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Family Bike Tour in Sweden and Norway

Karl Brodowsky, cycled 1994, written 1994, translated 1998

Disclaimer

This translation has been made by me, Karl Brodowsky. If you don't like my translation please try reading the German original instead. Or let me know of errors, so that I can correct them. My mother tongue is German, not English. Anyway the spelling and wording in this text is meant to be American English, the way it is used near the Atlantic coast. Still measurements are always based on the metric system. So please don't blame me for that.

Part 1

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We were four of us who went on this family bicycle tour: Ulrich (1 year old), Bernhard (3 years old), Karin (age not disclosed) and Karl (who wrote this page). Out of our large supply of bicycles we took along only two. The children sat in our trailer (Brüggli Leggero). When we wanted to start our tour, the favorable situation happened to be given, that Karin and the children and especially our bicycles and even the trailer were already in Kiel because of an extra week of vacation in advance of our tour. Thus it was only me who had to take a couple of trains to get from Heidelberg to Kiel, which took me 6 hours. Then we could see how to go on in Kiel.

Handling the required amount of luggage for four persons using only two bicycles is not so easy, but somehow we managed to store almost everything and to take along even the remainder, without having to use our hands for holding it. Everyone got a rear cycling bag, which we marked immediately with a letter of the first name. Unfortunately the first three letters of Karin and Karl happen to be the same and this applies even for all nine letters of the last name. So we took the last letter of the first name which happened to be unique at that time. The same letters were used for the front bags, just to make it easier to find whatever was in them, even though their content was for all of us. By the end of the trip we really knew where to find certain things. For me we added a big Rucksack, which we called "Bär" (bear) because of an old family tradition, containing tent, cooking pots, dishes, rain coats and other stuff, while Karin got a water proof Ortlieb bag containing the four sleeping bags. On top of the front bags we got some small but heavy pack as well, mostly food for Karin and mostly cameras and paper stuff for me. Some stuff could even be stored in the trailer. Especially we had to carry up to 7½ liters of water, in addition to some amount of milk and bread, depending on when we had gone shopping the last time, and most important some toys for the kids.

So we went on board the Stena ferry, which had to carry us from Kiel to Gothenburg (Göteborg). They hardly checked our tickets and did not even complain about the fact that we were a little bit heavy for two bicycles. My bicycle with the trailer, all luggage and three persons had a total weight of 180 kg, maybe more. Breakfast was included in the fare, which was still quite high if combined with the cheapest cabin that was available two months in advance. At least it was much mor expensive than the train from Heidelberg to Kiel and even more expensive than the longer ferry trip from Kiel to Oslo. Still we did not want to use that one this time, because in Oslo it is not so easy to get out of the suburban traffic on the first day and because we did not want to start our tour with high mountains. In Gothenburg (Göteborg) it is possible to start the trip in a more moderate way.

The sea trip was great and we could even sleep quite well till 6 in the morning without dreaming too much of Estonia, Titanic or Gustloff. But in the early morning they started to make announcements through the loud speaker system which cannot be turned off. This way they ensured everybody got a chance to eat breakfast and to be ready at 8 when arrival was scheduled, because they wanted to have everybody out at 8:30 or better at 8:15. In spite of this Karin took her time for the breakfast with our children till they really asked her to get finished. During that time I prepared the bikes for riding off the ferry and Karin came in time but without participating the event when 40000 horse powers of car and truck engines were started.

We could even get off the ferry before certain guys that had not even been taken as bus drivers because of their weird driving style, drew unaccompanied trailers off the ship. After that we had to go through the heavy city traffic of Gothenburg, which we did by following the east bank of the Götaälv, the river at whose mouth Gothenburg had been built. This way we did not encounter much intersecting traffic, but some highway construction works. Anyway this is the right way to get relatively soon out of the city, at first on the four lane highway N 45, which may be legally used by bicyclists. This possibility will go away around 2012, because plans exist to transform this highway into a motorway and to abolish the legal possibility of cycling quickly and easily from Göteborg to Trollhättan. After having left the vicinity of the center the traffic was so low that the highway was not even jammed where they had closed one half because of construction works. Some portions of the highway had separate bicycle lanes instead of providing a paved shoulder for cycling, but these bicycle lanes had always a tendency to turn to the right and make you turn to the right, even when wanting to continue strait ahead on the N 45. Therefore we got used to avoiding bicycle lanes whenever we encountered them.

After having cycled for about 20 km from Gothenburg the four lane portion of the highway ended and we considered this as the end of suburban Gothenburg and looked for a nice place to take the first break. A former skating track which was not yet used by the small racing cars. 35 km north of Gothenburg the lighting of the highway ended, but the highway still went on. By the way this is a typical Swedish highway. Its pavement about 14 m wide, which is marked as two lanes (one for each direction) and to wide shoulders, that can be used for cycling. Gladly the traffic was much lower than what we are used to from much smaller highways in Germany. On this day we found out, that the N 45 continued at least till Trollhättan, which we considered enough for that day. In Trollhättan we had the bad idea of trying to follow the way that bicyclist were legally forced to use in order to avoid a short portion of motorway. This proved to be a bad idea, since we had to use bicycle lanes with ugly constructions that made it hardly possible to pass with a trailer. But somehow we made it to the camp ground of Trollhättan. The next two days we took a rest, using one day to see the former water falls and the water power plants of Trollhättan and the other day for cycling to Vänerborg (some kilometers north of Trollhättan) where we went swimming in the Vänern lake.

One of the two power plants is quite old, actually the oldest one among the bigger water power plants in Sweden. This was to our favor. In older power plants there is much more to see. In spite of having 36 m of height difference and quite a high volume of water per day the power plants are still among the smaller ones, compared to the other major water power plants in Sweden. On some days they open the locks and restore the waterfall for a few minutes, but that would not happen on the day we were there. To enable shipping on the Götaälv many locks had been built in the vicinity of the waterfall. We could see many different generations, dating back to the previous century.

But we did not have the intention to spend our whole vacation at one location. So we continued our trip eastbound on the highway N 44. Here they had a different way of marking the lanes. Instead of having paved shoulders they had chosen to have two extra wide lanes. It looks as if this was a temporary fashion. Even though it was not possible to ride to the right of the line marking the right edge of the lane, since that line was deliberately made rough, it was still quite convenient to cycle since the lane was really so wide that being overtaken within the lane was no problem.

Hoping to see a little bit more of the Vänern lake we left the N 44 near Grästorp and followed a parallel (paved) road, that was really much closer to the lake shores. This was really true, but it proved to be not close enough to see anything of the lake. Instead we had a very nice trip passing through many woods and along stone fences. Such a stone fence enabled us to have a nice lunch break in the garden of a church, because we could close out all cars by shutting the gate. Since Bernhard and Ulrich could not open it we could feel very safe and comfortable during the break.

Throughout the day our children slept in the trailer. In the evening they were fit, while we were tired. But this improved with the time and we got used to it, after we had accepted that our children would just sleep about the same hours as we did during the night.

In Lidköping we found a very nice camp ground near the place were the highway reached the town. Obviously it was located near the beach, were we could go swimming in the Vänern lake. In theory having paid the camp ground, swimming was also possible for free in the public swimming pool, but only during its opening hours. Fortunately a micro wave oven was available at this camp ground, which made it much easier to get warm milk for the children. Normally we had to use a stove for that, which was still good, but not as easy as. Every camp ground in Sweden that we encountered had a kitchen and a washing machine and off course a mini golf course. We stayed there for two nights again. The day in Lidköping we used for riding to Lackö, which is a very beautiful castle on a small island. We had a ride of about 20 km, on a quite hilly road, which brought us to Lackö over a small bridge. It was a very warm and sunny day and we enjoyed it to go swimming in the Vänern lake near the castle after having seen the interior. It seems as if having such a trailer was quite unusual at that time. Some guys even filmed us when we left from Lackö. We made the 20 km back to Lidköping in a very short time, in spite of the hilliness. That was really fun.

The original plan would have been to continue for the other big lake. We wanted to ride around its northern part and then maybe continue to the islands Gotland or Öland or even both of them. But as usual, plans are not fulfilled. At least we suddenly did not accept the idea to stay so far in the south for the whole time. We had such an extreme summer, where temperatures went up to 30° C almost every day. So we decided it was a real good chance to go a little bit further to the north, still hoping to find good weather. Remember, Sweden is about as far in the north as Alaska.

On the next day we covered a long distance by our standards. It was 93 km, which was actually the longest trip we had during the whole tour. We never did 200 km on one day, not even 100 km. But most people don't even cycle that much without having there children along. We went so far on that day, because we detoured again on a road closer to the lake on our way from Lidköping to Mariestad. This enabled us to have a nice break near a Romanic church in Västerplana, where we met a young pair of cyclists who where from Germany as well and whom we had overtaken before on highway N 44 when we passed Lidköping. For the next break we found a very beautiful place somewhere in the woods, which would have been nice for staying overnight. But we were interested in finding a camp ground with a washing machine, so we went on. Shortly before Mariestad we reached highway E 3 (new numbering E 20), on which we continued for 20 km. We left highway E 3 and turned north on highway N 64 after having passed Mariestad. Thus we followed the eastern lake shore of Vänern lake. This was a very nice and quiet section, even though obviously we did not see the lake all the time. Surprisingly the highway was quite hilly, even though the shore line of a lake has a tendency to be as flat as the water of the lake.

Some Kilometers north of the Götakanal, a small canal connecting the Baltic Sea south of Stockholm with Gothenburg, we found a neat little camp ground. It was situated so nicely that apparently some people had decided to reserve themselves a small site for a whole year. This was quite surprising. In North America many people live on camp grounds and use this as their residence. In Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium many people have a trailer permanently on a camp ground and use it for their holidays and weekends, as they did here. But in Sweden people tend to own old farm houses if they go to the same place every summer or they travel around and see many different camp grounds. The rules for Scandinavian camp grounds seem to discourage permanent use of a trailer in one place, because they insist on keeping the trailers mobile and registered (and taxed as registered vehicle) and disallow fences. Anyway we did not intend to stay for a whole year. But two nights, two beautiful sunsets on the Vänern lake with its many small rock islands and a day of swimming and without cycling was a good idea. Karin did cycle a few kilometers to buy us some food.

The next day took us on highway N 64 further to the north, where we had a nice break near ancient graves, that consisted of artificial hills. In Kristinehamn we had our first rain. But this did not bother us too much since we spent this time for shopping and eating in a sheltered place. When we went on the weather was dry again, but the pavement of highway E 18 was still wet from the rain. It happened that exactly the part of highway E 18 that we wanted to use was a national highway, so that we could go on legally without having to find the highway that is meant to be the E 18 for cyclists. Soon we reached the area where we wanted to leave Vänern lake. At that place we really meant it serious to continue northbound, leaving the densely populated areas. We took highway N 240, which proved to be almost free of cars. Near the beginning of highway N 240 we found a nice place in the woods, where enough space for bicycles and trailer was available and where we could even pitch a tent. This is legal under the terms of so called allemansrätten. This permits pitching a tent for one night in the woods under certain conditions, if nobody is disturbed, nothing is destroyed, certain exclusion areas are respected. This does not mean that parking a car in the woods for one night would be allowed as well, but for drivers the next camp ground should be reachable anyway. We had to get warm milk without a stove and without a fire, but with a small esbit cooking device this was possible. Water had off course been filled in the last village before the place where we spent the night.

Part 2

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Highway N 240 led us through an almost unpopulated area, apart from one village. We passed a few big lakes, from where we even took the water for drinking. The highway was quite hilly, even though they had tried hard to cut it into the rocks in order to reduce the slope a little bit. With my 180 kg and with me as cyclist it proved to be slow when the highway went up. 3 km/h to 5 km/h were the usual speed. This cannot be changed, especially pushing such a heavy construction would not have been fun. Maybe Bernhard could have helped me or at least saved me from pushing his weight, but we never did that. Because of the many mountains and the few villages it became unclear whether or not we could buy milk or if we had to consume part of our milk powder. But some gas station near Uddeholm gave us water (free), milk and even bread. So we could go on and look for a nice place to pitch our tent in the woods. We were lucky again, because the first dust road into the wood really lead to some place that could not be seen from the national highway and that offered enough space. Only some mosquitos and a small dog in the morning found us.

We followed highway N 62 till Ekshärad, where we had originally planned to spend the night. Instead we had a nice break near the Klarälven river. When we continued through the Klarälven valley on highway N 62, the valley became narrower and the mountains on both sides higher, at least high enough to justify calling them mountains. Because we remained in the valley that was no problem for us, apart from the fact that once in a while the highway did climb up a little bit on one side or the other. The valley still serves for transport of wood. But since 1991 the wood is no longer floated in the river but rather transported in trucks having a size that cannot be found elsewhere in Europe. Fortunately for us wood grows very slowly, so that this did not cause much traffic. Small floats where still in use, but they where really small and served well paying tourists for whom it was fun to spend part of their holiday by transporting a small amount of wood in the traditional way. Others rented canoes, usually one way rent, and went down the river. We almost envied those people for having so much water around themselves. But soon our opinion changed, when we saw water coming down and flashes and thunder on both sides. When paddling this has to be tolerated, because paddling is a water sport. But we were no paddlers and we remained dry. We only realized that it rained nearby.

In the evening we went to a small camp ground in Stöllet. Because of a curve of the river it was situated on a small peninsula. We stayed again for two nights because we liked it and because the children could run around on the camp ground since we were able to watch all the cars that could be found there. Around midnight time some people who did not know Swedish had to be persuaded not to be too noisy. They had old fashioned tents that required thick wood pieces to be driven into the ground to fix everything. But once I had explained this it was no problem anymore. On the next day we found out that they were a group of scouts with traditional black tents, which they shared with a handicapped child who could otherwise not go on such a nice vacation. By the way, they had really got wet by the rain.

During the day our children could bath in the river and play near its bank which was unusually wide because of the dry summer. We could also get our clothes washed and Bernhard and I went on a small shopping trip to the village of Stöllet. Even though only very few highways exist in this thinly populated area we could do a cyclic trip and return on another highway. The old predecessor of highway N 45 was still available and paved and led us to the new highway N 45 which intersects highway N 62 near the camp ground. Coming down from some altitude we had a nice view of the valley.

From Stöllet we could have continued on highway N 45 into Dalarna. But somehow we did not feel like leaving the nice river and thus we decided not to make a right turn here but to continue till the next possibility to turn to the right. In an area with very few highways and roads this means quite a lot, because it took us several days till we reached the next possibility to turn to the right. Even though the north of Värmland, where we where cycling now, is thinly populated, if not almost unpopulated, we still came through some villages, but the distance between them grew larger while we went north.

Höljes is such a place with maybe 200 or 300 inhabitants, but it had a lot of infrastructure: A post office, a bank, a play ground, a gas station, a hotel, a youth hostel, a camp ground, an open air museum, a shop, a bus stop served by big busses with few seats whose rear part is like a truck, a tourist information, a swimming pool, and even a power plant. By the way there were also two bridges across the Klarälven and a partly paved racing track for cars. So much cannot be found very often in that area, even though we where happy enough with the camp ground for staying over night and we where rather regretting the pool because the power plant had to built it to compensate for the fact that swimming in the river was no longer possible.

We spent three nights in Höljes, enough to visit the power plant and to go on some walks, where we used the trailer for Ulrich as a stroller. The power plant was not in the village itself, but rather a few kilometers apart and the road to get there was not even good. We met some people who told us, that there would be no water, no operation of the power plant and no way to visit the plant. But we wanted to check it out ourselves. On top of the dam we could see the invitation to visits in the plant again. They would really start at 15:00 (3:00 pm) and we were quite punctual. But nobody else was there, because meeting point was in the hotel in Höljes, in favor of those people who would not be able to find the plant by themselves. Some 15 minutes later they did really arrive and start guiding us. By the way the dam was not built of concrete, but rather some heap of rocks and sand, which is told to contain some kind of insulation inside. Below the dam we did not see any water. Rather it goes through a long tunnel in order to take advantage of the difference in altitude between the lower side of the dam and Höljes. The former river was still there and it is only used for surplus water.

On the camp ground we met people who complained about the fact, that they could not keep milk for a long time because of the high temperatures. Fortunately we did not have problems with this, even though we needed milk every day, because we did not have to store it in a hot car. The summer was really hot.

On the camp ground we saw two mobile homes, which had been constructed from regular full size busses. One of them appeared after we had been there for two days and this one seemed to belong to the car racing track. Maybe that would become very noisy, but we did not hear anything of it, because we continued northbound in the next morning, leaving Höljes and heading for the really unpopulated wilderness. Only the village Langflån at the border and Norway were in front of us. The lake of the power plant could be seen once in a while on the right hand side.

Unfortunately the children slept at times when we could have had a chance to swim in the lake and they where hungry at a time when the highway was quite a bit apart from the lake. But the break was still nice and we had a great view of the lake. From there it was no longer far to the Norwegian border. Swedish highway N 62 ends there and continues as Norwegian highway N 26. Immediately the pavement of the highway was better, even though Swedish highways are in general good, and the weather was no longer so good. It is known that Norway is quite rainy. But we did get a chance to have a nice break without rain near the Trysilelv which is the Norwegian name of Klarälven. After the break we had to close the trailer against rain for the second time during this trip and the rain did not really have a tendency to stop.

The village Trysil which gave its name to the river and which could be seen even on the signs of highway N 62 in Sweden almost 300 km south of Trysil. We had been told that there would be a camp ground a few kilometers before Trysil which could be found between the highway and the river. That looked quite simple. From my 1987 bicycle tour I knew that the river has to be crossed in Nybergsund and that it would be pretty close from there to Trysil. After having crossed the river we found a very good high speed highway on which maximum speed of 90 km/h was permitted, which is normal in Sweden, but 10 km/h more than usual in Norway. The distance to Trysil was posted as 7 km, so we assumed 5 km to the camp ground. But no camp ground could be found and when asking at a gas station we where told that the camp ground would be on the other side of the river. We had to go to Trysil, through the village, across the river and back to the south on the old highway to Nybergsund. 2 km from Trysil we found the camp ground. It was situated in a very beautiful location, offering nice opportunities for swimming in the river and a great view on the mountains with its snowy and icy tops.

Part 3

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We spent two nights in Trysil. This gave us a chance to have a look at the open air museum, where I could translate the guide's Norwegian explanation for the tourists from Germany and Switzerland, at least I tried it. Bernhard started asking me for Norwegian words, but that was more difficult, because I actually know Swedish. Norwegian is just similar enough to understand it as well, at least in Trysil which is so close to the border that the dialects are close to the Swedish dialects on the other side.

In the afternoon we got a little bit of rain again. The children spent this time in the trailer while we went on a small trip on the almost car-less highway N 26 to the north. We even got a chance to have a rainless break before we returned to Trysil. We where even early enough to buy something and to spend all of our Norwegian money, leaving just 1 NKr and enough to pay for the camp ground.

On the camp ground we met a group of people from Switzerland and Liechtenstein. They were so unhappy because of tourists who buy everything at home and take it along in their car. If they camp in the forest they hardly spend any money, which would reduce the interest of Norwegians in tourists and thus make it more difficult for those who are willing to see the country. But this should not apply to bicycle tourists anyway because it is quite unusual to carry along food for five weeks on the bicycle, unless the bicycle is carried on top of a car and used only for short trips.

On the next morning when we intended to leave Trysil we had great weather. On that day we intended to leave the valley. So we went a little bit to the south until we came to highway N 25 which goes eastbound across the mountains to Sweden. For about 6 km we had a slope of almost 10 %. Because of the trailer Karin arrived ten minutes earlier. That was much better than trying to keep the same speed on a steep highway that is not so easy to cycle anyway. By the way the view into the valley was great.

The mountainous area through which we came now was very beautiful, especially having such a nice weather as we did on that day. The first break was made near the highway at some place where we could pick as many blueberries as we liked. It was not so easy to leave this place again. In Trysil we had been told that the village extends all the way to the Swedish border and that there would be some old canal near the border. It is being restored to show how it looked like in the old days, when it was used for rafting wood from some Norwegian river through the canal to some river that would take the wood to Klarälven and thus to well paying plants in Sweden. The canal was 8 or 9 kilometers long and had the size of a big creek.

The blueberry break, the canal and off course the first six kilometers on highway N 25 had taken so long that we had to look for some nice place to stay overnight just after having crossed the border into Sweden, having covered a distance of less than 50 km. We found a nice place which was a somewhat elevated plane of a few 100 square meters size which could be reached easily from the highway. The night was quite interesting. We had a very cold night, at least some degrees below 0 (Celsius). Also some nice animals must have been around our tent during the night, at least we could feel the weight of the steps in the vicinity of our tent. Probably it was a moose. Dangerous animals are no problem, because even bears prefer to eat blueberries and fish instead of humans. The chill was not such a problem because we where four people and thus enough to keep the tent warm.

On the next day we continued on the road that extends the Norwegian highway N 25 into Sweden until we reached the valley of the Västerdalsälven river. In that valley we wanted to follow highway N 297 a few kilometers to the south and then take a small eastbound road to highway N 70 which should have taken us to Mora. Everywhere we had asked in the tourist information if this road is paved and everywhere we got the answer that it would be paved. But it wasn't and thus we could not use it, because dust roads are too uncomfortable for the children in the trailer and even for the bicycles. We had the choice to walk on the dust road, to go north via Särna or to go south via Sälen. This is what we actually did. At least we had a nice view of the opposite bank of the river.

Soon we reached Sälen, which is a place that seems to be popular with horse fans. We did well without any horse power, but the possibility to buy something and the tourist information was appreciated. Shortly after the border there should have been some possibility to buy something in Fulunäs, but it was such a small place consisting only of three houses. The tourist information in Sälen was the first one to know about the pavement of the road that we did not use. But they could also tell us about the road that would branch to the east a few kilometers further to the south. It was really paved, but not in the best state. Riding in the middle of the road, where the white lines are, was the best idea for using it, while no other traffic was visible. But the road was really not at all busy, maybe one vehicle every 10 minutes. Unfortunately one of my spokes was torn when we turned from highway N 297 to the eastbound road for Älvdalen. A local bicyclist told us that the next bicycle store would be in Älvdalen rather than in Sälen, which meant 52 kilometers of cycling with just 35 spokes in my rear wheel.

The region we passed through was very beautiful with many lakes, moors and again hills with a good view. Somewhere in the woods we found a nice place for our tent. The next day we arrived in Älvdalen and found the bicycle shop that they have there. But the guy working there seemed to be so disinterested and he told us that he would not have the right tools. When I told him that he was just holding that tool in his hands he made us an offer to repair my cycle within such a long time that we did not get very happy. But he got very happy when I asked him if it would be possible to continue to Mora and find a shop there. Yes, he told us that it is an excellent highway and that there is an excellent shop.

So we tried to go on another 40 km on southbound highway N 70 to Mora. It proved to be quite hilly and quite curvy, but we made it to Mora and even to the campground, where we pitched up our tent and took out my rear wheel. Using Karins bike I did not have much time to find the bike shop before its closing hour. But somehow I found it by asking another bicyclist who came from Germany as well and who had needed that shop as well. Even though it was a few minutes before closing hour they replaced the spoke immediately and a few minutes later I could leave the shop again with a repaired rear wheel after having paid some reasonably fair price.

In Mora we took two days rest and had excellent pan cakes which could be made using a pan that was found in the kitchen of the camp ground. On the first of these two days we went on a small trip to Orsa where we wanted to find some small canyon. It was really beautiful and we left our bicycles near the highway and walked a few kilometers through the valley. Bernhard did a good job on that and got along himself pretty well, but off course Ulrich had to be carried most of the time. Having walked through the valley and quite a few meters up we found a nice little lake where the water was dammed before going down through the canyon. It was even a nice place for swimming. When we walked down again we were overtaken by a mountain biker who apparently was biking on the small trail where we walked and who was parking his car where we had our bicycles. It was getting kind of late so that we were no longer able to pick all the blueberries that could be found near the trail.

On the next day we had originally intended to continue on the southern side of Siljan lake, but somehow this did not seem to provide for the best southbound continuation opportunities. And considering the end of our vacation we did have to think of going to the south again. But since somebody had told us that the southern side of the lake would be really beautiful and that we would have a nice view of the lake. Hence we went on a day trip into that area. According to the tourist information and even according to our experience the road was paved. The first part was really very nice. We found bridges and crossed a small island. The second bridge was very narrow and had traffic lights because of that. But we did not have to worry about it because bicyclists were allowed to go on even on red. The bridge was wide enough for that. After that bridge the road was still nice, but we did not see much of the lake, to be accurate nothing. After having cycled 30 km, which was pretty much the maximum between breaks, we decided to go on until we would find a location to go swimming in the Siljan lake. This proved to be possible after having gone 45 km, once we reached Siljansnäs where we wanted to go anyway. The children had spent the time watching and sleeping without any problems. We met another family with two children who were cycling in the opposite direction on a tandem with a trailer and quite a lot of luggage.

The break was used to do some shopping and some swimming and some eating. We could have done all this in Mora on the camp ground as well, but it was much more fun after such a long trip. The mountain from which one would have had a nice view of the area and the real attraction of Siljansnäs has to wait for the next time we come to that area. On the way back we did not take the detour across the island but rather saved about 5 km by following the road near the shore of the lake to highway N 45/N 64 and returning to Mora on that highway, which left us enough time for some nice warm dinner. In Mora this was especially nice because we could sit outside near the kitchen and meet other guests of the camp ground. We did not meet as many cyclists as in Trollhättan or Trysil, but there were many people who traveled by train.

Part 4

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After so many days of rest we had to continue our trip again. We took highway N 45/N 64 till the place where they split and from where we continued southbound on highway N 64. By the way this proved to be even much nicer than the road we had taken on the day before. In Mora we did not want to spend any time on shopping. Therefore we had to take the next shop that could be found in a small place 40 km to the south of Mora. Near the shop there was a play ground, a river and even a railroad track, which did not seem to be in the very best state though. Unfortunately we had to pass quite a few road construction areas in the afternoon where they were apparently widening the highway. This was achieved by removing the old pavement, preparing the bed for the new width and then paving it again. Therefore we had to walk with our bicycles maybe two of the kilometers that we made on that day.

When reaching Vansbro which is a small place where several highways and several railroad lines intersect and which probably had a camp ground, we did not really want to stay there. Rather we continued on highway N 64 further to the south heading for Filipstad. The highway had a tendency to go uphill, but we wanted to go all the way up before finding a place to pitch our tent. Just because it was getting dark we decided to find such a place even before having reached the top of the small hill, since it always proved that the place that seemed to be the top of the hill was just not the top once we got there. We found a nice way into the woods where we could eat and collect as many blueberries as we wished after having pitched up the tent.

What we had thought to be finally the top of the hill in the evening proved to be just a minor flattening of the slope when we continued on the next day. The highway went uphill for almost 20 km, but it was in not very steep. Still with the trailer it took me some time. Going downhill was not very fast either on that day, because it became quite windy, so that the typical speed was somewhat 13 km/h. For quite a long way highway N 64 was together with highway N 245, but even though it was narrower than before. Fortunately we had the chance to see a lot more of the rivers, mountains, woods and lakes on both sides of the road than of cars on the road. In the evening we reached a village whose name I have forgotten. But it was quite unusual because all shops where closed. Even though this was a Sunday it was quite normal to find at some shops or at least a gas station selling food open at that time of the day. This time the gas station sold only gas. But a small kiosk selling pizza and kebab was able to sell us some milk. Maybe the camp ground in Filipstad would have had milk as well, but we wanted to be on the safe side.

The camp ground should have been on the right hand side of this stretch of highway N 64 some kilometers before reaching Filipstad, where it is bundled with highway N 63. The brochure on camping in Sweden that we had ordered before the trip even suggested that there should be a nice lake. As usual we just went on and looked for the signs of the camp ground. But we never saw them and finally we realized that we had definitely already passed the side road to the camp ground. Not feeling like cycling all the way back and realizing that it was already too late to go through Filipstad and stay on the other side of the town we had to find a place to stay overnight.

But that was not so easy. On the left hand side of the highway we saw some noisy sand plant and even on the right hand side there was nothing until we finally saw a small unpaved path that had yellow road signs and thus serves as a back road. Walking into that road we found a place where it branched and thus there was a possibility to follow a branch without yellow road signs which provided for a silent night, once we had found a good and safe place to pitch our tent near a bridge across railroad tracks.

In Filipstad we bought some food and asked somebody about the state of some promising shortcut. Being pushed by good wind we left the N 64 and took the N 237 towards Karlskoga. Soon we reached the shortcut where we turned southbound again and tried to find our way somehow between highways N 64 and N 237. It was a nice little road which soon merged with another road connecting to highway N 237 and heading for Kristinehamn. We crossed a small canal which connected some of the lakes in that area and got a chance to go swimming. Bernhard had been asking me all the time what would happen to a car that is driven into the water. Here we found the answer. But the car had been transformed to a boat and had floating elements attached to its bottom. A short rain shower would have made us wet even without swimming, but we were able to hide under a big sheet of plastic that we sometimes used for our tent.

The branch to Karlskoga which was part of our shortcut was not so well paved, but rather a very rough dust road. Continuing to Kristinehamn was not what we really wanted to do and so we had to go back across the bridge where we had swum, having the wind from the wrong direction until we reached highway N 237 with a detour of 15 km instead of a shortcut. In Karlskoga we crossed highway E 18 and left the town again in the south heading for Degerfors, where we found a camp ground. Fortunately our tent proved to be quite wind proof, which was important because the wind hit the camp ground coming from the lake. But the lake made the cold showers of the camp ground redundant.

Highway N 205 which we were using now passed some wonderful small lakes. We found a beautiful place for the first rest. Near Laxå we passed through woods, which was not so unusual in that area. It is mostly woods to be accurate. After having crossed highway E 3 (new: E 20) we passed a small town whose bypass was already paved but not opened to cars, which saved us the town traffic and all the cars. In that area we found a camp ground that was situated on a small isthmus between two lakes. Originally we had intended to stay there instead of Degerfors, had we succeeded in taking the shortcut. But now it was a nice place for a rest. The ducks were special, because they did not show any fear and they even tried and succeeded to steal food that we were eating. Maybe we should have eaten duck instead.

Soon we were reaching an agricultural area north of Vättern lake and soon we had reached Askersund and the bundled highways N 49/N 50, which were splitting, one of them following the eastern side of the lake, the other one following the western side. We took the N 50 on the eastern side where we stopped on the first camp ground that we encountered a few kilometers south of Hammar. We decided to take a days rest. It was actually a nice place for that purpose. We could go swimming and take a walk to the Chinese Park which was situated in a small valley. Near the valley we also found a small mountain with a great view.

Part 5

[contents] [End]

After this day of rest we continued southbound on highway N 50. The weather was not so good when we started, but it improved soon. We followed the eastern shore of lake Vänern but as usual we did not see the lake very often, but is was a nice hilly and rocky area that we were passing through. During lunch time or maybe a little bit later than that, we had a long break on a playground in Motala. From there we decided to stay with the lake and continued on the N 50. Soon we passed through an agricultural area. Somewhere quite far away we could see Takern lake, which is quite large, but far smaller than Vättern lake. But it is well known for being home of many birds. In front of us we saw same small mountain range called Omberg that looked quite high in comparison to the surrounding flat land. Funny enough the highway seemed to turn more and more to the left, finally being almost parallel to the Omberg so that we had the feeling of moving away from Vättern lake. We took a nice rest near a Romanic church before passing Omberg and heading for Ödeshög. This was the first time we needed the lights of our bicycle and of the trailer during the whole trip.

We did not see much of Ödeshög because it was already quite dark when we arrived and because we continued southbound on the bundled highways N 50/E 4 on the next day. The weather was very nice again. In Gränna we had a rest for having lunch and for swimming in the lake. In Jönköping which seemed to be quite car oriented, it proved to be difficult to find a bicycle shop in order to get a small repair done. After that we left Vättern lake and went to Lovsjö to a small camp ground which was off course situated near a lake. The 12 km from Jönköping to Lovsjö took us especially long, because we tried to use the legal way which was hard to find. The national highways that carry the bicycle traffic of highway E 4 do not have any signs to find them, if they exist at all.

After swimming in the lake on the next morning we took highway E 4/N 30 till the splitting point and then highway N 30 heading for Växjö. The area was much flatter again, at most a little bit hilly, so that I could ride little bit faster than Karin again in spite of the trailer. We had nice woods and lakes but also some rain and some aggressive car drivers, reminding us of Jönköping. In the evening we found ourselves near a camp ground in Lammhult where highway N 30 crosses the railroad line from Stockholm to Malmö and Helsingborg, so that we decided to stay there for one night. We had to check in in a nearby swimming pool and then we followed a small drive down to the camp ground where we met many other people from Germany who were staying there as well. Washing of clothes cost only one SKr and drying was even for free. In the kitchen we could also eat and sit and see how the others spent their vacation.

The camp ground was somehow situated much below the highway, but we did not take the time to find out about the surroundings. The drive from there to the highway was so steep that I could not cycle it up. Where it became flatter again I tried to start, but this broke my cycle. I could turn my pedals, but they where no longer connected to the front sprockets. Repairing in Lammhult did not seem possible. The owner of the only bicycle shop was on vacation and nobody else was able to repair aluminum. No trains stopped in Lammhult. We were told that the next place where any train stops is in Alvesta, 40 km to the south where it should have been possible to find a bicycle shop.

We figured out that it was no longer possible to wait till the day when the owner of the bicycle shop would return. The end of our vacation was coming closer and after having waited for the repair we would have been forced to take the train for part of the distance that we originally intended to cycle ourselves anyway. We found out that it would be desirable to take a train from Alvesta to Malmö short time before eleven on the following day which happened to be a Sunday. By lowering the seat as much as possible and removing the pedals I was able to use the bike at least for portions that were flat or downhill. We met nice people who were Germans from the Baltic states and who had a cottage in this area. They even invited us to their house, but we did not have much time left.

Karin got the trailer and the heaviest luggage and she went shopping while I started for the first 10 km. After 1 1/2 hours we met again during a break, which was much longer for Karin who had off course overtaken me long before. The next break was after another 14 km and then we where already only 12 km from Alvesta and it was still good afternoon time. For the rest of the day Karin went slow enough to let me follow her and we were hoping to find a good place for the night pretty close to Alvesta.

As was typical on this tour we did find a very nice place to stay over night by pitching up our tent in an appropriate place in the woods. This time it was even between the northern bypass of Alvesta and the town itself. On the next morning we were able to start very much earlier than usual and at around 10 in the morning we had already made it for the remaining 2 kilometers to the train station. The hour that we had before departure was spent for buying tickets, removing all the luggage from our bicycles, and for checking the bicycles for Trelleborg. We could even find out where the family car of the train would stop. The luggage was stored as much as possible in the trailer, which we took into the train as a stroller, even though it was now totally occupied by our luggage. In the train we had to store everything somewhere and take the trailer apart.

In Malmö we had some hours time till the departure of the connecting train to Trelleborg. We stored most of the luggage in lockers and went on a small walk through the city. We saw some museum in which we saw many stuffed animals, but even some live animals, especially bats, fish and night active animals from warmer areas. This museum was especially fun for the children. The naval museum was interesting for them as well because they had a pirate ship as a playground inside the building, but we could only enjoy that for a few minutes before we had to return to the station.

The bicycles had off course not arrived in Trelleborg, when we came there. In order to get to the camp ground we took a big taxi that is good for taking wheel chairs and that could take our trailer just as well. Thus we were able to get to the camp ground with one trip, instead of using two or even more trips with a conventional taxi. Looks as if it would not have been so easy to take all the luggage if we had gone on a car trip, at least not with a conventional car.

On the camp ground Bernhard met a boy from Berlin who was just a little bit older than he. It did not take long until we met the parents and found out that they were going on a bicycle trip as well. Their child already rode his own bike and they spent their vacation for some weeks on a small tour in the vicinity of Trelleborg. Now they were kind of spending the last few days until they had to take the ferry back to Germany.

On the next morning we walked from the harbor to the railroad station where we got back our bicycles in a state that was as good as possible. But my bicycle had off course not been repaired. The first bicycle shop wanted to do that for 450 SKr till 16:000, but the second one was willing to get it done till 14:00 for 300 SKr. That seemed to be the better offer and it was really done. After the lunch break I had only six gears left because we wanted the repair to be simple. But I could cycle again. What a great feeling. We where now heading for some peninsula in the far south west of Sweden. The landscape was interesting and unusual. The number of cars was unusual as well. Even though this highway was a dead end road, the number of cars per hour was about as much as on a busy national highway (Bundesstraße) in Germany. But the highway was so wide that we had no problems with this. The break was spent on the beach near the end of the dead end highway.

In the evening it was getting dark. Not so unusual, because Trelleborg is the southernmost community in Sweden. The time of the year and the location far south of the arctic circle were quite obvious. But even the landscape was different from what we had seen on the trip before. It was more similar to Denmark and Germany than to what we had seen in other parts of Sweden. Off course we could see palms on both sides of the highway when we entered Trelleborg. But I do not know if they are around all year. We cycled through the whole city to the camp ground that was situated on the other side. Thus we had a nice day with the repaired cycle.

The language spoken in Trelleborg is a dialect of Swedish that sounds quite different than other Swedish, a little bit more like Danish. Just the opposite of Norwegian, which has a spelling more similar to Danish than to Swedish, but a pronunciation more similar to Swedish. Anyway I was able to understand the people in Trelleborg which I would not have said to the same extent in Denmark.

The next day should take us back to our home country. We could have taken three different ferries from Trelleborg to Germany, which where heading for Saßnitz (Rügen), Rostock or Travemünde (Lübeck). Without long hesitation we took the ferry to Saßnitz. This gave us a chance to see a little bit of Rügen and to extend the time in the night train that we would have to take in order to get ourselves and the bicycles back to Germany. The family from Berlin was on board the ship as well, but they wanted to take the train from Saßnitz to Berlin immediately after arrival of the ship.

We bought tickets and even reservations for the night train in Saßnitz. After having bought them we took a road which followed the northern coast of Rügen, which was very nice to ride and not very busy. Only in the villages it was not so good because of the bad and rough stones that formed the pavement. In these places we sometimes had to push our bicycles with reduced speed of 2 km/h. In a small village near the coast we bought excellent ice cream which we ate having a nice view of the Baltic Sea. After that we followed the road across an isthmus to Altenkirchen, where we went to the camp ground. Being a typical German camp ground it did not have a self service kitchen like a Swedish camp ground but rather a booth where a nice guy was selling some warm food for a good price. He could even warm up milk for our children in his micro wave oven. When the children slept we went across the dunes in front of our tent and had a look at the sea. It was really nice with the moonlight reflected from the small waves.

From Altenkirchen we should have been able to continue on some special road for bicyclists, at least the map that we had bought on the ship seemed to suggest this. This road could really be found after moving through a small village. The promise was still that we avoided another village. Anyway we had to return to the normal road very soon because the alternate was not yet finished. In spite of all this we arrived at the ferry of Wittow without much detouring.

The next place after having taken the ferry and having passed Wittow had a major advantage. There was a public tree full of plums. We could eat as much as we wanted and take quite an amount along. The road was getting busier while we were approaching Bergen. Probably it was not even half the number of cars per hour that we had on our trip from Trelleborg, but it bothered us more because the road was so narrow. Cars could not overtake us while others where coming from the opposite direction and it was always quite a long line of cars that overtook us once nobody was coming from the opposite side. Because of the wind we decided to go to Bergen and not to continue to Binz. In Bergen we ate the best chicken of the whole vacation which we bought from a booth on the parking lot of a supermarket. Then we had a look at the old church of Bergen, at least from outside. But we were even at the station quite a time before the arrival of the train. This enabled us to remove all of the luggage from our bikes and to prepare everything for the train. In the train we could store everything well, even the trailer.

Milk was warmed up by the conductor of a sleeping car somewhere in the train. He had children himself and knew exactly which temperature was required. When the train stopped in Rostock the children were already sleeping and we could step out of the train for a few minutes during the long stop. On the next morning we arrived in Heidelberg, when it was still dark. We fixed everything together, attached all the luggage to our bikes and rode home. A normal working day began.

Let's see with how many persons we go on the next bicycle tour.

Tabelle

[contents] [End]

Because some people like tables and statistics and stuff like that I have added such a table, but the actual kilomters are still missing. Those who find that two mathematical are welcome to skip it.

Date Roads Target
1994-07-20 (3)XKiel
1994-07-21 (4)KielStena Ferry
1994-07-22 (5)N 45/E 6 - N 45Trollhättan
1994-07-23 (6)XTrollhättan [locks]
1994-07-24 (7)N 45 - X - N 45Trollhättan [Vänersborg]
1994-07-25 (1)X - N 44 - XLidköping
1994-07-26 (2)XLidköping [Lackö]
1994-07-27 (3)X - N 44 - X - E 20 (old: E 3) - N 64Askevik
1994-07-28 (4)-Askevik
1994-07-29 (5)N 64 - E 18Wood (west of Kristinehamn)
1994-07-30 (6)E 18 - N 240 - N 245 - N 62wood (Uddeholm)
1994-07-31 (7)N 62 (Klarälven)Stöllet
1994-08-01 (1)N 62 - X - N 45Stöllet
1994-08-02 (2)N 62 (Klarälven)Höljes
1994-08-03 (3)-Höljes
1994-08-04 (4)N 62Höljes
1994-08-05 (5)N 62 - N 26 (Norway) Trysil - XTrysil
1994-08-06 (6)N 26Trysil
1994-08-07 (7)X - N 25 - X (Sweden)Wood (Fulunäs)
1994-08-08 (1)X - N 297 Sälen - N 297 - Xwood (Risbergen)
1994-08-09 (2)XMora
1994-08-10 (3)N 45Mora [Cañon near Orsa]
1994-08-11 (4)N 45/N 64 - X Sollerön X Siljansnäs X - N 45/N 64Mora (Siljansnäs)
1994-08-12 (5)N 64/N 45 - N 64wood (N 64)
1994-08-13 (6)N 64 - N 64/N 245 - N 64 - N 64/N 63wood (near Filipstad)
1994-08-14 (7)N 64/N 63 - N 237 - X - N 237 Karlskoga - N 205south of Degerfors
1994-08-15 (1)N 205 - N 50Hammar
1994-08-16 (2)zu FußHammar (Kinaparken)
1994-08-17 (3)N 50Ödeshög
1994-08-18 (4)E 4/N 50 - E 4/N 30Lovsjö
1994-08-19 (5)E 4/N 30 - N 30Lammhult
1994-08-20 (6)N 30 - N 126wood (north of Alvesta)
1994-08-21 (7)trainTrelleborg
1994-08-22 (1)X - N 100 Falsterbo N 100 - XTrelleborg [Falsterbo]
1994-08-23 (2)Fähre Saßnitz (Germany) - XAltenkirchen (Rügen)
1994-08-24 (3)Xtrain (leaves Bergen/Rügen) 1994-08-25 (4)HeidelbergHeidelberg