I’m in a place called Odeshog now, close to the shore of Sweden’s second largest lake; Lake Vattern. It’s been a busy few days since leaving Stockholm, mostly involving pedalling, a headwind, getting a new saddle, and today getting a bit damp. All good though and feel like I’m making real progress with over 1,500 miles cycled, and only about 2,200 to go until I reach Tarifa; something like that anyway, I tried to work it out earlier and it really depends on the route I take.
Quick mention of the campsite I’m staying at tonight; Oninge Camping. It’s probably the best campsite I’ve stayed at in Sweden, it being cheap at 70SEK for the night, with excellent facilities, free Wifi, a very reasonable and open restaurant, and someone actually present at reception who’s really friendly and helpful. All in all excellent; plus I was very glad to set up my tent up and get out of the wind and rain.
Here are my routes and stats for the last few days.
28 May – finding a new saddle: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/787078306
28 May – actual ride: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/787374076
–> 26 May 2015
After a somewhat broken night’s sleep, probably due to it being too hot in the hostel, and noisy in the dorm with people coming and going at all hours, I was keen to get on my way. It had been a good stopover, and excellent to see some of Stockholm; I’d recommend the City Backpackers Hostel.
I had breakfast in the hostel cafe before leaving, which set me up nicely for the day ahead at just 65SEK for a breakfast roll, fruit, orange juice, tea, and yoghurt; pretty healthy too I reckon. I didn’t end up leaving until gone 10.00, and just as it started to rain, but thankfully it didn’t last long.
I pedalled South through Stockholm, over a few bridges between islands and through the Gamla Stan. It was a bit tricky finding the right route out of the city, maybe because of the beer I’d consumed the evening before, but I eventually made it despite going around in a bit of a circle at one point. Again there were good cycle paths to follow alongside the main roads, so I didn’t have to worry about the traffic, although I did have to divert into a town due to road works at one point.
As I headed South West the sun came out and quiet countryside ensued, which was like a soothing balm after the business of Stockholm.
The landscape appeared tamer than North of Stockholm, with more deciduous forest, pastures, and more Oilseed Rape. Everything was just a bit warmer and softer, with the sunshine making everything look vibrant and alive.
I saw my first flock of sheep, which those that followed my Bike around Britain tour may realise could cause me some mental trauma; I pedalled past quickly but could feel their beady little eyes tracking me.
After cycling through sunlight and shadows, on a winding road through a wonderful smelling woodland, I descended to my first ferry crossing of the tour. It was only a few hundred metres to cross an open stretch of water near Nasskansen, over to Skansen, but the ferry was the only way to do it and thus avoid the main roads around Sodertalje; don’t want to go anywhere near the E04 again!
The ferry pulled away just as a rode up, so I just missed it, and when it came back the crew went on lunch break for 30 minutes. This really wasn’t an issue, I just sat in the sunshine and had some lunch myself.
After the ferry I encountered a cold headwind on the road to Nykoping. It wasn’t very strong, just annoying, and took all the warmth out of the day. That coupled with a sore bum from my saddle turned the afternoon into a bit of a struggle, however I persevered and was rewarded with a view of some Canada Geese and their goslings, as I crossed another bridge between islands; they must breed up here once they’ve finished their migration.
I spotted a few woodpeckers today (Lesser or Greater Spotted), but they were too quick for the camera; heard the distinctive laughing call of a Green Woodpecker too, and a cuckoo.
A bit later on, near Vagnharad, I met a German couple cycle-touring up to Nordkapp, and stopped to say hello and swap tips on the road ahead; always good to meet fellow tourers and gives you a boost.
Once they reach Nordkapp they’re going to cycle back to Germany via Norway, which sounds like a very nice route. They cycled to Tarifa last year, and have been all over the place previous to that, so are definitely more accomplished tourers than me!
After 10 minutes chatting we pedalled our separate ways. I reached Nykoping about 18.00, and stopped at a Lidyl to get some supplies; I was glad I did as the camping area at Strandstuviken was deserted when I arrived about 19.00; no-one at reception, this is getting to be a bit of a theme in Sweden.
I pitched up anyway, after trying to phone to check-in – no answer. I wasn’t too bothered as even though I couldn’t get into the shower or kitchen block, as I needed a key card for that, there was a public loo 30 metres away, and I could do without a shower for one night.
This looks to be a popular spot in the summer for people wanting to swim, and camp in a secluded spot. It was certainly peaceful, with only a few other residents from what I could tell. After a dinner of tomatoes, bread and pate, peanuts and fruit, I settled down to chill in my tent for a bit; I fell asleep pretty quickly, listening to owls hoot in the forest.
I’d pedalled 125km today, in about 7 hours 30 minutes. Tomorrow’s intended destination was Linkoping – a lot of ‘kopings’ around here.
–> 27 May 2015
After today’s ride I decided I really had to get my saddle changed. A long ride, into a head wind, with a sore posterior just isn’t much fun, and that’s without including my wonky right hand which is still playing up; bit better now I’ve adjusted my Ergon grips and bars, but still need to remember to alter my hand position more often.
I woke up early in Strandstuviken, and with no-one around to pay packed up and pedalled off pretty swiftly; hurrah for a free night’s stealth camping. I didn’t feel particularly guilty as I hadn’t used anything other than a patch of earth for my tent.
It was a nice sunny day, and warm, and I successfully picked up the right route out if Arno heading West, then turning South West.
My first destination of the day was another ferry just West of Kvarsebo, and the ride to get there was the best part of the day. I followed off-road trails, which made me feel like I was on a proper expedition, and is what this bike is made for really. I was glad of the strong wheels as I bumped along, through pine forest dotted with farmsteads, each with their own patch of land for crops, or a paddock for horses.
I saw a lot of horses today, must be a thing round here.
It was lovely in the forest, with birds singing and lots of wildlife around to spot; and unfortunately a few sheep regarding me with suspicion, the feeling was entirely mutual.
Saw a grass snake, which you might be able to make out in the photo below, near the bottom; unfortunately I don’t speak parseltongue so couldn’t ask it to pose for the camera.
There were lots of small purple flowers too, but I’m not sure what they’re called; are they violets?
The route was helpfully, if intermittently, signposted with ‘Cycleparet’ signs, however I tended to rely on my map, Garmin, and sense of direction more than these.
I got to the ferry over to Vikholandet, and again and to wait for it, which again wasn’t an issue with the sun shining and calorie replenishment required. There were quite a few touring motorcyclists who turned for the ferry too, so must be a popular route.
After the ferry the day turned into a bit of a slog to get to Linkoping, joining gradually busier roads, and into a moderate Westerly which proved taxing. At least the hills were fairly mild, and despite an aching rear I made good progress; not going to break any records though. I stopped for a break at a church and considered asking for divine intervention on the headwind front; it would be great to have a few days of just no wind!
After a banana, which wasn’t very ripe but did the job, I rode on to Linkoping, passing a cycle tourer with a trailer going the other way, but it was too busy for either of us to stop; enthusiastic waves were exchanged instead. Upon reaching the outskirts of Linkoping I found a Max hamburger joint, which couldn’t have come at a more opportune moment as I was famished. I pulled in and joined the ranks of police cadets who were also taking a break for some fast food; I hoped I didn’t smell too bad, didn’t want to get deported for vagrancy.
Feeling energised I got back on my bike, rather tenderly due to the aforementioned reasons, and cycled through Linkoping to find the campsite at Glyttinge. Linkoping looks like a nice city, however I was somewhat distracted by tiredness and soreness, so didn’t really take much in apart from the plethora of cycle paths. I resolved to find a cycle shop as soon as possible to change saddles, as the gel one I have (Bioflex) just isn’t suitable for long distances; rubs in the wrong places after a while.
I reached Glyttinge camping and low and behold there was no-one at reception, who’d have thought it. I wasn’t alone in my disgruntlement; there were 2 or 3 camper vans trying to find somewhere to book in, and a code for the gate. You can call the number to book in, but only if you already have an SVC card, which luckily I do, so wasn’t an issue for me. The camper vanners however didn’t have a card, having just got to Sweden, but eventually managed to corner a caretaker who let them in. I was a bit annoyed at having to call to book in as it meant having to use my phone, again, which cost me £3, again, but at least then I could use it for the rest of the day and get Internet.
On a positive note I got a tweet from a helpful soul back in the UK (thanks Ed Blackmore), with a link to a few Brooks saddle stockists in Sweden, including one right here in Linkoping. This was a real bonus as it’s the only shop until Copenhagen that sells Brooks saddles, and I didn’t really want to go with anything else. I’d definitely visit Bertil Anderssons tomorrow, and splash out on something that in the long-term will be a lot more comfortable.
Feeling more positive now I had a plan to alleviate pains in the posterior, I settled down for the evening, cooked some noodles, and did some route mapping. With a shopping trip in the morning it would be a shorter ride tomorrow, which was fine considering I was pretty tired and sore.
Today’s ride was 126km, taking 7 hours and 42 minutes of actual pedalling.
–> 28 May 2015
My tent was getting pretty hot when I woke up, which was useful as I realised I’d left the washing out, so hopefully it had dried. Excited about getting a new saddle (touch wood), I left my tent and stuff where it was and rode to the bike shop, Bertil Anderssons, aiming to get there soon after it opened at 09.00. Unfortunately the shop was on the other side of the city, necessitating a 20km round trip, but it’d be worth it. Bertil Anderssons also sell lawnmowers, which seems an odd mix, but isn’t unique for a Swedish bike shop from what I’ve seen.
I navigated to the bike shop using the Bike Hub app on my phone for the first time; seemed to work pretty well, but not something I could use on a long day’s ride as a bit too intense, and drains my phone battery quickly.
The shop staff were really helpful, and they did indeed stock Brooks, yippee! I chose a classic Brooks B17 in the end, rather than the Cambium C17. The Cambiums are really nice, partly made of rubber so they don’t need to be worn in, but more expensive and wouldn’t look so good on my bike. The B17 would take a few hundred kilometres to wear in and after that be really comfortable, and besides, it just looks cool.
The staff spoke excellent English and were interested in my tour and bike; they were intrigued with my SP dynamo, which has worked fantastically to date, charging my Garmin and Phone when needed (most days). They were also very efficient and the saddle was fitted, instructions relayed on how to care for it and what to tighten in a few weeks, and I was on the road and cycling back to the campsite by 09.30. The saddle felt a lot more slippery than my old one, but immediately more comfortable, not rubbing in the same places. Needless to say I donated the old one to the shop, someone might find a use for it.
Note to self; need to start thinking about where to get bike serviced soon, as might need a knew chain and rear cassette at some point.
I pedalled back through Linkoping feeling a lot happier about the miles to come. Whilst the Brooks would take a while to wear in, it would pay dividends in the long run, and save my butt, quite literally.
I got back to the campsite, quickly packed up, and set off for Odeshog, stopping in at reception to buy some chocolate; it was open for a change, but the caretaker was having to stand in as the duty staff member was off sick – he’s a really nice chap and can’t help feeling he was having to make up for other people’s failures, bravo sir.
A great cycle path took me West, on roads running roughly parallel to the E04, and through some nice countryside. I passed a lot of people out walking dogs, running, or rollerblading/cross-country skiing on wheels; nods and ‘hej hejs’ were exchanged. Quite a lot of helicopters buzzing abut today too.
A lot of the fields had been sown with Oilseed Rape, making everything yellow again. The road seemed quite flat, however it was in fact steadily rising, and before I knew it I was open over 600 feet without really realising; not very high I know, just didn’t notice the ascent.
As the day progressed the weather unfortunately took a turn for the worse, and I was forced to don my waterproof jacket as the rain set in; I don’t bother with waterproof trousers, as they’re another thing and I figure my legs are waterproof.
Cycling through Vaderstad put the Imperial March from Star Wars in my head for the next few kilometres, which I was forced to purge after a while with a bit of Top Gun, and some other classics including the Muppet Show and Fraggle rock; helps the miles fly by.
As the weather was bad and the landscape reminiscent of Lincolnshire there aren’t many photos from today. I arrived in Odeshog and stocked up with a few supplies, before cycling the few kilometres out to the campsite. It was a relief to get there and the tent set up, then out of the rain, which was decidedly chill.
As mentioned at the top of this post Oninge is probably my number 1 campsite in Sweden so far, not because of the scenery, but because it’s staffed, the staff were really friendly, welcoming and helpful, it only cost 70 SEK, the facilities are perfect, there’s free wifi, and there’s a restaurant and shop. All in all pretty splendid. It’ll get really busy here soon, especially as there are a few cycling events coming up near the lake.
I cooked some hot dogs for a late lunch, consuming all 6 of them, and some fruit, and some chocolate, then had a shower and retired to the restaurant after a FaceTime session back to the UK. Still hungry I couldn’t resist the Snitzel, and a beer from the shop – came to about 130SEK in total so very reasonable. Forgot to take a photo of it in my haste to consume.
I did however remember to take a photo of the find below, which I’m particularly excited to discover in the supermarket in Odeshog. I’ll save them for another day, gonna be great.
So despite the weather a really positive day, with the new saddle already feeling more comfortable than the old. I’ll update after tomorrow’s ride on how that’s working out, long may it continue!
I’m heading South West tomorrow, unless the weather is really bad, along the shore of Lake Vattern towards Jonkoping, and then hopefully on a bit however we’ll see how we get on. Lobster wants to be in Denmark by Sunday to sample their pastries, but it might not be until Monday, he’ll just have to wait.
Total distance pedalled today was about 90km, if we include the saddle shopping trip. Now done over 1,500 miles!