In the world of brevets, or randonneuring, Paris Brest Paris is probably the most infamous, with its total length of 1200km and massive rider roster. However, if you travel further north in Europe, something more sinister awaits. The Sverigetempot is a ten year old, officially-sanctioned brevet, totaling 2100 kilometers. It begins on the Sweden and Norway border, in a small town called Riksgränsen, which can barely be categorized as a town, it’s more of an outpost. From there, a small group of riders have either 144 hours or 177 hours to make it to the southernmost point of the country, Smygehamn. Along the way, there are checkpoints, or control points, at which point the riders will have to have their brevet cards time-stamped at designated places as proof of their mileage. There are other rules, such as there is no roadside assistance allowed and the riders are to be self-supported. While the organizers will transport a bag from the start, to the finish, every entrant must carry their clothing, food and water on their bikes. The countryside offers many hotels and hostels for shelter, so luckily, no camping equipment was necessary, allowing for lightly-packed bikes, with one thing in mind: efficiency.
For Erik Nohlin, the Sverigetempot has been a dream for the past ten years. He’s already completed PBP twice and has completed his brevet calendars with the super randonneur title each year he participates. After designing the AWOL for the Trans Continental Race, he wanted to design a bicycle fit for the Sverigetempot. The Sequoia’s inception was in fact catalyzed by this challenge. Now all he needed was a team of able-bodied souls to accompany him. Kristian Hallberg is a lifelong friend of Erik’s. Currently living in Göteborg and having just completed PBP this year, he was an obvious choice. Rita Jett is a co-worker of Erik’s and is an accomplished endurance athlete. Her will power is only trumped by her smile and being no stranger to long days on the bike, was the perfect person for the team. Together, these three began their own training schedules in preparation for the Sverigetempot, meanwhile efforts began for a documentation team.
Myself, along with Aaron Gulley, a journalist and Ertzui Film, who have worked with Erik before during his Transcontinental Race would document this seven day event. The team had been assembled, plane tickets purchased and an itinerary formed. The Americans flew into Copenhagen, rented a car and drove to Sweden, where we’d meet Ertzui in Malmö. From there, a 24 hour drive awaited us to the Nord where we’d spend a day resting and planning the following week.
We knew what to expect for the first few days. The Nord would by far be the most scenic, with towering mountains and vast lakes. The sun never really sets, it simply kisses the horizon before rising yet again, like a bouncing ball of fire, casting a golden glow upon the landscape. The weather hovers around 10ºC, is very unpredictable, resulting in torrential downpours, and capricious wind patterns. You know, the kind of environment that makes for great photos, but horrid riding conditions. What unfolded for the next 48 hours delivered on all fronts and not only pushed our team to their limits, but became one of the most challenging events I’ve ever documented.
This gallery will be (hopefully) joined by two more, documenting the sights and struggle of the Sverigetempot. Check out the full Gallery for a play by play and follow the #sverigetempot2016 hashtag for current photos.
Here’s the official route for Day 01 and Day 02.