Over 40? ...then step away from that two wheeled death machine Grandad!
Back when Sverigeloppet (Tour de Sweden) was in it's prime, no competitors over the age of 40 were allowed to climb aboard their trusty rides and take part in the epic trans Sweden bike race. Luckily, these days we are a bit more flexible and also in most cases a hell of a lot fitter, even after 40. Today the members of Sigr sponsored "Team Happy" are pretty much all over 40 - and are very happy about it thank you very much!
In 1951, at 66 years of age, Gustaf Håkansson or "Stålfarfar" as he was known which means "Steel Grandad" in English, wanted to compete in the race but was refused by the race organisers due to his advanced age.
Not to be discouraged Gustaf hatched a cunning plan.
Mr Håkansson started one minute after the last official racer had set off - wearing a shirt on which he had written a big zero as his 'runner number'.
The Swedish Tour was run in stages, and while the contestants slept, Håkansson would pedal up to three days without sleeping. During the contest, he was presented as "Stålfarfar" ("A Grandpa made of Steel"), a name that had followed him since the late 1940s. He had a big beard that made him look extra old, and the organizers were afraid people would laugh at him and that he would make a mockery of the race. Many newspapers covered his story, and he became somewhat of a celebrity as the nation followed his journey through the country.
After 6 days, 14 hours and 20 minutes, he arrived in Ystad - 24 hours before the contestants. There was a parade with a marching band, fire brigades and Håkansson seated on the shoulders of younger men. The next day he had an audience with King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden.
And best of all - "Stålfarfar" lived to be over 100 years old. So who said biking is not good for you?
One of the Sverigeloppet race ambassadors for 2018 and organiser of the 2018 race is the Olympic gold medalist Bernt Johansson. Here are some of Bernt's words about the roads and routes of the competition:
An amazing opportunity to bike all through this beautiful long country of Sweden. You will pass through the Northland forests, then through the hills of middle Sweden down to the big lakes Mälaren and Vättern. The final laps will pass through the woods of Småland before finishing in the flat landscapes of Skåne region. The roads are small but with good quality.
Positive experience and safety is our core ambition. The route is basically the same as the original competition in the 50's 60's but with better bikes and clothes.
- Bernt Johansson
Sigr wishes Sverigeloppet 2018 the best of luck and hopes it will go some way to show doubters that cycling is for everyone. No matter what age. No matter what gender. No matter what distance.
Sigr do a lot of things. But all we do is for an equal cycling culture.
Five of Ten Crew Members in Team Happy:
(Team Jersey SVART TULPAN )
Team Happy 2018 powered by Sigr
Anna Säfsten (43 years)
Henrik Rasmussen (over 40)
Linus Johansson (26 years)
Jonas Spangenberg (55 years)
Anders Mattsson (50 years)
Kari Hästö (46 years)
Anna Friborg (45 years)
Magnus Skylvik (58 years)
Martin Isaksson (over 40)
Mats Jonsson (over 40)
Henrik Holm (over 40)
Hanna Magnusson (27 years)
Henrik Holm (also in the team cycling some of the days)
Ulf Säfsten (A retired star)
Anna Säfsten in SVART TULPAN JERSEY
Kari Hästö in HAVTORN JERSEY and Anna Friborg in SVART TULPAN JERSEY