NOPE! cycles Moritz Ploss

Nothing to Ride Home About

by Moritz
25th August 2017

To start off this series, I chose a ride that's very special to me: my commute. Like most commutes it's practical in nature; it's as much an opportunity to spin my legs after a long day at the office as it's a convenient source of base miles. Over the years, the route has changed quite significantly: what started as an 8 km long, dead-straight ride through the city center has evolved into a 22 km course that spans many of Stockholm's islands and passes next to some of the most iconic sights in town. Also, as was pointed out to me recently, it resembles a praying monk when drawn on a map (well, at least remotely).

My ride starts in Hammarby Sjöstad—a former industrial area that has undergone quite significant urban redevelopment over the last 20 years—and heads north towards the peninsula of Nacka, which is a portal to numerous beautiful rides in Stockholm's southeast. While many riders will take it easy here, the speed of the commuter-peloton usually starts to pick up right after crossing Danviksbro bridge onto the island of Södermalm, since this marks the starting point of the prestigious "Checkpoint Fotografiska" Strava QOM/KOM that ends at Stockholm's world-famous photography museum.

Although this part of the route is one of the most scenic bike paths in the city—at least it used to be until the renovation of Slussen started—it's advisable to keep an eye out for cruise-ship tourists that land in large numbers at Viking Line's terminal. Seemingly unaware of the bus stop at Londonviadukten and ignorant of road signs, they have a tendency to walk on the bike lane. Or drag their luggage on the bike lane. Or let their 3-year-olds play in the bike lane. Or walk their dogs on the bike lane. Well, you get the idea.

Then again, I guess it helps to keep in mind that these people are trying to have a good time on their well-earned vacation and that we are two-wheeled ambassadors of the great city of Stockholm, so I'd suggest to slow down and bury your QOM/KOM dreams for the day. Jokes aside though: this is an accident waiting to happen, and we need better cycling/pedestrian infrastructure here as soon as possible.

The situation gets a little better after crossing over to the island of Gamla Stan where the bike lanes are wider and the peloton settles into a loose formation that can accommodate up to five riders side to side. This is possible because the City of Stockholm has recently made efforts to reduce car traffic in this area, which means that the streets almost completely belong to cyclists.

Another nice thing about south-eastern Gamla Stan is that Bröd & Salt, a local bakery chain, has some of its production facilities right next to Djurgårdsfärjan's terminal (the boat to Djurgården), which means that the bike lanes are constantly infused by smells of freshly-baked pastry. So, if you made it this far and you're still upset about the cruise-ship tourists, there's an opportunity here to take a break and to channel your anger into buying some freshly baked (vegan!) kanelbulle.

After leaving the Old Town, I continue along the waterfront of Östermalm, going east on Strandvägen towards the island of Djugården. If you want to take it slow here and enjoy the ride, you can either go directly along the water or follow the small avenue in the middle of the road.

Cycling east on Djurgårdsbrunnvägen I'm always amazed how quickly one can escape the busy city center. Less than five minutes after leaving Gamla Stan I find myself surrounded by open fields and small forests where sightings of deer are not unusual. From here, I cross over to the island of Djurgården and go for a small loop to its eastern tip, which offers a great view of Nacka and another chance for coffee and kanelbulle (yes, there's definitely a theme here).

Heading back to Djurgårdsbrunnvägen I then ride northwest in the direction of Ropsten underground station, which leads me through a rather industrial area of town. While this part of my commute is very different from the green island of Djurgården, the bike infrastructure is great here. Also, the route passes next to the bridge to Lidingö, which gives me the opportunity to go for an extra loop if time and legs permit.

Usually, my commute takes me anywhere between 40 and 60 minutes and I arrive at work happy and in desperate need for a shower. Given that commuting by public transport takes me about 40 minutes, cycling is definitely my preferred way of getting to work—especially since Stockholm's metro is notoriously packed during rush hour.

Are you also commuting by bike? Make sure to share your favorite route with us by leaving a comment below or joining the NOPE! cycles cycling club on Strava.

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