The Freezing Festive 500 in Sweden – Johan Björklund

The Freezing Festive 500 in Sweden
Words and photos by Johan Björklund and Even Skår

If you live in Sweden and don’t want to spend a third of the year on a turbo trainer or in spinning classes you have to ride in the freezing cold. There’s no way around it. The last two years I did the 500 kilometers that are required to finish the Rapha Festive 500 between December 24-31 pretty much riding solo. This year I was happy to have a lot more company and I would say that we had some of the most memorable rides of all year over this week.

There are three rough categories of winter riding in these parts of Sweden:
1) Icy rain. Storm winds. Black ice.
2) Piles of snow. Cold as fuck. Super crispy sunshine.
3) Slush puppies. Damp all day fog. Eternal darkness.

For this Festive 500 we got to experience all of them on different days and while there’s at least one terrible factor to each condition I love them all for what they have to offer. With the risk of sounding like a show off these winter rides are some of my favorite riding of the whole year. It’s so much more than just base miles to me.

While you browse through the photos, think of that special mixed feeling of stoke and insanity when you descend a pretty much deserted rough gravel road in the middle of nowhere way too fast. Plus it’s thickly covered with fresh snow and when you look down at your front wheel all you can see when the snow is pushed away is a layer of black ice. Cue endorphins.


Follow Even on Instagram, Johan on Instagram and at his Tumblr.


  • AttackCowboy

    This gallery is beyond words. So stoked to have Johan contributing to the site.

  • Matt Long


  • Chris Valente

    Spectacular gallery. Photo #2 good god man… roads like these fo sho!

  • Masterchief

    I came here for the detailed bike galleries, but these photos – with or without bikes – are truly amazing! Also, it looks like the white road bike next to the Cannondale is running some quite skinny tires considering the weather conditions?

    • Johan Björklund

      Thanks! And yes, Conti GP4000s 25mm on that bike. Slightly insane, but works surprisingly well. I did the same thing for the past two winters, but finally managed to get some studded narrow tires for this winter.

      • Mats Eriksson

        What studded tires are you using? I also live and ride here in Sweden and have been using Nokian W106. I find them somewhat sluggish and heavy though…

        • Johan Björklund

          Schwalbe Winter 30mm. They’re heavy, but they handle well and I’m happy after a little over 1000km on them with all studs still there. When I tried to decide on which tires to get I found this guide useful:

  • prefontaine

    absolutely stunning

  • Doug Landers

    Really nice images–great work.

  • Matt Irwin

    Beautiful, Johan!

  • Chrue

    wooop! way to spend the holidays!

  • Pedro Lopes

    Great photos!

  • nspace

    This gallery is unreal!

  • Richard Smith

    I really enjoyed using Johan’s Instagram page for inspiration during the Festive 500. It’s great seeing them here in decent resolution as well

  • jesselash

    Probably my favorite photo set of the year. Amazing work. Are these all iPhone?

    • Johan Björklund

      Thanks (although we’re just six days into the year, haha)! All of them are Sony RX100 shots.

      • nspace

        I would add all of 2014 into that statement! Fantastic photos. Makes me feel like I am riding in a wasteland by comparison to this gorgeous scenery.

  • Bas Rotgans

    Wow, Johan! Amazing photography.

  • Kerry Nordstrom

    Great job Johan and Even!

  • NickJames

    brilliant photos

  • nicod

    So gorgeous. Congrats on the completion! I got mine for the third year in a row. Such a great way to spend the holidays, though it wasn’t quite as interesting conditions in northern california.

  • Ian McIlwain

    Beautiful photos and very inspirational. Thinking of trying to complete a (southern) Canadian attempt next year!

  • BleekBleek


  • charlesojones


  • FF

    For a moment thought you did the festive 500 in freezing temperatures.

    I was riding for a few hrs yesterday finland in -11.c and we covered maybe 45km.

    Hats off to these guys!

  • Gaby Leveridge

    Stunning photos . I tried to do the festive 500 last winter in the French alps and it was TOUGH !

  • TLR

    Yea, Even!

  • Harry

    Gorgeous photos

  • Jason Flynn


  • Steff Gutovska

    This is pure beauty.

  • Joseph Petersøn

    Incredible words and photos. How is this not in an official #Festive500 Lookbook?

  • Joseph Petersøn

    Incredible words and photos!! How is this not in an official #Festive500 Lookbook?

  • Brett Rothmeyer

    the photo with the caption “When we left Svanskog the sun was already setting.” is all !!!!!

  • Kilian Backman

    Always a pleasure Johan! I am probably moving to Dalsland this autumn and would love to ride along sometime.

    • Johan Björklund

      Where in Dalsland? Of course!

      • Kilian Backman

        Steneby, I am applying for the school there. So if everything goes well…

        • Johan Björklund

          Keep me in the loop. Good luck!

          • Kilian Backman

            29 may? ;)

  • 8 sura

    직이주네예!! RAD!!