MEMORIES OF NORDEN part 5

 A 25 day cycle tour of Norway and Sweden June-July 1994

  The big mountains were over.  However there were still a few pleasant
days of cycling left.  By taking the train from Otta to Oslo I saved 2
or 3 days. I would have rather cycled but time was running out. 
 
Saturday 2-july Otta-Oslo-Hoböl (75 km climb-600m)
  I got up around 6 and rode into Otta. It was very cool but the sun
promised warmth later in the day. I had thought that there was a train
at 0830 but then I realized that this was Saturday so the first train
was around 1000. I cooked up a breakfast in a park by the river.
   I checked at the railway station but found that I couldn't get on the
next train without a reservation but I could get a train at 1245.  So I
bought a ticket.  Almost immediately, I regretted that.  It was a
beautiful day, the best weather I'd had on my trip.  I rode a bit but
mostly ate, rested and walked around Otta.  By noon it was very hot. 
   The train route is very scenic but after cycling for 3 weeks I found
it boring and frustrating. When I looked out the window I really wanted
to out there riding. So I just ate and rested.

   The train got into Oslo around 1700 but it took over an hour to
retrieve my bicycle. I would have preferred to get off in a smaller town
where it is usually easier to get one's baggage.
   Oslo is probably one of the most beautiful cities in the world but I
didn't have time to do it justice.  I've already seen some of the sights-
the Kon Tiki, Viking and Fram museums (when I was here at age 11) .
The city Oslo is about 60% parklands and forest with around 2000 km of
ski trails.
  I guess I didn't study the map well enough before heading out.  There
was some construction and I got on the rather busy E 6.  The shoulder
was torn up for a little ways.  I'm sure there is abetter way out of
downtown.  After about 5 km I got off one some side streets like Neder
Prinsdals Vei. 

  Then I got further south into the suburbs and there was a good bike
path along the road- the road itself didn't have much traffic. There
were some bike paths branching off , going through woods, then returning
again to the road. Even in some small villages there were paths like
this, some with overhead lights. Then I realized that these were ski
trails, which are lit up because of the short winter days.
   Then about 15 km from the Oslo station I was out in open country.  It
was quite different than the countryside I'd been in in the last few
days.  It was rolling grain fields more like southern Sweden.In the
evening I rode through the towns of Ski and Aas. 

   I was south of 60 Lat.  but the sun didn't set until after 2200 and
here there no mountains for the sun to go behind.  Near Hoböl I found a
wooded area to camp in, no babbling brook tonight but there was lots of
birds singing.  This far south it actually got semi-dark for about an
hour. 

Sun. 3-july  Hoböl -Ed (140 km 1116 m)
   It wasn't as cool this morning as I left camp by 630 and rode to near
Våler where I cooked some breakfast by a small stream. 
   Already it was getting quite hot.  The area, Östfold, is mostly
grain fields- wheat , rye, rapeseed- patches of greens, and yellows.  I
followed some secondary roads (155, 114) through woods, fields and past
lakes.  I saw a few racing-type cyclists out for a Sunday morning spin. 

   Coming in to Sarpsborg there were quite a few people at the beach on
a lake.  This was the first real summer weekend for them and me.  I
bought some strawberries and stopped for lunch and for the first time
sought out shade. Finding drinking water is a different problem here. In
the mountains there was always cold water, fresh from the snow fields.

   Past Sarpsborg I took another nice back road past Rokke to Halden. 
There is a steep descent into the town on Rt 22.  I have to climb back
up another steep hill out of the town .  The fort of Fredriksten towers
over the town which is just across Iddefjorden from Sweden. 
   Back on Rt 22 I meet 2 Danish cyclists going south but I decide to
take a side road to Prestebacken.  It was hilly and hot, I stopped for a
second lunch in the shade.  I cooled off by soaking my shirt in a lake. 
I wasn't ready for a swim yet. 
  Then I joined Rt 101 to the border at Kornsjö .  I didn't see any
open stores so I didn't get to spend by Norwegian money.  Fortunately my
map of southern Norway included a big piece of Sweden so I wouldn't need
a new map just yet.  The border here was only slightly more visible than
where I entered Norway. 
  The area was mostly woods and a few lakes but then I got into some
more farmlands.  Just outside of Ed I saw a funny looking horse in a hay
field.  No, it was a female moose (or elk as they are called here). 
   In the town of Ed I found a small grocery store.There was even some
cheap bananas! I still had enough Swedish money. 
   Ed is a nice little town in the nice little province of Dalsland.
There is a nice youth hostel run by a nice lady.
  I decided not to go for a swim in the lake , I still haven't fully
recovered from my cold. 
   It was a very pleasant evening so I ate supper outside. I joined a
Swedish couple who were on a 4 day cycle tour going to Göteborg. The
wife had cycled in Vaetternrundan this year. She finished it in 13 hours
(I had taken 17 hours) She had started about 11PM and said it was a
very cold night- it was near 0 C that night.

Mon 4-July Ed - Hålanda (158 km 840 m)
  I ate breakfast outside.  This was going to be a really hot day (by
hot I mean about 28 C but that was very hot compared to what I had been
experiencing for the last 2 weeks)
   Dalsland is a really nice place to cycle in.  The tourist brochures
called it "Sweden in minature" , and it's very rural.  There are 2 major
bike routes -  Sverige Leden and Dals Leden, both sign-posted by the
Swedish Cycling Association (SCS) The free tourist brochure had a good
map and showed both cycle routes.  
 
  So I headed south on Dals Leden , nice back roads through fields,
woods. I saw a few cycle tourists. Unfortunately it was a bit too rural
since I wanted to find a bank and some stores. Finally I got to
Färlelanda where I traded in my Norsk for Svensk Kroner. I got a good
exchange rate, much better than at Kastrup airport a few days later!
   Outside of town I stopped at a lake and went for my first swim.  The
water was warm but still refreshing.  After lunch my wet shirt dried out
very quickly.  I made a detour off the Dals Leden in the hope of
getting another swim in a lake but it was too boggy. 
  I stopped for a second lunch at a rest area next to a busy highway and
then skirted around Vänersborg and Trollhättan on the Sverige Leden
along the west side of the Göta River and canal.  Unfortunately the
road was further away from the river than I thought but less than a km.  I
was very hot and low on water.  When I found a store near Lilla Edet (is
there a Stora Edet?) I downed a liter of sports drink in one gulp. 
  I crossed the Göta Canal on a footbridge. The town was very hot ,
there are some cliffs to the east of town which reflected the afternoon
sun.

   After getting some water I felt much better.  It got a little cooler
in early evening.  I followed the Sverige Leden signs south on Rt 45 for
about 5 km then turned of on a side road up the hill towards Hålanda. 
There the SL makes 2 branches I took the South branch.  I found a wooded
area to camp in the area. It actually got dark tonight!

Tues 5-July hålanda- Frillesås (132km 720m)
   In the morning I made breakfast in a park in Skeplanda. I was nearing
the suburbs of Göteborg and I didn't have a good map of the area. I
followed the SL signs which were heading south, the direction I wanted
to go.
  At Sjövik on Lake Mjörn the cycle route turned on to an old railraod
bed. There was even a tunnel, but this one was well lit. I stopped for
a short swim in the lake.
  At Grabo I stocked up on some groceries, then left the SL to Lerum
where I found a bookstore with maps. I bought a Red (250 000 scale) topo
map and also a local cycle route map (50 000 scale)
  With the help of the local map I found my way to a park on a lake and
had a refreshing swim , followed by a lunch.  There were quite a few
people at this beach and, unlike in Canada, most of them had cycled
here.  The road south was a rather steep and rough gravel and it was
very hot. I was looking forward to my next swim. 

   At Rya I got on Rt 156.  The small hills on this road seemed much
bigger than they really were ,because of the heat and my lack of water. 
The map showed the road passing many lakes so I was planning to stop for
a swim.  Unfortunately there was a high fence on both sides of the road,
to keep moose off the road.  So I couldn't get down to the lakes.  The
road was also quite new, with smooth, wide shoulders but straight and
rather boring. 

  At Ginsjö I filled my water bottles and jumped in the lake.  That
feels better! Then I turned off an more interesting road towards the
coast.  I found another lake for another swim.  This is quite a contrast
to the last few weeks when it was too cold to consider swimming. 
    At Fjärås near the coast there was an field of ancient standing
stones and some ripe blueberries! Then I followed the old road, parallel
to busy E6 along the flatter coastal plain.  I smelt the familiar odor
of seaweed.  The youth hostel at Frillesås was full but I stayed in a
more luxurious private room. 
  

Wed 6-July Frillesås- Margaretetorp (164km 552m)
  The next morning I rode south to Varberg.  This was market day and
there were lots of colorful booths set up in the market square.  I
sought out the strawberry stands, of course and also bought some fresh
carrots. 
  At the south end of town there is a very wide cycle path going along
the beaches. There were lots of cyclists out of all ages. Some of the
beaches were marked indicating the clothing preferences!
  For most of the day I followed the Ginst Leden cycle rout signs, much
of the route in on cycle paths, especially new larger towns like
Falkenberg.  There are nice sections but also some very crowded beach
resorts.  The coast is rather exposed and must be quite windy, judging
from the rows of giant wind turbines here.  Fortunately , today there
was just enough light wind off the ocean to keep the temperature in the
pleasant low 20s. 
  At one point I walked down to the shore , past old ruins. The sea was
too cold for me, and full of jellyfish. I'll stick to lakes! 

   Before I got to Halmstad I went off the edge of my map, there was a
20 km gap before my next detailed map.  I turned inland on some nice
quite roads , going south until I came back on to my map of Skåne near
Laholm. I passed a local cycling group (mostly middle aged or older)
out for an evening ride. 
   All day it had been quite flat but to the south I could see a range
of wooded hills , Hallandsås and I could see my road going up it.

   Then I climbed in the woods up 150 m in 2 km , this most of the whole
days climbing.  On the other side it was a nice road through the woods. 
There was a small stream running along the road and a few small small
waterfalls.  In a very small way it reminded me of the mountains of
Norway.  At the end of this long day's ride memories of the whole trip
flashed before me.  Sadly, the trip was nearing an  end, a few tears
were shed as I coasted towards to Margaretetorp Vandrarhem, my last
youth hostel. 
    At supper I had a chat with an older Danish/Swedish couple who were
on a short cycle tour.

Thurs 7-July Margaretetorp- Copenhagen(85km 150m)
   I cooked breakfast outside using my Gaz stove but was unable to use
up the gas cartridge. So I left it with the hostel manager.
  It was another hot day with a NW (tail ) wind.  The area is quite flat
farm land.  My first destination was the tourist bureau in Angelholm
where I got some information on a ferry service from Landskrona to
Copenhagen.  Then I had familiar lunch stop to visit.(Deja vu)

  I stopped at a familiar grocery store in the village of Mörarp, then
had lunch in the shade of a familiar oak tree in the park , eating
strawberries, and thinking of the last 25 days.  So much has happened!
Children were cycling through the park, enjoying their fourth week of
Summer Vacation.  Adults were cycling to the store to get groceries,
some had wildflowers in their bike baskets.  The post man was delivering
mail on an official Swedish Post Office bike.  What a civilized place!

  Then I ride out of town, heading North East towards .....  WHOA! I
should be heading south! Reluctantly, I turn around and point my bike
towards the Sunde instead of going towards Motala. 
  There are now fields of bright yellow rapeseed and ripening grain.
On the outskits of Landskrona I bought my last box of Swedish jordgubbar
and headed down the cycle path which took me down to the harbour where
the ferry for Copenhagen leaves. The next boat didn't
leave for an hour so I had a second lunch. The boat only takes
pedestrians and bicycles and is a very fast hydrofoil.
   Again there were the big bicycle crowds on the city cycle lanes. I
took a longer route back towards the Kastrup airport cross part of the
Amager fields, a large park with biking and walking trails.
   I probably should have got to the airport earlier. I couldn't get a
box to pack my bike. I ended up buying a bike bag and it took several
hours to get everthing packed in. Then I found out that the KLM checkins
were closed for the day (after the last flight). I also couldn't check
by baggage in the storage room since it wouldn't open until after after
I had too board my 6 AM flight. So I ended up sleeping (or trying to
sleep) in the airport, guarding my baggage.  Oh, well . I wasn't going
to let one unpleasant night spoil my trip. I just thought of the
wonderfull 4 weeks I had just spent.

    The next day I flew home to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  The day after
that, after I got my bike back together I went for a short test spin,
and my tire picked up a big piece of glass. 
  
Conclusions:

    By the numbers I did a lot of personal bests: My longest tour
(2850km), my longest day (306km), my biggest day's climb (2200m), the
world's biggest cycle tour, number of flat tires (0!),.  But there was
quality as well as quantity. 
   There were lots of high points and very low points.  The lowest point
was leaving.  Of course, I would have liked more time, especially in
Norway.  Both Norway and Sweden are large countries and I only scratched
the surface.  But I'm sure that I saw many things that the average
motor-tourist misses.  I definitely want to go back.  


  "Tusen Takk " to all those who made this tour so enjoyable.
   HEJA SVERIGE! HEIA NORGE!



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