So happy to be in Sweden, feeling free! We had a great night's sleep and a lazy start to the day. As it was only a short one, we left the hotel at around 10:30. It was a beautiful day, sunny and bright. The cycle route was sublime, almost all on cycleways as we rode from village to village. We shopped for our BBQ tonight (pork chops again which are very nice). We turned off the Sverigeleden onto a dirt track through the forest to get to our oovernight point. Swedish dirt roads are like no other that we have cycled. They are smooth as silk with compacted dirt. We fantasised about Swedish dirt roads when we were on the chunky stuff in Denmark! Mike had planned the route to make the best use of available lavuu's and there were quite a few in the forested area. We stopped off at the first one. Bit of a trek to get to it but what a spot! Perfect little shelter with benches and fireplace right on the lake edge. Our first Swedish lake swim! We got the BBQ going right afterwards and enjoyed a very lazy afternoon. We are thrilled that from here on out on the trip we will have access to camping wild wherever we like again. The afternoon and evening were so still and sunny that we can't believe that rain is predicted for tomorrow
Although it was an overcast day, the rain never materialised and for that we were as always grateful! Another lovely ride today along beautiful Swedish roads. They certainly know how to build them here! The route went along quiet roads, but whenever it hit a busier road or a town there was a dedicated cycleway. We are following a route of the Sverigeleden and they use green signs to show turnoffs which are very easy to spot. We stopped for a flask coffee break at about 25km and then to buy food for lunch at 45km. The day went along very quickly with a few climbs as we headed closer to Vänern (the big lake that we will spend a few days riding along). It was pretty farming country, very quiet.
We passed Trollhättan which is famous for waterfalls and is also used as the site for the filming of many Swedish TV dramas and movies. Shortly after this I had an alarming feeling as my saddle gave way completely. Luckily we were going along the flat on a cycleway next to each other and not me in front and Mike behind! I managed to unclip quickly and the saddle just fell away. The top part of my seatpost had sheared off at the weld! Disaster! What do we do? Mike looked online for the closest bikestore and there were a few in nearby Trollhatten. He picked one and called them and they were able to help with the right diameter seatpost. We unpacked Mike's bike and off he went to the bikestore, only 5km away. He was back within the hour with the new seatpost! It did not take him long to fit it. We could not believe how lucky we were that of all the times and places this could have happened, it picked this spot where it was quite safe and so close to a bikestore! Must had a guardian angel. To think it could have happened 100km or more from anywhere which would have meant we would have been totally stuck!
After this "interlude" we rode calmly along to Vänersborg which is a big town on the lake. We stopped for food for dinner and then had a few kilometres to ride to the lake edge where we found a campspot near a beautiful pebbly swimming beach. We sat on the beach and ate our dinner after a nice swim. We came back to our tent and got things ready for the night. Since Denmark we have often found ticks on our person and now in Sweden have continued to do so. There were quite a few around this campspot. We continue to be vigilant about ticks and check our bodies twice a day!
We set off this morning and had a breakfast stop a couple of kilometers down the road. It was another beautiful warm day and the road was excellent for riding. The pace here is quite fast, we find we have high average speeds and seem to push quite hard, so we are concentrating on not doing that, but taking it easier. The road surface is so good that you maintain momentum easily and don't want to lose it! We are following the Sverigeleden as usual but also a red cycle sign called Dalslandsleden as we are now travelling into Dalsland. It is still a combination of farmland and forest. We still had a slight tailwind which is handy. We stopped for our coffee break on the shores of lake Vänern. It was a beautiful spot and we noticed someone swimming far out. I was just commenting on how it must be nice to have a massive lake to swim in as no sharks, etc. when suddenly said swimmer stood up and started walking towards the shore. She would have been about 200-300m away from us and the water was knee deep!
We stopped again for a lunch break in a small village and continued on to Åsensbruk where we proceeded to do a huge shop at the little Coop store as we planned a rest day tomorrow with rain forecast. We loaded it all onto the bikes and had less than 5km to cycle to the shelter we planned to stop at. On the way we crossed the Dalse Canal which is amazing as the road bridge crosses high above it and you can stop there and look at the water bridge below (see pic). There was a small pull off to the nature reserve where the shelter was located and we pushed the bikes through from there. Interesting thing was although there was the sheltered seating area and firepit, the info board advsed that it was forbidden to erect a tent and we would have to as the little shelter was just for sitting in. Anyway, it was a fabulous spot and we intended to stay. We had a great swim and watched people canoeing and boating passed. We did some clothes washing and had a wonderful BBQ, usual story of marinaded pork chops, which strangely we would never normally choose but taste great, many toasted cheese sarmies and marshmallows. Later in the afternoon people started dropping in though to suss out camping spots. A couple of Danish motorcyclists, then another Danish couple. It would have been difficult to pitch a tent in the area so they didn't stay. There was also a guy sitting amongst the trees who looked as if he might camp there. We decided at about 18:00 to leave and find another place. There was a proper sleeping lavuu nearby, a few kilometers away near a quarry. We packed up and set off.
It was a quick ride and as we got to the point you would have to walk in from, we noticed about three vans parked there dropping people off with camping gear. There were many people and we thought, "They are all going to camp at the lavuu!". So we promptly turned around, and on the same road we cycled back on we spotted a great camp spot with lake access where we will spend the day tomorrow. We keep an eye on the news online and it's been quite creepy to read about an Australian man and his US girlfriend gruesomly murdered 20km south of Liard Hot Springs in Canada. We were in that exaxct area in 2017, mostly worried about bears! We are pleased we are not there now!
We woke early, sun streaming into our tent just after 05:00. It promised a beautiful day! We were on the road just after 07:00. Wow, the first 10km were severely uppy-downy and very hard work. We stopped to rest at a beautiful church, a lady had just been to open it. After this the road just unfurled and we had a great day's ride. We enjoyed our coffee break at a swimming hole on a lake. Åmål was the main town en route today and we had lunch there after our daily food shop. It was quite a big town and marked the end of the Dalsland area for us. As it turns out (we have a knack of finding out about a place when we leave it) this area is famous for its 1000 lakes which explains why there are so many lakes and tourists! A sweet old man walking by offered us his patio for our lunch break!
The beautiful roads and weather continued for us and we pushed on beyond our planned end point to camp by a lake in a forest before Borgvik. We had a swim in the lake and filtered water. It was a great days ride! Arriving in the forest we have met our first persistant mosquitoes, now we know we are in Sweden! We clocked 6000km today.
We had some rain overnight and lay in a little as result and also to delay battling the mozzies waiting for us in the tent vestibules. Once up we decided to make breakfast in the next village, Borgvik. It was only a few kilometres ride there, and we stopped at the football field to eat. The road turned out to be quite hilly today, with a few short climbs, but we just took our time. It was beautiful riding through forest on quiet roads. We stopped a couple of times along the way and the day fined up, although it remained cloudy most of the day. We shopped in Forshaga for our BBQ and at Forshaga we hit the Klaralvsbanen which is a 220km cycle/skating way akin to a rail trail but looks like it is fully sealed the whole way. Winner!! We only had 5km further to ride before stopping at our campspot which is a wonderful spot overlooking the Klaralvs River (the longest river in Sweden). It has a pit toilet and easy access to swim in the river. It is really perfect for us. We had an amazing BBQ - pepper steak this time which was delicious and then relaxed for the afternoon. Mozzies are not too bad here but we have the mosquito coils to ward them off.
We woke to a misty morning, the lake shrouded in it. It had cleared by the time we set off. We are so impressed with the Klaralvsbanen that we followed today. It is a perfectly sealed rail trail and comes complete with benches and pit toilets every so often. There was even drinking water available at a spot and clearly signposted too. Distances to towns and villages are provided and the entire route was flawless. We passed some cross-skaters which was good to see. Just before Rada, we crossed Latitude 60 degN which was also signposted (see pic). After Rada the route sticks to quiet roads but that was equally good. You have glimpses of the Klaralvs River from time to time and we saw many people canoeing or kayaking. There were even Contiki-style rafts making there lazy way down to Karlstad, which is where the river empties into Lake Vänern. It is a brilliant route! The last few kilometres were a little more uphill, but ovdrall we rose slightly throughout the day which is the joy of a rail trail. We found an access road down to the Halgån River which was a wonderful river to camp beside and swim whenever we wanted to during the afternoon. The bugs were not too bad, but it was a beautiful and very warm day and we felt the heat. We have two hot days to come, Friday particularly is forecast to be 34 degreesC, so we want to make sure we make the best decisions regarding the heat, especially as we are going to be climbing into higher country.
The only way to set ourselves up for the heat is an early start. We were up just after 05:00 and left at 06:30. First up was 50km of the Klaravlbanen on a high quality dirt road. It was a flat, direct route through a mix of farming and forestry area along the river. All the action was on the road on the other side, so it was quiet and a little boring. We reached Likenås at only 09:30 and stopped for a Coke. It was already a scorcher. After the village we turned up into the hills for a 300m climb on a road which turned to dirt track. The climb was not too bad although we ran out of fuel on it and had to stop to eat. It is really hard in hot weather to eat correctly and easy to down a cold Coke which just sets you up for a blood sugar collapse. Anyway, soon enough we were at our planned end point after 62km. It was only 11:30 but it was a perfect spot. The forest seemed just to open up with wonderful views of lakes in the distance. A little track led from the road to an old weir. There was not space really for a car to park, but a lovely tent spot and a gushing river to swim in right there. We had contemplated moving on to get through as much today as we could due to the even hotter day tomorrow, but the spot was too good to pass up. We lost the shade at around 14:00 but then went and sat under the old weir on a wooden log shelf as you can see in pic below. We were quite cool there and read and relaxed until about 20:00 when we pitched the tent. Massive, industrious dragon flies kept us pretty bug free as they zoomed up and down along the river hunting down mozzies, etc. The sun is setting at 22:00 and rising at 04:00 at the moment so it seems it doesn't ever get dark, but we had a restful night.
We woke before 05:00 in slight intrepedation of the heat today and checked the weather forecast. Luckily the maximum was revised from 35 degC to 29 degC which is a big change! We were still on the road by 06:45 but took time to have a morning coffee and tea after breakfast as it was only 12 degC after a cool night. We also made coffee in our flasks for the road. We had an amazing 50km ride through some of the most remote tracks/roads we have ever cycled. We did not see one car or person. We looked very hard for moose as these wide shallow lakes and clearings in the forest are just perfect moose country, but alas none presented themselves (but we did see hoof prints). The road was pretty good all the way (not the usual great Swedish standard), except for one section where it got quite rocky. The views were beautiful and the forest beckoned. We saw many hunting hides and also little cabins where you could shelter. We also saw our first snow-mobile track network of the trip. It felt quite hot and very humid and there was a fair amount of climbing but it was very peaceful.
After 50km we were spat out onto a great bitumen road for a terrific descent into Sålen. We stopped along the wide river for a snack and saw our first cloudberries, too young to pick and eat. Cloudberries are berries which are abundant in Lapland and are delicious. We aren't in Lapland yet, but moving steadily northwards. Sålen is a ski-ing resort town but it was still busy and touristy on this hot summer day. We stopped to shop and drank a Coke in the shade. About 10km later we had another low-blood sugar attack and stopped for a snack. We were on the look out for a camp spot and checked out two options. The third was brought to Mike's attention by a Google aerial view showing a clearing off the road. It was a terrific spot in the pine forest with the river below. The river water was spectacular - very cold and clean and we had many swims during the afternoon. The temperature did reach 30 degrees C and it was hot. More annoying were the horseflies of which there were many and they are HORRIBLE, swarming around and biting you even when you are swimming! On a positive note, bugwise, this is day three of ZERO TICKS. Something to be happy about!
Another 05:00 wake up call, it's not bad as it is quite light and also cool at that time. We were on the road again at 06:45 and it was a quick 30km to our flask coffee stop. After this we had about 25km to ride to Sårna where we stopped to shop. It was a great descent into Sårna. The scenery is deep Nordic forest and we are seeing the odd bear reference crop up like a bear statue in a village or bear decorations on houses. Also, even the tiniest village will advertise "Loppis" on handmade signs. We always laugh at this. "Loppis" is a fleamarket/secondhand/vintage store. A "lop" is Swedish for flea! It must be something in the Swedish culture, this attraction to "another man's junk", or rather, Granny's old tea set, etc. Anyway, we are also seeing advertisements for moose tours, etc. Sårna is a small place with a stunning wooden church. It is so amazing to see these still around as they must be big fire hazards. We ate an early lunch watching the holiday makers lying around on the unappetising lake shore. Nothing beats a pure white beach does it? We tried to stock up on insect repellant in Sårna as we need more mozzie coils, bug spray and also we are in the market for a can of spray to kill the horse flies stone dead before they drive us to an early grave. The search was relatively fruitless, but we did procure a tiny green bottle which is 20% DEET to be used sparingly. We'll keep you posted. My legs look like they will take the rest of my life to heal with all the bites they have endured!
We pulled out of the town just before 12:00 and within 15min I began to feel nauseous and unwell. It was hot riding into an easterly wind and sun, and the road was baking. We had only a gentle climb for about 26 km but I started to feel that I coould not go one more kilometre. I just had to get out of the sun. We turned off the road onto a gravel road and I just felt so bad I lay down right there in the grass. After I had drunk more water and just poured with sweat I felt better and we headed off again before poor Mike was bitten to shreds by the trifecta of horse fly, sand fly and also mosquito! After this stop I was okay, it must have just been overheating. The ride was beautiful, the road so good. We know we say it a lot but Swedish roads are definitely the best we have ever ridden. We climbed to over 600m and it was remote in that there were no houses or any buildings. We also passed a reindeer muster station which is a temporary structure. It was a hot day though and we were pleased to drop down to the river we were planning to camp on. A few kilometres short of our end point we came across an amazing "rasteplats" with a shelter for shade, toilets and benches on a wide flowing river and were so happy to call it a day. It was not yet 14:00 so we did well in the heat to cover that distance. We spent the afternoon in the shade of the shelter with two mozzie coils doing their job. We had many river swims in the glorious cool water.
We are so pleased that the temperature drops overnight, it gets to about 11 degrees C and we are sleeping with the tent outer doors completely open so it gets nice and cool for sleeping. Again today we had our 05:00 wake up and were ready to leave by 06:45. This was hastened by the sand flies which descended on us in droves. As we were getting the bikes to the road along came another cycle tourist! He had slept at the other cabin over the road. He was from the UK and had ridden from Portugal to Kirkenes, Norway, and was now travelling down through Sweden. He was doing his riding mainly on dirt roads and commented on how bad the horse flies were in Finland. Let's hope they are all dead by the time we arrive! Today's ride was easy descending at first. After 30km we stopped for our coffee break, noting that the supermarket in the small village we stopped in was closed on Sundays (today was a Sunday). We then looked online at the second shopping option; also closed. So, no food shopping today. A quick mental inventory of the food we were carrying placed our minds at rest, we had enough food to eat for the day. We set off again and after a further 15km turned off the road we had been following all morning. Minor road took us through amazing lake and boulder country. It was a gravel track but very good condition.
We came across a road leading to a fishing spot and our map showed a shelter. It was 2km off our route, but nothing ventured, right? We had to walk about 150m from the road and came to a lovely lake with a shelter. As it was still hot today, a shelter offers solid shade and that is terrific. We opted to stay here tonight. We took the loaded bikes down there for the afternoon, had a rest in the shelter and a few swims. We then pitched the tent up the top of the hill for the night as there was no space at the shelter. We did less distance today than we had planned and have one more hot day tomorrow but overall we feel we have coped well with the heat. The horseflies were terrible at this campspot. It's funny how things go, we thought most about mosquitoes but it seems with this heat they have mostly disappeared and of course the horse flies love the heat. It is cooler from Tuesday and we are looking forward to that. It is difficult to relax in the heat with the bugs. Of course it is also much easier to wear additional clothing for bug protection when it is a little cooler. It's just been too hot to cover up. Camped under the pine trees we saw our first squirrel of the trip!
Yet another 05:00 wake up. Starting to get a little difficult! It was a beautiful morning, very still and CLOUDY!! Everything felt a little different. We headed off and came across many little "Fiskekort" signs on our way to our coffee break. The whole area we have been travelling through has these. They will point out the name of a lake or river and a fishing sign. You need to have a licence to fish. These places often have shelters so it is good to know where they are. The signs tell you how far off the road they are. It was a beautiful ride all the way to the little village where we stopped just in front of the huge church bell. In Sweden the church bells are often in a tower seperate to the church. As we sat enjoying our flasks of coffee, sharing our last Mars Bar and squishing sandflies that landed on us, our thoughts turned to a stay in a hotel. Now, we were actually due a rest day 3 days ago but couldn't have one comfortably in this heat. Rain is forecast tonight and we had been planning the day off tomorrow, but it is a far better investment to do this in a hotel! Östersund is our first big town and we could reach it by Wednesday. Mike got onto Booking.com and we picked a hotel and booked in for two nights. Whoo hoo! We feel we deserve this after the heat and the horseflies!
After this we set off with a spring in our pedal stroke. Even more happily, it definitely felt that today would be cooler. We arrived in Vemdalen and did quite a big restock shop at the ICA Supermarket (they are always ICA or Coop here). It was quite busy with tourist traffic. We tried again to buy mozzie coils and bug spray, to no avail. We then set off up the hill. There is a 9km climb to the ski slopes above at Vemdalskallet. It was mostly very gradual except for the last kilometer where it grew steeper, but only to 9%. It was hot on the climb, but not that oppressive heat we have had over the passed 5 days. We saw our first reindeer at Vemdalskallet which was pretty cool and unexpected as we feel that we are not that far North not having reached the 63 parallel yet. There was a group of seven males with impressive antlers busily eating the wild grass and flowers on the roadside. We bought a few more things at ICA, most particularly Raid for INSECTS so horse flies consider this due notice. We had a wonderful descent and great expansive views of Swedish hills. We started looking for an overnight stop, but on this side of the hill, no Fiskekort signs were to be seen and the river was quite far beneath us. We knew we could camp at Rätan on the river. We had another climb and then a descent into Rätan and stopped again for food as we needed a snack. It was then a few kilometres to the bush camp we had picked. We could not believe the change in the day and also how we felt just by it being cooler. We were able to eat more as we felt hungry and although we arrived at our campspot after 15:00 it was not deadly warm. Over the last 6 days of heat it has been more effort than we imagined to keep going after 13:00 even though we have been starting at 06:45 in the morning. The cooler weather is a blessing!
No big rush today as the maximum temperature was forecast to be only 15 degC! So much more relaxed when you are not rushing to get to your end point before the heat of the day saps your energy! So we turned off the alarm and slept 'til 06:00. The first 20km was easy along the water's edge of various lakes. We then turned off the road onto a gravel track for 25km. It was mostly good quality but sometimes not. These roads are interesting though as they take you through small settlements and holiday shack areas. It is alway fun to look at how people live and the log cabins houses, and so on. We see husky dogs a lot now, always barking hysterically at us inside huge cages (fortunately for us). We stopped for a snack by the roadside and were surprised when two logging trucks passed at high speed. Didn't feel like meeting one of them on the narrow track at that speed! They take up the whole road width.
Happily back onto bitumen we pedalled along for the second climb of the day, much easier of course on a sealed road. We stopped for another snack at a beautiful church. It was a sunny day but so crisp and cool and we loved it! We spent alot of time wearing warm jackets which felt crazy! We descended into Svenstavik and its fabulous ICA supermarket where we bought the makings of a BBQ. We had a couple of kilometres to the swimming hole which is at a sport's field. There was no one about really besides some kids and a man mowing. There were toilets to use and many campspot options. We relaxed outside the sports field complex and had a swim and our BBQ on the lake edge. As evening came we moved into the area behind some buildings, also on the lake edge. The complex is locked to vehicles but has pedestrian access and we will happily camp here tonight. Tomorrow is hotelli!!
Mist was rising off Lake Storsjön when we woke. It was a lovely, chilly morning, just over 3 degC! How the weather changes! We got up full of enthusiasm to make it to Östersund and our hotel! We were making breakfast when mower man came back and he looked a little suprised to see us there! We were soon on the road, another sunshiney day. We had a cycle path for a bit and then road conditions changed with about 20km of roadworks. The road was still open and traffic flowed freely, but every 250m or so there would be a wide strip of road where the seal had been scraped away for resurfacing and it was just bumpy stone and corrugated gravel. Anyway, we had our coffee break in a handy busstop and then shortly before Oviken there was an ICA where we bought delicious apple tarts to eat and a new pair of BBQ tongs. We bought our existing tongs at an Aldi in Lieksa, Finnish Lappland, 4 years ago when we first starting BBQ'ing on tour! Suffice to say there wasn't too muuch choice! I think they were probably just serving tongs. The ones we got today are proper tongs so should serve us well!
After Oviken we dropped down again to Lake Storsjön and crossed a 1.3km bridge, which is quite a long bridge! We were to cross another bridge into the city, this one 1.5km long! Svenstavik and Östersund are both on Lake Storsjön so it covers a large area. People say there is a big creature living in the lake, same old story. We did not see a thing! We were on a good cycle path for the last 10km that took us right into a market where we had a good lunch. Mike had a hamburger and I had reindeer, other deer meat and wild mushroom on a large bun, delicious! We sat and ate in the sun and then went on to our hotel. We have two nights here and look forward to the rest!
We enjoyed our rest day, more specifically, we enjoyed eating on our rest day, reversing our most recent energy deficit! We had last done laundry proper in Amsterdam (eek!) but now had the problem that in Sweden (and Scandinavia) there generally are no laundrettes. Luckily our hotel room had a convoluted, heated towel rail which worked a minor miracle as we were able to handwash everything that required it and dry it all by revolving it from towel rack to hanger. Amazing!
We were in no hurry to leave this morning, setting off at 11:00 and leaving town on a good cycle path for about 10km. There was actually quite a stiff climb out of town which was a surprise. It was a sunny, coolish day wiith a slight headwind. The ride was good, some hills, mostly gentle. We stopped for a muffin snack in Nälden and then with 25km to go we turned onto a gravel road that was under construction! It was actually closed to cars but luckily no work was going on this afternoon and we could pass through. There were rough sections of large aggregate that were difficult to ride so it was not enjoyable, but we did see two deer, and a mother and baby reindeer, so we were happy with that!
We stopped to shop in Ange. We are very mindful of food availability (or rather non-availability) over the next few days! Tomorrow is Saturday and we do not see a shop. Then we cross into Norway on a Sunday and there would be two supermarkets on our route but they will be closed. Monday will be good again. With this in mind we have stocked up and feel confident that we have enough to eat! After Ange we had a gentle climb and then turned off to the swimming hole where we would camp. It was a great spot, really well cared for by the local community. When we arrived before 17:00 we were the only ones there, but then a family of three arrived and later on a group of 4. Everyone was so friendly. The older lady in the group of four spoke to us in Swedish and when we said we were English the two boys with her said "So are we!". Turns out she and her son lived in London, but she is Swedish and they moved back here. Then they had two volunteers with them from Manchester who are staying with them and helping out on their property. We had a good chat. Some more people arrived to use the swimming hole and a campervan came too. We spent some time eating at a bench and sitting in the sun and the couple in the campervan, who were from the Netherlands were really nice and we spoke with them for a long time about our/their travels and so on.
As another campervan arrived, we headed off to a nearby clearing to set up our tent. We enjoyed being at the swimming hole, there was a great atmosphere.
We had a great night's sleep and woke up at 06:20 for the first time in a long time! The campsite was pleasantly bugfree and we had breakfast and were on the road at 08:00. It was a wonderful day on the bike today! We are following the 340 road to the Norwegian border and it is a very good road. The only traffic seems to be tourist traffic and there is not much of that. We were very prepared with food for the next two days as we know that shops will be pretty much non-existent. As the day unfolded though we passed a few places where we could buy food and also enjoyed other facilities. It is always nice when you get more than you expect!
After 18km we came to a place that offered camping and there was a cafe/kiosk. It was just 09:00 but it was open and lo and behold sold marinaded BBQ chops, including frozen ones! Great excitement! We carry briquettes and firelighters so we grabbed meat for two BBQ's (one frozen pack). They were vacuum packed so that is perfect for us. It's not warm and we have an insulated bag to carry cold stuff in. It is amazing the difference of knowing that you have a delicious BBQ waiting for you at the end of your day! We decided to continue to about 50km and stop for lunch. The road was a little undulating as we were cycling beside beautiful lakes and then up little spurs and down to the next lake, so it was quite flat for a lot of the way and then you would have a little climb. At exactly 52km there was a picnic spot with toilet, grilli and beautiful lake view. Can it get any better than this? A Swedish couple spoke to us about our travels and were impressed by our load. Earlier we had stopped at a dairy and met another Swedish couple who reacted the same way. We don't think this route sees many cycle tourists although we are on the Sverigeleden still.
After our lunch stop we continued along, appreciating the far off mountain views. We saw a sign for petrol in 500m and filled up our fuel bottle and bought some drinks at the shop which was well-stocked. So in reality, we would have been fine today wiith food, but you never know what is going to crop up. After another 10km or so we reached a beautiful, gushing, boulder-strewn river and there was a tiny campspot inaccessible to cars with a campfire. It was a perfect spot with lovely views and it was only 14:00. We are 4km short of our planned end point which is fine by us. We settled in for the afternoon and after a river swim and the BBQ we had a great afternoon nap!
We set off for Norway today, for one day! This was because the 340 road we have been riding, also known as Fiskevagen, takes you there. The 340 is a popular fishing destination and just one fiskekort (fishing permit) will give you access to the whole thing. We passed Skansen Klintaberg, which is a historical interest point as an old WW2 military installation. We crossed the border to Norway and the road was even more beautiful than a Swedish road. Of course, because it was a Norwegian road! We immediately had our coffee break at the lovely picnic area. Some kilometers later we came to a small village with a Joker supermarket. It was one minute before 10:00 and to our amazement the shop was open from 10:00, summer hours! We bought some cheese, bread and crisps to go with our braai tonight and I also got a Norway stiicker for my bike. We then had a long climb over 15km, but it was easy. After this of course a long descent! All day we rode alongside beautiful lakes with reflections of the sky. We stopped to admire a statue of a famous skier who was from a teeny village we passed through.
We had planned to camp at Lake Murusjo, but we had to ride along for quite a way until a suitable spot presented itself. It was perfect with a sandy beach for swimming and for making our BBQ. We enjoyed some hours lazing by the river. An interesting note is that this area has a dense bear population and it is well publicised. We hope the bears take after the people i.e. you don't see them!
It was so quiet and peaceful this morning that we struggled to get up. One of those days when you just want to stay put! We went back to the little beach to cook breakfast and then back to the tent to pack up. Barely a vehicle passed on the road. As I was halfway hrough changing into my cycling gear a TRACTOR appeared at the top of the little track we had taken to the lake. Just when we had commented that this was the first campsite where we had no little visitors! He sat there with the engine running. We were unclear what he wanted. To come down the track? It led to nowhere. Eventually he turned around and picked up an old wooden pallette lying in the pull-off. We could then relax and pack in peace!
We had only 1km to ride to re-enter Sweden and then 6km to join the Vildmarksvägen. This is the route we will follow for the next two days. The entire round trip on this road is 500km. It will take us to the highest point on our tour, nearly 900m. This is mountainous country where you can still see patches of snow. We stopped at Gäddede to throw away our rubbish and a local ICA shop man talked to us about our trip. He said it is a family tradition to take the kids to play in the snow which is still thigh deep after midsummer!! The snow returns in September, so it's a small window for vehicles! It was pretty cool on the bike and when we stopped for coffee on a lakeshore it grew quite cold, so either the lake was full of snow melt which effected the temperature locally, or it is getting colder as we head north! We had a lovely ride from lake to lake and then a long cllmb with steep bits until the descent to Stora Blasjön where we bought lunch and shopped for dinner. After this there was still another 100m climb, so were pleased to have a short day today! This part of Sweden has many hydro-electric power plants, and the rivers are fast flowing and very, very clear. We found a great campspot 500m from our planned end point. We had planned to camp at a picnic area, but those can be busy so when this quiet fishing spot presented itself we took it. We had a wonderful cold river swim!
The Aurora forecast is excellent and so we woke up around 01:00 this morning to see what we could see. We are amazed that it is still so light at this hour. The sun sets around 22:00 and there was a New Moon last night, so although the sky was clear it was too light to see anything. Maybe later in the trip when we get to Finland we will be luckier. Possibly due to this broken sleep it was difficult to get up this morning, so we only rose at 06:45. Hard to believe that just a week ago we are on the road at 06:45 to avoid the heat! We started the day with one long 21km climb 400m up to Stekkenjokke, which, at 876m, tops out as the high point of the Vildmarksvägen and probably also of our whole tour! The climb itself was great, the gradient very slight.The road was quiet but we passed many informal campsiters where campervanners and caravanners had overnighted. Before long we had climbed beyond the treeline and passed the sign announcing Lappland! We stopped on top for our coffee and could see a group tenting on the slopes, complete with small child. It is easy to drive up here and then walk with your gear for a few hundred metres. What a great way to experience the outdoors!
After our stop we had a lovely descent, also pretty gradual. We stopped to shop at Klimpfjäll, at the small conveience store there. We decided to have a rest day tomorrow so had a bit to buy, even some steaks to BBQ! We knew from the Vindskydd website that there was a shelter about 10km after Klimpfjäll and we had the co-ordinates. Even so, it was almost impossible to find! Even the shop had a map of fishing spots in the area and this shelter was indicated. We stopped at a pull-off which was about 200m from where it was but after looking around there was no path going towards where it should be. We rode on 'til we were well passed the position, having seen nothing, so we turned back and ended up at the pull off again. This time we saw a teeny path off in the opposite direction and Mike went to investigate. He returned with great news! There was a lovely shelter and brand new toilet but it was a bit difficult to get to. Off we went with the bikes and it was okay to get threre without having to unpack. Wow - what a perfect spot it was for a rest day! We pitched the tent next to the shelter and relaxed inside it all afternoon!
We enjoyed our day off, it was overcast and rained a bit. It then rained ALL night and we found ourselves setting off this morning in wet weather gear for the first time... almost since we arrived in Amsterdam! First job was to haul the bikes out of the campspot (see pic) and then we had a quick 18km ride to Saxnäs where we did a spot of foood shopping. It was a further 30km to Stalon, still along the Vildmarksvägen. The scenery between Saxnäs and Stalon was amazing with two large areas of rapids on the river. We stopped at each spot to take it all in. We visted the general store in Stalon too and bought reindeer salami and freshly baked unleavened bread. It was delicious (the bread)! The bread seems to be a Lap tradition as you see it alot. It was flavoured with some spices like aniseed. Anyway, we had lunch there at a bench before turning off the road onto a smaller, quieter and altogether less touristy one towards Dikanäs. It was a good ride with a couple of climbs and miles of Lapland on view in all directions. We still hope to see a moose, they are still in hiding!
We stopped just short of Dikanäs to filter some water from the river (see action pic of me collecting water in foldable bucket for Mike to filter). We had originally planned to camp at this spot on the river, but had since found a Vindskydd just at the town. We shopped at Coop in Dikanäs for tomorrow as we do not have any shops tomorrow (except a petrol station and that is not always reliable). We then turned onto our route for tomorrow for about 500m until we were 300m away from where the Vindskydd was supposed to be. There was a snow-mobile track and a sign for Slagostig and some information. We translated it roughly and followed the path for about 100m where we found a huge shelter with wood and fireplace as well as a toilet and also place to pitch the tent. Perfect! We took out our can of Raid and blasted the shelter a few times and then got some mozzie coils burning. We could then have our showers using our shower bag without being eaten alive! Afterwards Mike got a fire going and we sat and ate, relxing in the warmth of the fire!
We hopped back onto the smooth-as-silk dirt road and pedalled along for 20km before hitting bitumen. It is amazing travelling up here. When you stop on the road the silence feels like a vacuum, it is so absolute. We passed many reindeer muster points, constructed from wood. Even in areas that feel so remote there are little communities. Once again water is everywhere, lakes and rivers abound. We still search for moose in the open areas around lakes and swamps, but they are elusive.
We joined the E12 which is the first major road we have cycled on and it was quiet and seemed just like a minor road. We stopped at a petrol station which had a good shop for a few things to eat. After this we were trundling along on the E12 when a car made to overtake us and then drew level and slowed down as if the driver wanted to say something. At the same time a camper van was oncoming. Mike yelled at the driver to drive on and she waited for us at the next parking pull off, only a short distance away. We stopped beside the car and she had her window open. A little old lady, she began to gabble away in Swedish. We said that we were English and she seemed a little put off, but undaunted she hopped out of her car and went to open the boot. I thought we were in luck and would get some homebakes or something, but she pulled out a brand-new, still in it''s packaging, hi-vis vest! So sweet. We explained that we were only on this main road for a short way and she still seemed to think we should have it! We thanked her and parted ways. She said she understood a little English. She probably thought we were cycling all the way on the busier roads. Amazing how she was so concerned for our welfare that she put us at risk a few minutes earlier trying to get our attention driving slowly next to us with oncoming traffic!
The weather was partly cloudy but from the large puddles and wet sections of road it had obviously rained in this area recently. We checked out a couple of bush camps which were good but we wanted to get to our planned end point at the dam. It was a great spot, wonderful, cold swimming and we washed some cycling gear. We had lunch and then the heavens opened and we jumped into the tent. It rained hard for over an hour which was unexpected. There is rain forecast over the next few days. We are heading towards Jokkmokk on an indirect route following the smaller roads so we will see how the next few days unfold.
We had quite a bit of rain today which made for a wet day. Our first stop was Sorsele which to us was a big town as it had both an ICA and a Coop Supermarket and a couple of outdoor stores. We did not linger however as it was cold and also we hit the E45 directly after the town for about 13km. It was our first time on the E45. People do cycle it and it is obvious why, on the face if it it looks like any minor road by this point up north. The speed limit is 100km per hour and you will get truck traffic, but it didn't seem like much. Our preference is to avoid these sorts of roads though as they take a lot of concentration and you don't see much. We turned off the E45 onto what we knew would be a gravel road. We stopped at the turn-off in the rain to eat lunch. The gravel road turned out to be horrendous as they were undertaking roadworks on it! So the whole road was thick in gravel, except for the two tracks made by cars. For some reason (which became clear later on) it was quite busy with cars in both directions!
Luckily we were only on it for 6km and turned off onto another dirt road, but much better condition. The rain had stopped by now. On this road we had only one car pass us in nearly 20km and we also saw a few reindeer on the road! We were to turn off this road onto the Arjeplog Road which is a main artery from the E45, and would be a slightly busier road. Imagine our suprise as we drew up to the turn off and saw... GRAVEL! Roadworks once again and road in disarray. This was clearly why some people were using the aforementioned gravel road! The rough roadworks continued for about 5km and then the road was back to normal. It was a beautiful road and a lovely ride, through pristine Lappland forest and around lakes and swamps. We soon drew near to the area we were to camp in and were amazed to find a lovely picnic place and a Vindskydd on the river. The latter will come in handy as it is forecast to rain overnight and tomorrow morning so we can shelter if needed. We had some visitors in the form of two fisherman who fished from the pedestrian bridge nearby and also a family who came to fish.
We usually open our peepers around 05:00 and Mike checks his watch and says, "It's just after 5" and then we are very happy to sleep for another hour. We chatted about the route at 06:00 as we were a little unsure whether to follow the plan or change it, and of course the rain arrived at 06:15, soaking the tent! We got dressed and semi-packed and dashed to the Vindskydd with our panniers and bags. In between trips back to the tent I had not noticed but the roof of the Vindskydd leaked, luckily not too much on our sleeping bags, etc. The rain came down quite heavily. We settled in for brekky, glad of the shelter and pit toilet for our use! We left at 08:00 and the rain had stopped. We hardly had any rain for the day.
It was a cruisy 25km to Arjeplog through beautiful Lappland forest. The road was quiet and as always we kept an eye out for moose, and as always didn't see one. At Arjeplog we headed for the Coop and shopped up a storm as we will be without a shop for the next few days. We were lucky the supermarkets were open as they are often closed on Sundays here. We had a complication in that I had left the trowel behind in the river bushcamp we camped at on Friday night. Without too much detail, when there is no pit toilet at a bush camp you have to dig a hole in the ground. I think I was swarmed by sandflies, panicked and in my panic forgot the trowel on the ground. We could not find one in Arjeplog, the outdoor store would have had one but they were closed. We went to eat at the river's edge and considered our route options for the day. Our route was good but it would take us on gravel road on a large loop in pretty much the wrong direction. The other option was the route 95 and then onto the E45 but we did not really want to do that. Examining the map, Mike found a third option in the middle which was road which appeared sealed for half the way and would cut out the loop and basically save us a day as we could get to tomorrow night's campsite by tonight doing 85km! Winner! Then as we were leaving town we saw the inevitable LOPPIS handpainted sign and Mike said, "Maybe they wiill have a trowel?". So we turned down the road and the Loppis store was just inside somebody's house garage. A young girl was in charge and two little boys were hanging around. "Do you have a small spade for digging?" I asked. She smiled and went to look through a plastic bag and hauled out three heavy duty plastic trowels! Pretty cool! Mike liked the green one so we bought it for 5 SEK (AUD 0.80)! I only had a 200 SEK note but she gave me change! We now consider ourselves Swedish, having shopped for Loppis.
We joined the 95 for a few kilometers and then turned off onto our road which was fabulous. It was fully sealed for 20km and very quiet. Only a handful of cars passed us the whole way. The road went through stunning forest, with massive lichen covered boulders and beautiful lakes. We stopped and watched a pair of reindeer on the road ahead for a while (see pic). At 20km there was the community of Svannas and then the road was unsealed for the other 20km, but very good quality all the way. About 1km from the end we crossed a beautiful river and shortly after there was a sign "Taltplats". We turned in and there in a large clearing next to the river was place to camp with an amazing view of lakes and forest. We were happy to stop 10km short as we had pretty much made up the day and also there was a massive black rain cloud heading our way. We got the tent up quickly before it hit. After sheltering from the rain we had a lovely cold swim. Later on a reindeer appeared on the other side of the river and waded through to us. He was unconcerned and walked right on by into the forest behind us, his long antlers bobbing along in front! Pretty cool. We are now very close to the Arctic Circle, 66 deg 2 min, and 2 days ride from Jokkmokk.
Weather was the same today as yesterday with rain threatening but never arriving, which suits us! We rejoined our route and it was gravel roads all day today. The forest track was as always very beautiful and quiet! We saw many reindeer, including a small herd on walk-about with a few white reindeer amongst it. The reindeer are quite curious of us and as the road is traffic free they seem to think they own it! They are all feet when they run off, noses in the air to balance their heavy antler burdens. We had a fabulous coffee break as we got to a picnic site on a lake with toilet, lavuu and even little change rooms (see pic).
Our route ran alongside the Inlandsbanen (railway line) for a way and we crossed the Kombi-Bridge over Pite River, so named as it is a rail and vehicle bridge at the same time (see pic). Just after crossing we stopped to look at an information board and heard the train toot in the distance. It was uncanny that it soon came along, luckily for us we were already over the rail crossing and bridge. It was just one carriage and stopped before the Kombi-Bridge to let the tourists on board get out and walk over the bridge. The river is impressive. We stopped for lunch shortly after this and then the road deteriorated a bit a became quite gravelly from being super smooth.
The are a few communities that you pass through on the road, mostly Sami communities. About 10km short of our planned end point we crossed a small but fast-running river and a good campspot up high. It is good to camp out in the open and higher up for a breeze as this deters the bugs. Interestingly we have very few mozzies, but quite a few irritating sandflies and the breeze puts them off. In the late afternoon as we were cooking dinner, the same herd of reindeer we had seen earlier came walking past our camp and then out onto the road. There were some stragglers who came close to watch us before joining the group. Much later on a lone stag came trotting by also, and then a male and female couple. The rain that was forecast hasn't really arrived, but the skies were heavy grey all day. The E45 to Jokkmokk tomorrow!
We were awake before 05:00 and there was no rain. We were pretty excited about getting to Jokkmokk as it seems like we have been aiming for it for a while, and we were keen to get on the E45 early. The E45 is the national route through Sweden and we have avoided it mostly. So we got going early, on the bikes at 06:40! We had 10km on the gravel road before hitting the E45. We saw lots of reindeer today, both on the road and in the bush. The E45 was a terrific road to ride, fast and well-graded. Only problem was there were a lot of roadworks on it for about 30km, including 2 stop-go's. The road was quiet though, most of the traffic being construction vehicles. It says a lot about the Swedish Roads Authority when you ride on the older section of road which has not been replaced and there is hardly anything wrong with it! The new surface was a treat.
About 7km before Jokkmokk we crossed the Arctic Circle with its signboard and inevitable cafe and souvenier store. I wanted to get a Sami/Sampi flag sticker for my bike but drew the line at the $7 (50SEK) price tag. Jokkmokk is a small town and we went to the outdoor clothing store, a pizza place for lunch and Jokkmook Tenn which is an amazing silversmiths which I wanted to visit. The shop is in the workshop so you can see everything being made. Silver craft is a Sami tradition and I have bought pieces in Norway and Finland in the past as the quality is brilliant. I chose a beautiful siilver pendant on a chain called "Polarnat" which is the forest silhouetted against the polar sky. We then made our way to the small farm campsite we had chosen where we planned to take a rest day tomorrow. It was a nice place and also nice to have a hot shower (first in 10 days) and do the laundry (first actual machine wash since Amsterdam), but we have not used a campsite since Germany and it just felt a bit hemmed in. The camping field was right at the front gate which meant it was very noisy with car traffic coming and going (well, noisy for us but probably our limits have changed in that regard!).
We decided this morning to push on as the weather was good and we wondered what we would do for the whole day at the campsite as it wasn't really a relaxing place. There wasn't much else that we wanted to do in Jokkmokk. We stopped at the Coop on the way to buy briquettes and BBQ meat as we still planned a day off tomorrow. Our route today was fabulous. We were on the E45 for a short time (5km) and then turned off onto a great secondary road which was really quiet with beautiful scenery. We saw many reindeer on this road. Still no moose! We crossed the Messaure Dam over the dam wall and then turned onto a gravel road for a steep climb up. The dam was amazing, one of 11 hydro-electric stations along the Lule River. After the climb the gravel road continued into a popular fishing area (once again) . There was an information board on the side of the road that showed the location of vindskydds and even pit toilets. We saved these spots to our map and reached the next vindskydd soon enough. It was a great spot on a lake. About 250m on was a pit toilet with a little road sign indicating it was there! There was a caravan parked nearby and a couple came walking along from it with fishing gear. They chatted to us. They were from Gallivare (we are going there in a day or so) and come here to fish. Just then a fish made a splash from the lake and they dashed off in that direction! We returned to the vindskydd and settled in. We had an amazing swim in the lake, water so clear you could see the bottom clearly at all times which is unusual in a lake! We then had a delicious BBQ and settled down in the vindskydd for a rest. Pretty soon it began to rain and it has not stopped for nearly 2 hours! The vindskydd has a couple of leaks but we are grateful for it. We will pitch the tent when there is a break in the rain which looks unlikely!
Another quiet night last night. We had a sleep in as we had decided to split a day over two instead of having a whole day off. So yesterday's 87km distance became 51km yesterday and the remainder 36km today. We got up around 08:00 and were on the road by 09:30. We had about 20km of dirt road still with beautiful views of moose country all around. Still no moose to be seen. We stopped at Nattevara for a coffee break and then had only 15km to go! The road is sealed from here and very quiet. We are camping at a lavuu on the road at a river. We pitched the tent as we arrived which was a good decision as the heavens opened just afterwards with very heavy rain like yesterday. The lavuu also leaked like yesterday! After the rain we had a swim and a BBQ, this time with marshmallows for dessert. The rain started up again and we jumped into the tent. There are many sandlfies here.
We were woken at 04:00 this morning by a car pulling in to the laavu area. Two men got out, speaking loudly to each other in Swedish. We heard the clinking of fishing rods and other equipment. I asked Mike what the time was and when he said "4" I was amazed. Mike opened his tent flap and stuck his head out and said "Hey". The guy said "You should be fishing this time of the the morning!" Mike laughed and the guy said "We bring you a fish for breakfast!". We had to laugh. This is so Scandinavian! We dozed a bit after this but got up at 05:30 to brave the sandflies. We had a 90-odd km day ahead and with this rain in the afternoon every day it seemed like a good idea to get on the road. We got about 6 mosquito coils going which did put the bugs off and had brekky. After we had finished and I was just having my coffee, the fishermen came walking back. The younger guy was called Johan and was very chatty. He explained that he is Sami and is part of a reindeer herding family and community. It was so interesting talking to him. He has been called as a representative to the Sami parliament. As a sideline he has a business operating one-on-one tours for people interested in the way of life of a reindeer herder. We got his e-mail address in case anyone reading this is interested to a trip up north. He explained that his village has 4000 reindeer that run the whole area between two major roads. They are busy with the reindeer all year even though the reindeer look after themselves in the wild. They always know where they are based on the food they eat at certain times and they know where to find the food and thus their reindeer. In winter the reindeer can smell the lichen over a meter under the snow and will dig for it. Some winters when the snow ices over, this is not possible and they transport the animals by truck to the Lulea Archipelego where they have an island they can graze on. They herd them over the iced water on foot. This is so fascinating it would be great to come over in winter to do a tour with Johan. He was quite a humorous fellow, he said he should charge us a coffee tax for camping on the Sami land. I let him have some of mine.
We still got going at a good time just after 08:00 and had a quick 36km to Gallivare which was a town the size of Jokkmokk, maybe a bit bigger. It was a beautiful ride on a lovely road. Still overcast but no rain. Still scanning the open swampland for moose of which there are no sign. Johan had told us there are moose around and they are all waiting for the start of September when it is moose hunting season. He usually only needs one small moose but his village can take 55 per season. They use this as a source of income, selling the meat. Anyway, no moose appear for us. We ate at Gallivare and I bought a new pair of cycling shorts as I am down to one pair only and noticed it has a hole in it today, which I will repair, but have to have a back up. Mike bought a hi-vis vest for visability on the road in these murky conditions. We chatted to a man about our travels through Sweden. People are often curious. We love it that, unlike our North American trip, no one has yet said, "You'll die out there!" or "You can't still be going north! Get the hell out of here!". Here you say "Karesuando" when they ask where you are heading and they think that is quite reasonable. We will get to our turn around point at Karesuando on Monday and are quite relieved it is only three days away. Time to go south now.
We left Gallivare and joined the E45. We passed Lapland Airport! Unlike the ride to Jokkmokk, the E45 here is very busy, with a lot of truck traffic. This made the ride a little unenjoyable. We had a 300m climb and then a descent to the end of our day. We are happy to have only Saturday and Sunday further on this road, hopefully it will be quieter on the weekend. We got to a small village before our campspot so did another spot of shopping. The campspot is at a fishing spot. It is amazing with pit toilet, great jetty to swim off, undercover benches and table, as well as an indoor seating area with fireplace! Brilliant! Once again the heavy rain arrived just after arriving, and having pitched the tent. Lucky us (again)!
Blue skies today; we had forgotten what they looked like! There were clouds too of course, but we had not seen skies this blue in nearly two weeks! We were up early again and on the road by 07:00 to try and get some riding in while the roads were still quiet. We wondered two things re: the traffic. First, did most cars and campervans travelling the road go further north to Kiruna and Norway, and second, where was the road construction going on which all these semi-trailers were riding to and from? After 20km our road turned off and was still called the E45, the E10 continues to Kiruna. Immediately the traffic halved, which answered the first question in our favour. We took our coffee break on the side of the road a while later and there were construction vehicles going past. We reached Vittangi to do some shopping after 46km and the construction vehicles were all turning down the road in the opposite direction to us, so happily that answered the second question; the road construction would not effect us! We had decided to do a 90km day today and stopped for lunch at around 64km at a beautiful rest area complete with toilets and laavu's. A beautiful spot, see pic below.
Around 90km we were looking for a campspot and there was quite a good one about 200m off the road at a river, the mozzies were horrendous though. We pressed on to a small settlement at a river but there was nowhere good to camp. We came across a lady walking along the road a short time later and said hi. When we hit the 100km mark and still had not found a spot to camp we were a little worried about the weather as rain looked to be coming, and has been arriving every afternoon (and we have been lucky to have missed it each time). We saw a small stream at the side of the road and filtered water as a back up which frees you up to camp anywhere as you have your shower in the bag (a necessity for us)! We had to use our bug nets here as the sandflies were atrocious. The walking lady we passed caught up to us and told us how she had travelled to Karesuando, insisting to show us a photo on her phone. We were polite but there were so many bugs. How can they not be biting her too? She told us she was here with the church for a week of prayer, so maybe they were praying that the bugs left them alone, in which case I should start doing that too! Anyway, we set off and lo and behold not 2km along the road we found the little lake with pit toilet and bench. It also had the remains of a reindeer, it's pelt from the looks of things and bits of fur all around. Of course a campervan parked right at the bench in front of the lake although no one was outside (Campervanners never seem to be outdoors). We leant our bikes at the bench and waved at the woman sitting inside. We thought we would have a swim in the lake and then camp over the road as with the campervan there there was not much room. So we opened our panniers and set about grabbing all our stuff, bugs going crazy, and then had to get changed for the swim. We had our backs to the van and so just stripped off and jumped into our swimmers and then rushed down to the water to escape the blood-sucking bastards. Mike was quicker than me and as I ran for the water I heard the campervan drive off. The lake was shallow but very cold which is great for itchy spots and we just lay down in it. "One way to scare off the campervans," laughed Mike, "Just act like crazy people and they will quickly rush off!". Looking back at the table and benches I just laughed. Our stuff was everywhere and the way we just stripped off in the open and then chucked our swimmers on and ran into the lake! We must have looked like freaks! Now that we had the whole place to ourselves we pitched the tent and got inside. It did not rain, but we could not be bothered with the bugs any longer. We are 50km from Finland so we start heading south then.
A Spanish cycle tourist arrived last night to camp at the same spot. He was the first cycle tourist we have seen in weeks! His plan was to go to Nordkapp but the weather was unsupportive of this with a lot of rain forecast. He had a stringed instrument with him of some sort. After he had pitched his tent a few meters from ours, he was either strumming a tune on this, listenning to Spanish people on some internet channel, or speaking to many people on the phone. Eventually we went to sleep listening to him gabbling on. The wind came up during the night and a strong southerly was forecast for today. We had an early start and were riding by 07:00, with a raging tailwind pushing us towards our turn-around point at Karesuvando. It was 50km to the village. There is a famous knife manufacturer there, Lapland knives beautifully handcrafted, but being Sunday they were Stängt (closed). Luckily the Handlarn (local grocery shop) was open and we had a 10min wait for that to open. The Spaniard also pulled up just before 10:00. As the southerly would pretty quickly become a strong headwind we decided on a shorter day too. We shopped up a storm at the Handlarn and then cycled over the river Muonionjoki into Finland. We then had 8km to a lavuu. All the lavuu locations are listed on a website that Mike downloaded prior to leaving, so we have them on our map. It was quite an effort to get down to the lavuu as it was on the river, but we managed and it will be worth it as we will spend a rest day here tomorrow. It is actually a kota, which means it is a semi-circular structure with sloping roof and a fit pit. It is beautifully made with a properly waterproof roof! Take a note Swedes! There is also a good pit toilet. We have river access here so we had a very cold swim. As we were dressing a couple came by on a row boat and the lady told us they were going to try to catch a salmon. This took 5min 'til we saw them pull out a good sized one! We had a fabulous BBQ of delicious beef steak. It is a lovely spot. We have about 330km ride from here to Rovaniemi (and a hotel stay) and are due to arrive on Saturday which at 5 days riding is plenty hence the shorter day today! We are happy to be going south now, it feels like good timing!