufpause, da die letzten Kilometer etwas zäh und windig geworden waren. Es gab Elch (etwas trocken) mit Nudeln und eine Zimtschnecke, dazu Cola.
Etwa 25 Minuten später, um etwa 8 Uhr am Montag, legten wir wieder los und machten uns auf den Weg nach Kittelfjäll bei Km 351. Wir schlossen uns mit einigen Norwegern zusammen, doch nach weniger als zwei Stunden fuhr Roger sich in einem Baustellenabschnitt mit ärgstem Untergrund einen Platten. Ausreichend Dichtmilch hätte dieses Problem vermutlich verhindert, aber glücklicherweise war Roger ausgezeichnet vorbereitet und hatte mehrere Ersatzschläuche dabei. So kamen wir schnell weiter. Da wir ein sehr ähnliches Tempo fuhren, entschieden wir uns gemeinsam zu fahren, tatsächlich funktionierte das bis zum Schluss. Auf mehreren Baustellenabschnitten über insgesamt 10 km kaum fahrbaren Untergrund ging es nun langsam weiter. Ich unterstütze einen Fahrer mit meiner Pumpe, doch leider hatten alle seine Schläuche Löcher. Auf diesem und dem folgenden, 20km langen Gravelabschnitt hatten wohl eine ganze Menge Fahrer:innen ernste Probleme mit ihren Reifen und der Luft darin. Nach schneller Selbstverpflegung im Supermarkt am Ende des Gravelabschnitts fuhren wir ein Stück mit den Norwegern, bevor diese etwas zu schnell wurden. Wir trafen sie in Hattelfjell, der dritten Kontrolle am Fuße der Berge wieder. Dort gab es geräucherten Lachs mit Nudeln und Bohnen.
Der Weg zur nächsten Kontrolle, Hattfjelldal bei Km 450, führte uns durch atemberaubende Landschaften, mit schneebedeckten Bergen und reißenden Flüssen. Wir querten die Grenze zu Norwegen und konnten eine Abfahrt (Achtung, Schafe!) genießen, bevor es sehr wellig bis zu Kontrolle ging. Das führte zu ein wenig Frust, denn das Höhenprofil auf dem Elemnt Bolt repräsentierte den eigentlichen Streckenverlauf nicht wirklich. Es ging immer wieder mit bis zu 15% bergauf, bevor es bergab und wieder in eine Gegensteigung ging. So dauerte es deutlich länger als gedacht, bis wir die Kontrollen in Hattfjelldal um etwa 20 Uhr erreichten. Dort gab es Hühnersuppe mit Butterbrot und Cola.
Mit Paul, der lange an erster Stelle fuhr bevor er Pause in Hattfjelfdal machte, fuhren wir weiter Richtung Mo i Rana in den Norwegischen Fjorden. Nach einigen Kilometern setze Paul sich allerdings mit Jonathan ab und Roger und ich kämpften uns zu zweit durch die Norwegischen Berge mit ihren unzähligen Wellen und heftigen Gegenanstiegen. Die Landschaft machte die Anstrengung jedoch mehr als wett, und beeindruckte sehr. Wir fuhren in die kürzeste Nacht des Jahres und näherten uns dem Polarkreis. Kurz vor der Kontrolle in Mo i Rana bei km 546 begann es zu regnen, doch wir schafften es ziemlich trocken anzukommen. Es gab einen Rentierwrap zu essen, der dem Appetit nicht gerecht wurde. Sehr teure Snacks aus dem Automaten halfen weiter. Wie geplant machten wir eine anderthalbstündige Schlafpause in einer der bereitgestellten Hütten. Über dem Fjord lies sich hinter Wolken die Mitternachtssonne erahnen.
Am morgen (04:21 Uhr) begannen wir bei leichtem Regen den Aufstieg zum Arctic Circle Center, der nächsten Kontrolle bei Km 643. Unverschämt teures Frühstück (26€ für belegtes Brötchen, 2x Schokocroissant, ein paar Snickers, Fanta) gab es bei einer Tankstelle. Die Straße zum Polarkreis war nach einigen ruhigen frühen Stunden leider viel befahren, auch von LKW, so dass der Aufstieg auch dank Regen eher unspaßig war. Die Landschaft auf dem Berg, über der Baumgrenze und mit Schnee neben der Straße half, das Ganze doch etwas zu genießen. Mein erstes Tief, das mich auf der Auffahrt erfasste, konnte ich nach einigen Stunden schlechter Laune und Frust mit Musik (insbes. Silversun Pickups) überwinden. In der Kontrolle am Polarkreis gab es wieder Rentierwrap und teures, selbstgekauftes belegtes Baguette (9€/Stück).
Die folgende Abfahrt war dafür wirklich spitze, auch wenn sie wieder viel befahren und der Himmel verhangen war. Die Freude hielt nicht zu lange an, den nun kam ein längeres sehr steiles Stück, das allerdings ein so wunderbares Panorama offenbarte, dass die Anstrengung kaum spürbar war. Anschließen begann der letzte lange und gleichzeitig der längste Anstieg der Tour, der uns auch auf den höchsten Punkt der Strecke brachte. So hoch tatsächlich, dass überall Schnee lag und wir sogar einen zugefrorenen, Schneebedeckten Gebirgssee passierten. Nun ging es theoretisch nur noch bergab bis zu Ziel. Sehr hügelig blieb es trotzdem, bis zur Kontrolle bei Tjaktjaure bei Km 722 gaben wir noch einige Körner her. Dafür empfing uns in der Kontrolle nicht nur Paul, sondern auch Zimtschnecken und warme Nudeln mit Rentier und Pilzen. Ein Essen bei dem das Fleisch nicht schmeckte und das mir noch lange quer im Magen lag.
Kurz aufgewärmt fuhren wir im Regen mit Marijke, Tor und Alan zügig zur Kontrolle nach Arjeplog bei Km 835, wo es wieder Wraps zu essen gab und wir Paul erneut trafen. Tor und Alan begegneten uns auf der Strecke immer wieder und es war sehr schön, mit ihnen über alles mögliche ins Gespräch zu kommen.
Jetzt ging es wieder in die Nacht. Und sie wurde kalt und für mich sehr anstrengend, denn für den schnellen letzten Abschnitt zahlte ich nun mit einsetzenden Knieschmerzen. Das moderate Tempo zuvor hatte ich als ideal empfunden, um meinem Körper zu schonen und dennoch konnte ich der schnellen Gruppe nicht widerstehen. Zum Glück war die Strecke bis Sorsele nur 90 Km lang und nach einer kurzen Pause in der ich das Kinesiologietape an meinem Knie neu aufklebte, ging es ganz gut und mit nur leichten Schmerzen. Dafür wurde es dann kurz vor der Kontrolle verdammt kalt. So kalt, dass ich es, nach dem Stempeln im Kontrollhaus und schnellem Essen vieler Nudeln, kaum zum 150m entfernten Schlafraum schaffte, da ich unkontrollierbar zitterte und kaum Luft bekam. Ich war kurz davor, ärztliche Hilfe einzufordern. Allerdings war mir klar, dass nur die Luftmatratze mit Decke mich schnell aus dieser Situation befreien konnte und so ging ich so schnell ich konnte. Beim betreten des Schlafhauses kam uns wieder Paul entgegen, der nun in den kalten morgen starten würde.Nach zwei Stunden schlechtenSchlafes stand ich höchst widerwillig auf und setze die Fahrt fort. Ich trug dafür bei Sonne aber Temperaturen um den Gefrierpunkt: Schuhe, Merinosocken, Thermobeinlinge, Radhose, Unterhemd, Trikot, winddichte Armlinge, Langarmtrikot, Patagonia Micro Puff Weste, Shakedry Regenjacke, Winterhandschuhe, Halstuch, Mütze, Helm, Brille. So hatte ich nicht länger das Gefühl dem Tode nah zu sein und überstand die Zeit bis zum späten Vormittag, wenn es wärmer werden würde.
Zur nächsten Kontrolle in Åmsele waren es 158 Km ohne Verpflegungstellen. Daher transportierte ich zweieinhalb Liter Wasser und ein paar Riegel. Das Stück zog sich wie erwartet extrem hin, auch wenn die Landschaft wirklich sehr schön war. Da es stetig bergab ging, zeigte sich hier wieder eine ganze andere Vegetation, sowieso wechselte diese ständig, das Brevet führte gefühlt durch jede Landschaft, die Schweden zu bieten hat. Ein Powernap halt jedenfalls, die Distanz zur Kontrolle heile zu überstehen und zu Belohnung gab es bei einem Campingplatz nicht nur den ersehnten Stempel im Kontrollheft, sondern auch Palt vom Feuer. Dabei handelt es sich um Kartoffeln mit Mehl, Salz und Speck, verfeinert mit Beerensoße.
Die letzte Kontrolle war also passiert, es lagen nur noch 119 Km zwischen uns und dem Ziel in Umeå. An guten Tagen vor dem Mittag abgefahren, waren diese Kilometer im erschöpften Zustand nach 1084 Kilometern wirklich heftig. Einfach waren sie auch nicht, mit Hügel und Gegenwind. Auch begegneten uns wieder mehr Autos, da wir uns der Küste näherten. Insgesamt war die Strecke sehr Autoleer gewesen, was auch daran zu erkennen war, dass wir auf 1200 Km nur eine (1!) Ampel passierten und über die auch einfach rüberfahren konnten. Die letzten zehn Prozent der Strecke erforderten also noch mal eine echte Anstrengung, doch wenig überraschend gelang auch das. Angekommen in Umeå erwartete uns nach dem Abgeben der Kontrollkarten ein Teller Tapas gefolgt von anderen Sachen, an die ich mich nicht mehr erinnern kann. Roger und ich haben das Brevet in 68:45 Stunden absolviert. Nach dem Brevet bleiben sehr viele Erinnerungen an wunderbare Landschaften, neue Bekannte aus vielen Ländern, ein großer Erfolg und für ein paar Tage oder Wochen auch ein wunder Hintern und taube Zehen und Finger.
Außerdem ein großer Dank an Florian, der die Veranstaltung sehr gut, nett und professionell organsiert hat und die Fahrer:innen geschickt durchs wunderbare Schweden geführt hat. Es war eine große Freude das Brevet zu bestreiten und früher oder später werde ich es noch ein mal unter die Räder nehmen.
[English] After eight months of planning and thinking about it, a two-day journey and a short tour through the suburbs of Umeå, the good part of the trip began with a dinner with all the riders on the evening before the brevet. There was a buffet to help fill up the stores.
This was continued on the day of the Brevet. From noon onwards, the riders met at Baggböle Manor, an old manor house adjacent to the extensive Arboretum Norr. There they had Kaiserschmarrn and a room with air mattresses to rest on. During a walk in the arboretum, a large, raging river could be experienced, on the banks of which, among other things, a Japanese garden and art could be viewed. In the evening, after changing, all riders went to the Brännland Inn, a cosy restaurant and starting point of the brevet. Here they could again eat extensively and have a coffee or two to help with the excitement. After the brevet card hand-out at 8 pm, some calm descended on those present, some sleeping on benches or the floor. Bikes were checked one last time, tires pumped up and setups discussed with others.
At 23:07 sharp, the time of sunset, the field started to move to the sound of a saxophone. After a short roll-in phase, the first slight uphill came and the peloton split up. A strong but small group broke away, followed by a slightly larger group in which I found myself. A good group of about 20 riders went through the light night to the first control in Lycksele at km 122, only interrupted by a secret control at km 68 with coffee and chocolate balls. Up to here the group worked well, we rode a 30 km/h average without any special effort. At the control we had salmon with rice noodles and vegetables, plus Haribo. After filling the bottles, a group consisting of Roger, the Lipperlandexpress Rainmar, a strong Finn, a similarly strong Israeli and me quickly set off again. Up to the next checkpoint at kilometer 230 in Storuman, on a wonderful, sunny route surrounded by lakes, our small group held out quite well, but at the checkpoint Roger and I needed a little breather, as the last few kilometers had become a bit tough and windy. We had moose (a bit dry) with noodles and a cinnamon bun, plus Coke.
About 25 minutes later, at about 8 am on Monday, we set off again and made our way to Kittelfjäll at km 351. We joined up with some Norwegians, but after less than two hours Roger got a flat tyre in a roadworks section with the worst surface. Sufficient sealing milk would probably have prevented this problem, but fortunately Roger was excellently prepared and had several spare tubes with him. So we moved on quickly. As we were riding at a very similar pace, we decided to ride together, in fact this worked until the end. On several construction site sections over a total of 10 km of barely rideable road, we now continued slowly. I helped a rider with my bike pump, but unfortunately all his tubes had holes. On this and the following 20 km long gravel section, a lot of riders had serious problems with their tyres and the air in them. After a quick self-catering stop at the supermarket at the end of the gravel section, we rode with the Norwegians for a bit before they got a bit too fast. We met them again at Hattfjelldal, the third control at the foot of the mountains. There we had smoked salmon with noodles and beans.
The way to the next control, Hattfjelldal at km 450, led us through breathtaking landscapes, with snow-covered mountains and raging rivers. We crossed the border to Norway and were able to enjoy a downhill (watch out, sheep!) before a very undulating ride to the control. This led to a bit of frustration, as the elevation profile on the Element Bolt didn’t really represent the actual route. It kept going uphill at up to 15% before going downhill and into a counter-climb again. So it took much longer than expected until we reached the controls in Hattfjelldal at about 8 pm. There we had chicken soup with sandwiches and Coke.
With Paul, who rode in first place for a long time before taking a break in Hattfjelfdal, we continued towards Mo i Rana in the Norwegian fjords. After a few kilometers, however, Paul broke away with Jonathan and Roger and I fought our way through the Norwegian mountains with their countless hills and fierce counterclimbs. The scenery more than made up for the effort, however, and was very impressive. We drove into the shortest night of the year and approached the Arctic Circle. Just before the checkpoint in Mo i Rana at km 546, it started to rain, but we managed to arrive fairly dry. There was a reindeer wrap to eat, which did not do justice to our appetites. Very expensive snacks from the vending machine helped further. As planned, we took a one-and-a-half hour sleep break in one of the huts provided. Over the fjord, the midnight sun could be glimpsed behind clouds.
In the morning (04:21) we started the ascent to the Arctic Circle Centre, the next checkpoint at km 643, in light rain. We had an outrageously expensive breakfast (26€ for a sandwich, 2 chocolate croissants, some Snickers, Fanta) at a petrol station. After some quiet early hours, the road to the Arctic Circle was unfortunately very busy, also by trucks, so that the climb was rather ”unfun,” also thanks to rain. The scenery on the mountain, above the tree line and with snow beside the road helped make the ride more enjoyable. I was able to overcome my first low that gripped me on the ascent after a few hours of bad mood and frustration with music (especially Silversun Pickups). At the checkpoint at the Arctic Circle, I again had reindeer wrap and expensive, self-bought sandwiches (9€/piece).
The following descent was really great, even though the road was very busy and the sky was overcast. The joy did not last too long, because now came a long, very steep section, which, however, revealed such a wonderful panorama that the effort was hardly noticeable. Then began the last long and at the same time the longest climb of the tour, which also brought us to the highest point of the route. So high, in fact, that there was snow everywhere and we even passed a frozen, snow-covered mountain lake. Now, theoretically, it was all downhill to the finish. Nevertheless, it was still very hilly, and we spent quite a bit of energy until the checkpoint at Tjaktjaure at km 722. But at the checkpoint we were welcomed not only by Paul, but also by cinnamon buns and warm noodles with reindeer and mushrooms. The meat didn’t taste good and I had to chew it for a long time.
Briefly warmed up, we drove quickly in the rain with Marijke, Tor and Alan to the control in Arjeplog at km 835, where we had wraps to eat again and there we met Paul again. Tor and Alan met us again and later again on the route and it was very nice to talk to them about everything.
Now it was off into the night again. And it got cold and very exhausting for me, because I now paid for the last fast section with the onset of knee pain. I had found the moderate pace before was ideal to spare my body and yet I could not resist joining the fast group. Fortunately, the distance to Sorsele was only 90 km and after a short break in which I reapplied the kinesiology tape to my knee, it went quite well and with only slight pain. On the other hand, it got really cold just before the checkpoint. So cold that after checking in at the control house and quickly eating lots of noodles, I barely made it to the dormitory 150 m away because I was shivering uncontrollably and could hardly breathe. I was on the verge of calling for medical help. However, I knew that only the air mattress with blanket could get me out of this situation quickly and so I walked as fast as I could. On entering the sleeping house, we were met again by Paul, who was now starting out into the cold morning.
After two hours of poor sleep, I got up most reluctantly and continued the journey. I wore shoes, merino socks, thermal leg warmers, cycling shorts, vest, jersey, windproof arm warmers, long-sleeved jersey, Patagonia Micro Puff waistcoat, Shakedry rain jacket, winter gloves, scarf, hat, helmet, goggles. So I no longer had the feeling of being close to death and survived until late morning, when it would get warmer.
To the next control in Åmsele it was 158 km without food stops. So I carried two and a half litres of water and a few bars. As expected, the stretch was extremely long, even though the landscape was really beautiful. As the route went steadily downhill, the vegetation was completely different again, and it was constantly changing anyway, the brevet led through what felt like every landscape Sweden has to offer. It took a power nap to complete the whole distance in one piece, and as a reward we not only got the longed-for stamp in the brevet card at a campsite, but also Palt fried over open fire. This is potatoes with flour, salt and bacon, refined with berry sauce.
So the last checkpoint had been passed, and there were only 119 km between us and our destination in Umeå. These last kilometers were really tough after 1084 kilometers in an exhausted state, with hills and headwinds. We also encountered more cars again as we approached the coast. All in all, the route had been very empty of cars, which was also evident from the fact that we only passed one (one!) traffic light in 1200 km and could simply ride through it.
Arriving in Umeå, after handing in the brevet cards, food at Tapas awaited us followed by other things I can’t remember. Roger and I completed the brevet in 68:45 hours. After the brevet many memories remain of wonderful landscapes, new acquaintances from many countries, a great success and for a few days or weeks also a sore bottom and numb toes and fingers.
Also a big thank you to Florian, who organised the event very well, nicely and professionally and guided the riders skilfully through wonderful Sweden. It was a great pleasure to do the brevet and sooner or later I will do it again.
Photos & Videos
For me, the MSR was an unforgettable event. Enjoying the beautiful landscape with 24-hour light was great. Occasionally I also saw reindeer – unfortunately no moose. I was very lucky with the weather. In view of the weather forecast, I decided not to take a longer break in Mo i Rana, but to continue to the Artic Circle. I reached the checkpoint dry. I slept there for an hour, in the meantime it must have rained heavily. Anyway as I continued my tour the roads were wet but it hardly rained. Back in Sweden – at the top of the pass – the rain started. But soon I reached the Tjaktjaure checkpoint – I slept there for two hours. The rain stopped just as we drove on. Then I only had light showers, from the Sorsele checkpoint the weather got really nice again. At the checkpoint, all the volunteers were very friendly and the food was excellent. I also thought it was nice that you could buy drinks – like cola (sometimes I even got the cola for free!). If MSR is held again, I will certainly start again!
Punctured a tyre on the roadworks. As my friends passed, told them to continue, business as usual. After saying that and they left, noticed my pump was broken, too. So started walking, after like half an hour next rider came and borrowed a pump, big thanks to him!
I arrived to Hattfjelldal Hotel on Monday at 10pm (I think…) and I slept to 6am…! I´ve never slept such à long time in a brevet – so tired… (but then I didn’t slept again till the finish). On Tuesday morning, because of the cold heavy rain, I stopped at a small place for campers hoping to find some shelter there. I found some toilets where I stayed together with my bicycle for an hour. I put on all the possible clothes I had. I was so frozen. But then three other riders came wanting to take my spot.