Photos and story by Brendan Lutes
THIS FEATURE HAS MULTIPLE PAGES
After working as a motorcycle journalist for 10 years now, traveling can get a little old, but when a trip like the one I just returned from comes up, I just couldn't pass it up. Getting the chance to ride new bikes, travel to a country I've never been to, and experience a Grand Prix while getting the VIP treatment is something that doesn't come along too often. So when Husqvarna invited TransWorld Motocross to head over the Sweden for a week to experience all of this, I jumped at the chance to be the one to represent our magazine--even though I'd return home only days before my wedding. Before I knew it, my fiancée Emily and I had packed our bags and prepared for an unforgettable trip, using it as a "working" pre-honeymoon.
The trip began with a flight to Stockholm and then on to Lulea, Sweden, where the new bike introduction was to be held. Lulea is so far north that it doesn't get dark, remaining completely light outside even through the night. It's a quiet little town and sits roughly one hour from the track where 24 other journalists and I got to ride the new Husqvarna motorcycles. The entire event in Lulea was amazing. The track itself where we tested the new bikes was a deep sand track that was unlike anything I've ever ridden before. And on my fourth lap, I decided it would be a good idea to attempt a big tabletop for the first time. To make a long story short, I landed off the track, went over the bars, and splashed into a mud hole. The crash left me soaked and muddy, and forced me to head back to the pits to change into my spare set of gear. It was a little embarrassing, but I'm never one to take myself too seriously. The rest of the day was filled with riding as many bikes as my body would allow. And by the end, I could barely walk after riding every single motocross bike in Husqvarna's line up, as well as a couple off-road bikes for good measure.
Read all about the intro day HERE.
Following the bike intro, we showered off at the track--yes the facility had full showers and a sauna--and headed to an amazing dinner located at a retreat on a lake just outside of Lulea. The proprietor of the property made sure we all had a great time, shooting guns, jumping in hot tubes, and eating great food. And between Emily and I, we referred to him as the Swedish version of The Most Interesting Man In The World. If there was a Swedish beer that needed a spokesman, he would be perfect, "I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer..."
The next day, we woke up to head straight to the airport in order to return to Stockholm for some sightseeing for two days--both of which were an unforgettable time. We rented bikes and explored the city, found an ice bar where the drinks were served in cups made of ice, and got to see the Royal Palace. The city is beautiful and rich with history. Emily also managed to find herself some nice designer shoes, because like most girls, she can never have too many shoes. Kind of like us guys can never have too many bikes. After the stay in Stockholm was complete, we met up with Husqvarna's U.S. Brand Manager Steve Lawler for the next leg of our journey.
After flying to Gothenburg, Sweden, where we would be for the Uddevalla Grand Prix during our final weekend, we hopped in our rental car and drove to the Husqvarna Museum in Huskvarna, Sweden, the city where Husqvarna began back in the 17th century. The drive took us through the picturesque Swedish countryside and eventually into Huskvarna.
The museum was incredible. Husky began manufacturing guns back in 1609 for the Swedish army and much of the company's heritage is palpable inside the museum that is housed in the original factory. As we walked in, we were greeted by a display of the original guns manufactured by Husqvarna, which then led into the history of how the company came to eventually produce sewing machines, chainsaws, and of course motorcycles. The entire first floor of the museum is full of Husqvarna motorcycles that date back to the early 1900s and span the century to today's bikes. If you ever find yourself in Sweden, take a trip to the Husqvarna museum. You won't be disappointed.
UDDEVALLA GRAND PRIX
After wrapping up our tour of the Husqvarna Museum, we jumped back in our rental car and headed back to Trollhattan near the Uddevalla track for the Grand Prix. After arriving at our hotel, we went downstairs for a welcome dinner with the entire Husqvarna team, as well as other media guests. After dinner, and a few libations at the bar, it was time to hit the hay.
The following morning, Emily and I arrived to the Uddevalla track ready to experience the Grand Prix as VIP guests of Husqvarna's. I've been to a few GP races in the past, but at all of them, I've worked my ass off covering the race, shooting photos, and reporting on anything and everything that went down. This time was different.
Throughout the course of the two-day event, we were treated to lunch on both days, overlooking the start straight and entire track. And by no means was the lunch a typical hotdog or hamburger. We had steak and fresh fish along with wine and beer--yes, it was tasty. We were also treated to tours of the Red Bull/Ice One Husqvarna MXGP team rig and pits, as well as the Wivlo/Nestaan Husqvarna MX2 team set up. Both teams are very professional and the amenities and resources available to both are second to none. Each team is headquartered in Lommel, Belgium, which to put it into perspective, is the European equivalent to Corona, California--numerous European race teams call the small Belgium town home.
Throughout the entire trip, both Emily and I had an amazing experience. The 2015 model introduction was second-to-none, the fact that we took some time to sightsee was a nice filler between events, and the VIP treatment at the MXGP in Uddevalla was incredible. As I type this, though, my jetlag is kicking in, and I'm already looking forward to when I get to ride one of the 2015 Husqvarnas in the U.S. The bikes truly are a blast to ride, and the company as a whole is one anyone would be proud to be associated with. Now, on to arguably something even more important... our wedding.