For many years, Järvsö in Hälsingland has been a popular destination for cyclists. One of the hard-working entrepreneurs who made the success possible is Karl-Erik "Kalle" Sverre who runs Järvsö Cykelservice. Sweden by Bike has asked what drives him, how he has coped with the pandemic and about the fascination with Järvsö Gårdstramp.
You are a versatile person who started with a flea market in Järvsö. Today you work as a bicycle guide and run both a bicycle shop and a bicycle workshop. What is the best thing about your job?
Together with my partner Ninette Jonsson, I took over a large flea market in Järvsö in 2012. We immediately realized that we needed to run another business, so we started selling used bikes and repairing bikes for others. Now the bikes have taken over, and the flea market is only a very small part of the business. Bicycle repairs and bicycle sales are increasing all the time. Bicycle guiding is also a part that we have tried and which we hope to have more of in the future. It may also be the case that we will have simpler courses in bicycle mechanization at the end of the summer and in the autumn. The best thing about my job is that no two days are the same. Some days we can repair women's spinners from the 20s, children's bikes, or 70s-80s bikes and then new bikes can appear to be mounted.
How did you cope during the pandemic?
Last summer, when the travel restrictions were released, bicycle rental increased significantly from previous years. We had about 30 rentals in a whole season and it increased to 20-30 rentals per day for 7 weeks.
This winter, we have rebuilt the premises for better and larger bicycle rental, bicycle shop and bicycles for sale on three floors. We also have electric bikes so there will be a lot of them to be mounted as well. All bikes we repair, assemble and service we test drive before we hand them out to the customer, so there will be a lot of cycling.
You are open all year round?
We are normally open all winter as well, but will have some holidays during the autumn. Then we adjust the times according to the booking pressure, so it will still be possible to rent bikes all autumn. We will solve that.
There is a shortage of bicycles in Sweden. How have you managed to get bikes together for this season?
We have had major problems getting bicycles. Before this season we had made a substantial order, already in October last year we booked delivery of about 60 mtb bikes that would be delivered from April and then throughout the summer, but to date we have not received a single bike… yes , so what do you say? We noticed already in February that we sheep would not get in so many bikes, so we started online shopping ourselves. We bought some bicycles from Bikester during the spring and we have continued to do so and supplemented the bicycle rental. It is increasing all the time so we now have about 80 bikes that we can rent out. We have bikes that are suitable for the whole family and at really good prices, if I may say so myself.
You are planning for Järvsö Gårdstramp in August. What can you experience then?
Järvsö Gårdstramp is a super nice event where you cycle between different farms and get to taste different locally made products that you can also buy to take home. We can of course rent out many bikes then and when we get all the bikes out early in the morning, we can cycle a bit on Gårdstrampet ourselves. You meet many happy and nice people who traveled here to join. We must also be on hand in case someone's bike breaks down during the day. We also take help from "Nisse's rolling bicycle service" which is available in the neighboring municipality, because there will be a lot of fix during the day.
What is your own favorite lap when cycling?
My favorite bike ride is when there is a gravel road through agricultural landscapes, a little asphalt also works well. It can be 6-7 miles when I take the electric bike. As number two comes of course the super nice trails that Cykla Järvsö builds to the fullest. You get far out into nature and are often completely alone, absolutely wonderful.