Sweden Part 1, the South.

The crossing of the Kattegat Strait went really smoothly. On board M/s Stena Danica, I arrived in Goteborg, Sweden at 17:30 hrs. New country = new money, so first task before leaving town was finding an atm to collect some of it.
Whilst cycling through and out of town, I got a real positive impression of the city. A lot of green, many nice historical buildings and the people seemed very relaxed.

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Last km’s in Denmark, looking out over the Kattegat.

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Sweden has a few National Cycling Routes, known as ‘Sverigeleden’. I followed nbr 28 out of Göteborg which was terrific. My first 30 km or so were on an old railway line. I camped my first night out in a field 35 km north of the city.

The 2nd day I found a really nice camping spot along Göta Älv, a river/canal connecting Swedens’ biggest lake with the sea. From my tent side, I even saw some small coasters working their way up.

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Sverigeleden bicycle path.
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Camping along Göta Älv

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I arrived in Vänersborg, at the bottom of Lake Vänern completely wet and frozen. I tried warming up a bit in the train station, but that was a cold place so after I did my shopping, I lingered a bit near the entrance of the supermarket, wait for better weather.
That’s where Nisse & Annette picked me up and invited me for a nice dinner at their home, not far away. It turned out that was exactly what I needed at that moment so with a few hours delay, but much better spirits I left the town in the afternoon. Thanks a lot !

So, Sweden has 2 big lakes in the South, lake Vänern & lake Vättern.
I wanted to cycle north going up between the Norwegian border and Lake Vänern (the western one of the two). To give you an idea of the size of this lake; it’s 5.648 km2, exactly twice the size of the province of Antwerp.
The Sverigeleden cycle route seemed to go via a bit too busy roads for my liking here, so I went a bit further west, following some gravel roads. Steep (12 upto 14%) gradients, but much nicer scenery.

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Some people call this the boring Swedish landscape.  I love it.

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Since the second day after leaving home, I am suffering from deep cracks in my thumb, index- and middle finger. A painfull problem I always have when starting a tour, especially when the weather isn’t too good. On top of that, I got a deep cut in the palm of my right hand from one of these sharp Hilleberg tent pegs. Looks like the hand of Christ after crucifying. Not ideal, cause you’re leaning on that the whole time during cycling.

After Viborg and Fredrikshavn in Denmark, also the 2 outdoor stores I visited in Karlstad (at the top of Lake Vänern) did not have the spare part I needed for my camping stove (problem at the connection between stove & fuel bottle). But it still works.

From Karlstad, you can again follow for 90 km another old paved railway track to Hagfors along Swedens longest river, Klaralven. After Hagfors, there’s another section of 120 km over paved and gravel roads along the same river.
I passed the 60th parrallel near Hagfors, which is apparently the same latitude as St. Petersburg, or the southern tip of Greenland or Seward (Alaska).
Days are becoming quiet long already here mid May. The sun sets around 22:00 hrs (but it doesn’t get really dark until long after that) and rises again just after 4 am.

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klarälvsbanan

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Kläralvsleden, a network of mostly gravel roads along Sweden’s longest river.

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Köttbullar !

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A training for Patagonia ?

DSC00371After entering The Netherlands from Belgium, I continued cycling along the LF1-North-Sea-Cycling Route. I was surprised in a positive way by the landscapes. Dunes & car free cycling lanes. The only negative thing was that I was freezing my butt off. Temperatures were unusually cold for the time of the year and all the way through the Netherlands & Germany, I woke up to white, frosty lawns.
But it were the wet days that were spoiling the fun. And the terrible head winds.
One night in Groningen province, hail bolls of more then a centimeter were torturing the new tent.

Lf1 entered Germany shortly after Delfzijl and followed the German coast in Ostfriesland. At a certain time though, one get’s enough of sea views (oh, and did I mention the head winds ?), so I turned inland a bit and started following the ‘Jutland Bicycle Route’. It mainly follows existing old routes like ‘Ochsenwegen’ in Germany and ‘Haervejen’ in Denmark.

And then….. the weather turned and all became great. Except for my health. Upon leaving the town of Schleswig, Germany, I felt a bit weak already, but at the end of the day it seemed like I cycled it out of my body. Only for the sickness to kick back twice as hard the next day. It kept me idle for a day, but the diarrhea would last for a week so I started making shorter cycling days, but at least I was outside, enjoying the sun. Not sitting under artificial lights in a concrete block. If it weren’t for those continuous head winds ….

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After 1.700 km from Belgium to the tip of Denmark, tomorrow will be my first ever cycling day in Sweden.
Quite excited about that.

Total kilometer in Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark: 1.710 km
Average km per cycling day: follows later
Total altimeter so far: 5.534 meter

Nights slept inside: 2
Nights slept outside: 24 (21 on campgrounds, 3 wild camping)
Average daily cost: 25,85 euro

BE-NL-DK
Route BE-NL-DK