Monday, 15 September 2014

Cycling round Sweden without a plan

Photo (c) Ian Butler
Well, I've stopped dripping now, and my legs are beginning to feel normal again - we've been back two weeks from our holiday in Sweden, where we cycled north from Gothenburg to the very southernmost tip of Norway, then south again.

It was beautiful.

It was also quite stunningly wet. On re-reading my diary, I see that day 10 was the first on which we had no rain at all. And on many days before that we cycled through storms that put parts of the region under deep floodwater, and my lycra shorts in a similar state.

Oh, and my bike broke - a spoke snapped so the rear wheel buckled and the brake stopped working. And my gears did too, so the hills were really quite tough. My pannier came off too, but it's amazing what you can do with old guy ropes and duct tape.

Still, it was wonderful. Each morning all we had to do was eat, pack our tent up, pile everything onto the panniers, and set off to see what the day would bring.

We knew almost nothing about Sweden, and hadn't planned our route. We found a campsite on the map and cycled off to find it, and if we didn't like it, we carried on to find another.

We had our phones, but rarely found wifi, and sometimes had no signal. So we disconnected from home.


Photo (c) Ian ButlerIt was, of course, really hard work. We rode about 45 miles a day, sometimes much more, and our bikes were heavy. And what this meant, for me at least, was that I was exhausted - and this was the best thing of all.

I didn't think about anything. And I certainly didn't think about writing. I let my brain empty out at last, and it felt really, really good.

I've written a separate blog about the trip, with lots more pictures and details of the route and other stuff. It's called Hey hey! A cycling tour of Sweden, because my Swedish never got much beyond 'hey hey!' - as soon as I'd said hello, any Swedish person would break into English.

Do go to Sweden. Eat herring. Swim in a salty lake with crabs and jelly fish. Find amazing bronze age carvings. And let that pale blue air empty your mind.

All photos (c) Ian Butler