Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Someone else on a bicycle!

This is a rare event, considering the number of miles clocked up here in Sweden. After days and days of riding in isolation from Stockholm along the Sverigeleden I meet another cyclist, heading in the opposite direction!

The scenery behind our bikes is fairly typical of this part of Varmland between Fredrikstad and Hagfors - the road just keeps climbing and falling, and it is rainy and cool. The pine trees form a pretty impenetrable barrier beside the road, and beyond them the ground is often either swamp or rocks and tree roots. On the plus side, there's very little traffic, and cars and lorries give cyclists a wide berth.

And it is very, very quiet.

Janine tells me I'm the first person she has talked to for some time, and that I am the only cycletourist she has seen here (same goes for me).

She has been riding for three or four weeks from Trondheim towards Stockholm, and we had a lot to talk about. I could tell her that her endless days of pine trees, hills, and lakes are nearly over - just 120 km to go to the rich farmlands of Dalarna - and she could warn me about endless days of pine trees, hills and lakes ahead for me! We both stopped early yesterday as the rain intensified into a gale (much damage here in Sweden). But whilst I was tucked up in front of a wood burning stove writing my diary in a holiday chalet at Säfsen, Janine was once again lying in a wet tent for most of the afternoon, listening to branches creaking ominously above her tent in the storm.

So one salient difference is that she's been wild camping for weeks at a time, with just a dip in a perfectly silent lake to look forward to at the end of each day. And she drinks her water from lakes and churchyard taps - one tough cookie! I'm not quite ready to embrace discomfort for days at a time, but maybe I should really throw myself into the feral lifestyle now, when I've got just a few weeks to go? This is after all the ideal place to go really wild, there's no-one else around for miles.

In the end, Hagfors was going to be my final destination for the day because it's the only town of any size along this stretch of road. It is raining again, but this time I'm in a sizable but cheap three-room apartment close to the Tourist Information office, which is apparently the closest thing the town has to a hostel. I haven't seen much of the town yet, but I plan to go out for a wander when the rain stops later ... correction, if the rain stops later...


SteveH said...

Hi Jerry,

Just caught up with your email and blog after returning from hols in COrnwall last week. Great time but feel a bit miserable that only a week.

btw I think you should gofor it wrt the 'feral' lifestyle!


Søren said...

Hehe, either you dig the landscape or you don't, there's not much room in between. Same goes for canoeing trips — it's lakes with trees. Half the people (like me) can never see enough of it, the other half goes like "D'uh, more trees.." on day #2.

As far as the "feral living" goes, it always works for me and is the one thing that helps me to completely free my mind of all those minuscule everyday trivialities.

Saying that, I daresay you've been on the road long enough to have achieved that particular state of mind already.

I'd still recommend the experience, if only so you can appreciate the boons of civilisation all the better afterwards.