Like the 100+ year festival with which it is associated, the Swedish Days bike ride has a tradition that also goes back 50 years. Cyclists know the ride will be well-staffed and tended. The route offers plenty of options for riders ranging from basic pedals to full-on time-trialers working to break five hours for 100 miles.
Two years ago when we did the full hundred miler, it was hot in that way that makes even water taste bad. At the rest stops, I gorged on pickles trying to make up the salt difference. It barely worked. The climb up the last hill to the finish took a full five minutes. And that was giving it everything I had. Left.
This year, the weather was cool in that way that reminds you to appreciate summer while it lasts. While it wasn’t quite ‘hint of fall’ cool, it was a base-layer day.
Perhaps that helped the energy level I felt the entire ride. It was windy as a ride along the ocean when a tropical storm hangs out in the Gulf, but fortunately, the course featured enough jigs and jags we could team up and make the trip sane.
My friend Jack joined me for the roadie circuit of 65 miles. Sue and the triathlon crew cycled off the front like a band of muons looking for some matter to penetrate. And while what they found mostly was fast-moving air, it happened that we joined up at forty miles and rode in together. Fast.
Because the last 20 miles or so coursed north through a crosswind that was manageable. Then we turned east with ten miles to go, and the road surface was all brand new. If the first fifty-five miles were a Swedish smorgasbord, the last ten were a disgustingly sweet dessert. We raced along at 28 mph for much of the way with the wind at our backs.
And when we reached the climb to Central High School atop a massive pile of dirt and gravel the glaciers left 10,000 years ago, I pedaled up in just over three minutes. Not a problem.
In fact, my legs felt that way all day long. The weekday rides are adding up to some fitness. And if these keeps I’m sure some Tour de France team will want me for their squad.
I’m just grateful to be feeling smooth and strong on the bike. No world beater am I. But if the Swedish wind didn’t kick my ass, there’s no reason to be unhappy. All is good.