After much research and endless planning I can confirm we now have this tour sorted. As Lonely Planet puts it Sweden may not look terribly outlandish, still it feels distinctly and wonderfully foreign. I think this is what this tour will be about: discovering different landscapes to those that we usually explore in our bikes.
***This tour is only open to those who have cycled with us before as I need to be sure you'll be able to cycle 80 miles for 6 days. Please email me if you'd like to discuss your attendance***
I have had to pick a few towns and villages, some of these have been chosen arbitrarily, some in favour of logistics, some with a particular or curious feature in mind. I’ve tried to cover the hustle and bustle of vibrant Stockholm and Copenhagen; stretches of the famous Gotta Canal (all paved, don’t worry!), some of the vast and beautiful lakes; forests and also some coastline. Unfortunately, Gotenborg and Malmo had to be left out but I hope they won’t be much missed.
The tour is just under 500 miles and the total elevation is approximately 28000ft. However, we only have about 250 miles of rolling countryside. The rest is pretty much flat. The catch will be the scenery…and the distance. With the exception of the first day, we will be cycling an average of 80 miles each day. This is not just to spice up the journey but also and mainly to save in accommodation. Needless to say that accommodation in Sweden (and Denmark for that matter) is very expensive. We will be following paved cycling paths or lanes on quiet roads. Exceptionally, we may encounter a busy stretch.
There’s a reason why we’re doing this trip at the end of May. At this time, winter will have hopefully been left behind AND the infamous mosquito season will have not started yet. Also, we’ll still be outside the main Swedish holiday period so prices will be relatively cheaper and roads less crowded. At this time of the year we can expect daylight until 8pm at least. Also, on these dates we’ll use one Bank holiday meaning that we only need 4 days annual leave. Plus, we’ll be back in London by Friday evening leaving us the whole weekend to unwind and get ready for work the following Monday.
I have favoured hotels over hostels although some accommodation is with shared bathrooms (i.e. one night we have a whole cottahe for ourselves so we will only share between us). I believe that private rooms is a luxury we will welcome after the long distances. Breakfast will be included every morning, however I can’t guarantee the quality or quantity of it! I’ve tried to go by the reviews and hopefully we will have good food. Another reason for choosing hotels over hostels is to have towels and bed linen provided, thus we can free up that space in our bags. I have made sure that I book hotels that have either parking on site or gardens/courtyards where we can leave our bikes overnight, this is also true for Copenaghen. Please note that I can't guarantee same sex rooms. This will very much depend on how many males/females sign up.
For lunch, we will probably have picnics en route. That will be the cheapest and most scenic option as we will never be far from a lake. In the evening, meals won’t come cheap but as long as we avoid the ever expensive Swedish alcohol we should be fine. On a couple of occasions we will have kitchens in our cottage/apartment so we can cook melas for the evening and/or something for lunch the day after, if we feel like it.
This is a very rough description of our itinerary. A more detailed itinerary and the tracks for each day will be available closer to departure. Equally, further tips about how to pack your bike for the flight, suggestions for medical insurance, etc.
Day 1: Upon arrival in Stockholm you will be able to either follow me on a 50 mile ride starting at the airport. The route will take us into Stockholm via the picturesque village of Sigtuna, which apparently is one not to be missed. Alternatively, you could opt to take the Arlanda Express into town. Bikes are accepted for a small fee. Hopefully we should have some time to wander around the city as we look for a place for dinner.
Day 2: We leave Stockholm meandering along the eastern coast for a while. We pass by Nyoping, once the setting for one of Swedish royalty greatest feuds and a mellow and pretty town these days. At the end of our approximate 100 mile day we should arrive in Norrkoping, in the Ostergotland region. Originally an example of industrial city, Norrkoping has cleverly regenerated its defunct mills and canals into a string of cultural and gastronomic hang-outs fringing waterfalls and locks.
Day 3: Approximately 80 miles. We’ll cycle along some stretches of the Gotta Canal and past two of its main marinas/locks. Then pass by Vadstena, a quaint village home to the Bridgettine Monastery, the oldest Town Hall in Sweden and the well-preserved Vadstena Castle. We continue cycling alongside the almighty Lake Vattern upto Odeshog, where we’ll stay overnight in a hotel overlooking the lake.
**The Gotta Canal is Sweden's greatest civil engineering feat. It was built between 1802 and 1832 by some[masked] soldiers! It connects the North Sea with the Baltic Sea and inland the lakes Vadstena and Vattern**
Day 4: 80 miles approx. We stay close to the lake and in the region of Smaland, with dense forests, glinting lakes and marshlands. We go via Jonkoping, the town where matches were invented. We continue along forests and woods upto Varnamo.
Day 5: We head towards the western coast, we will spend some time at Halmstad, an old fortified town which is now the capital of the Halland County. We continue zig-zagging the coast up to Mellbystrand where we'll spend the night.
Day 6: Our final day in our bikes...just under 70 miles will separate us from Copehagen. We reach eclectic Helsingborg, where the rejuvenated water-front shares metro-glam restaurants (not that we'll try them!), cobbled streets and lofty castle ruins. From there, we have a ferry crossing to Denmark every 20 minutes. Once in Denmark, we'll only be 20 miles away from Copenaghen.
Day 7: we will have an evening flight back to London. That will allow us for a late night in Copenaghen and some time for sightseeing in the early morning. The airport is 15 mins away in train or 10ish miles by bike.
COST OF THE TRIP: (£600) AFTER 13/2/14 YOU WILL NEED TO ASK ME FOR AN UPDATED QUOTE. This is inclusive of: flights; accommodation (as above); breakfast; ferry crossing and train tickets to/from London Heathrow. The cost does not include: medical insurance, travel insurance, bike mechanics, support during the trip if your journey is curtailed (see below, i.e. train ticket from one town to another within Sweden). Please note you will have to pay for lunch/dinner and snacks.
Ideally, you will pay the full amount upon RSVP. However, this is a tricky time of the year and most of us are broken. I am happy for you to pay 50% (£300) upon RSVP and the reminder in as many installments as you need as long as you pay in full by 1/4/14.
Please note that this price is guaranteed until 31/1/14. Thereafter, please ask for an updated quote.
***OTHER THINGS TO BEAR IN MIND*****
• Difficulty: medium. Anyone who has cycled with us before should be able to complete this trip. Don't be put off by daily mileage: after day 2 your bum won't notice and your legs will take you anywhere. Elevation will be easy to moderate so we should cycle 100 miles with ease.
• Type of trip: self-supported. This means that you'll have to catch a train or flight to the next destination if you or your bike break down in the middle of the trip. However, if anything went wrong Sweden has a good railway network and you should be able to get to our next destination by train. This would be at your own cost and I cannot guarantee that we would be able to make necessary arrangements for you (i.e. we'll be on a tight schedule ourselves!).
• You will need a bag to carry your bike as hold luggage. You can get one for £10 at Wiggle. For the return flight, Copenaghen is a bike haven so we should be able to buy another bag there.
• We will fly out of and into Heathrow. We will take the Heathrow Express to reach the airport and back to Central London. I will confirm departure and arrival times shortly.
•REFUNDS: Please note that once you transfer the money to pay for the trip NO REFUNDS WILL BE AVAILABLE. That applies both if you drop out before the start date or it you bail out en route. If you find someone else to take your place you will ONLY be elegible to a 50% refund if you have paid the FULL price. If you have paid in installments you won't be elegible for any refunds even if someone else takes your place. By sending your payment you are agreeing to this policy.
***NOTE: we have a no helmet no ride policy. If you don't wear a helmet you won't be allowed to cycle with us****