A Higher Pleasure - Pilgrims on Two Wheels
Elevenate is moving from being solely a winter brand to offering great garments for the warmer seasons as well. On this journey, some places and activities have given us an extra shot of inspiration and endorphins. Allow us to present a local favourite: the St Olavsleden pilgrim trail between Undersåker and Såå, just east of our hometown Åre.
The sense of weightlessness, of speed and perfect flow. For many skiers, mountain biking is the perfect summer equivalent to the winter’s freeskiing. Elevenate’s founder and designer Sara Rönngren is no exception, and many of us at the office in Åre feel a quiet rush of joy when the bike paths appear from under the snow and ski boots are replaced by light bike shoes.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that, when Elevenate releases its first summer collection, the clothes are designed for activities that include cycling.
“We realised early on that Elevenate’s design DNA, with its fit, colours and the style that has made our winter clothes so appreciated, would also work well in a lighter collection.”
Designer Sara Rönngren’s thoughts on Elevenate’s summer collection.
One of the places we most like to hang out on two wheels is the pilgrim trail, near Åre. Though this is a bit vague; many places have pilgrim paths. This one is St Olavsleden, stretching 580 kilometres from Selånger, close to Sundsvall in the east, to Trondheim in Norway in the west. A Scandinavian equivalent to the classic Santiago de Compostela in Spain, St Olavsleden is the world’s northernmost pilgrim path and dates from the 12th century.
Christian penitents once walked here to seek heavenly mercy at the grave of St Olav in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. Visitors today have both religious and secular motivations.
Like us, coming here for a higher form of pleasure – the bliss of a perfect curve, the sense of speed, the upward climb and a few rapid pedal strokes, before we emerge from the trees and see the mountain of Åreskutan stretching out ahead of us.
It is magical, perhaps almost spiritual – the feeling of complete presence in the moment. And all this is just a stone’s throw from Elevenate’s office.
On this August day, Sara and our ambassador Janne Tjärnström are riding from Undersåker to Såå, just east of Åre. It is a well-chosen cherry on the St Olavsleden cake, and one of our very favourites for XC biking in Åre (and there are a lot to choose from – Åre has become one of Northern Europe’s foremost cycling destinations, with world-class downhill, XC and road biking).
There is a gentle tailwind, the temperature is just right, and the greenery has that intensity almost only found in the mountains in the summer. Leafy forest, where mountain birch meets spruce, suddenly becomes flowering meadows with occasional cows, who watch the cyclists in their special cow-ish manner.
The route is familiar; Janne and Sara have ridden it many times, so they know just when they need to brake for technical sections and exactly when extra effort is needed – such as the uphill section before the farm, Brattlandsgården. And there, there is the reward for all the mud and sweat, when the scenery opens up magnificently: Åreskutan, our home mountain, framed by sky, forests and green fields.
It is as spellbinding for modern walkers and cyclists as it must have been for the pilgrims who walked here in the Middle Ages.