On a daily basis, he lives near the Monte Rosa massif in Italy. But he also has a summer cottage near Falun. Those are also the two destinations that he will connect with a long bicycle ride this summer. On the road, Pär Johan Åstrand will also take on the race Vätternrundan 315 km.
”The whole thing will hopefully be a dream that comes true”, he says.
Pär Johan Åstrand has always been interested in nature experiences and outdoor life. Not least skiing on the alpine peaks down in Italy where he lives and works since many years. He is worried about how much the glaciers are retreating. This was also what made him seriously start thinking about realizing the summer challenge he has been dreaming of for a few years.
”I want to get more people to think about taking care of nature and the asset it is for both our planet and for future generations. I want to protect a lifestyle and our ski resorts. My idea is to connect one of Sweden’s finest winter sports centers; Lugnet (“the calm”) in Falun, with an equivalent in Italy at the foot of the Monte Rosa massif in Alagna. In the first, the snow pulls more and more towards higher latitudes, while in Alagna the glacier pulls towards higher topographic heights. To tie together these paradises that we must protect, and to contribute to something positive, while doing something wonderfully fun gives an amazing feeling”, says again Pär Johan.
The planning of the trip will be meticulous
From Lugnet, where he has spent many summers, he will therefore cycle all the way down to Alagna Monte Rosa. In between, Pär Johan will also complete one of the world’s largest recreational bicycle races, Vätternrundan, which takes place just a few days after the start of his adventure. The whole challenge will be about 2.800 km.
”This will be my biggest achievement and the most exciting road bike ride in my life. It will be a dream that comes true and something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Preparations are already underway and the planning will be meticulous.
”I have looked at others who have cycled long distances to get hints and be prepared in best of ways. I have decided that I will have as little luggage as possible, as I intend to pay for food and housing along the road.”
”As for the time on the saddle, I aim to take about 120-150 kilometers per day for three days and then have a rest day. Thus, I will spend most of June, and the beginning of July, in the saddle.”
Wants to spread knowledge about Protect Our Winters
During his journey through Europe, Pär Johan also wants to spread knowledge about Protect Our Winters (POW), of which he has been a member for a few years.
”It is a politically independent organization that unites outdoor people around the world. People who want to protect places and lifestyles and work for a sustainable planet.”
”My journey also fits in well with my work and specialization in the EU agricultural policy, where we have fought for many years to introduce a more environmentally friendly agriculture with more result oriented “green” farm subsidies. To cycle through a sustainable landscape is something that we, and even more so our children, must be able to enjoy.”
He started cycle about ten years ago; much thanks to the great interest in the sport in his new home country Italy.
”Freeride and skiing have been the primary for me. But then I bought a basic, good Bianchi and started cycling to work. It just became more, and I upgraded to a more advanced road-bike. For the past three to four years, I have been cycling like crazy, about 8 000 km a year. Especially now during the pandemic when it was pretty much the only thing you could do.”
Has cycled Vätternrundan before
If long-distance cycling through Europe becomes a new adventure, Vätternrundan is something he has experienced before. In 2019, he traveled around the lake in eleven and a half hours.
”It was the first time I cycled so far at one time. Even though it was at night, it was well lit and I had no problem to see where I was cycling. In addition, the roads were very good, not always so in Italy where space is more of a problem.”
Now he is looking forward to once again participate to one of the world’s largest cycling events, open to all cyclists:
”It was exciting and very nicely arranged. A fantastic event and a big party that I long to experience again.”
Text: Pierre Henriksson