From Malmö on the west to Kivik on the east, then back again, the Race Across Skåne (RAAS) covers almost 200km of Sweden’s southernmost county in the name of adventure. Part brevet part road race, the RAAS was first held in 2011 and now takes place annually, capping participant numbers in the hope of maintaining the friendly atmosphere it has become known for. For riders fortunate enough to gain entry to the RAAS, including the 10 places reserved for Rapha Cycling Club members, the event can push their limits. But in doing so, it also exposes the solidarity and camaraderie found in road riding. Here, Patch Hofweber, RAAS organiser, recounts this year’s edition of the race.
Five years ago in July some twelve riders took cover from oncoming drizzle in a bus shelter, as Erik Nohlin handed out detailed maps marked with a magenta path. None of us had a clue where we were going. The RAAS was Erik’s brainchild — an alleycat, brevet and road race all wrapped into one.
Five editions later and the event has grown ten times in size, now sending off a ‘ride’ group, whose pace is more leisurely, and a more competitive ‘race’ group an hour later. Cyclists can choose any route they please, but the four checkpoints lead riders over 190 kilometres from Malmö on the west to Kivik on the east, then back again.
On Saturday the ride began as it did in 2011, with a downpour timed perfectly with the starting horn. The rain clouds would haunt the bunch throughout the day, following them to the east coast of Sweden and back. Respite was granted, but a torrent during the mandatory lunch hour kept riders glad to stay under the tent of the Rapha Mobile Cycle Club.
The race peloton has a certain etiquette, unwritten (until now): – No attacks out of the checkpoint – No attacks directly after lunch – Wait and help if someone has flatted through *The Ravine* – No attacks after a crash, or in this year’s case, if a deer tackles someone to the ground. Granted this may leave very little room for racing — the navigation, distance and pace have to suss out the bunch.
This year’s ride played host to an internal battle in the dominant home team of CK Barriär, as Miha Reščič was pipped at the line by teammate Hagen Bender, while a third comrade Ron Olofsson rounded out the podium. The rest of us finished off the day as tradition goes, with beers and music in Malmö’s Western Harbor.