All Roads lead to the E18!

24 May 2018

So, for a country of this sort of size and small population you’d think that navigating the road system in Sweden would be pretty easy. Now let me tell you….

If you throw into the mix that you are cycling and don’t want to use any major roads because of the heavy and often dangerous traffic, then you’d also assume that it shouldn’t be too difficult. However, remember the E18 that we couldn’t use to cross into Sweden from Norway? Well it appears that no matter which side roads you use here, they always gravitate back to the E18 or as it happens to any other ‘E’ road…

We left the hostel fairly early and did an early stint on the 61 which again is a major road. 2 minutes into our journey we came across major roadworks where traffic was being waved through on a single lane.  We got waved through before the few cars and trucks that were there, which we thought was a great advantage, until miscommunication at the other end meant at one stage I had a huge truck full of tarmac heading straight for me with no sign of stopping….I literally had to jump off my bike and as far into the verge as possible. The driver obviously thought I had jumped the queue and was quite content to run me over.  Disaster averted and we’d continued on the same road, which started getting busy as we neared Karlstad where we were a able to leave it for quiter roads and bike paths, but all the time going towards the E18! We went into the centre of Karlstad and to be honest it wasn’t the nicest place we’ve ever been to…Swedish houses and apartment blocks appear to be far more just functional in comparison to the cute houses of Norway. The centre of town was quite leafy, but still non-descript, so onward we’d went and this is where our path started to get wiggly to say the least. In order to get away from the E18 we headed north quite some way. We had planned to rough camp and actually found a suitable spot in a secluded forest at about 4pm, which is just a bit too early for us to stop. There’s bound to be others before we want to stop…but there wasn’t – it was all farmland – so we looked up a campsite and saw one in Kristinehamn and gave them a call. They were about to close, but would leave the stuff out for us and we could pay in the morning, perfect. And it’s wasn’t a bad campsite either with this as our morning view!

We’d covered 105km the day before, our longest so far, but this time we were up to 112km and fairly pooped by the time we’d set up camp and eaten. The length of the last two days has been dictated by diversions from busy roads and we have had to cover some serious distances without actually making huge progress towards Stockholm.  But we are now under a bit of time pressure to get there, as we had to book our ferry to Gdansk in Poland before all the cabins got booked up for the 18-hour crossing.  And we’d booked accommodation in Stockholm to correspond with the sailing days so we spent the evening studying the map for alternative routes away from the E18.

This new route rather depressingly took us about 25km south before turning north-east and finally towards Stockholm. It’s still wiggled a lot, but there was little traffic and the cycling was really nice. We passed throug Bjorneborg (he’s not just a tennis player you know!), Svarta and Mullhytten before we decided to stop in Kumla for the night, but the only campsite was closed, dang! We called another, further to the east, and they had availability, but it was over 30km away and we’d already done 80km. We plugged on and made it to Hampetorps after a total of 120km and though we were definitely tired neither of us was broken. We set up as per normal and made dinner in the campsite kitchen, but there wasn’t much time for anything else! We have, however, made up time on our travels to Stockholm and another two ‘medium’ distance days will get us to the suburbs for Saturday and our AirBnB and if we get there for Friday we can camp nearby.

The route appears to be sorting itself out as the next day proved to be really nice cycling on quiet roads. As the roads headed east towards Eskilstuna the terrain has flattened out and we have seen plenty of this…

And also quite a bit of this…

Made it to a campsite nearby after a mere 79km – heady days of 60km being a big day have now been banished to history! We’ve covered 590km since leaving Oslo 6 days ago – if you Google the distance from Oslo to Stockholm it says 523km and we haven’t got there yet!

Final thought of the day. Although ear plugs are marvellous things as mentioned in one of our earlier blogs, ear worms on the other hand aren’t! An ear worm, if you haven’t come across the term, it a song which goes around in your head that you can’t get rid of. I (we) have had a few so far. For a painful time in Denmark both Martina and I had the Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran collaboration doing the rounds, but even some of my favourites have been in my head for ages to the point where I now hope I never hear them for a very, very long time!

1 comment

  1. Comment by Dave

    Dave Reply 25 May 2018 at 8:49 pm

    Top job both of you, keep it up. Do try and avoid the Swedish towns that have more churches than pubs. It’ll make for miserable reading. 😉

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