Vatternrundan 2022

The Vätternrundan is an annual 315km (197m) sportive in Motala Sweden where the route circumnavigates the Vättern lake.

The route map
the route profile

This was the last big training ride for me and Bingo before we set off for Barca 22. When I say big I mean massive; 197 miles in just under 12hrs. A truly epic ride with great company.

It happened to be Bingo’s birthday w/e as well. Happy 60th birthday Bingo; fair play “young un” only someone as bonkers as you would do such a ride. A great achievement.

I was only a late replacement for Glen, who unfortunately could not make it, so I came in as the able reserve.

The tour started on Wed 15th June when Bingo picked me up around 14:00. We loaded the bikes and very little else as we are getting used to packing light for Barca 22.

On the Ferry
Dale on the Ferry

We are off and full of nervous engergy. To be honest i was more nervous of the driving than the long ride. The drive took us through France, Belguim, The Netherlands, and then we caught a ferry from Puttgarden in Germany to Rødby, in Denamark then finally up to Motala on the banks of lake Vattern in central Sweden. All in all it was 23 hours on the road. We found the campsite and set up camp, had a few beers, something to eat then to bed.

We woke to to a beautiful morning on the lakeside and decided the only way to start the day was to go for a swim in the lake! It was a bit cold at first, but well worth it. The area is absolutely stunning so we went for a walk in the forest and then back at the tent for breakfast.

Having a swim
Keith at breakfast

It’s still only 10am and we have over 12hours to wait before we set off on the ride at 01:28am Saturday morning. We have a little lie in the sun then a slow walk down to the town to sign on. We enjoy the beautiful scenery and eat as much pasta as we can. After that it’s a slow walk back to find we had a new neighbour pitched 1/2 inch from our tent!

He was a decent fella with his wife from Stockholm. Eric was the new Ray and was very keen to tell us it will start raining at 11:00pm and finish at 05:00am the next day. ‘No way’ we said looking at the clear blue skies above.

The marina on the lake

We managed to do what has never ever been done in living memory on tour and went the whole day without a beer! Well nearly as we did have a few with our dinner, but that does not count, then back to bed to rest until 23:30

We woke up to rain pounding the tent – bloody Eric the viking and his weather! It was really miserable getting ready in the pitch black with it chucking down with rain. Not much was said, just some grumpy comments, then we rode 4km down to the start.

The rain kept on coming as we waited in the start gate for our designated start time of 01:28. It was all very professional as the lead out motorcycle took us out of the town in high winds and pouring rain. I was at the front (no reason why as I could not see a thing) so all I could do was follow the motor bike.

After he pulled off, expecting us to carry on the ride, we had over 30 cyclists following me. All good fun – honestly. The first 3 hours were really hard work, however Bingo got on the wheel of a really fast group. I just tucked in behind them splashing through the puddles and the sound of the wind whipping through the jackets and rain capes and giving no protection at all against the rain.

Finally the dawn broke and we came to the first food station. What was on Bingo’s mind was meatballs, ‘I want my meatballs’, but none could be found and we made do with doughy donuts and sweet coffee (more on that later).

It was the same at the next food station – no meatballs (who’s had all the meatballs). Bingo even spotted an empty tray with evidence but could not find them, much to his anoyance. Once again made do with doughy donuts and sweet coffee! At last the sun was breaking through so Eric the viking was right about that. He had however made no referance to the wind!

On we pushed finding some good wheels to push and pull us along. I’ve never had so much coffee so I found I was flying along, taking in all the beatiful scenery. We stopped for lunch (still no bloody meatballs), but made do with a pasta dish and salad (who eats salads when riding?).

It was full steam ahead now against a strong head wind but keeping up a good pace, through the undulating route, expertly managed by over 4000 volunteers, making all the junctions akin to closed roads. Sure Bingo and I said thank you to every one of them. The Swedes staying mainly silent but when you break the barrier and they then become very chatty, and mainly moan about the hills – not really hills just a few long inclines.

Finally we were up to the last food station and still no meatballs!, but plenty of sweet coffee and donuts. The final 25 mile was against a very fierce headwind but we pushed on easing up the long inclines and fighting the wind on the descents, before entering the picturesque town of Motala with hundreds of spectators clapping us through the final few miles. A great tough ride.

Normal service was then resumed and we headed straight into the bar for some well earned refreshments. The first guys we spoke to Bingo mentions the missing meatballs. They laughed and said 2nd food stop in the gym hall by the massage tents! His face was a picture. If we was not so knackered I am sure we would have gone back for them. As for myself lesson learnt; ‘stay off the beer’ the night before, drink the the sweet drinks on offer and ride hard.

We were two very tired cyclists but loved every minute of it I think. It was a relatively quiet night as the Swedes are not noted for their party atmosphere,. We had a few beers at the campsite then bed for a well earned rest. We had to get ready for the long drive home again in the morning.

No major issues on the drive home just a bloody long way.

‘Happy Birthday Bingo’, it been a pleasure and privalge to spend your 60th Birthday weekend riding with you, cheers mate, ‘Bring on Barca 22’.

Once again many thanks to all those who helped make “Vatternrundan 2022” a truly memorable experience – excellent.

Not to mention all those who have donated. We have passed the 50% mark now, and really appreciate your continued support.

The JustGiving donation page is here. Or use the QR code below.

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Nothing can go wrong.

Dale, all the time

Liège-Bastogne-Liège Sportive

Liège-Bastogne-Liège is an absolute classic on the international cycling calendar. It is the oldest classic ever and as a result has the brilliant nickname ‘La Doyenne’. It is traditionally the last of the spring classics.

On Saturday 23rd April, one day before the pros, you can ride your own Liège-Bastogne-Liège and get a taste of this epic race. Follow in the footsteps of big names like Eddy Merckx, Philippe Gilbert, Alejandro Valverde, Moreno Argentin, Paolo Bettini, Tadej Pogačar, Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten.

The ultimate challenge is to cover the entire distance of Liège-Bastogne-Liège like the pros the following day. Famous hills such as the Côte de Saint-Roch (the wall of Houffalize), Côte de Wanne, Côte de Stockeu will pepper the longest distance of the Liège-Bastogne-Liège Challenge.

Descending the Côte de Stockeu down into Stavelot, the longest distance coincides with the middle distance and both then tackle the triptych of the infamous Rosier, la Haute Levée and la Vecquée. The middle distance then meets the shortest distance just ahead of the Côte de la Redoute, which then leads to the finale.

The last few years, the finale has consisted of the Côte de la Redoute, where the late Frank Vandenbroucke and Michele Bartoli battled it out for victory, the not to be underestimated Côte des Forges and the all-consuming Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons. Those who still feel fresh there, will imagine themselves hero of the road for a day en route to the finish in Liège!

The day before travelling

After a few years wait we were finally on the road again for one of the iconic Belgium classics; the 147km Liège-Bastogne-Liège Sportive.

We had a team of seven, including Lee, Mark, and Graham (that’s enough Tonks for anyone), plus Steve-will-I-won’t I-Richards from the village and a little known lad from the slums of Canterbury (a super fit Glen) and, of course, the normal retrobates Bingo and Dale.

The day before we set off the ever reliable Glen asks the incompetent captain for the address of the hotel (probably so he can transfer his bitcoin empire). This is where the planning went immediately pear shaped. It turns out our hotel was 400 miles away from Liège. A slight administration error. A message to self; ‘get Linney to check the Barca 2022 bookings’!

After a nervous call to Bingo we got it all sorted. The little 147km ride could not of got off to a better start. Nothing [further] could go wrong.

Getting there

All was brilliant on the drive over to Belgium, except for a delay with the ferry. We stopped off outside Antwerp for a flying visit to brother Steve, and delivered his vintage 1993 Cannondale T700 for him. This is still my favourite bike, I just wish I was tall enough to ride it! We picked up a bag of delicous Cardomom Buns (and a welcome bag of thirst quenching beers) and then steamed off through the busy traffic on the Antwerp ring-road to Liège.

Surprise surprise it did go even more pear shaped again as the digs were double booked. In true Aylesham style we just dusted ourselves down and after a bit of giggling Graham found a possible place. In no time we were all checked-in, van parked and bikes safe. As usual everything goes like clockwork!

On the Day

Liège-Bastogne-Liège 147km Sportive 2022
Liège-Bastogne-Liège 147km Sportive 2022 Profile

The weather turned out fine on the day and the team were buzzing with nervous energy ready for the brutal ride ahead of us. It did not dissapoint. It was tough with long climbs and sweeping descents. Just want we needed to get the Barca 2022 training going.

All the team put in a tremendous effort to complete this tough iconic classic, with Bingo honing his navigation skills to find a lovely little watering hole for a little comfort break for El Capitano a couple of miles from the finish. All good training.

Kobi/Barcelona News

Details of the our Charity Bike Ride to Barcelona in aid of Kobi and the Slide Away charity can be found in the latest edition of the Aylesham InTouch newsletter. (or directly in pdf form)

Amount raised so far.

Many thanks to those who have donated so far.

The JustGiving donation page is here. Or use the QR code below.

Kobi/Barcelona JustGiving Page