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Q & A With Jonas Andersson After His Record Breaking Ride

Adam Rose / 19.08.2020
/ © Jana Julian

SM: Hello Jonas, and thanks for joining me for a quick Q&A about your record-breaking ride across Sweden. It was an amazing achievement. Does it feel real yet?

JA: Now one week has past and it is getting to feel real. It´s such a long distance when you look at a map on the wall!

SM: How is your neck feeling now? Has it recovered? Is there a way to prevent that injury for anyone else trying such a long ride?

JA: Ah, the neck has become stiff and there is some pain but I shouldn´t complain. Yeah, my preparations weren´t that long and I heard beforehand that some long distance bikers make something to lean their head on but I thought what the f**k, I´m an adventure racer!

SM: Is your knee ok? Did you suffer any other injury?

JA: It´s like after all AR, pains that go away during the race come back when you start to recover and now I understand where the knee problem comes from. Well, I don´t have any feeling in my hand or toes and it´s the same between the legs. People were really worried about my ‘undercarriage’  and I must say that it worked out much better than I expected!

SM: You only had 5 weeks of prep before doing the challenge. Was it enough, or would you have preferred more?

JA: The short preparation was the way I wanted it. I wanted to show that it was possible to just switch “element” if you are enough all-round trained. Like we adventure racers are. But of course the AR background *and* a long road-bike preparation would have been the best.

SM: What did your wife say when you brought up the idea?

JA: She has got used to my crazy ideas and I had to keep my mouth shut and not speak about this road-bike adventure all the time. I asked her if she thought I would beat the record and she just said “probably”, haha. I guess she knows me that well that if I put up a goal it will take a lot to stop me  :)

SM: How did the reality of the ride compare to your expectations before it? Before the race, you mentioned the possible monotony of a single discipline being one of your biggest concerns. Did it turn out that way?

JA: Much more fun! I expected it to be extremely monotonous both for the body and the mind and didn`t know how I would manage it without the stimulus from a map and a compass. But it went quite well even though it was really mentally hard sometimes. But it went much better than I expected. I had an option to take a rest after 500km but I didn´t need to and that felt great!

SM: Was there any time during the ride when you thought you might not make it?

JA: No, never. My mind is totally focused to make it so any problem that occurs just has to be solved.

SM: Was there anything in particular that went through your mind during such a long ride? Did you have a special song that you kept on singing to yourself?

JA: It helped a lot to have music and to be able to call home and talk to friends and family even though I sometimes just had to dig in my own head to carry on. And to have my teammates in Greener Adventure Team including Jana and Jens helped a lot. Without them I wouldn’t be able to make it this fast.

SM: Before the event, did you expect to break the record by such a big margin?

JA: Actually I thought that the AR background would help a lot and I looked at it like an AR. I had great respect to only do road-biking for such a long distance. I believed that I would make it in 85h if I really kept it together and everything went well, but in reality I didn´t know because the lack of experience of road-biking. But belief can conquer mountains!

SM: Would you ever do it again - if someone broke your record, to try set it again?JA: Hmm, I really don´t know. The most important thing for me with this adventure was to show people what great endurance athletes adventure racers are. I´m certain that many top

adventure racers can make it in a similar way.

SM: What did you have for nutrition? Would you have changed anything about the nutrition?

JA: The nutrition is a hard one. I get so fed up with all the eating! The team really did a great job to find stuff that made me feel good. The longer you get into a race the less important I think what kind of energy you eat means. Any energy that you like and feel good about is great energy. I ate and drank energy from Maurten the first 24 hours. After that I ate and drank everything between coke, milk, cheeseburgers, pizza, porridge and fruit. And at the end I ate some gels again.

SM: How much sleep did you get?

JA: I slept 90 min after 35 hours then I slept one more hour 24 hours later. Then I had 3x15min power naps in total, so 3h 15min.

SM: If you were going to do the ride again, with fresh eyes, how would you prepare differently?

JA: More road-biking but I really don’t know if it would help a lot. Some solution to help the neck and if I had ridden some more beforehand, it probably would have spared me some of the pain.

SM: In any attempt like this, having a solid support team is crucial. Any moments you remember especially about their support during the event?

JA: Halfway, the support from the crew in the campervan really found its place. But they made it possible to push fast and make shorts stops the first 700km too.

Maybe the most specific moment was at the real end when I only had 20km to the border and an adventure racer’s biggest enemy gets into your head. The feeling of satisfaction and you are happy with your achievement when there are still hours to go.

This time I had teammates that weren´t as tired as I was and they could remind me of my plan and what I wanted to do, to ride the whole distance as fast as I could and push myself longer than ever before. And only with small words and reminders especially Cecilia helped to bring the last bit of power of my body and mind! They all did a great job and I hope to be able to help them in the same way some day!

SM: Was it difficult for your adventure racing teammates not to want to tow you, or carry your load, or allow you to draft them?

JA: Yeah, Simon said at least one time that it felt strange not to help me!

SM: Have any of your adventure racing team said they would like to try this challenge in the future?

JA: Hmm, not directly but to make something like this, to push themselves further than ever with the team helping you and be able to evaluate the performance afterwards. They would like to do that.

SM: How did AR help you before the event, and during the event?

JA: Well, this adventure was really easy to plan and prepare compared to an AR. One stage and only biking, how hard can it be to plan? :) During the event I think that the experience to handle sleep deprivation was by far the biggest advantage, and the knowledge that pain comes but can disappear after hours again.

SM: You are clearly inspiring your children with all your adventuring. What did they say to you after you finished? Do they want to copy your ride one day?

JA: They have joined on several AR now and think it is cool that their dad races this way. I hope that they someday can get to experience AR on their own but who knows if they will get the same interest? I hope and think that they learn that there are no limits what you can manage if they really want to do it, and are ready to put enough effort into something. I hope that they find a passion in their life whatever it is!

SM: Are you now going to give up adventure racing forever and just become a roadie? Or are you never going to touch a road bike again?

JA: Neither, I think. It was far more fun to ride like this but AR with all that it includes with different stages, teamwork and problems to solve, is what I love!

SM: Finally, understanding that you’ve only just finished the ride, are there any other plans in the pipeline? What’s next on the agenda?

JA: Hmm, don`t get too surprised if we come up with a new adventure this autumn. Maybe an ultra run:) Otherwise we are really looking forward to the AR world champs in Spain next year. And it would have been fantastic with the Eco Challenge in March. But with this pandemic we never know. Maybe we will have to continue with another year with our own adventures.

SM: Thank you very much, Jonas, for giving us an insight into what it takes to achieve such a goal. 

For followers of the event, we've just heard that another athlete has decided to challenge Jonas's new record! A dedicated road biker, how will he cope with the sleep deprivation?  Will he be able to ride faster overall, and therefore take longer sleep breaks? Stay tuned! :)  

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