It’s been a busy few days bicycling, with little in the way of Wifi, so I’m a bit behind on the blog and need to catch up. I’m in Uppsala now, just a stone’s throw from Stockholm, so got a couple of days R&R coming up.
Here’s are links to my ride stats from 21 and 22 May:
22 May extra bit: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/781972503
The extra bit will become clear; I discovered I wasn’t quite there yet!
I pedalled 86.6km on 21 May, taking about 5 hours, a shorter ride than I have been doing but I knew I had some bigger days coming up.
It was getting hot when I woke up, a novel sensation on this tour so far. Bright sunshine greeted me as I unzipped the tent door and clambered out.
I was on the road by 09.00, but wasn’t sure exactly how far I was going today; Hudiksvall or Soderhamn, the latter if my legs felt up to it. I set off down smaller roads, enjoying the sunshine and quiet for the first 20km or so.
On these smaller side roads I rarely saw another car.
Roads looking like this are becoming something of a feature of Sweden.
Unfortunately I had to rejoin the E04 to avoid going the long way around, however it wasn’t too bad a ride, aside from one section where they were resurfacing. In preparation for this they had removed the top few inches for several kilometres, making the available road even narrower than normal. I endured the usual buffeting from passing lorries, but I’m getting used to it now.
After a long stretch on the E04 I turned off at Hudiksvall, deciding I’d stop there for the night. I needed to buy some food anyway; running low on calories is never a good thing. Just before turning off I passed a sign; only 310km to Stockholm, wahey, looking forward to a break and some sightseeing.
On the way into town I stopped at a MAXI supermarket and bought far too much food relative to pannier space. Thus ensued a feast just outside the supermarket, involving chocolate milk, pastries, fruit, crisps and suchlike; all most welcome. The moral of the story is don’t go food shopping when you’re hungry, and don’t have a car. Not really an issue though, especially as I stopped for a couple of cheeseburgers a few kilometres later, still feeling peckish. It would have been rude not to and 10SEK a cheeseburger! Despite all this eating I think I’ve still lost quite a bit of weight. This isn’t really a problem, as I had weight to lose, but worth keeping an eye on as you burn so many calories each day pedalling; upwards of 3000 on top of normal burn.
I got to the campsite, which cost a very reasonable 120SEK, and lay down in the grass amongst the pine trees for a while, enjoying the sun and warmth, before putting my tent up. I could have quite happily gone to sleep there and then.
Malnbadens is another nice campsite, with good facilities, situated amongst pine trees a few kilometres from Hudiksvall; there’s a beach a short walk away too. It was quiet whilst I was there, but apparently gets very busy in the summer.
My slumbering was interrupted by the popping of a cork from the direction of a neighbours camper van, stirring me into action. I needed to change my rear brake pads, a task I completed successfully might I add, with no swearing involved. I also trued my back wheel slightly after hitting a few potholes badly over the last few days. I had lots of practice dealing with buckled wheels on my Bike around Britain tour, and it was good to know I could still do it.
Post bike maintenance I feasted on baguette, cheese (Vache qui Rit), salami, tomatoes, kiwi fruit, banana, haribos, and pastries; I really did buy a lot at the supermarket, but as mentioned really need the calories. I’d definitely need the energy tomorrow if I was going to pedal all the way to Gavle, distance of about 140km.
I took a walk down to the beach after dinner, just in a t-shirt so it must be getting warmer; I wonder if it was warmer than Norwich or if I’ve just got used to it? Malnbadens would be a good spot for a short break, if you can get here easily from Stockholm. Lots of opportunities for kayaking, swimming and maybe sailing.
I sat outside as the sun went down, contemplating tomorrow. I was hoping for no headwind so I could make good time, and planned an early wake up call to get on the road in good time.
–> 22 May 2015
I managed to get up early, never an easy thing for me! I was awake and up at 06.15 preparing for a big ride down to Gavle. It was a lovely sunny day again, with seemingly little wind; oh how appearances can be deceptive. In a fit of efficiency I was packed up and on the road by 08.00, and looking forward to the day as I’d be able to completely avoid the E04.
I rode back through Hudiksvall, pausing at the harbour to look at the sailing boats.
Pedalling is all well and good, however a nice sailing boat and a Mediterranean cruise wouldn’t go amiss either; I reckon wind power is still self-propelled.
Unfortunately almost immediately the wind, which is good for sailing but bad for bicycling, got up, a South Westerly that more often or not seemed to be in my face; isn’t it always the way. Although the weather was good, all my effort tended to go into pedalling today, so not many photos.
I took the back roads to Soderhamn, which were quiet and picturesque, if a little up and down. It reminded me of the West coast of Scotland, which is similar from the point of view of pines and lots constant up and downs; all good for the legs I’m sure. At least it was more sheltered from the wind in the forest.
I actually rode around Soderhamn, choosing not to enter the town as it would have been a diversion of several kilometres on an already long day. Instead I crossed under the E04 and got pedalling down to Gavle.
By this point it was a bitter one-on-one fight versus the headwind, which I wasn’t going to lose. I find getting angry with the wind helps, spurring me onwards over the small hills, with each kilometre done a small victory in the longer war versus the elements. At least it was dry, and the road was quiet; it would have been horrible if it had been raining. The road runs alongside the railway for a bit, and I was passed by the occasional train speeding its way to Stockholm; pah, why take the easy option!
I’ve been passing an abundance of Wood Anenomes for a while now, so here’s a photo of them.
After several hours I eventually got to Gavle, and found my first option with regards to a campsite wasn’t there. I rode on into the city using very good cycle paths; they seem to use all the roadside pavements as cycle paths in Sweden, splitting them half and half, cyclists versus pedestrians, works well. Swedish drivers are also very good at stopping to let cyclists cross the road at junctions. It just seems automatic, as if we have right of way, however I’m not sure of the exact rules.
Seeing as I was in the city anyway I stopped for a few of those 10SEK cheeseburgers I’ve previously enjoyed. The establishment purveying these shall remain nameless, but needless to say ‘I’m lovin’ it’, and the free wifi. I experienced a bit of culture in the ‘restaurant’, a gathering place for many of the city’s teens. I was amused and impressed at their use of English; they spoke to each other using a mixture of English and Swedish, with phrases obviously often coined from pop songs and movies. I wonder if it’s seen as a cool thing to be speaking English to each other rather than Swedish?
Feeling slightly more energised I rode out of Gavle, all on cycle paths, to Furuvik, where there’s an amusement park as well as a campsite. Unfortunately the campsite didn’t open until tomorrow, d’oh, Loki must be playing a trick on me. I could only laugh as the staff stocking the camping shop shelves told me this. I’d already pedalled 100 miles, so what would another 15km to the next campsite be?!
Thankfully I’d started early, but it was getting late as I cycled on to Alvkarbey, where there’s a campsite next to the river which was thankfully open. As you’ll see from my route, via the link at the top of this post, I took the road along the wrong side of the river to get to Alvkarbey, so could see the campsite but not get to it. I had to ride past it, then over a bridge, and double back; another trick courtesy of Loki no doubt.
It’s a big fishing spot, and there were quite a lot of camper vans and caravans already enjoying the site. As I arrived late I had to call to check-in (not doing very well at not using my phone), however that done I quickly found a spot down near the riverside, and set up my tent; just in the nick of time as it happened, as the heavens opened and it threw it down.
After emerging from the short but sharp shower I found myself surrounded by a gaggle of kids, all no more than 10 years old, firing questions at me in English and Swedish about what I was doing. It was good fun chatting to them, and learning a bit of Swedish whilst I was at it. They did keep tripping over my guy ropes, but the encounter lifted my spirits after a tough day, especially when they tried to get me to do hand stands; not very successfully I might add.
I was too tired to cook, but retreated to the kitchen for some peace and a cold dinner, whilst trying to get online to plan the next day. I’m getting slightly frustrated with my phone, as it doesn’t seem to want to roam in Sweden. It’ll take me about 20 minutes of manually selecting networks to get online, and then it’ll cut off after another 20 minutes for some reason. Apparently it’s not Vodafone’s fault, but something to do with the Swedish networks; it’s annoying and they need to sort it.
I eventually got online, and tethered my phone to my laptop to look at the next day’s route, and options for Stockholm. I’d pedalled 175km in 10hrs 40 mins today, a new record for this tour, and not one I’m keen to break in the near future. Tomorrow’s ride would be a much shorter 85km to Uppsala, and then similar to Stockholm the day after, where I’m looking to stay at a hostel for a couple of nights.
Feeling tired but accomplished I lay down in my tent, listening to the rain which had returned with a vengeance, and vaguely hoping the river didn’t flood (it didn’t). It’s great being cosy and dry in your tent whilst the elements rage outside, and I quickly nodded off.
Quick physical update; right hand not getting any worse, but need to adjust handlebar grips to see if that helps. I really want to replace my saddle soon, as this one is getting painful, especially after a long ride. I don’t think the Gel Bioflex is good for really long ride, and it might be giving me blisters in bad places! Will see about replacing it with a Brookes soon. Also want to see how much weight I’ve lost, a shirt I’m wearing tonight feels a lot looser than it used to; will have to find some scales somewhere.
Off to find something to eat in Uppsala now – might even do today’s blog later so I’m up-to-date, will wonders never cease!