Beach hopping to Göteborg

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June 7th 2008
Published: June 7th 2008
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I will say now, I wish I were Swedish! It's that simple. Okay my judgement may be misguided by the amazing weather I've had all the way up from Copenhagen. Blue sky and 25 degrees+ all the way with a little chill breeze which makes it bareable cycling (but also probably has fooled me into getting an even worse roasting by the sun). But this coastline and the water is one of the nicest stretches I've ever seen. The scenery has been gentle rolling from the start, but turning more rocky all the time (a bit like NW scotland maybe) with sandy beaches and rocky beaches interspersed all the way. And the Swedish way seems to be enjoy the sun while it's here, so some stretches have been really heaving with people (think Helsingborg - I can't believe I didn't take a photo of that beach for my single male friends reading this ) but still plenty of stretches where you have the whole place to yourself.

Anyway aside from the beaches I've been eating well and for no more than prices back home in supermarkets (much cheaper than Denmark for some reason). They have great bread here, great cheese, great sweets, great everything! (ok, the strawberries were not quite up to carse of gowrie standards, and the cheap beer Falcon Super brew is pretty awful). The one thing that hasn't been good are the signs for cycling, which along with the hot weather and the constant distraction of the beaches, has been making progress slow. For the most part I've been following a coastal cycle route which has been zigzagging around an awful lot and practically doubling the map distances - thus it's taken me 3.5 days to get up to Gothenburg. But it has been nice, sometimes through beach resorts (all the villages seem like resorts to be honest - haven't really seen any quaint fishing villages or anything like that), along the coast, through pine forests and the like. It reminds me a bit of the south of france, but it's nicer and maybe cheaper and every speaks english. And the water - well it's a perfect temperature and almost salt free. I only noticed the last couple of beaches today as I've headed north (and being doing about 3 beach stops a day) finally the water is getting a bit more like what I'd think of as sea water. So if anyone fancies a beach holiday I can really recommend here!

So the first night I stayed in a semi open log hut for overnighting. I had the whole beach to myself that night so I thought I'd take advantage and do a skinny dip (seeing as I've forgotten my swimming trunks). Well it turned out that there was a blanket of seaweed there that I couldn't get out through so i couldn't get more than knee deep, but it was a good thing. Just as I got back to the safety of my towel about 5 people suddenly turned up including a group of young lads who no doubt would have heckled me!

The second night I found a beautiful spot nestled between two rows of dunes. I was close to houses so there were no thoughts of skinny dipping this night. But the swim I had that evening was amazing (of course I had one in the morning too). Unfortunately there was a party going on in a nearby house, so I had a dance baseline rattling through my tent till 2am. I have expected some drunken swedish kids to burst into the tent, but they didn't.

The final night of the trip up I hooked up with Nuno again. Through a series of complicated texts executed without military precision, I gathered that I'd actually got ahead of him after 2 days cycling (remember he'd set off from Copenhagen the day before me). I waited for him in Varburg, the most interesting town on the coastline. It had nudist beaches on the front (the womens one was well hidden away behind hoarding, the mens less so, but who wants to see naked old men???), and a whole lot of stuff going on (in swedish) for Swedish National Day. I got a flag from somewhere to add to my bike! By the time Nuno eventually showed the it was 5pm and my plan to make that day a long one fizzled away over one then two beers (strangely they were serving StaroBrno, a czech beer i'd sampled the year before in Czech) served by a lovely waitress (who may be reading this so I have to say something nice!). We chatted to her a bit about our trip and would have talked more, but she was working and besides if we'd stayed any longer drinking beer there we'd have been forced to set up camp right there (which I'm not sure would have been appreciated by the other clientele), so we said our bye byes and headed out of town in tandem. Less than 10km further on we found an amazing rocky hill which seemed to be common grazing land. We bounded up to the top and found some good camping spots. Big problem though - how to get our gear up there. In the end we gave up on that idea and settled for camping at the bottom. Alas the best laid plans... sometime as I was cooking my evening noodles we were confronted by a large herd of cows and more worryingly a bull who seemed a little miffed that we were about to camp in their way. Twice they came up and then got scared and stampeded away, but that had convinced me that I didn't really want to be inside a tent. In the end we opted for the best idea of the lot - stash the bikes away from cow territory and carry our sleeping bags up to the top of the hill and sleep under the stars (except it doesn't really get dark enough to see the stars currently). It was an amazing experience up there and my sleeping bag handled the evening chill fine. In the morning by 7.30 it was so hot in the sun I was forced to get up ( and that's saying something for me).

So this morning I said my second goodbyes to Nuno. It's really been a pleasure meeting him on the road. I don't know if we will meet again this trip. He's travelling slower than me but a more direct route to the north, so there's a chance we might coincide in Trondheim. If not another time another country maybe.

I had grand plans to get to Gothenburg by midday and catch the ferry over to Denmark and push to the northernmost tip of Denamrk for tonight. But weather it was the headwind that came back today, or the beaches or whatever I only managed to get here by 5.30pm. I didn't fancy the late ferry, so I've got a dorm room here for the night. I'll check out Gothenburg in a bit or in the morning. Anyway the dorm room is incredible! All Ikea-esque white simplicity. Typical the Swedes do everything just so damn well!!

Finally a word on my physical condition. My knee is absolutely fine now, so no arthritis for the time being. My shoulder always hurts after about 50 miles, a nice white piercing pain. The most interesting thing is my fingers on my left hand. The last two fingers are numb most of the time. I was talking to Nuno about this and he also has the same problem in the same hand. He'd done a bit of research on the internet and found some sites that suggested that it might be the constant strain on the back of the neck from the riding position. Seems strange that this would affect a nerve in the hand. Doctors who are reading this may want to look in to it further?!!

Day 13- Copenhagen to Stora Hult - 4/6
Dist (miles): 63.17
Ave speed (mph): 12.9
Max speed (mph): 26.0
Time on saddle: 4h54

Day 14- Stora Hult to Särdal - 5/6
Dist (miles): 66.81
Ave speed (mph): 12.7
Max speed (mph): 37.5
Time on saddle: 5h15

Day 15- Särdal to Tångaberg - 6/6 (Swedish National Day)
Dist (miles): 48.23
Ave speed (mph): 12.9
Max speed (mph): 29.5
Time on saddle: 3h44

Day 16- Tångaberg to Göteborg - 7/6
Dist (miles): 50.93
Ave speed (mph): 12.0
Max speed (mph): 25.5
Time on saddle: 4h14

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