Mitch Docker is known to be one of the coolest guys in the peloton. So…
“Initially, I was thinking about doing this really fast and with my head down, but I love the way we did it. I had a chance to really absorb the country.”
This summer, Mitch Docker embraced the alt calendar spirit in a major way. Riding the length of Sweden is certainly no easy feat, no matter how trained or experienced you are. Even in the summer season, the country offers inclement weather on its already challenging terrains.
Like many of the other northern European nations, cycling is weaved into the fabric of social life in Sweden. Every day, tens of thousands of bikes pour into city centers across the country as people make their way to work. Miles and miles of bike lanes cut through cities like Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg and in many ways, cycling has taken a front seat in many parts of the country. But the same cannot be said about bike racing, and maybe that’s ok.
Mitch took part in an event called Sverigetempot, which translates to Sweden’s time trial, along with two companions from our partners at POC. The event has its roots in the 80s and 90s ultra endurance cycling scene and was originally labeled as Sweden’s version of Race Across America. The modern race has only been around since 2008, and has a different guiding philosophy maybe more closely aligned with current Swedish cycling culture. The current event is labeled as a randonnée style event (or brevet) more similar to events such as Paris–Brest–Paris which have been around since the 1930s. The course has predetermined checkpoints along the way and no rider is crowned winner at the end. The goal is merely to complete the course within the specified time limit of 210 hours, organize your own meals and accommodation, and enjoy the ride.
While this WorldTour rider is known for boldly taking on iconic races like Strade Bianche and Paris-Roubaix, his attempt to ride the traverse the country was unlike anything he’s done before. Expectedly, Docker took on the quest with the usual passion and enthusiasm he brings to every race. And as always, he’s been so low key about it. So we sat down with the Aussie pro and asked him all about his journey:
What made you want to do a Tour of Sweden and can you give us a little background?
Initially, I watched a video about it and it looked really big and also showed some of the terrible weather conditions in the country. But as time went on and I did more research on it, I got more and more into it. I started training for it, and at the last second, it got pushed back because of new regulations. My teammate Alex Howes couldn’t come, but I was really keen to still do it.
Who were the two riders with you on the Tour of Sweden?
I joined Damien Phillips and Magnus Gustafsson, who both work for POC. Damien is the Head of Global PR and Communication and Magnus is the Manager of Hard Goods.
How long was it in total?
About 2,100 kilometers.
How did you feel after a week of riding?
After the race, I felt okay. It was a funny thing, they were long days but we never had to go too hard. We had a really good pace going. We rode about eight and ten hours a day. Our smallest day was 200 kilometers and our longest day was 360 kilometers. It took a few days to find a really good system and figure out how to work together and how we all operated. But once we got that going, it was really cool.
What was the highlight of the adventure?
The highlight was riding with Magnus and Damien. Magnus is Swedish and Damien is Welch, but his wife is Swedish and he’s been living there for ten years. Initially, I was thinking about doing this really fast and with my head down, but I love the way we did it. I had a chance to really absorb the country. Especially because I was doing it with two guys who are from there, I learned a lot. I didn’t really know them before this so we got to share stories and enjoy the cuisine. We got through the tough moments together and enjoyed the good ones too.
What was one of the hardest parts?
They set aside this event for themselves for seven days and I tagged along later. So at first, I was going too fast at times and then I would stop too long at certain points. Once we figured it out after riding together for a couple of days and learning each other’s styles, it was really nice. We met a lot of people along the way and we came across some people who didn’t have any set stop points and were going on their own adventures.
Did you learn anything about Sweden you didn’t know throughout your journey?
One thing I didn’t realize about Sweden is just how big it is. It’s huge. And from the north to the south, the terrain is vastly different. There’s also filtered coffee everywhere. I didn’t know that, but it was so cool and was available at all the petrol stations. There was also pizza everywhere. Not very good, though.