The title of this post refers to the fact I’ve been seeing Sundsvall on signposts for at least the last 400km, and now I’ve finally made it! It appears it’ll be replaced by Stockholm now; looking forward to being a tourist when I get there. Any recommendations on a cheap place to stay? I think I’ll look up a hostel or backpackers.
Today started off cold, misty and drizzling. I was loathed to emerge from my tent, and still tired from yesterday’s efforts, however I wasn’t going to get very far by just thinking about it, and besides, I needed the loo, so I crawled out of my pit to a new day.
As always it was alright once I was up, however I quickly packed up my sleeping bag to avoid the temptation to get back in it. Taking a quick walk around the campsite, saying good morning to those who were up, I noticed lots of different nationalities represented by the camper vans. There were Swiss, Belgium, German, Dutch, Swedish, Austrian, and Finnish, and no doubt others that I missed; everyone likes a touring holiday it seems. I had a chat with a German couple on their way up to Nordkapp; they were hoping to see some reindeer, I confirmed this wouldn’t be a problem, just try not to run them over.
I packed up my wet tent, which would still be wet tonight unfortunately but needs must, and pedalled off, bidding goodbye to the owner who gave me a few route tips; can’t beat local knowledge.
The first part of the ride was all off the E04, taking the older side roads, some unpaved, down to Harnosand. At one point I passed a convoy going in the other direction transporting a wind turbine blade. It was huge!
It was lovely riding through the forest, without any traffic, although I did have to keep an eye out for pot hole ambushes.
The forest was so quiet, apart from the birdsong, and I stopped for a few minutes just to listen. Any concerns I had about the next few days just drifted away as I listened to the birds singing, and to top it off the sun emerged from behind the clouds.
The quiet road was replaced by slightly busier roads as I approached and then pedalled into Harnosand, passing a few cows on the way in, the first I’ve seen in Scandinavia; Lobster moo’d at them, the rascal.
I didn’t stop for long, just to grab some cash from an ATM, and munch a few biscuits to keep up my energy levels; Oreos are superb touring sustenance.
To continue my journey to Sundsvall I had to rejoin the E04 down to near Timra, which was mostly alright as there was a wide hard shoulder, and only a bit of buffeting from passing artics. The worst bits were crossing the bridges over the estuaries near the airport, where the hard shoulder runs out, plus it started raining.
Then it all got a bit confusing. I wasn’t sure where the E04 turned into motorway, which I’m not allowed to cycle on, and had no desire to anyway. I turned off, crossing the River Indalsalven (again), and heading slightly North, but couldn’t find the right road or cycle path to take me on a direct route to Sundsvall. It got a bit frustrating as I pedalled through suburbia, twisting and turning along various small roads marked as cycle paths, which gradually took me in the wrong direction, and then onto the 331 which goes in completely the wrong direction. Approaching meltdown I stopped and re-evaluated, then backtracked slightly and cut across to the 330.
The 330 headed roughly North West up the valley through which the Indalsalven flows. I really needed to get across it, but had no choice but to continue up towards Karsta and Indal, where there’s a bridge. Despite the rain, and the detour which added at least 25 kilometres on to my ride, it was nice pedalling up the valley, with little or no traffic to speak of, just mountains, pine forest, and bird song.
The smell of pine sap was really strong as I cycled along, probably enhanced by the damp. It was refreshing and invigorating, and I began to enjoy myself again after the earlier frustrations. I did have one strange thought; I hope the pine sap isn’t like the blood of Dryads and Ents slain by the loggers cutting down trees – you do think some weird things when pedalling for hours, or at least I do.
After reaching Karsta I turned left on to the 86 heading South again, crossing the river and immediately having to pedal up a large hill. My Garmin got confused at this point and decided I was going downhill, and I was suddenly below sea level; perhaps the pine sap had gone to its head.
I was rewarded at the top of the climb by the sun coming out, and the rain stopping, revealing a patchwork landscape of fields, forest and small dwellings nestled here and there; I like the word dwelling…dwelling…go on, say it…dwelling…it sounds nice.
As I pedalled along, passing various farms, I noticed more people out mowing their lawns. This has been a frequently observed activity over the last few days, and is probably the first mow of the season. People seem to mostly have ride on lawnmowers over here; I approve. There’s all sorts of spring cleaning going on, not just mowing; strimming, pressure washing, pruning, digging, it’s all happening now spring has sprung.
Riding through sun, then rain, then sun, and repeat, I eventually reached Sundsvall, and cycled through the town. It’s another big University town, built in the early 17th century. It’s burned down 4 times, which sounds a bit unlucky. The Russians did for it the first time in 1721, in the Great Northern War, and the last time was in 1888, after which they decided stone might be a more durable building material.
I noticed far more shops, bars and restaurants here, compared with anywhere else in Sweden I’ve visited so far, and lots more people out and and about, including many of the youth of today lounging about in the central square, complete with various forms of fashion and hairstyle; pretty much like Norwich city centre really.
As it was getting late I didn’t dally, especially as it was raining again, and pedalled on to find the campsite near Stockvik. I spotted a Max burger joint on the way out, just off one of the ‘Cycleparets’, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity for some hot and calorie rich food.
Their burgers are much nicer than Mcdonalds; they actually taste of beef!
Continuing on through the rain, and passing a pretty impressive bridge complete with rainbow, I reached the Flasians Campsite, whereupon then sun came about again, hurrah. Oh, and I passed a tandem tourer going the other way, giving them a wave; first tandem tourer I’ve seen this tour.
Flasians occupies a lovely spot right on the coast, with a small beach and a lovely view. I unpacked and put up my tent, then went for a walk on the beach whilst it dried out in the sunshine.
As usual there weren’t many other people about, just a few camper vans, and one young Norwegian couple touring by car for a month whilst they rock climb in various places. I chatted with the latter for while, and it got me thinking about doing some climbing when I get down to the Callanques in the South of France (near Marseille), if I can meet up with a few of my old friends from round there.
For the first time I felt slightly nervous about leaving Smaug unattended, having seen a note pinned to one of the campsite doors asking that whomever ‘borrowed’ a tablet return it to reception, so I locked him up before going for a shower and food.
I’ve noticed my right hand is going a bit numb when I’m cycling, and I now have a slight case of Ulnar nerve compression/inflamation. It’s not particularly painful, and is a common cycling complaint if you’re riding for hours, day after day; just means I have a slightly weak grip for some hand motions. I’ll have to adjust my riding and hand position a bit and it should fix itself. A day off in Stockholm will help.
Before bed I went of another walk along the beach, gazing out across the sea to a lighthouse with its slowly spinning light. Again it was very peaceful, serene and beautiful. Even the three factory chimney’s off to one side looked pretty; they’ve put different colours lights around each of the chimneys, giving them a nice glow.
Here’s a link to today’s ride, route and stats:
75 miles (121km) covered in about 7.5 hours, so getting the average up, however thinking about a shorter ride tomorrow.
P.S. Blog posts are a day behind, and I’m now in Hudiksvall. Will catch up tomorrow, depending on how the ride goes! Probably going to be a long one to Gavle.