Countries: Norway & Sweden
Distance: 477 kilometres / 296 mile
Elevation: 4,655 metres / 15,272 feet
Beautifully dangerous. There are no two better words that could best describe our time in Norway. Every turn offered up a postcard-worthy view, but along with that often came dangerous (maybe a bit dramatic?) challenges.
We had to work so hard to avoid major roads (E16 & Highway 7) on our route between Bergen and Oslo, and our efforts were often repaid with un-cycleable hiking paths or dirt tracks. Just this week, we had to push the bikes, one-at-a-time, 1.5km up and over a 120 metre rocky summit. Even when we've been lucky enough to find an actual cycle path, it often spat us out just down the road, with no indication of where to go next. (Just to note, there is a EuroVelo that follows the coast up Norway, which I’m sure is a much more cycle-friendly experience...)
Despite it being much tougher than we had anticipated, Norway was exactly the challenge we were craving after having such an easy ride in Denmark. And of course, it stayed true to its challenging nature until the very last kilometre... We literally pushed our bikes through a forest, across streams and over ridiculously big boulders, to cross into Sweden. It definitely felt like the backdoor into the country.
Sweden, even with its gravel roads, felt much easier straight away. This week, we even managed to ride our most kilometres in a week so far (477km). How did we find the energy and motivation? Good old-fashioned bribery. We dangled an airport hotel at our front wheels, if we arrived there the night before our flight home, for Dan’s cousin’s wedding. It’s worked a treat, as we only have 140km to go, and two days to do it in. We even smashed 106km in one day! We could barely cycle 60km a couple of months ago...
We've mostly wild camped this week, but the one campsite we did stay in, might just be the strangest one yet. Picture a council gym and swimming pool that has a couple of camp pitches out the back. Weird, right? It turned out to be fantastic though, as it was only £11 per night, and that included use of the pools, free showers, free laundry, and use of a 'living room'. The 'living room' was basically a mini flat, which was much nicer than the one we rented in London.
As we’re nearing the end of our time in Sweden – we leave a few days after coming back from the wedding – we decided to book our ferry to Finland. But in a spare-of-the-moment, impulsive decision, we actually booked at ferry to Latvia instead. Rather than cycling the south coast of Finland into Russia, we’ll follow the EuroVelo 10 along the north coast of Latvia, around the Estonia Islands, along the north coast of mainland Estonia, before heading into Russia. Something a bit different. And following a EuroVelo will give us a break from route planning, for the most part anyway.
Sadly this week, a crucial part of our tent broke – well, actually it broke last week, but we just found out that there's nothing MSR can do to help us. Their warranty only offers repairs, which can take three to four week to process. As we live in the tent, we can't really be without it for that length of time. So here's to hoping my sewing skills are up-to-scratch...
Let's not end on the tent drama. Here are some funnies from this week: Dan accidentally fixed our leaking Ortlieb water bags when, in a state of absolute exhaustion, he screwed a CamelBak bottle lid on one of them, instead of its own. We stupidly cycled over a newly-laid tarmac road, to the annoyance of the steamroll driver who was finessing it – and our almost-melting tyres. And I'm now cycling with four holes in my trousers; I guess walking trousers aren't made for the saddle.