Dalsland Runt 2017
Placed between one of Sweden’s largest lakes, Lake Vänern, and the Norwegian border, Dalsland is often referred to as "the forgotten part of Sweden" by the locals. It’s sparsely populated and seemingly more fashionable as a holiday destination with foreigners than Swedes (you’ll see German and Norwegian flags dotted outside houses throughout). Since 2011 it’s also home to Dalsland Runt, a gravel-heavy spin through the area organised by Vänersborg racing club. This year Mono joined them and around 70 other riders for the 3-day event.
Words & Photography - Owen Smith
Day 1 rolled out from Vänersborg, a small town about an hour away from Gothenburg by train. The route is a relatively easy 100km ride on mostly car-free tarmac, through forests, up a few hills and along a bit of the promised gravel; which in retrospect seemed like a friendly easing-in by ride organiser, Johan. It ends at a campsite where you can rent a room in a typically Swedish ‘falu rödfärg’ house.
Day 2 was the main Dalsland Runt route, with an option of either a 180km short loop or a 215km long loop. You can choose your pain at around the 100km mark, with the longer route adding an extra branch at the top of the ride. Both offer an unusual amount of climbing for Sweden, with between 2000m and 3000m of elevation across the day.
In addition to the hills, the route covers pine forests, lakes and pastoral vistas swallowing long stretches of road – all of the sights you’d expect to see in the Swedish countryside, supporting Dalsland’s other reputation as ‘Sweden in miniature’.
The surface can change frequently and those on gravel bikes with a wider tire ripped through the more unstable parts, while a road bike with 25mm tires proved trickier to handle and prone to punctures. Midway through the ride, you can stop at the organised break / fika stop, ‘Not Quite’, in Fengersfors, which is excellent.
Day 3 had a short and long version again, with the short running 120km back to Vänersborg and the long, 180km. There’s an early stop available along the route at ‘Upperud 9:9’, a beautiful café/venue backing onto a lake – another stellar choice by Johan. The shorter one covers some of day 2’s route in reverse, but with much less gravel.
Thanks again to Johan for organising the ride. We’ll be back next year.