We just had some French pastries and coffee on our sunny terrace in Mareau-aux-Pres, France. This means we have changed location by at least 926 miles, which is just under the driving distance from Portland to Los Angeles. And we packed this into just two days of time with four bikes, three drivers, one ferry ride, and one van! Anyone we mentioned this to before our trip thought we were insane. Here’s a few looks from the inside of the van:
Malin driving, Peter working:
Let’s take it back a few days to the night before we left Arvika. Malin and her Lunds OK club invited us to their fika event on Thursday, which included a delicious pear crisp and coffee or tea. A large number of people from their club stayed at a school in central Arvika, sleeping on inflatable mattresses in the gym, and using giant industrial dish washers to clean up from their group dinners. We learned from Malin that one of their club members is an excellent orienteer and also just happens to sit on the Nobel Peace Prize Selection Committee. You know, how you do.
Here’s a photo of me outside with their club flag, and also some of their club members discussing route choices from the day’s middle distance event. We noticed that many foot orienteers who hadn’t tried MTBO seemed to be intimidated by the idea of orienteering by bike.
We have felt really welcomed by the Lund crowd, and have very much appreciated their hospitality. It’s been really fun making new friends and seeing how Swedish orienteering clubs roll.
FRIDAY, Last day of O-Ringen!
To commemorate the last day of O-Ringen, our Long Distance race finished near the rest of the O-Ringen foot orienteering competitors in a large arena. This was a good opportunity to see O-Ringen in action — I still can’t believe the coordination that goes into this event. Here are a few photos from before our race. We were trying to capture the volume of people — it didn’t work:
Our Long Distance was a culmination of the week’s races. Technically a pursuit race in which the person with the fastest overall time starts first either with confidence they won’t be caught or stress that the bloodthirsty riders behind them will hunt them down on the course. I started 5 minutes before Sue and sadly we ran into each other around control six after both making some major baubles and also after I collided with another rider on a skinny track between controls two and three. The other guy and I were mostly just shaken up, but I did have to straighten out my handlebars because they’d been twisted out of whack.
Sue and I ended up riding and hike-a-biking with each other quite a bit, and doing a bit of collective discovery that there were some mapping discrepancies where trails should have been marked as more or less rideable. We also both missed the opportunity to take the southern route through the neighborhood and then north on a much faster paved path to control one. Instead we both poked and prodded our way through some teensy, slow-moving forest trails. It was a killer day of technical riding and hiking around 16.6 miles. We were both exhausted at the end, especially knowing we only had two hours to pack before Peter was picking us up to leave town and head south! Here’s the day’s map, and then some photos from Matias Jonsson and Peter Carlberg that do a great job showing the pain and suffering in action:
The next 32 hours included driving to Lund with Peter to sleep at his house, eating too many gummies, stopping to eat at a Laxbutiken roadside restaurant with insanely good salmon, seeing views of Sweden’s farmland from the car, taking a ferry from Sweden to Denmark, driving through Germany (rainy), The Netherlands (sunny), Belgium (amazing people watching at the gas station), getting in and out of the car trying not to disturb the bikes, and missing a turn in the dark of night in France and having to go at least 30 minutes out of our way at 1:00 am! Phew! Here is a photo of the Swedish countryside and a McDonald’s in The Netherlands where biking to the restaurant is a common thing to do.
Today (Sunday), is our first full day in France, and included the Sprint race for the French World Cup. We’ll share more about that in a second post. For now, au revoir!