We don’t have any alps down in the south, just gentle rolling hills. Nothing that would challenge a truly hardcore cyclist. It’s all just a mix of lovely farmland and beautiful forest meadows, right?
Perhaps not. Simlångsdalen is home to a lot of vertical elevation, and an seeming endless selection of gravel roads, rocky logging roads and wilderness single track. Woven through the length of the valley, crisscrossing the lakes, is a route that puts 2000m of climbing into 100km of riding. It includes 12 climbs of approximately 100m in height, many of which are 10%+ average gradient. The longest flat section is a mind-boggling 3km long, and there is only sporadic sections of tarmac that you’ll learn to worship like a new diety.
The route requires you to be self-supported, as you only see the village services at the beginning and end of the ride. One advantage of the route is that it gives you the opportunity to give up at almost any point as you are never more than 10km from the starting point as the crow flies.
Perhaps the toughest question is which bike to take. There is single track, but you could argue that this is a gravel route. It can be managed on 35mm tires, but you might have your bike up on your shoulder more than in a cyclocross race. A full suspension rig will be appreciated on many of the downhills, but then you are dragging all that weight up climbs that top out at over 20% gradient on some horrific stones. A superlight hardtail with an ultrawide gear range sounds great, but not everyone has such a specific bike.
Only a handful of riders have ridden the complete route, and the fastest known time is about 5:30. Are you up for the challenge?
Total climbing: 1992 m