I am sitting here Thursday evening, writing on this article. At the same time, I am preparing mentally, mostly with excitement, but also a small touch of worry, for tomorrow’s Tandem Race. I really don’t know what to expect. For those of you that doesn’t know, it is a race, where you go by bus up to Gothenburg, and then bike a tandem bicycle back to Lund. Two people per team rides the bike for a certain distance, whilst the rest is following by bus. What some may say – a kind of pointless thing to do.
A couple of weeks ago we got an email from a man called Björn Martinsson, a member of the Sexmästeri in the predecessor of LundaEkonomerna – EFSIL. In his email he pointed out that we still have something called Tandem Race, and enlightened us that we, 50 years ago, set the world record in what may seem like a similar race. The big difference was the vehicle used and distance made, that was far more serious than what I’m going to do tomorrow.
May 8th, 1966, 18 female students were about to start their attempt to set a new world record. At 18.00 the dean of the University of Umeå gave the starting signal by popping a champagne bottle, with 3000 inhabitants watching and cheering. And yes, I wrote Umeå. The challenge they were up to this coming week was to ride on kick scooters from Umeå to Lund, a distance of 140 miles approximately.
Was it to any good? one might ask. Well, the existing record back then was held by the Stockholm School of Economics, and then, as now, competing against other schools of economics in the Nordics was probably tempting. But most of all, to quote the girls; they got to see Sweden from a different perspective, had a lot of fun and made a little propaganda for exercising. Simple as that.
With their yellow shirts they scootered their way through our country, with a great deal of attention. People were very helpful, kind and cheering. TV and cameras followed them. In the little town Docksta, north up, they got their own fan-club and the town café opened up for free consumption. In Uppsala the students got a musical welcoming, by both Uppsala Student Orchestra and Snerke Nations Orchestra. Semi-trucks stopped along the way and offered coffee and a van stopped just to give them 60 cream buns.
The kick scooter was never allowed to stop, not even at traffic lights or stop signs. That meant some waiting time when they were ahead of the schedule. In Hudiksvall they had two hours where they had to bike around in town, letting the kick scooter roll and never stop. When arriving in Stockholm, the girls made quite an entrance, with police escort along Sveavägen. There, committees from the Stockholm School of Economics waited, probably with a love and hate feeling, since the girls had a good chance on kicking their old record. The girls got quite a surprise – 5 litres of blueberry soup to drink, but also thrown in the face. On top of that, it was sharpened with, amusingly enough, nothing less than Skånes Akvavit.
The E4 (european long distance path 4) was renamed to the “Giggling 4” during the week, as the girls giggled their way forward. When they finally arrived in Lund, they were welcomed with nothing less than a festival – the Lundakarneval. At half past eight, the cortege passed the finish tape and got garlanded by the Associate Professor Dr. Sven Rydenfelt. The church bells were ringing and the Alte Kamereren (orchestra) was playing the Lundakarnevalen theme song. Thousands of people were there, television and cameras. The associate professor held a, according to the papers, moving speech about the happening. “Dr. Rydenfelt stated, that it was completely compatible with the thing’s right order, that the world record in kick scootering is possessed by the Lund inhabitants; the kick scooter is skis adapted to Scanian circumstances.” (Sydsvenska Dagbladet Snällposten) Afterwards a medal ceremony was held.
Who took the initiative to such a crazy student occasion? It was the Chief of PR in EFSIL at that time, a woman named Ann Gerlach. And I must say I’m proud of holding the position I do within LundaEkonomerna today after reading this, as the Communications Manager could be seen as one of her direct successors. Talk about creating a buzz about the organisation, creating huge opportunities for marketing, that we are struggling with doing in today’s noisy digital society.
When thinking about tomorrow’s Tandem Race again, I must say the small touch of worry has decreased after reading all the articles and a diary from this amazingly crazy happening. Why am I doing it? To, once again, quote the girls (well, except the exercising part) – I will get to see Sweden from a different perspective and most of all, have a great deal of fun! Simple as that. And I believe that we need those simple answers to some questions in life, as we often search for the most complex answers the rest of the time studying.