Accepted Paper:

Tjejvättern: an autoethnography of Sweden's largest women-only bicycle race  


Karin S. Lindelöf (Uppsala University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper presents material from an ongoing research project that aims to analyze sports races for women as a cultural phenomenon. One of these is Tjejvättern, Sweden’s largest women-only bicycle race. In this paper, the author attempts to present an autoethnography of the Tjejvättern race.

Paper long abstract:

This paper presents empirical material from an ongoing research project that aims to analyze sports races for women, so-called tjejlopp, as a cultural phenomenon, historically and today, in Sweden and with international comparisons.

The project is based on ethnographic fieldwork, archive studies and written stories from participants in four different races. One of these is Tjejvättern, Sweden's largest women-only bicycle race, which began in 1991 and now attracts 5-6000 participants every year. The 100 km track starts and ends in the town of Motala, by Sweden's second-largest lake, Vättern, and is cycled by all kinds of women, with all kinds of bicycles: from fast racers to women who make use of their everyday transportation vehicle to enjoy the scenic route and friendly atmosphere of the race.

In this paper, an autoethnography of the Tjejvättern race will be presented. In autoethnographical work, the researcher uses herself in an explicit way throughout the research process, by documenting and analyzing her own thoughts, emotions and experiences in the same way as other ethnographic material, e.g. created through interviews and observations. Autoethnography is an explicitly reflexive method, when creating the data as well as when analyzing and writing. In this case the researcher has consciously participated in the bicycle race herself, and the paper is an attempt to make proper scientific use of this experience.

Panel P52
Cycling: past, present and future