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Bicycle Tour with three children in Sweden

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


This translation has been made by me, Karl Brodowsky. If you don't like my translation please consider reading the German original instead. Or let me know of errors, so that I can correct them. English is not my mother tongue. Anyway the spelling in this article is meant to be American English. Still measurements are always based on the metric system (kilometers rather than miles, for example).

Part 1

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Because we liked the previous family bicycle tour (1994) so much, we thought that it might be a good idea to try something like that again 1997. We were Heidrun 1, Ulrich 4, Bernhard 6, Karin (age not disclosed) and Karl (the author of this text). So we decided to buy new rolling stock for all of us, especially new bicycles for Karin and me and a trailer bike (Hoening add+bike) for Bernhard. Only the trailer was reused for Heidrun and Ulrich, but we knew that it was to small for three children and Bernhard was too small to keep up with us on his own bicycle. Christina did not need a seat, because she was born quite a time after the trip in Dec-ember.

Obviously a trip with so many participants requires quite a lot of luggage. So we decided to go on a trip in Sweden, where the maximum weight is about 60 metric tons, rather than 28 tons in Switzerland, where we happen to live now.

Because Ulrich still has no obligations in school it was possible to take him to my parents, who live in Kiel, a week in advance. So I took my bicycle and the trailer and some other stuff to Kiel on that trip. I don't remember much of the night, so I assume that we must have slept well in the night train which took us most of the way from Schaffhausen to Kiel. I had to return to Schaffhausen and we spent another regular school and working week, apart from the fact, that I went to work with most of the remaining luggage and we met at the train station. By the way we had to pick up Karins bicycle while changing trains in Singen, but there was enough time to do so. The bicycle was so new that it needed to be checked before such a long trip. We took the night train from Stuttgart to Hamburg again, and we definitely slept well after having spent the previous night with packing and finishing all the remaining work on Friday in little time.

In Kiel we tried to pack everything to our cycles. We had pairs of bags on the front and back of each bicycle and in addition on the back of Bernhard's trailer-bike. Obviously a lot of packages went on top of the bags and some luggage could even be stored in the trailer without sacrificing the comfort of Ulrich and Heidrun who were sitting in the trailer. The cycling bags where labeled with letters somehow representing the name of one of us. This gave us some light chance to find things again in the jungle of luggage. We tried using the last letter of our first names to achieve uniqueness, because Karin and Karl start out pretty similar. This no longer works out either with Heidrun and Karin, but there are enough letters around to resolve this somehow. When it was time to think of the ferry I found out that there was some luggage leftover, but we managed to take it somehow to the ferry (5 km within Kiel) by having a small rucksack on my shoulders and to fix it for good on board. Off course I did not want to carry a rucksack for the whole trip. The solution was to have quite a pile of bags on the back of my cycle, which required some effort for fixing it safely until we got used to it. So I had 50 kg of luggage, the weight of myself, of the bicycle and up to 70 kg for the trailer, having a total weight of 210 to 220 kg, depending on when the last shop had been passed. Karin added another 130 to 140 kg with her bike, luggage and the trailer bike and off course herself. I won't tell more about the parts that add up to this weight. At least Bernhard could help her quite a bit, at least when we had to go up on slopes. This worked out well for the first 2 or 3 meters of elevation. By the end of the trip Karin and Bernhard had become quite experienced on this and Karin could ask him to participate when she needed it.

The trip really started on an early Sunday morning around 8:00 from the port of Gothenburg. Luckily the people from the customs office did not worry too much about our luggage, especially not about the pieces that where stored in the bottom of the pile, which saved us a lot of time. We could easily cycle on highway N 45 that led out of the city, because Sunday morning was not a typical rush hour time. Because this was the beginning of the trip we chose a direction which should take us to a camp ground without having to go too long of a distance. Unfortunately this was not achieved by following highway N 45 much longer, which I consider the most convenient way of leaving the city, but on highway E 20 (old numbering: E 3) in the direction of Stockholm. It seems that there exist two national highways paralleling the motorway, one on each side of the valley. We took the northern one which has the advantage that it is a little bit difficult to find, in a sense an advantage over the southern route, which seems to be very difficult to find.

We took the first few breaks within Gothenburg on small meadows found near the highway. In the early afternoon we had left the city and the most densely populated suburban area behind us and found a very beautiful stretch in a small valley widening after some kilometers with a nice lake. This invited us for quite a long break until we finally continued to Lerum. This is a small village between Gothenburg and Alingsås with another lake and a beautiful camp ground that is obviously located with the lake. That was enough for this day and we even spent a day of rest in Lerum, which was nice because of the lake and convenient because it took its time to get used to the heavy cycles.

Having gone on Sunday to avoid traffic jam we had Monday off. Like many Swedish camp ground the one in Lerum included a very good play ground which became very popular with Heidrun who showed her older brothers how to climb. Some small trip for shopping and a longer trip with Bernhard's trailer bike attached to my bicycle was normal even for a "day off".

On the following Tuesday we had some intention to continue to the next camp ground. But somehow we no longer felt like following highway E 20 any further till Alingsås and Stockholm and so we left this valley across some hill that was not so easy for us, because we did not have the tools to dig a even way through. Somehow we reached highway N 40 from Gothenburg to Borås on the other side of the mountain and managed to find out the right direction.

With many curves, but a little bit flatter than the previous section, we arrived in Hindås. We had lunch in some nice Pizza-shop served by Arabs. This made it difficult to tell whether we had eaten Italian, Swedish or Arabic food. Maybe Esperanto? But it was good anyway and we got used to eating Arab-pizza once in a while on this trip. Somehow we found our way to the N 40 again and continued eastbound. This area was mostly woods, but some agriculture was included and in one place the highway formed quite an elaborate bridge just to cross a small creek. Maybe plans exist to extend this creek for carrying big ships.

Not long before Borås, actually within the community of Borås, which includes a large area around the actual city itself, we became very tired. In the village of Sandared we found a nice camp ground. Actually it was a sport field, but during the summer holiday they use it as a camp ground. Showers are available anyway, a stove and a washing machine had been added as well as the reception and the mini golf course, that has to be available on (almost?) every camp ground. The only disadvantage was the lake, which was a few kilometers away from the camp ground. As in Lerum we found out that we would fit into the tent, even though little Heidrun accompanied us now and even without her on the family bicycle tour 1994 the tent was not too big. We solved this problem partly by leaving most of the luggage on the bicycles overnight and filling the trailer with all the lose stuff flying around once we had settled somewhere. Only important stuff like laptops (guess how many we bothered to carry), cameras, etc. went into the tent.

On the next day we planned a small trip to Borås, which was supposed to have a nice zoo. This proved to be quite true. Near the entrance we got a small cart in which Heidrun could spend the hours between the stuff we had to take into the zoo, when she was too tired for walking herself. The whole zoo gave a lot of space to all the animals, at least much more than any other zoo I had seen before. Heidrun had a tendency to call any animal "Hund" (dog) or "Zer" (Pferd = horse). In one section it was possible to walk into the fenced area of the animals and to see them a little bit closer, unless they were hiding. Bernhard was a little bit disappointed, because we did not manage to see the whole zoo in one afternoon.

That was reason enough to spend another day in Sandared and the next day we had a look at some farm house museum and the rest of the zoo. We started to know the way from the camp ground to the city. We would have had a chance to play mini golf for free on the camp ground. That is something you have to pay for on most camp grounds, but we hardly saw any camp ground without mini golf. But the children were very tired in the evenings and we too, once we had managed to put them into bed. Ulrich and Heidrun could keep themselves fit by sleeping during the day time while sitting in the trailer. But Bernhard had to keep to the night times for sleeping. Anyway we found out in which order we would have to put the kids into the tent to sleep. I don't remember, but we will find out again how to do this on our next vacation.

On Friday we really wanted to make it a long way to the east. This took us on the highway from Sandared to Borås for the fifth time. After having made a small rest in the center of Borås we left town on the N 40 eastbound and finally made it out. Just a few kilometers after that we had a nice break on a small lawn some 100 meters from the highway without too much noise from the cars. On this day we had Friday afternoon traffic, which was quite much. Anyway the highway was dimensioned in such a way that cycling was conveniently possible because of the wide shoulders, even when a 60-ton truck was overtaking us while traffic was coming from the opposite direction. We covered the following kilometers quite fast for our standards, which was good since the next camp ground was quite our maximum distance from Sandared. Long detours or hilly sections of the road would have made it difficult or impossible to reach Ulricehamn. The last kilometers before Ulricehamn we had to go down into valley.

In Ulricehamn we had a camp ground that was quite close to the highway exit, so we were a little bit concerned about the noise. But somehow we did manage to sleep, because some trees and bushes on the ground kept most of the noise away. Again we had a very nice lake directly with the camp ground, enabling us to go swimming many times every day. So we took a day off again, which we spent in town, in the water and on some nice walks.

Part 2

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For the following day we were planning to go to the next camp ground. It is off course allowed to pitch up a tent in the woods, but that works only for one night and we did not want to start with this kind of things just in the beginning of the tour, because having a days rest once in a while proved to be very convenient. So we had a look at our camping guide which suggested taking the N 40 heading for the neighboring community Jönköping, even into that community. So that was how we started our Sunday ride. To start with we had to climb quite a slope while leaving the valley in which the campground, the lake and even the town of Ulricehamn are located. In spite of the trailer I was kind of a little bit faster than Karin. So I stopped at some place that could be considered half of the slope by applying some optimism, placed my bike somewhere near the highway and rode Karins bicycle with the trailer bike up from where she was to the top of the hill. The next kilometers were quite flat and it took me almost an hour to catch up with Karin and Bernhard after having made the slope with my bicycle. It was not more than that anyway, because they were having a break somewhere.

This portion of the highway was having a speed limit as high as 110 km/h, which was creating quite a lot of noise. Apart from that it was very good riding. For the rest of the day we had only small and flat hills and a lot of moor land near the highway. 20 km before Jönköping the N 40 merged with the N 26 from Halmstad, making the highway quite busy for the last 10 kilometers. It was not more than that because the camp ground we had chosen to stay was not exactly in the center of Jönköping, but we had to leave the N 26/N 40 some 10 km before that town (or before its center, to be accurate) and go back for one kilometer on a parallel road. We found a nice little lake with a nice little camp ground an a nice little ice cream booth. This was in Axamo, a small village (formally part of Jönköping) that is not completely unknown because of giving its name to a small airport. Fortunately it was not at all busy, not even during the night. Walking around the lake took about an hour. It was very warm, maybe 24° C, at least warm enough for swimming.

We also had another attraction which was a huge moor that could be crossed on a small wooden path. It was not so easy to hit the beginning of this path. From the camp ground we could start walking on paths that had lights for the night time. But it was not so easy to find a place to cross the highway. Having a speed limit of 110 km/h required fences for the moose that had only few gates which obviously forced us to walk some distance on the highway to find a gate on the opposite side. There we found quite a bunch of paths again, leading to all kinds of directions. One of them really led us to the famous wooden path on which we could spend hours walking through the moor lands. Actually this path had the shape of huge eye glasses, consisting of two huge circles with several kilometers in diameter and some interconnection between them. So we walked around the northern circle and even a little bit towards the nose. Anyway even a huge moor has its limited extent so minor portions of the path were even more or less through woods.

The Tuesday following this day was even calmer, at least for the kids and myself. Karin took her bicycle to the city (Jönköping) to do some shopping, because Axamo had no shop other than the ice cream booth. Bernhard and Ulrich wanted to build great stuff in sand of the beach, trying to get me involved in this job as well.

Wednesday it was my turn to go shopping. Quite typical for that place the highway turned into a motorway closed to bicyclists and the highway that started on that intersection was open only for busses and pedestrians, so it was illegal anyway.

After having done that shopping we decided to see the southern part of the moor as well. So we took the highways leading to the airport and walked from there to the southern "eye" and even to the place where we had turned on the day before. In this area there was some portion of the path that was wide enough for wheel chairs or strollers, but we did not have that, but we had to carry Heidrun when she got tired. In the south we had a former railroad track that had been transformed to a forest path and then again a small wooden path that brought us back to our bicycles. In this part we had to be really good in keeping our balance, since it tended to go like a long bridge through real water.

Having been in Axamo for such a long time it would have been quite natural to continue to the next place on that Thursday. But instead we thought that it would be a good idea to see Taberg, which we discovered to be almost within our range for a day trip. This was a small mountain about 15 km south of Axamo. This mountain is supposed to be very old, much older than the Alps or the Rocky Mountains. At least we made it to that place, even though it was kind of hilly. After having taken some excellent Arab-Swedish-Italian pizza, at least pizza served by Arabs, we decided to walk to the top of the hill instead of cycling. That gave us some choice for our way down and we passed an old mine. The sign said something about guided tours that would take place on the same day. Even though it was quite late we thought that these underground mines are something you really remember for many years and waited for the guy to come. During that half hour I rushed to the bicycles and picked something to drink and to eat and even warmer clothings, since mines that are close to the surface, but without sun light tend to be quite cold.

We where told that this mountain is assumed to be much older than the Alps and the Rocky Mountains. During this 1 200 000 000 years erosion, ice and what not has made it smaller, small enough to enable us to climb it. But this had been accelerated recently. Consisting of very special iron ore, that was used long time before the discovery of iron ore in Kiruna, people tended to use this material. More recently it became known that this iron ore was very good for building weapons and quite a part of the mountain disappeared. Later it was understood that the high percentage of vanadium found in the ore provided for the high quality of steel made from it. A company wanted to buy the whole mountain, remove it fully, take out the vanadium and restore the mountain from the rest of the material. But some local people did not want to see their mountain being removed. They formed a club and bought the mountain at a time when vanadium prices where low. Now they have to rise money by having guided tours through the old mines. The children liked it, but Heidrun wanted to get rid of her helmet.

In spite of the northern location we had to use our lights when returning to Axamo. It was a great day and definitely worth staying up a little bit late. 1985 I had passed this place and even stayed there over night without paying much attention to it on a bicycle tour (that has not been translated to English).

After having spent the days before cycling more or less eastbound, we changed this to northbound and followed the coastline of the Vättern lake. Having cycled its eastern coast on our 1994 family bicycle tour we decided to take the western coast this time. On highway N 195, which happened to start in Axamo, we rode north. Off course we were not alway so close to the lake that we could see it through the trees. Anyway, we made it to Habo, which was the next community. Since there was no camp ground, we just pitched our tent in the wood. Again it was not so easy to find a suitable place for this, because we were not particularly interested in widow makers and we did need some space for our tent, even though it was quite small for all of us. But following some forest drive we did find a nice place. First we walked there to check it and then we took our bicycles along. The children had to walk, because it was so steep. Having bought enough milk only the stove for warming it was missing, but we were able to do at least this (and some coffee in the morning) with the infrastructure we carried along.

It is really sometimes allowed, to camp in the woods for one night, if you keep to certain rules. Just in short: This applies only for one night, not for the garden or the vicinity of a house. Neither for agricultural land, military training zones, parks.... Building a fire is frequently forbidden, because of forest fires. Driving off road is out ruled, so if you travel by car or by motorcycle, you might want to use a camp ground for the night, which should be possible to reach. Surprisingly everyone in Sweden has good knowledge about this "allemansrätten". In Germany and Switzerland it depends on the state (Bundesland in Germany, Kanton in Switzerland). But few people know about the rules in their state. Anyway I did know this for the state I lived in and I did take advantage of this for a couple of nights.

The next day, probably a Saturday, we cycled the next quarter of the lake shore. We had a very nice rest near a wooden church that was situated a little bit higher than the highway, with a good view over the lake. In the evening we reached the little town of Hjo, which has a huge camp ground situated besides the Vättern lake. We could follow the shore through a nice little park, which led to the center and the harbor. Some toy train with tires instead of real tracks does a tour through the town, we could also visit a museum and an aquarium with all the animals of Vättern lake.

In the harbor we saw an old steam ship, which was used for regular trips to the other side of the lake. Nowadays nobody cares about some extra 100 km and there is no regular ferry service. But a club keeps this ship operable. Once in a while they do go to Visingsö, an island in the lake, and once a year or so they go as far as Stockholm or Gothenburg. After the Estonia has sunk in the Baltic Sea it became more expensive to get the annual checks for the ship, almost beyond the range of the club. But somehow they do rise enough money. Finding a real captain is not so difficult. There are enough people who have this profession and who enjoy commanding such an interesting old ship for some weeks of holiday. Most of the other mandatory positions for running a ship can be filled by local club members and their friends.

Part 3

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The temperature in the lake was warm enough and the lake was deep enough. But anyway we preferred cycling over swimming for the next quarter of the lake, because we did not have such a nice steam boat in our luggage. Not so long before Karlsborg the highway N 195 merged with N 49 from Skövde. On this day I had to go back for some kilometer or so, because Heidrun had casted out some of the sand toys and Ulrich was so unhappy about it. I really did manage to find them, although I had realized this much later. In Karlsborg we had quite a traffic jam. The Göta-Canal goes through town and has a bridge which opens once in a while for the boats. This was quite fun, but we had to wait for the whole queue to disappear before we could cross the highway for the camp ground.

The camp ground was great, we could camp between tall trees near a small lake. This was excellent for swimming and Heidrun started to enjoy that, especially since the water was quite warm, warmer than some of the public swimming pools. We considered going on a boat trip or on a canoe trip, because there was so much water around. When I went on a small walk with Bernhard, we even saw a small passenger ship that does trips on the lakes, rivers and canals.

Eventually we decided to look around in Karlsborg on the next day. For a change we walked and left our cycles in the camp ground. The castle of Karlsborg was quite new and quite big and anyway almost useless, when it had been finished. But fortunately it was never really necessary to try this out.

When we continued on the next day, we found many nice places for resting, one of them even good for swimming in a beautiful bay of lake Vättern, that looked like a small lake, especially because of the water temperature.

The next break was needed for shopping, forcing us to go into a long dead end. The highway N 49 became very small until we reached the spot where it merges with highway N 50 that follows the eastern side of the lake, which we used on our previous bicycle tour (1994). So we took three years for our Vätternrundan instead of one day. But we did it!

From this location it was not so long to go till we arrived on the campground. Only the last kilometer was a little bit tough, since it was a badly maintained dust road and we had to walk. Anyway this was worth the effort, since we found a nice spot under some trees with direct access to the water. So we took advantage of this in the next morning, which was quite convenient, since we could hire a canoe on the camp ground. Maybe the boat did not sink, because we left our luggage and our bicycles outside, since this was only a one hour trip. Anyway this made it more difficult to keep the balance. On the opposite side of the lake is this town Askersund, where we went by bicycle after having finished the canoe trip and where we saw a farm house museum.

Bernhard and I wanted to see the new bridge across Hammersund, that was being built when we passed that area on our previous trip. So I attached the trailer bike to my bicycle and Karin got the trailer with Heidrun and Ulrich, when we passed the dead end dust road to the camp ground. Heidrun, Ulrich and Karin were quite tired. Actually this became Bernhard's event of the trip, because we rushed down the bridge with 40 km/h, our maximum speed of the whole vacation. From the bridge we had a great view to lake Vättern with its many small islands and to the channel that connects to other lakes. We continued to the place where this new highway N 50 meets the old highway and went back to the camp ground. Instead of the unfortunate habit of making the new highway a motorway and leaving the old one to bicyclist, the old highway had been removed leaving only a small section to a village. The new highway felt much safer and more comfortable for cycling and the great view from the bridge was no way exclusive for motorists.

The following day, presumably Friday, we had to consider the fact that our vacation had a limited length and there was a certain day in that very year where our reservation for the ferry from Gothenburg to Kiel was applicable. So we had to consider orienting ourselves a little bit more to the south. What we had found out was the fact that the parallel minor highway had been paved recently. A few kilometers on highway N 205 to the west brought us there. And sure enough we had a well paved, but hilly road to Tived. With our load the steep uphill sections were not so easy, but Bernhard started to learn how to help Karin uphill.

We had our lunch rest, as usual almost afternoon, near a very wide branching dust road. We went on a walk and found a small lake. This was the beginning of the Tiveden National Park. The village of Tived is really a small village, but it has a good shop ("lanthandel") and even quite a nice camp ground a few kilometers outside. This camp ground was indeed quite nice, not the first one about which I would say this. At least it was situated nicely near lake Unden. But this one must be something special, maybe it is listed in some Dutch travel guide as the best camp ground in Scandinavia or so, because apart from the obvious fact that we met many German tourists there were really many Dutch people, so that they had even bothered writing signs in Dutch.

Anyway, I don't know what the travel guides in the Netherlands write, but the sunset was really great. Near the lake we built a fire for grilling. For the real tough guys there was even a small wooden booth with a fire place inside. With the warm weather we were enjoying these days this would have been good for grilling ourselves as well. Only cooking without open fire was not so easy, because the kitchen of the camp ground had only one cooking plate. Anyway most people have cooking devices their luggage, so we got a chance to use the kitchen anyway. Our own esbit cooking device was only good for milk and coffee, we had enough luggage anyway. A Dutch family was thankful for taking over the fire from us, after we had finished grilling, since it is not so easy to find a place for doing something like this in the Netherlands.

The famous Tiveden National Park was worth another visit on the following day. We cycled back some kilometers into the direction of Askersund and followed a branching road into the forest. This was supposed to be paved, but the pavement ended near some big restaurant. At least they sold us some ice cream and we continued walking. We came through a deep valley. Off course we did some grilling and some swimming in the evening.

Following the Unden lake through many forests and a little bit of agricultural land, but especially again over many steep hills, we cycled to Undenäs, from where we continued on national highway N 202. This was quite a small and hilly and curvy road, which was paved, but not very busy with cars. We came to the next lake, which is called Viken. There we found a funny place for swimming. An old wooden bridge reached some dozen meters into the water and on this bridge there was a huge wooden room. Some boats were attached to the bridge, which was serving as a small harbor, but there was also a ton marking a wreck in the water. As I found out later, in the good old days a ship line was operating on this lake and probably beyond that. So this was the place to board ships of this service. So this wooden room was for the people waiting for the ship to arrive or for storing freight, who knows? The wreck may well be disappointing to those who are searching for old ships with diamonds and gold on board, possibly it is just part of the former harbor. So it was not so easy to get into the water, even though I respected our plans to continue our trip on the same day by avoiding a risky jump into the unknown water. Getting out of the water was not as easy, but I could just as well swim to the beach and step out there. Off course Heidrun wanted to go into the water as well. Bernhard and Ulrich were not so keen on this, but finally they enjoyed it as well. This warm summer was kind of looking like a one time chance for this, because of the high water temperatures.

We stayed with the water. So when we arrived on a branch, where the right hand road is N 202 to Töreboda we went to the left. Coming through many woods and some agricultural areas we reached Göta Canal. Right besides the canal we found a camp ground. This was basically a boat harbor, mostly guest harbor for all the hobbyists who were taking there boats through Göta Canal. Because of this that place happened to have almost all the infrastructure needed for a camp ground anyway and enough space for our tent was available as well. Near the bridge there was a small tunnel way beyond the canal level. I don't know if this was the outlet for surplus water or a small creek that is tunneled across the canal. At least I could go swimming without a major currency pulling me down. In the evening Ulrich wanted to try the trailer bike as well. So I started cycling a little tour with him and thereafter off course Bernhard wanted something like that as well, and this had to be longer. We were actually in a densely populated area, and there were many paved roads and alleys between the fields.

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.

Part 5

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On Sunday we went via Vargön and between Hunneberg and Halleberg on the old highway N 44 towards Vänersnäs. The two mountains are supposed to have the highest population density of moose in Europe, probably worth a visit. But on this day we thought of a swimming day. We did find a nice beach with a lot of sand. And we found a place of the lake shore that I had been looking for some years ago. I once saw a portion of the coast of lake Vänern that consists of use rock columns. Having cycled all the way around this lake, if I consider several bicycle tours combined, I still had not encountered this spot. Here we had it and it was indeed a nice sight.

Because we enjoyed this place so much we decided to go there once more on Monday. We had dinner somewhere in Vänersborg, where we had discovered a possibility to eat Arabic-Italian-Swedish Pizza.

Tuesday was meant to bring us quite close to Gothenburg. The actual place that we wanted to reach was not fixed at all, though. We knew that we would not make it all the way to Gothenburg. And we knew that there is no suitable camp ground between Vänersborg and Gothenburg. First we had to go to Trollhättan. Having understood the highway network of that area and avoiding bicycle paths this was at least possible. The central spot of that area is the roundabout Båberg, to the west of Götaälv and between Vänersborg and Trollhättan. To northeast you come to Vänersborg, to the northwest as N 44 to Uddevalla and as N 45 to Karlstad (bypassing Vänersborg), to the southwest to a southbound back road parallel to the western bank of Götaälv, and to the southeast on N 45 to Trollhättan and Gothenburg.

In Trollhättan we found a nice playground between all these waterways, that were partly feeders for the different power plants and partly shipping canals. I stayed there with the children while Karin took the trailer and went shopping. Probably Bernhard and Ulrich did not remember this playground, but we had been there on the previous bicycle tour.

Somehow we managed to find our way through Trollhättan and we left this area on the N 45. Officially bicyclists are supposed to use bicycle paths, but we knew that they don't fit for trailers and trailer bikes. After having left the vicinity of the town with its rush hour traffic jam, it became more quiet. This highway had wide shoulders and it was good cycling. In Lilla Edet we had another rest on a big highway station. After this we started looking for a nice place to put our tent, especially for these branching dust roads. Off course there were none, even though this highway went mostly through huge woods. So we took some usual road to the left, hoping that this dust road would be found there. Sure enough this was true. But we had to walk quite a bit, to pass some house in order to be not too close to it for the night. But following this house there was a curve and hidden behind this curve the next house appeared. So it became quite a walk until we finally found an excellent quiet place to pitch our tent.

On the next morning we had to go only a few more kilometers to the south until the highway lighting of Gothenburg started. From there it was still another 35 km to the center of the city and another 20 km to its beginning. The valley of Götaälv became quite narrow, at least on this eastern side. 20 km before Gothenburg (center) the highway had four lanes, soon shoulders began but the traffic was still quite low. This did change in Gothenburg itself, where N 45 merged with two other four lane highways. During rush hour this six lane highway was quite a bit busier than on the first day of this bicycle tour. Exits became rare and intersections did not at all occur. But soon we were in the center of the city and somehow we made it to the camp ground.

Off course this camp ground was quite crowded, but fortunately we could stay there and have our tent close to the service house. This saved us some effort for finding the kitchen whenever we needed it. Admitted, the camp grounds we had seen on this tour were very well equipped, mini golf, stove, washing machine, showers were self evident, microwave becomes common, which is useful for the warm milk that the children like to have every night and every morning. But I was always missing an industrial dish washer, that cleans the dishes in a minute or two, so we did hand work for this. But here in Gothenburg they had it. We did not even have to wait in a line, because almost everyone else still preferred to wash the dishes conventionally.

Far more important than this detail was the vicinity of the camp ground. We understood that there was supposed to be a nice little lake and we decided to walk there. It was not really a short walk, but we enjoyed it, because it was a nice hilly landscape with woods rather than houses. Heidrun was very happy about the lake and she was not the only one. It was situated so nicely that one would not have thought it is in the middle of a big city, but off course many people had decided to like this lake.

We wanted to see a little bit of the city as well, and we were staying for two nights. On Thursday we had a nice boat trip on the canals that cover quite a part of the city. Hamburg and Berlin happen to have more bridges than Amsterdam and Venice, probably also more than Gothenburg, but it was nice anyway. In the afternoon we had a look at a naval museum. They did not just shop paper models, but we could see real ships that were floating in real water. Actually there were so many of them that we could no way consider seeing all of them. Maybe something has to be left for the next visit.

The next day, maybe a Friday of some week, we could still spend in Gothenburg. We had a look at the zoo. It is situated in a huge park on top of a hill. It was too steep for us to cycle up, so we left our bikes at the bottom. At least we could cycle all the way to the hill and we were lucky that nobody added a bicycle to the ones we had locked while being in the zoo or otherwise did some change to the number of bicycles standing there. We would not have been able to take the additional bike with us. We had another last break near the harbor and finally it was good time to cycle on board.

The ship passage is off course part of the vacation, at least for the children. They had a small playground on board, that looks like a small ship with a whole lot of small bowls as water. We did still find some time to sleep. In Kiel we were much faster for the few kilometers and we had a real day of rest. In the evening our train to Hamburg left and from there we took a night train to Stuttgart. Karin and the kids got in the sleeping car on one end of the train. She also had all the luggage. Meanwhile I took the bicycle into the train and walked through the whole train to meet Karin and the kids. In the morning we arrived in Stuttgart and from there it was two more trains and almost routine to return to Schaffhausen, where we had another day's rest, before school and work started again.


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Because some people like tables and statistics and stuff like that I have added such a table. Those who find that two mathematical are welcome to skip it. On some days Karin and I covered slightly different distances. I put the least important column to the right, so hopefully you can avoid horizontal scrolling. I added short information about the roads we traveled on, where X stands for an unnumbered road. All distances are kilometers, no miles, pounds, feet and gallons on these pages.

Date Roads Target Distance Average Net Time Maximum
1997-07-04 (5)Schaffhausennight train~. 5---
1997-07-05 (6)KielStena ferry~. 7---
1997-07-06 (7)E 20Lerum29.21/27.6510.11/9.462:53:18/2:55:27-
1997-07-07 (1)VicinityLerum10.37/2.6711.18/5.870:53:37/0:27:1831.4/25.0
1997-07-08 (2)E 20 - X - N 40Sandared (Borås)49.05/48.329.63/8.185:05:15/5:54:1937.8/-
1997-07-09 (3)N 40Sandared [Zoo]27.38/27.2612.33/11.172:13:13/2:26:1939.4/23.7
1997-07-10 (4)N 40Sandared [Zoo]26.46/26.7611.65/12.342:16:11/2:10:0539.2/35.3
1997-07-11 (5)N 40Ulricehamn48.00/47.2310.78/10.744:27:01/4:50:5935.5/24.2
1997-07-12 (6)UlricehamnUlricehamn [town]3.93/3.819.32/8.330:25:20/0:27:2224.8/20.4
1997-07-13 (7)N 40Axamo (Jönköping)45.78/45.8312.26/10.923:44:06/4:11:4539.2/26.8
1997-07-14 (1)WalkingAxamo [moor]0/10.910/11.560/56:120/25.1
1997-07-15 (2)-Axamo [rest]0/13.390/13.190/1:00:550/32.9
1997-07-16 (3)N 40 - XAxamo [moor]35.66/15.8513.61/10.532:37:12/1:30:1636.5/29.4
1997-07-17 (4)N 40 - XAxamo [Taberg]33.21/32.6914.99/14.682:12:48/2:13:3039.7/33.9
1997-07-18 (5)N 195wood (Habo)38.56/37.4011.39/10.683:23:06/3:30:0232.7/28.7
1997-07-19 (6)N 195Hjo42.35/42.3012.37/11.203:25:28/3:46:5532.4/23.8
1997-07-20 (7)-Hjo [town]0/5.070/-0/0:43:000/-
1997-07-21 (1)N 195 - N 49Karlsborg34.96/33.9214.23/12.192:26:12/2:46:5838.2/35.7
1997-07-22 (2)-Karlsborg [town]0/00/00/00/0
1997-07-23 (3)N 49Askersund51.12/51.1314.09/12.123:37:30/4:03:0036.9/29.9
1997-07-24 (4)N 50Askersund [town]23.23/5.7517.25/8.341:20:48/0:41:2241.2/29.4
1997-07-25 (5)N 205 - XTived32.09/32.3411.77/11.042:43:27/2:55:4038.9/-
1997-07-26 (6)XTived [park]23.07/22.0712.5/11.871:50:36/1:51:3139.4/-
1997-07-27 (7)X - N 202 - XGötakanal (Töreboda)52.15/45.4411.94/11.914:21:56/4:03:4637.6/-
1997-07-28 (1)X - N 202Mariestad36.36/37.9312.25/11.432:58:06/3:19:0429.4/28.2
1997-07-29 (2)E 20 - XMariestad [Torsö]52.66/52.1414.52/13.923.37:35/3:44:4441.2/36.3
1997-07-30 (3)E 20 - N 44Lidköping50.43/50.3014.16/13.283:33:32/3:47:0429.4/27.4
1997-07-31 (4)N 44Lidköping [town]19.71/12.7411.26/13.091:45:39/0:58:2323.7/22.2
1997-08-01 (5)N 44 - XGrästorp59.34/43.4616.04/13.493:41:55/3:13:1038.0/31.3
1997-08-02 (6)N 47 - N 44 - N 42Vänersborg64.01/42.2416.12/12.793:38:11/3:18:0535.0/29.6
1997-08-03 (7)N 44 - XVänersborg [Strand]33.10/32.9013.06/13.932:20:14/2:31:0338.9/38.5
1997-08-04 (1)N 44 - XVänersborg [Strand]33.79/34.5113.93/13.142:25:27/2:48:1241.2/29.2
1997-08-05 (2)N 45wood (nor. Gothenburg)57.93/56.6615.00/13.024:00:02/4:21:0941.2/32.4
1997-08-06 (3)N 45Gothenburg45.52/44.5115.09/12.883:00:55/3:27:1642.0/28.2
1997-08-07 (4)GothenburgGothenburg [town]59.63/18.6516.17/9.543:41:17/1:46:0041.5/26.0
1997-08-08 (5)GothenburgStena ferry14.72/18.7910.69/10.511:22:34/1:24:2526.7/-
1997-08-09 (6)Kielnight train~. 7~. 110:38:2725.6
1997-08-10 (7)SchaffhausenSchaffhausen~. 5---

OK, that's it. As a summary we can just say, that we had a great trip. And I hope that some of you guys who read this, will enjoy long bicycle trips as well!