In the 16th century, a Swede by the name of Gustav Eriksson Vasa escaped from imprisonment and set out to rally other Swedes to declare independence from Denmark. He skied out of Sweden to Norway to seek refuge, but eventually came back to lead a successful fight to separate from Denmark. Vasa became the first king of an independent Sweden. In 1922, Anders Pers created a ski race commemorating King Gustav’s escape and victory. and races are held every year.
Here, WABA has a bicycle ride in March called the Vasa Ride that is partially sponsored by the Embassy of Sweden. This is my first ride after being finished with school (hooray!), and I was going to make the most of it.
The hardest part was deciding what to wear, as temperatures when I left the house were in the high 30s F, and the forecast in the early afternoon was to be in the high 60s. I opted to wear light winter gear– skullcap, gloves, silk baselayer, tech-fabric shirt, fleece-lined jacket, fleece-lined tights, pants, wool socks, and shoes with toe covers. But I also decided to carry my trusty pannier so that I could shed layers when I needed to and stow them in the bag.
I got off to a slow start in the morning. I haven’t been sleeping well lately, and I had some minor technical difficulties before getting out of the house. I left later than I had intended, and without having eaten any breakfast. However, I managed to make it to the House of Sweden at a reasonable hour– just in time to say hi to Ed and see him take off for the full Vasa (59 miles). The “usual suspects” of BikeDC soon appeared– my riding buddy Rootchopper!, Kirstin and Tom, Ted and Jean, John and Kate, Kevin, Dave, Alex, Ricky, Joe– I really felt like it has been ages since I’ve seen these folks and it was great to be in such good company again.
I opted to do the Half Vasa (31 miles) again. I started the ride with Rootchopper, but my climbing legs have not yet established themselves (really, I don’t know if they ever will), so I lost him over some hill. When the sun finally appeared, I did stop to shed some layers before another climb. I also saw vultures. I hoped I was not going to be their lunch.
Around the halfway point, I caught up with Rootchopper and some others. The pit stop was near a bakery, so I went in and got a macaroon and a scone. I downed the macaroon pretty quickly. I then lost the group again at the traffic light out of the parking lot. argh.
On the loop back, I remembered how I had felt after eating during my Pittsburgh-DC rides, so I went slower than usual to digest on the bike without invoking the heartburn, and then once I felt better, I sprinted as much as I could until the end. I felt great.
Back at the House of Sweden, they were serving cups of warm blueberry soup inside. It’s a tradition of the Vasaloppet to have the blåbärssoppa after the ride. I like it well enough. But what was great was going out to lunch with a group and hanging out before heading back home.
I enjoyed the ride and am looking forward to doing more this year!