Springtime in Sweden

Today was the first event of my 2013 riding calendar. Each year the Washington Area Bicycling Association and the Swedish Embassy get together to hold the Vasa ride.  In Sweden, them crazy Swedes hold a really long cross country skiing event called the Vasaloppet. Thousands of Swedes, nearly crippled by cabin fever, go skiing for hours and hours. Somehow, like chocolate and peanut butter, WABA and the HofS decided to merge the Vasaloppet concept with bicycling and, voila (sorry, don’t know any Swedish), a ride was born.

The Vasa event is held in March, because Swedes don’t give a damn about cold weather. This helps keep the number of participants in the Vasa ride down. Still we had several hundred folks doing one of the 3 rides. There’s the full Vasa of 59 miles. Then there’s the Halv Vasa of 31 miles, and finally there’s the Kort Vasa of 16 miles. (Swedes ain’t so hot at fractions apparently, but we at the Rootchopper Institute of Anal Retentive Arithmetic are a forgiving lot.)

At the end of the ride, the HofS gives riders hot blueberry soup. It’s actually pretty tasty, buy I wouldn’t want to drink it every day.

The infamous Friday Coffee Club came out in great numbers, a few even brought along their significant others. You can tell it’s true love when your partner will ride 30 or 60 miles in the cold for a cup of blue soup and your company.

Temperatures were around 40 degrees and winds were light. At 8 a.m. a gaggle of FCCers took off with the Full Vasa riders. Our group included Mary and Ed on their amazing Co-Motion tandem, Ryan, Aaron, Will, Shawn, and Lisa. Leslie, another FCCer, was riding as a ride marshall. Thanks for volunteering, Leslie.

Lisa is now the official riding buddy of this blog. We’ve done five or six rides together in the past year and she hasn’t cussed me out once yet. (She shows remarkable restraint.)  The last official riding buddy of this blog was run over by a pick up truck, so, Lisa, watch your back. Although I didn’t see them during the ride, Shawn and Will were also in the Full Vasa pack as we headed out.

The ride went out the Capital Crescent Trail, crossed over to MacArthur Boulevard and headed to Potomac Maryland. At Potomac Village we stopped to chat with Megan and Katie, two WABA people who were giving out drinks and maintaining good cheer despite standing in the cold all morning.

At this point, Lisa and I made the executive decision to turn around while the rest of the group forged on. Their plan was to do a 3 Kort Vasa, the full ride less a portion in Rock Creek Park.  Lisa and I had fun riding back despite feeling a  bit chilly.

Back at the HofS, we met up with Dave, another FCCer who had ridden the Kort ride with Jean, his wife. Jean did the ride despite disintegrating riding slacks, a recent purchase gone sadly wrong. I am sure she will get her money back.

While at the HofC we met up with Rachel and Kate, FCC regulars, and their partner in cycling crime, Katie Ann. Other FCCers we met up with at the HofS included Crystal, John and Kate, and Justin and his wife, whose name escapes me. (This has been a problem of late. I mixed up Kevin with Ben, another FCCer, at the start. I may have to up my coffee consumption.)

The Rootchopper Institute would like to thank the House of Sweden and WABA for putting on this event. I’d list all the names of the WABA peeps who got up super early to pull this shindig off, buy I’d miss a few names (see previous paragraph). Special thanks go to Alex, who managed to take pix with an SLR, tweet on her phone, and use a megaphone in the same morning.  Her stirring pre-ride safety speech was beyond compare. And also to Megan who was standing in the cold at the Potomac Village rest stop with Katie despite having run a half marathon yesterday and getting only 3 hours of sleep.

As usual, the only thing that could have made this a better ride was warm sunshine and more FCCers. These folks are a joy to ride with.

Mary, Ed, Lisa, and I took pictures. You can check them out here, here, here, and here. WABA’s pix are here.