SVAJERLØB HISTORY

Seventy years ago in Copenhagen, the situation was identical to Brazilian cities today. A massive armada of cargo bikes were the backbone of transport in the city. A fantastic army of men and boys from the poor neighbourhoods made the city work. Men and boys who, like the cargo-bike riders of Brazil today, were also invisible in their social hierarchy.

They were called Svajere in Danish – or Swayers, because of the swaying motion of the huge bikes when heavily laden. In 1942, a priest named Kristian Skjerring decided to change things for the better. He wanted to give these svajere a pedestal on which to stand. He organised a Svajerløb in the city – a cargo bike race for these bicycle messengers. He raised money through the races to send the young men to summer camps.

The races become incredibly popular in Copenhagen. Thousands came out to watch. There was prize money, but really it was about honour, and winning the right to call yourself the King of Copenhagen – at least until the next race. These Svajerløb races were held until 1960, when cars and vans started to dominate goods transport in the city.

In 2009, we revived the races in Copenhagen and they are held each year. This project, however, is about taking the traditional Copenhagen race and transporting it to Brazil..

But hey... hang on.... while the Copenhagen concept was to benefit the poor riders, Brazilian cities are no stranger to cargo bike races, as our research has discovered:

"From high performance sport to leisure, technology reaches - with greater or lesser speed - all practices constituting the sports field. In cycling the 30s for example, while modern and expensive bikes ran the races for the Tour. France, in Rio de Janeiro the "Popular Tricycles Races" were performed. consisted in cycling races disputed in Tricycles which were ridden by trade officials of the capital, who inscribed his athletes  1936, for example, marked victory by teams from St John Bakery "

The event was organized by the Club de Regatas Flamengo and sponsored by the Journal of Sports. Amazingl, the outcome of the Race of Popular Tricycles. JOURNAL OF SPORTS, November 10, 1936.