Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Swedish Ride

I'm back from Sweden! It was great to bond with my folks and enjoy their fabulous outdoors. Every day I tried to prioritize bonding with my family and riding my bike around this lake. It's called Lake Siljan and this region is known as the cultural heart of Sweden. It is rich in culinary traditions, art, architecture, music and sports. A highlight for me is bike riding around a smaller part of this lake which is doable because of a long bridge bank called Fornby Banken. I like to ride from our country home down to our village's tiny boat club and then continue along the waterfront. There is a little foot path that goes around the lake but sometimes it's tricky to stay on it with a bike, but I sure try. A big plus for Sweden is a law called "All Mans' Rights" (Allemansr├Ątten in Swedish). It allows us to trespass upon any one's property. Maybe a tenth of the lake is private property and the owners may be sunbathing right by the lake as I ride by on my bike. Everyone seems okay with this. Swedes are proud of All Mans' Rights and take it for granted. I don't miss those "No Trespassing Signs" that are so popular in the U.S. This unique law works in Sweden because it's a big country with 96, 000 lakes and only 9 million people. On my bike ride around the lake I have had some great experiences including lots of skinny dipping, encounters with moose, and one time years ago I saw an owl snatch a rabbit and then struggle with his flight as he tried to take off with his dinner. He dropped down so low that I could hear his wings flap right by my head. Then he gained control of his victim and his flight, and took off across the lake, but he stayed low as the rabbit weighed as much as him. That was an unforgettable visual and I think it is the experience of nature that is the high light of a ride around Lake Siljan. There are no cool jumps or satisfying downhill sections along this path, so when Tina and Kirstie come join me in Sweden we will travel to a bike park for that kind of kick. The lake ride is strenuous enough for an endorphin kick and the scenery is so precious that it induces sweet dreams.
DH riding is just becoming popular in Sweden. Many ski areas are grateful that the mountain attracts business during the summer months so they build fun runs for DH enthusiasts. My cousin Anders, offered to lend us a cabin near a great bike park called Kl├Ąppen. I imagine we would have a blast on these trails. Here is a video of a fun run and pardon the Swedish!

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