International Gravel Racing in Sweden

August 18, 19, 20. UCI World Gravel Series: Gravel, Grit’n’Grind Halmstad and Swedish Gravel Championships. A competitive mass participation ride for everyone! Register

Gravel riding and racing has boomed in the last few years as road riders tire of near death experiences and mountain bikers look for something that lets you travel beyond your local trails. The bikes have improved with hydraulic disks, tubeless tires and better geometry. With Covid we all started to look for something new to do or somewhere new to ride. Now you’ve explored your local region and are looking for something new.

How about a riding area with thousands of kilometers of winding gravel tracks? Halmstad region has a seemingly limitless supply of rural roads, logging roads, fire roads, wind farm access routes, farm roads and hunters tracks. And the best part? They are so quiet that on a busy day you can see less than 10 cars in a 100 km ride. Forget dodging cloud of dust and skirting logging trucks, imagine a gravel route where the only thing you see is nature, the rolling route, and possibly a friend?!

The city of Halmstad is a small metropolitan area famous for its long sandy beaches, its golf (if it keeps people off the roads, I support it) and its accessible wilderness. The area has more than 480 km of hiking trails, almost all of which are mixed use, meaning that cycling is allowed as well. This is partially thanks to Allemansrätten, a Swedish law that basically allows access to any wild lands as long as the user isn’t a jackass. Swedes frown on jackassism.

The region is a mix of rolling coastal pasture and farmland backed by a forested inland that is deceptively hilly. There are not many climbs over 120 m, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t bite. The forests are dotted with lakes, so many that it is no worth putting a number on them. Add to this the ability to camp on almost any wild land, and you have gravel bikers’ paradise.

This is why the UCI chose Halmstad as one of their 7 European destinations and their only Scandinavian destination for the World Gravel Series.

Halmstad is easily reached from Copenhagen or Gothenburg (Copenhagen being a favourite, as you can hop on the train, with your bike, directly at the airport and arrive in Halmstad in just under two hours). Sweden is a great place to visit for English speakers, in fact, there are as many English speakers in Sweden as in Canada! And more moose, so, there’s that.

A perfect place to bring a family for a holiday, Halmstad and the surrounding area, including the day 2, the queen stage, UCI and Swedish Championships location, Simlångsdalen, are quiet tourist destinations. You’ve got 45 km of sandy beaches, over 100 km of mountain bike trails with rentals and delivery available, a world class wake park, endless kite surfing opportunities, canoeing and kayaking and so much more. Best part, the Swedes are finished their summer holidays, so there is a lot more free space in the forest.

The race: Who is it for? Everyone. This is similar to a Grand Fondo event, or the Vätternrundan. The UCI says that any bike is legal. So if you want to wear a tiger onezie and ride your 50 year old military bike, you can! You can ride one day or all three!

It’s a three day event, with an opening day time trial, the second day is the big qualifying event, and the third day is a fun and fast 80 ride through some of the best wilderness in southern Scandinavia. Each day is different, the first day is for the fast time-trialist, the second is a longer stage with some climbing for the roadie, and the last day is a more technical route with some short sharp climbs for the mtb rider or cyclocrossist (cyclocrosser?).

How do I register? Just click here!

Last year’s Simlångsdalen Route

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