Gravel

Swedish Cycle Therapy

Most cyclists have a penchant for giving their road bikes one last wash at the end of autumnal season and retiring them to the home trainer for another sabbatical from outdoor riding. Lea Rovinksi is not most. Boasting an “outside-or-bust" mentality, Lea discusses the motivation she finds for riding through the worst winter days. Whether it be riding for a couple of hours on her own, or meeting up with friends on a multi-day trip, like this year's Basemile Snowdown event, you will always find her outside.

Words by Lea Roviski // Photos by Simon Baungaard

Most cyclists have a penchant for giving their road bikes one last wash at the end of autumnal season and retiring them to the home trainer for another sabbatical from outdoor riding. Lea Rovinksi is not most. Boasting an “outside-or-bust" mentality, Lea discusses the motivation she finds for riding through the worst winter days. Whether it be riding for a couple of hours on her own, or meeting up with friends on a multi-day trip, like this year's Basemile Snowdown event, you will always find her outside.

Every time someone asks me why I ride and what cycling means to me, it feels like I have a thousand cheesy answers that we all have heard before (but maybe there's a reason to that, and it is that there are thousands of reasons why I ride). Lately, I've realized that I'm happiest when I'm cycling.

There are of course days that I really don't want to get out and ride. You know those days, that you question all your life choices and wonder why you even bother or why the hell you are doing this? When it's 2 degrees Celsius, windy, pouring rain and 50 shades of grey (aka more or less this whole “winter" in Scandinavia). When you get back home after two hours, you're soaking wet and hate everything and THEN ALSO need to wash/clean the bike for another two hours and clean your apartment after cleaning the bike for another hour and then you spent a whole day on a two-hour ride…

… and then two weeks later it's sunny, crispy and just perfect. This time of year I never touch my road bike but keep to the cross bike and gravel roads. There's not much that beats the feeling on a hard-packed gravel road in the sunshine and few plus degrees. Sweden is big so usually, I see no cars, no people (except for a few hunters here and there) and hopefully a few animals. Those two hours of rain feel very worth the trouble when you get a beautiful sunny day weekend that follows.

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I also love being in shape. I'm not competitive and I am. I am and I am not. I love the thrill of meeting up with friends (read: Basemile Snowdown) and smashing gravels. Events like these are even more important in the winter when people would usually go into hibernation or keep to their home trainers. There's no better way to combine meeting up with friends and cycling, or as we sometimes say: “Let's play bikes!!!". Also, there's nothing better than coming into the office on Monday morning and being bike hungover (when your legs are slow and heavy and you're sleepy and need a few rest day but also very content. When you contemplate if you should take the stairs or treat yourself and take the elevator).

Cycling has become some kind of both therapy and addiction. When I say that cycling makes me happy, not riding actually makes me feel sad and bad and long term miserable. Living in Scandinavia you come to terms that the weather will suck for the most of the year, accept it and make the best out of it. Proper gears, studded tires, fenders, lights.. and you actually run out of excuses for skipping rides. Some rides might be more of a mental training than physical because you do need mental strength to ride in 10-15 m/s headwind, rain, cold. People living in warmer countries don't know THE STRUGGLE, but I don't think that they appreciate sunny and warm days as much as we do.

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Cycling makes me a better, happier person. When life feels heard, when work is stressful, I always have cycling. Not only the pedalling itself but also the community around it. I don't think there's another sport (but correct me if I'm wrong) that is as good to preform yourself as in a group. I truly love the social parts of cycling, meeting friends all over Sweden and the world or just staying around and going out for a coffee ride with the locals. With that said, I truly appreciate weekends when I completely isolate myself and spend hours alone on the bike. Me, bike, gravel, woods, and maybe one or two hunters along the way.

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The Pas Normal Studios Stories are a carefully curated selection of our most unique and ambitious cycling adventures from around the world. These stories document our personal experiences on two wheels and the struggles and emotions that come along with them.