Team Rynkeby Day 8: The last day


We were blessed with an extra 30 minutes this morning and didn't plan to leave until 8 am. Yay! Too bad I hardly could take advantage of those extra minutes. My body made sure I was wide awake around 6 am, telling me to "get on with with it!". 

The Mercure hotel breakfast buffet was in the typical French baguette-croissant-youghurt-milk-cheese-ham-butter-marmelade-juice-coffee-style, and I really missed eggs and bacon (proteins!) after noticing how a lot of my muscle mass everywhere else than in the legs has started to disappear. I really don't have an excess to get rid of and would very much like to keep whatever I have, thank you very much!

When we rolled our bikes out from the storage room, it seemed like we would have a great morning - partly cloudy, slightly below 20 degrees and not particularly windy. Perfect biking weather. I think a lot of us started to feel some mixed feelings about the day - on one hand, we were so close to have been cycling all the way to Paris and the Eiffel Tower, but on the other hand our very special adventure was coming to an end. At least that's what I felt.

We took off knowing we only had a measly 80-kilometer ride ahead of us before hooking up with all the other 16 teams at Place Auguste Baron, and then ride the final 10 kilometers to the Eiffel Tower as one large (and above all, long) bunch of 800 cyclists.

But things would get a little bit more challenging than we thought. We had a navigation equipment problem already after a few kilometers, and were forced to take an involuntary break on the pavement for 40 minutes or so. When the GPS had been fixed we took off on a pretty smooth ride, and after a bit shorter than 30 kilometers we got where we would have our final morning break.

After more eating, drinking and eating we finally gently, gently applied one large last dose of Assos (a GREAT antibacterial vaseline creme that decreases friction and hopefully keeps your most valuable parts at least somewhat recognizable). And took off again. Ouch. 

The traffic became heavier and heavier the closer we got to the city, and we had lost quite a lot of time. At a BP petrol station in an undefined Parisian suburb a decision was made to skip lunch, and munch bananas and energy bars instead. Someone seemed to think about filling up his/hers ("hen's"?)  bike at the pump.

The last kilometers to Place Auguste Baron went better than we thought, and we got there well ahead of time before the joint ride. We kind of started celebrating already there. A lot of songs were sung. Probably around four or five teams were there when we arrived, and Team Stockholm wasn't one of them. Some of us cheered something like: 

"Före Team Stockholm!
Vi åker före Team Stockholm!
Före Team Stoooooock-hoooolm!
Vi åker före Team Stoooooock-hoooolm!"

(A few different ways of saying that we're "ahead of Team Stockholm")

And I have to add a disclaimer here. Of course it isn't as if anyone of us in Team Täby feel any kind of rivalry with our smaller sibling from the southern parts of Stockholm. It just happens to be a fact that we purposely chose a longer (and probably more scenic) route than they did, and that we were faster than them to the Eiffel Tower. We even let them get a head start from Rostock when we split our routes. That's all.

The ride to the Eiffel Tower was unbelievable. We were team five out of seventeen, but still there was no way we could see the front of our "peloton" even on the longest boulevards. That must've been one of the longest pelotons with the same bikes and clothes ever formed. 29 out of 30 bystanders looked happy, cheered or took photos. That last one out of 30 seemed to be stressed to get somewhere, and weren't particularly thrilled with coming to a halt and getting a sudden fifteen minute view of exhausted, deliriously happy Skandinaviens on yellow bikes. 

And before long, we saw it/him/her/hen: The Eiffel Tower. It was far from my first time, and like most other tourists to Paris I've been up there a few times. But never has this sight been greater, and never has the feeling of this monument's magnificence been more powerful than in those moments when we were coming closer and closer.

The last few hundred meters were fantastic. Both loved ones, friends and family, tourists and perhaps even a few Parisians were standing packed together, cheering as if was the last meters of Tour de France. A few of us shed a tear or two after the finish line, and afterwards there was an hour or two of hugging, cheering, drinking bubbly and eating crackers (yes, this was an interesting sensation after biking for eight long days in a row AND skipping lunch).

A lot of photos were taken, and I think the ones where you were lifting your bike in front of the tower was the most popular motive. Visit your loved one's Facebook pages, and you'll probably see them as profile pictures or at least in the photo stream.

After that: a fantastic mexican debrief dinner, and then a couple of hours of after-midnight dancing for some, and a bit more sleep for others. Since I have an early flight on Saturday morning I chose the "early" option and got back to the hotel at 1 am. Exhausted and very, very happy.

I'll try to let this experience mature for a few days, and then sum up some thoughts and reflections here that could come in handy for future bike rides like this one.

I'm just so very grateful for this opportunity, and want to give my warmest thanks to everyone involved. I know you have worked really, really hard to make this possible. Our captain, the whole service team with technical service, food and transportation, Alex and Robin, the paceline captains, our navigators, our sponsors, and every single one of the team members. Thank you.

And finally: let us always remember all those children with cancer who are fighting to stay alive in Lund, in Sweden and all over the world. Their challenges are so much harder than the ones we have faced during this week. They are fighting for their own life when it has hardly just begun.

Team Rynkeby Day 7: Smooth sailing

Ok, so yesterday was tough. We started with a climb up and down some insanely steep streets in Liège (or some nearby village; I don't know, the memories are pretty vague).

Every moment took a bit longer than we had planned, which was kind of stressful. Just before lunch we reached Huy and it's famous "Mur de Huy" which is one of the most well-known slopes in the biking world. Sadly for me, my right shoe clip (fixing the shoe to the  pedal) had broken the day before, and the left one gave in just a couple of hours before the Mur. I didn't even give the slope a try without any clips, but a couple of handfuls of the team managed to ride all the way up the Mur without stopping.

The day ended really late, and we reached our weird hotel in Laforet, Belgium at perhaps 22:00 at night. The hotel was run by some kind of French version of The Addams Family. All of this can be a bit stressful when you know you HAVE to eat, shower, eat, participate in debrief/brief, eat, clean your clothes, drink Resorb, eat, go to the bathroom, eat, call home, eat, write something for this blog, eat and go to bed to get a few hours of sleep before you have to wake up at 06:00 and do the morning routine: eat, get dressed, eat, drink Resorb, eat, apply sunscreen, eat, pump the tires, eat, pack all clothes and stuff for the day, eat, carry down the luggage and get out to your bike. Did i mention the eating part?

So - I cut down on the blogging part yesterday to catch at least 6 hours of restless sleep.

Today, Thursday, turned out to be really good considering the challenging distance, steep hills for at least a third of the road, and the fact that most of us has felt pretty exhausted for quite some time now. We rode 207 kilometers in less than 10 hours including a few shorter breaks for some small stuff like munching bars and going to the "bathroom". I was almost stunned with surprise how we had been able to ride so fast as a team, and making so few mistakes. No accidents at all.

I've also been on the "draglag" of our peloton for the past three days. As you might suspect, this has nothing to do with drag shows, drag queens or anything like that. Instead it's a few people in the front of the peloton who takes turn up front to break the wind. I think this is called "paceline" in English, but I'm not sure.

For me, this has been a fantastic opportunity to learn more Finnish, since half of the draglag is Finnish. Memorable phrases include "Jaksaa, jaksaa!" (Work it, work it!) and "Hyvä Fiilis" (Feeling good). It has also been a great gift to realize that it is very much possible to go on exercising for days even though you have lactic acid basically dripping down your legs.

See you tomorrow for the last day of our entourage, our ride into central Paris and the Eiffel Tower together with the other 16 teams. 


Team Rynkeby Day 6: It's getting late in La Fôret and dreams of IV drip

This is the latest arrival so far... I won't even try to write anything today. Gotta get some sleep, gotta get up in the morning. This was a hilly day. Will tell you more tomorrow, if we get to the hotel earlier.

All I will say is that I would appreciate an IV drip with water and sugar like those Tour de France guys sleep with.

Team Rynkeby day 5: The rain that never came #2

First of all. It is insanely late (by our standards). Our close to 230 kilometers long ride took a bit longer than anticipated, and we arrived at our hotel here in Aachen just past 9 pm. We were blessed with nice weather and not a drop rain. I'll be very brief.

The pizza saved us. Thank you so much, service team. You knew when we needed it the most. Of course the pizza slices were topped off with the Arla Keso cottage cheese that we get every day, for every break, since Arla is our sponsor, and Keso makes you strong. We really love Arla and Keso :)

We had our worst wipeouts so far with a total of eight people involved. Luckily no one was badly injured. Basically only scratches and bruises. We're doing our best to make sure that those were the last crashes for this years trip.

I am sharing room with the greatest guy in the team, Staffan. Great as in - you know - a great pal, but also great as in the tallest and the most muscular of us all. Today we got a room with one 140 cm wide bed. Smaller than a queen size bed. Yup.

Tomorrow we are looking forward to something around 180 kilometers, including the great Mur de huy. I really hope that we get to the hotel earlier than we did today.


Team Rynkeby Day 4: The rainy day

This was THE rainy day so far, and since it took so long to reach Münster I'll focus on just getting up the photos and go to bed. You're mainly here to see those anyway, right?

This was also the day when we learned that biking through a small city centre could take an extra hour, stopping for twenty or so red lights. We'll try to avoid that tomorrow and ride for somewhere close to 220 kilometers instead of the planned 195 (we managed a bit more than 180 kilometers today). In heavy rain, probably. You understand why I'm looking forward to getting some sleep, right?

Today's best break activity was the "head-shoulders-knee-and-toe-knee-and-toe" game that we played; Sweden vs. Finland. Pictured above. The Finnish version manages to switch "knees" to "buttocks", which make the song much more fun. I love Finnish music!

Other highlights of the day was Ilka's acrobatic wipeout and some more flat tires. Ilka is showing his warface just before his somersaults in another of the photos above. 

Gotta go to bed. Sleep tight, and don't let the bed bugs bite! 

PS. Sometimes it feels as we are peeing our way through Europe. I'm borrowing a pic from Marie that shows you what it looks like during our so-called "micro breaks" that are snuck in between our regular "coffee breaks" and "other short breaks". 

PPS. Just seeing these photos you might think that our ride basically consists of an infinite number of coffee breaks. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is just kind of complicated and stupid to take that many photos from the ride with my unprotected iPhone in pouring rain. The Finns in Team Täby have their own Facebook page with a lot more action photos and movies.


Team Rynkeby Day 3: The rain that never came

This morning was weird. It began with me biking around in Vaxholm carrying some kind of meeting protocol that I had to sign on each and every page. For no particular reason I stopped in front of a house and started the signing job using someone's mailbox as a small desk. A woman came out from the house and looked strangely at me. Since I really didn't know what to do, I slipped a few sheets into her mailbox.

Suddenly the alarm woke me up and saved me from this really embarrassing situation. A new day with 190 kilometers laid ahead of us, and I started my "usual" painkiller gel/sunscreen/rehydration tablet routine. Our great hotel had an as great breakfast, and before we knew it we were off.

We were prepared for a cloudy, pretty windy and somewhat rainy day. It turned out to be nothing more than an almost perfect balance of cloudy and sunny moments, and a really fantastic bike ride. I think that most of haven't had a nicer and more relaxed 190 kilometer trip. Apart from the fact that Colin managed to flatten his tires three times (!) in a few hours, and apart from a few minor accidents, this was a really, really good day.

For my part, I managed to temporarily lose the screw-bolt-thingy that goes in to the crank - I lost another one yesterday. I broke off from the team and managed to find it a few hundred meters back in the middle of the road.

Tomorrow we'll have close to 180 kilometers to go, see you then!


Team Rynkeby Day 2: A sweet sauna in Ludwigslust

The day began abruptly. A woman’s distorted voice blurted out loudly throughout our cabin’s PA system, and not too politely informing us that we would be docking in an hour. Too bad most of the breakfast was gone when we went to the restaurant a few minutes later. The really brilliant part with the morning was that we could see some sun and blue sky - we were mentally prepared for a pouring rain.

Our bikes were still parked safely down on the lowest transport deck, and after a few goodbyes all of the teams (Täby, Stockholm, Jönköping/Gränna and Malmö) parted planning meet again only outside Paris next Friday. (Of course we got to see the Stockholm Team a couple of times along the way also this morning. They always manage to start before us, choose a very interesting route, and somehow end up behind us in the end.)

We had a nice start, with roughly 50 kilometers to go until our first break. The weather continued to be better than we had anticipated, and there were only some scattered showers together with a bit of headwind. During these first hours there were a few minor incidents, but nothing serious. The most amusing one were when we accidentally lost our captain, Robin and Alex. They were simply left behind, and no one seemed to know where. After the rest of us stopped for a  20-minute break they caught up with us again - but they didn’t seem to find any of this amusing at all.

The break - our first - was fabulous, and I really want to thank all of our service who are doing such a great job to keep us on the road. Even though I might not mention it in writing every day, I certainly still mean it :)

Afterwards, we had a pretty non-dramatic next 50 kilometers up until lunch (served in the middle of Nowhere, Northern Germany), and then set off for our last 40 kilometers before we could call it a day. The headwind grew stronger, and those last tens of k:s were probably the toughest one of our trip so far. But - we made it to Ludwigslust and our really nice hotel (Erbprinz) before it got too late.

We were able to kick back with some sauna before dinner, then a good debrief making mental notes about things to remember (keep your tire pressure up, don’t frighten everyone by yelling “HOLE” as soon as you see a small crack in the road, eat lots and make sure to get as much sleep as possible).

My GPS stopped at 142 kms today, and we’re supposed to go for 190 kms tomorrow. I’d better follow that advice and go get my beauty sleep.