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Bicycle Tour with three children in Sweden (4)

Karl Brodowsky, cycled 1997-07-04 to 1997-08-10, written in German 1998, translated to English 1998

Part 4

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For a change we left this place after a singe night and cycled from this harbor, that is already in the community of Töreboda to the real town. Töreboda is quite well known because this is the place where the two branches of the long distance railroad, starting from Stockholm and Gothenburg met, when this connection was built during the 19th century. I'd better not call it previous century, to avoid a millennium bug in the page. For me this was the place where I had entered a train, when my bicycle frame was broken on a trip 13 years earlier. This time we had been luckier so far, not even one of our 7 tires in use had ever been punctured. The only problem of this day was a little bit of rain. In Töreboda we had a nice and dry break near the Göta Canal.

We continued towards Mariestad on highway N 202, which was more like a national highway on this stretch. Again some rain showers occurred, but somehow we managed to have another dry break near some nice lake and to get wet without water from above. In Mariestad we found a funny highway construction. The town is bypassed by highway E 20 (old: E 3). Between this E 20 and the town there is another bypassing highway, officially guiding us to the camp ground. To be very official, we might have been obliged to use the bicycle paths of this road, but we did not want to be so official, since there were no possibilities to stay overnight between the beginning of the bicycle path and the camp ground.

The camp ground of Mariestad was quite well equipped, not only with a nice beach on the Vänern lake, but also with a nice kitchen house. This was quite convenient for us, because it had a micro wave for warming up Heidrun's milk. This was actually no longer so unusual. It was quite a windy day, but our tent was quite good with that and we had even some protection by the trees.

On Tuesday we went on a little day trip, that had not been possible in the earlier years. We took highway E 20 and some other road to and across a newly opened bridge across some part of lake Vänern to the island Torsö. Anyway this bridge was giving us two extra hills, we went down to the lake level, up to the highest point of the bridge, enabling some boats and ships with masts to pass underneath and down to lake level and up to the elevated plane on the island. Near some camp ground on the island we got our ice cream of the day, but surprisingly enough it was not feasible to go swimming from that place. So we went on across the island and on some minor branching road, walking the last few kilometers when it became a dust road. We found a beautiful bay with a nice beach. On our way back we could save some time in Mariestad.

Vänern remained the choice of the next day as well. Actually there is a hilly road following closer to its coast line than we did. Instead we took highway E 20 to Götene and continued on 110 km/h high speed highway N 44 towards Lidköping. Here we did have our first flat tire. The trailer needed some tire repair. Fortunately that break had to take place near a nice old Romanic church, that was worth seeing anyway.

Lidköping has two camp grounds, one is some kilometers before the town from where we were coming, the other one is on the other side. We tried the first one of them. We were already kind of tired and it was something different than on the last trip. The beach was so flat that I could hardly swim, but Bernhard liked this place best, apart from this 40 km/h bridge some day before, off course.

The most interesting sights in Lidköping are the mountain Kinnekulle and the castle Lackö. Having seen the castle some years before and considering the mountain too stressful for us, we looked for a third choice and went into town. I got my front wheel re-centered and we also got a new spare tube for the trailer. The time of the biggest rain fall was spent in a coffee shop.

On Friday we continued on highway N 44 to the west. There were four sections of two kilometers length each that were wide enough to hold six lanes, marked as two lanes with wide shoulders. Our hopes to find a "lanthandel" for buying some food proved to be exaggerated. In a small village we were told that this shop would be 15 km back in Lidköping. But being on such a trip we had learned to have some amount of food in our luggage, so that was not such a problem. The next break was a wonderful place in the woods. Shortly after that we encountered the branch to Grästorp, where we wanted to spend the following night. At least we found a store. The swimming place was meant to be near the camp ground, at least the road signs said so. But this was only a swimming pool. They were already closing their doors for the night. The camp ground was a sport field, that served as camping during the summer holiday time. But all infrastructure like showers and washing rooms was available. The stove and the washing machine had been added for the camping guests.

Heading to the west from Grästorp we started approaching the area of Trollhättan and Vänersborg, called Tvåstad, with its confusing highway network. Eventually I have an idea how to cycle through this system officially. Long time before these places a highway branches to the right. It passes between the two mountains Hunneberg and Halleberg towards Vargön and Vänersborg. The road signs told to continue strait forward for Vänersborg and Trollhättan. Between these two places there is a bridge across the river Götaälv. With the last exit before this bridge highway N 44 ends and motorway A 44 starts. To the right a poorly labeled national highway goes towards Vargön, Vänersborg and Uddevalla, for those like us, who have not turned to the right earlier. And to the left it leads towards Trollhättan and Gothenburg. The road signs are very poor and not at all correct.

Shortly before Vargön we passed some hill graves from very old times, where we had a break. Vargön is bypassed by the highway from Grästorp to Vänersborg, that we were hitting now. Making a left towards Uddevalla and Vänersborg it became an elevated highway. Using its bicycle path of this highway is not advisable for those who do not know this area very well, because it turns to totally different directions at some point and sure enough fences make it impossible to leave the bicycle path at that point. Anyway we made it to Vänersborg, but it was still very difficult to find the camp ground in this labyrinth of one way streets, bicycle paths and bridges. It was situated almost in the center of Vänersborg, some 100 meters from the railroad station. This did not look like a camp ground, it was again a guest harbor and we were pitching up the first tent. The kitchen was only open certain hours of the day and they were kind of reluctant to open it at all, even though the guy running this place was very nice. Meeting all the boat people and hobby captains was kind of fun as well.

[continue with part 5]

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