Posted by: Ian | June 9, 2013

Sweden: Norrkoping, Motala, Halvvattern

Here’s a hint: if you want to pronounce a Swedish place name so that Swedes know where you mean remember that a k is likely be pronounced as sh. With the vowels I guess you just have to learn them, especially when they’re accented (I lose all such accents in this blog). For example Nykoping is Neeshoping. For intonation, rather than the Swedish chef on the Muppets, it’s helpful to think of the dream dwarf in Twin Peaks whose speech was played backwards. He was creepy but Swedish somehow sounds melodious. Norrkoping is Norshoping. In both cases you want to take rest after the first two syllables (Neesha, Norsha) look around for a couple of beats and then finish the word (ping) on a rising intonation.

I had lunch in Norrkoping yesterday and it was delicious. Bread and tapenade, both home made, were served to me while I awaited this:

Kinda salmon

It was all outstanding.

My ride to Motala was 95 miles that divided between regular roads; dedicated bike paths next/close to roads; wide pavements for shared cyclist and pedestrian use; and gravel tracks. Some of the gravel paths were okay. Others were on the limit of what I’d attempt on a road bike, and beyond what I rationally should. But I incurred no damaged wheels, no torn tyres and not even a puncture. The Ti Astraeus soaked up the buzz astonishingly well. I have the bars double-wrapped too.

The sun shone and I spent much of the day in sight of lakes and, less expectedly, lupins.

Lake, lupins

By the end of my 95 miles I was pleasantly tired but not wrung out. At the guesthouse the lovely Swedish couple who run it served me waffles with cream and Swedish jam and great coffee.

This morning I was up for an 8:06 start at the Halvvattern, the 150km little brother to the 300km Vatternrundan that runs next week. I’d tried to sign up for the longer ride but missed it: there are 20,000 places but it sells out in four days. The shorter one has fewer lake views but was still a lovely ride. For an experiment I cycled it almost entirely in zone 3 (easy riding) – the consequence was that when I finished I felt totally fresh. I don’t know what time penalty I paid – but who cares? I still completed it in under five hours of ride time and even with food and photo stops I came in at an unshabby 5:02.

At first I was a little disappointed with the food stops. I was hoping for meatballs and lingonberries with kanelbulle on the side. I got blueberry soup, rosehip juice (I think), bananas (inevitably) and bread rolls with gherkins. It’s actually a very good combo. I feel *far* better for having jacked in energy products.

I lunched and hung around at the event, where there was a nice buzz, before cycling back to the guesthouse for more waffles and coffee, and a soak in the hot tub.

Here’s a shot of a few cyclists on the straight before the final bend to the finish line…

Almost there



  1. […] I wrote (based on ostensibly good info) that the Vatternrundan had 20,000 entrants and sold out in four days. I learn (better info) that this year it has 28,000 entrants and sold out in two hours. (And I think it goes without saying that if you want to learn anything about Swedish pronunciation you should ask a Swede, not me.) […]

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