This Sunday, Felkerino and I participated in WABA’s annual Vasa Ride, a bicycling event conceptualized loosely around Sweden’s Vasaloppet cross-country ski race. The ride begins and ends at the House of Sweden and all participants receive a cup of blueberry soup (or Blåbärssoppa, if you’re fancy) at the finish.
Our early spring schedule left a hole for the Vasa Ride so we signed up to see what it was all about. According to WABA’s site, entry is capped at 500 people and it was a decent crowd (maybe 150 people or so? I’m not good at eyeballing these things) that showed up for the 59-mile start, despite the gray skies, temps in the thirties, and chances of rain in the forecast.
We rode with a large group for the first 18 miles from D.C. out to Potomac, Maryland. The riders set a lively pace and I enjoyed digging into the pedals as I stretched over the bike and worked up a bit of a sweat with them.
At Potomac, the call of coffee was too strong for Felkerino and me. We hung out drinking caffeinated treats and chatting with Megan and Katie of WABA, who were doing an excellent job providing beverages and encouragement at the Vasa Ride rest stop.
The Vasa route took us along familiar roads past Potomac, Maryland, an area where we log a lot of our winter cycling miles. We crafted a variation of the “official route” that allowed us to get in some good riding and 50-plus miles while still making it back in time for our blueberry soup prize.
As we talked about our riding plans, we exchanged hellos with others, checked out the bikes, and decided to continue on the route for a little while, until we didn’t. We then returned to another portion of the route, which took us back to Potomac, where we stopped to say hello to the group of BikeDC tweeps and peeps doing the 30-mile version.
The event was a blast. Light winds and good company made up for the cloudy skies and lack of warmth in the day. The terrain of our route was somewhat rolling, but there were no punishing sections and the grades were easily managed on the tandem.
Felkerino and I enjoyed the company of several of our friends from BikeDC’s Friday Coffee Club. It is a rare occasion when the members of the bike commute coffee club actually ride bikes together. Ironic, right?
At various points during the ride, our group discussions turned to the blueberry soup. Ryan said he ate it last year and it was ok. Felkerino said that Rootchopper told him that the soup tasted like blueberry pancakes. Kevin said that he had not had the soup before because by the time he finished the ride last year, people had eaten all of it.
Both Will and I shared how disappointed we would be if there was no blueberry soup for us at the end, since that was essentially what we were riding for. We all agreed that we could not make our variation of the official Vasa route too long or we could miss out on the bluberry soup.
I wondered if people would be willing to fight over the blueberry soup if there was only one cup of it remaining when we returned. Ryan said the soup was good, but not worth fisticuffs.
After all these blueberry soup musings, we finally arrived back at the House of Sweden. There were many bikes parked at WABA’s temporary bike racks. That’s a lot of soup consumers, I thought apprehensively.
I needn’t have worried. We entered the embassy and found many many cups of piping hot blueberry soup waiting for us. I eagerly sampled mine, burning my throat in the process. Oops.
Verdict? Blåbärssoppa is delicious, and does not taste like blueberry pancakes. Felkerino said it tasted like cider, and I agree. I love hot blueberry soup!
I hope to do the Vasa Ride again. WABA did an excellent job of organizing it and staffing a rest stop for us, we had great riding company along the route, and the House of Sweden was so gracious to host all of us at the finish.