This group of islands well above the Polar Circle. I wished to visit them for a long time already.
I arrived with the ferry from Bodo around 21:00 hrs and cycled with a German couple, Kessi and Matthias towards Lofoten’s southern tip, the village A. The camping didn’t welcome tents anymore, but I saw already an allright wild camping spot on the way in.
At first, there’s no alternative for the E10. It’s a small road here and they kept the old track around the tunnels open for cyclist.
A MUST do (with thanks to Kessi for the tip) is the hike up the hill just before entering Reine village. It’s a hard, steep and at times slippery way to the ridge from sea level to 487 m, but the view you get is not possible to catch in a picture (for me at last 😉 ).
It is of utmost importance to take your time when you visit these islands and not simply rush trough over the main artery, the E10. Take side trips !
Some of them are along dead end roads, but are definitely worth the effort. That way I visited Nusfjord, the beautiful beaches of Utakleiv, the Venice of the North (another one….) Henningsvaer and made round trips along the fjords south of Leknes, at Austvago, etc…
There are going to be a lot of pics in this one, I’m sorry…
Just before Fiskebol, I left the main road to have a better look at the beach.
That’s where I think I lost my Gorilla (tri) pod.
For a few days I felt miserable about that and wanted to punish myself by standing in the corner for an hour or so, but that’s when I realized that since I’m living outside 24/7, there are no corners anymore in my life.
I could do it when I take a ferry from one island to the other, but I guess the other passengers might find it odd, when I stand in the corner the whole passage.
Besides, I have too many things to do on board of the ferry. Filling up my water bottles, washing myself a bit in the rest room, maybe do some laundry there as well, taking pictures, pay for the passage, eating lunch, or second lunch, ….
The Vesteralen are a group of islands north of Lofoten.
There too, I mostly took the ‘long way’ around the islands, avoiding the bigger roads. I had bad whether with lots of rain and one night a storm which became so violent I simply had to break down the tent and sleep in the sanitary facilities. I’m used to heavy winds in the tent, even holding poles and supporting it from the inside, but this one became way to violent.
I’m not moaning about the wind too much, but still, it is mostly against. That much that frequently my speed goes into single digits on the flats.
Leaving the supermarket in Andenes, I met Dutch cyclist Jos with who I cycled for a day towards the island Senja.
Senja should be one of the most beautiful Norwegian islands, north-east of the Vesteralen.
It’s quiet a long ferry ride and it was still raining when we arrived there.
Late in the afternoon and a big part of the next day, I was very lucky and the sun came out, so I could so how beautiful the region is.
Before arriving in the biggest city of the north, Tromso, I had one more island to cross, Kvaloya Island, where it rained so much that I don’t have to bother anybody with pictures from it.
I entered Norway in the province Nord-Trøndelag.
Sweden’s road 340 becomes road nbr 765 here.
Near Ostnes, I pushed my 3000th km of this trip away.
In my quest to avoid highway 6 as much as possible, I continued north via small roads, cycling along Tunnsjoen lake which has a huge island in it, a rock 812 meter high.
I was traveling through a winter wonderland now, full of snow and ice.
Instead of taking the tunnel after Gjersvika, I took the old road over the mountains, Steinfjellvei. This old road is blocked for car traffic, so you are really mounting into heaven, car-free.
Oh, what are people taking those tunnels missing….
In Namsskogan, a little town along the E6, I joined the highway for about 40 km, before entering the Fiplingvatnet valley, following the Villmarksveien.
By this time, I had entered my second Norwegian province on this trip, ‘Nordland’ and officially entered North-Norway..
Between Trofors and Mosjoen, the E6 can be avoided by cycling dirt roads on the other side of the river. Steep climbs and descents between 10 & 12% await you.
After Mosjoen, I headed via road 78 (largely car free, as it is closed to motorized traffic, who are forced to take the new toll-tunnel) towards Norway’s most famous road, coastal road nbr 17.
Road 17 means incredible views towards the sea, cycling around fjords which makes progress slow but beautiful, it means tunnels, ferry-crossings and camper vans.
After the ferry dropped me in Nesna, I had to climb pretty high up a hill, but was rewarded with stunning views into the Sjona Fjord.
On the 5th of June, 51 days and exactly 3.368 km after I left from home, I crossed the Polar Circle.
But not on my bike. It lay there, right in front of me…… in the water. So I passed it on the ferry.
I met a nice German couple who were cycling from the North Cape to Gibraltar. They gave me the tip to visit Svartisen Glacier. I did this together with Ole, a young German cyclist who’s cycling around Scandinavia.
A tiny ferry dropped us near the glacier. We hiked up to the glaciers mouth in the evening. As with every glacier, you cannot help but notice how far and how fast they are retreating.
Late in the evening (it’s already 24/24 light up here) we reached the mouth of the glacier, which is 3 or 4 men high. The bright blue and white colors are very spectacular and must be even better when the sun is shining.
We planned to camp 2 nights below the glacier, and climb up higher the next day.
This turned out to be a day of non-stop rain, hail, ice rain and fresh snow a few hundred meters above us. It became a rest/reading day during which I re-read George Orwell’s ‘Burmese Days’.
After the rest day, I cycled again a day against hard head winds. Cycling around fjords, you cycle in every direction during the day, but still the wind manages to blow BANG in your face, whichever direction you turn your handle bars. Remarkable.
It looked like an autumn storm, how the leaves were torn from the trees and were blown around ones head.
After Ornes, the road to Bodo becomes to busy. Cars, mobil homes, trucks; the constant roar of traffic in your ears and all your attention goes to staying on ‘your’ few centimeters at the edge of the road, instead of enjoying the scenery.
The first day after Ornes, the weather was truly horrible. Cold, rain, hail. And head wind of course. There ’s one more tunnel, but the old road can still be taken by bicycle. It’s a bit steep and extra 200 meters of climbing, but the view at the other side of the top is worthwhile.
I was lucky to find a really nice wild camping spot a bit before Saltstraumen, where you’ll find the strongest tidal current in the world.
The last day into Bodo, the weather was warm and sunny. People were out in town, terraces and restaurants were packed. I headed to the harbor to catch my ferry to the Lofoten islands.
I left Sysslebäck, a village alongside the Klarälven river at 18:40 hrs only. The whole day the rain had been pouring down.
A few km north of the village, I made a right turn and started mounting into the hills, going from 160 meters to just under 600 m. I’m 5 weeks into this trip now, but still my physical condition doesn’t seem top. I can’t say I suffer, but, the climbing does not go easy.
Near the top of the hill are some chalets for rent, I guess for cross country skiers in winter.
It’s all deserted now.
The road descends a bit towards Eggsjön lake, where I hope to find a spot to pitch my tent.
Just when I start descending, it starts raining again and the moment I unpack my tent, it’s a real downpour. Damnit, couldn’t that wait for another 5 minutes.
I crawled into a wet tent and didn’t bother eating anymore.
Next day, Saturday May 21st, was cloudy but a very beautiful cycling day over gravel roads. I stayed high on some plateau, always between 400 & 500 m.o.h., passing several lakes like, Tasjön, Tossan, Tisjön & Grycken. The one even more beautiful then the other.
I took some mountainbike single trails going into Rörbäcksnäs, a little town with even an outdoor store. Again, the part I was looking for for my stove was not available. I had a chat with the friendly shopkeeper. We checked the weather and it seemed it was gonna rain tomorrow Sunday evening and Monday morning.
As it was dry and too early in the day to stop, I said goodbye to the people from the outdoor store, bought some provision in the local supermarket and continued my ride towards the Norwegian border. Quiet an unexpected climb.
Near Stoa, I made a left turn into the Ljordalen and 6 km further on, I found a fantastic spot to pitch the tent, right next to a wide bend in the river, facing an almost 1000 m high hill.
Sunday came and I woke up to an overcast sky. Apart from a bit of condensation, I could pack the tent away dry, backed some sausages for breakfast, lubed my chain and tightened it with the eccenter. Just when I was ready doing all this and packed everything away, it started raining.
I smiled. Perfect timing.
However, Sunday morning still was half a day too early according to the forecasts.
And raining it did.
Just after I crossed the border back into Sweden, I saw a small wooden shelter. 37 km on the odometer wasn’t a lot, but even with the best raining gear, you start to feel uncomfortable after a few hours continuous rain.
I put on some dry, warm clothes, made pasta, read a bit, but the rain wouldn’t stop.
On my gps I saw there would be another shelter 2 km’s further down the road and decided to give that one a try for the night.
I was hoping for some kind of small wooden house with 4 walls, protecting you from the elements, but it turned out to be the same kind of wooden shelter I was 2 km back. A 2 m by 2 m shed with an open front. At least this one had a wooden floor i.o. a muddy one.
I made a construction with the small plastic tarp I carried with me to have at least some protection.
It rained all night. I’d put my empty coffee mug outside in the evening and this morning it was more than half full with rain water. That must be about 40 mm of rain during the last 10 hrs. The forecast spoke between 2 & 5 mm.
And it continued raining all day.
And I stayed in my hovel. Reading books, drinking tea and coffee.
Next morning, Tuesday 24th May, it had stopped raining when I woke up.
Of course, by the time I ‘d had breakfast and packed all my stuffed, it was raining again.
The barometer kept going down as well, which promised no improvement.
41 hrs in this shed was more then enough, so I decided to leave anyway.
A head wind.
Ah well, Mp3 on, some summer music in my ears to soften ‘the misery’, and go.
I was near the highest waterfall of Sweden now, but decided not to have a look. I saw enough water falling the last days. And anyway, I had to keep moving just to keep my body warm.
15 km or so after Gördalen, there were signs on the road that the road I was coming from was blocked. I’d seen some heavy machinery going up and down the day before, but apparently they couldn’t fix it.
I took a left turn, a 15 km gravel (and mud) road north towards Idre.
Idre was half flooded. The guy in the tourist office said the lake rose 60 cm over night. He also said the road was blocked just beyond my shed. That must be just before the Norwegian border. Whole parts were flooded. I guess I’m lucky I cycled these 2 km to the 2nd shed last Saturday, or I would still be up there. On the Norwegian side many roads were closed as well, the guy said.
From Idre, I headed further north, direction Foskros.
After about 6 km I pitched my tent at a nice ‘natural campground’, just along the swollen river.
Continuing north, after Foskros I had a nice 23 km gravel road, passing the most Southern Sami village in the world.
At the junction with the main road, I met Frans and his wife, a nice Dutch couple traveling with their mobil home. They fed me, and would continue doing that the day after.
In the afternoon, I cycled through Hogdalen, the highest Swedish village.
Also the next day, Thursday 26th may was a day of extremities. First I passed the highest church in Sweden in Tännäs. After Tännäs, I followed a good gravel road for 15 km towards Funasdalen.
From Funasdalen, it’s all gravel till the end of the day, 60 km further on.
A steep 10% climb leads you out of the village, but all this altitude I will win and loose several times again, until I reach a true highlight,cycling over the highest mountain pass in Sweden (Flatruet, 975 m.o.h.).
Make no mistake, this doesn’t seem very high, but the going is very tough and very steep.
I’m in Samiland now.
Going down Flatruet, I decide to make a shortcut, following the valley of the Skarkan river. A mistake, because this is a 12 km wet clay & mud road, sucking in your tires.
Just before entering the village Börtnan, I took a left turn, on another 40 km or so gravel road which leads along the Oviks mountain range. Lot’s of swamps and wetlands here, very beautiful, but no suitable place to pitch the tent, so I camped Galabodarna at a place where they rent out cabins.
After a night on the campground on Fröso, a little island in the lake next to Östersund, I headed towards the Norwegian border taking road 340, the sun above my head and the wind in my back.. This road should become a bicycle classing. All paved (nice change after all the gravel the last days), not too much climbing and stunning scenery. It’s called the ‘Fiskevagen’ (fishroad), probably because you cycle from one lake to the next.
Leaving Sweden, I had 2910 km on the odo-meter.
Sweden has been very kind to me.
The weather was reasonable, I saw plenty of reindeer and moose, found lots of y beloved gravel/dirt roads and above all, it’s car and truck drivers are the best and most respectful towards cyclist I have ever seen.
A country that begs for further exploration.
Total kilometer Sweden: 1.200 km
Average km per cycling day: follows later
Total kilometer so far: 2.910 km
Total altimeter so far: 15.873 meter
Total time on the bike: 185 hrs 0 min
Nights slept inside: 0
Nights slept outside: 18 (3 on campgrounds, 15 wild camping)
Average daily cost Sweden:
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.
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.
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.
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.
After 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 ….
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.
Some simple, healthy food and a tiny drop of whiskey.
That’s how it looks from the inside. Before I enter and start making a mess.
Along the Nort-Ostsea Canal (a.k.a. Kiel Canal)
Schleswig, which was by far not as special as expected.
An old German WWII camp just after the Danish border.
Camping just behind the German camp.
Denmark is full of this free campsites (caming i det fri)
I even had a nice outhouse (got well used). You can see the tent in the background.
Mariager – Denmark
Mariager – Denmark
Mariager – Denmark
How typical Danish can you go.
Reaching the coast of eastern denmark (Kattegat)
Fantastic campsite, 55 km before Fredrikshavn
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
16th April 2016.
10:26 hrs. 11 degrees C.
It’s cold and windy as I ride away. This is the first time I’ll be starting a long trip from home.
16/4/16 must be a very auspicious day to start such a trip.
Everything seems in balance. I don’t feel so balanced.
It’s not because of the heavy bike. Last months have been way too hectic and I feel ill-prepared for the trip.
Still, that bike really is seriously overloaded. All the space and weight saved since I travel with an e-reader instead of (too many) books, is now occupied by other electronic gadgets which seem to be compulsory nowadays (they ‘re not).
We’ll see. Stuff can always be posted home.
I’m on my way north. I don’t know why.
I like it warm, so should go the opposite direction but I’m always drawn to the North because of the spectacular nature, the wild camping opportunities, the quietness.
I’m heading North along the Plassendale-Nieuwpoort canal. Later, after crossing the Dutch border, I will follow the LF 1, North-Sea-Cycling Route.