Gotland Grand National (GGN) is the world’s largest Enduro competition. It´s held on the military battlefields of Tofta, on the island Gotland in Sweden. Approximately 3000 competitors enter each year and the whole event is sent on national television. It´s a spectacular event that is well known in these parts. This year GGN had competitors from 15 different countries including the German MX Champ Larissa Papenmeier.
This year was the 39th edition. Petra and Kristian, owner of Backroads AB and founder of AJP Nordic, choose GGN for their first ever Enduro competition. Why settle for anything smaller than the world’s largest? The race is divided into several classes: Amateurs, Veteran, Golden Helmet & Youth and Elite.
Amateurs’ classes are the largest and most popular classes that are run both Friday and Saturday. There are 8 different age groups.
Both Petra and Kristian are quite new to Enduro as they have spent more time in the saddle on adventure tours. About a year ago they started to practice for GGN Enduro race and entered the Amateur class.
Friday race on AJP SPR250
As a fair beginner on Enduro Petra chose to do the race on the AJP SPR250.
A heavy rain started the morning but in time to prepare for start the sky cleared up leaving a mystic mist. When all the thousands of bikes lined up on the field the pulse was rising but also the excitement. In Petra’s start there were 950 bikes.
After the engine warmup the silence was deafening while all riders waited for the start signal.
Then the light turned from red to green…
The start was Petra’s most fear. She took the advice to start in the back of her group and keep as far out to the right as possible as it gets very crowded after the open start field funnels down to a portal leading into the woods.
The sound from all engines and the audience was so loud but the focus was to just get through the portal and on to the path.
The first kilometers of the track were so nice, not to wet, wide and fun gravel. The SPR250 just went on and on and the confidence grew.
After a while the terrain changed and, in some parts, it was very slippery, especially the limestones that is very common at Gotland. Just before a very slippery hill a rider in front fell and like a domino brick Petra did too.
The track Petra had in mind was not an option, so she tried to just go straight ahead up on the rocks. The front wheel slipped, and Petra got the bike on her left knee.
Thanks to helpful crew, lots of adrenaline Petra was up on the bike again with focus on the goal.
GGN rules is that you drive as many laps as possible for three hours. One lap is about 22km.
At this point Petra’s mind was set to finish at least one lap, which is the minimum to receive the desirable Gotland Grand National medal.
The tracks turned to be more and more challenging, especially with a sore knee.
The last part of the track had 3 hills with loose rocks. The racers that started in the front line were now in line with Petra and the space around the participants increased.
At the finish line Petra stopped to check the bike and the knee. After a couple of minutes and some water she came to the conclusion that the knee together with the exhaustion after one hour of intense driving, one lap was good enough. She got the medal!
GGN next year?
After the race Petra got the question to run next year when GGN have their 40th anniversary.
– Oh yes, now I know what I am capable of and well aware of what I need to practice on. E.g. slippery stones, deep mud and endurance.
Name: Petra | Age: 49 | Bike: AJP SPR250 | #werideajp
Saturday race on AJP SPR310R
Saturday 09:05 it was Kristian’s turn. Over 1500 bikes was lined up on the field. There were 3 different start groups which meant only 500+ started at the same time. Kristian started in line 5 of 9 in the 3rd group. The margins are small and the risk for collision is imminent. Hold your line and accelerate faster than the ones behind and you should be fine they said.
The 310 has more power than you need, and Kristian passed about 150 contesters feared of being hit from behind. Flat out on 5th the 310 pass 100km/h on the rugged beaten surface off the field. Overwhelmed by the perfect start Kristian sneaked through the portal among the first hundreds. After about 10 minutes he caught up with his friend Andreas driving a brand-new Husky 300 2-stroke. Andreas started in the first lane. The SPR310R is fast and very easy to maneuver even in tricky sections and on slippery tracks.
It had rained during the night and the course was wet and full of deep tracks from the 1500 drivers the day before and the thousand in front.
Kristian and Andreas soon caught up with the slower riders from the previous start groups, but it wasn’t as crowded as you could imagine. The drivers did their best to stick to their line and let faster riders pass safely.
The atmosphere was helpful and pleasant. Even the more experienced riders soon remembered how hard the Gotland Grand National is and fell into a strength conservative pace. The notorious limestones was even more slippery than the day before and only got worse during the race.
Being the first ever competition Petra and Kristian had no intention of scoring any results. Kristian drove 3 Laps, approximately 66km well in time for the 3h limit and could have done a 4th.
It would have been far from any top position and the race had taken the best of his strength, so he decided it was enough for this time.
Muddy roads and medals
The muddy roads left visible marks on the bikes that clearly screamed out how much fun we have had.
Thank you AJP Motos for creating such great bikes.
We got our medals, the desirable Gotland Grand National 2022 edition.
There are already plans for a next year, a little more prepared and a few more hours in the Enduro track.
Name: Kristian | Age: 48 | Bike: AJP SPR310R | #werideajp