Back around Christmas time, one of my friends mentioned to a group of us that she was going to ski the Kristinaloppet – a thirty kilometer cross-country ski event – and asked if any of us wanted to do it with her. I’ll admit I was tempted to say yes but given the fact that I’d never even stood on cross-country skis, I thought better of it (well, my husband told me I was crazy to even entertain the thought) and politely declined. A week or two later the same friend asked if we would be interested in doing a 100km bike race/ride in June. This was more doable and sounded fun and I had plenty of time to train, albeit during the cold, icy, Swedish, winter months. At least in the beginning of our training period. Was I completely crazy?
Kulla Skattegård, as it is called, runs an ekologisk, or organic, farm and horse hotel. Breakfast, towels, sheets, our own bathroom, and cow greeters included. And the proprietor went above and beyond to ensure our stay and experience was comfortable and pleasant, allowing us to lock our bikes in their garage over night and even printing out a race start card for one of us who accidentally left it on the printer at home. She even gave us directions the “back way” to Motala which took us through more beautiful farm land. It was a wonderfully peaceful start to our day.
Once in Motala, we managed to find parking and get to the start just in the nick of time. And that was arriving early, so we thought. Most of the race took us through country, farm land where we were unfortunately forced to share the road with cars, and even a street sweeper in one stretch of road. (There were some curse words uttered during this leg of the ride). However, the “mountain stage,” as I like to call it, was absolutely beautiful… quiet… and peaceful… as we wound up… and then down… the mountain through sunny and pine-tree, shaded spots. Lovely!
We hung around Motala in the afterglow of our finish for a short while, lounging near the water front or in the lush, green lawn of the park, before we got back on the road for Linköping and the much awaited and longed for hot showers and clean, non-bicycle clothing. The restaurant, Riva, that a friend of a friend had recommended to us just so happened to be located right across the street from our hotel in Gamla Linköping. How convenient! We dined on some of the most delicious pizza I’ve had. And being a connoisseur of pizza I truly feel that my opinion is accurate. I had a pizza appropriately named, La Favorita, only without the oxfile (meat). We finished the evening with a stroll around Stortorget (the big square), an ice cream cone, and a visit to the hotels roof top.
A few more photos from our visit to Linköping the evening and day after the race…