Sweden-Halmstad-feat

Under Pressure

5909 km so far.

This morning we mentally prepared for a pretty long ride. The 93 km we had planned would get us to the cottage of a Warm Showers host near Halmstad, where we could camp in the garden. We weren’t too worried though, because if the riding was anything like yesterday, it would be flat, fast, and relatively wind free.

So we made a little time this morning to play with the sheep who had been our companions overnight. Stephen picked apples and berries off the trees and fed them, while they pressed in on all sides. Good thing sheep aren’t too dangerous.

Self-Imposed

As we expected, it was a great ride this morning, all along smooth, flat, fast bike paths. We wound our way down the Swedish west coast, sometimes through coastal farmland, sometimes past gorgeous beaches which look like they belong in the Mediterranean.

Once in a while, we’d pass a village full of adorable Swedish summer cabins. When it comes to designing our tiny house, we will definitely be looking at the Swedish cottage design magazines for inspiration. Maybe we can even buy a prefab and have it shipped wherever we end up.

A pretty Swedish farm.

A pretty Swedish farm.

We arrived at our lunch stop, in Falkenburg, with 50 km under our belts. When I ride, I can’t help but thinking about distances, and I was feeling pretty good to have gone more than halfway before 1pm.

The bathhouse in Falkenburg, sadly not open the day we were there.

The bathhouse in Falkenburg, sadly not open the day we were there.

That’s when Stephen discovered that Halmstad was still a 74 km ride away. Somehow, our route planning had gone awry and we had miscalculated the distance. Ugh. A 128 km ride is farther than we’ve ever done. Too far. I didn’t see the need to push it, since we’d been passing perfect free camping spots all day, but it’s this kind of thing that motivates Stephen. A little pressure, real or imagined, is just what it takes to get him moving.

He’d been riding slowly all morning, but after lunch he took off like a frightened gazelle.

Feeling full and rather sluggish, I really didn’t feel like keeping up. But for some reason, I felt pressured to do so, and found my legs pumping hard while my brain resisted every pedal stroke.

We passed by lots of great-looking free camping spots, but just kept on pushing and pushing. Around the 110 km mark, we found a real campground and I insisted we stop – but just for ice cream. Actually, what we got was a tub of mango sorbet. Totally vegan! Exactly the thing we needed to fuel the final leg of our ride.

From Without

While I was buying ice cream, Stephen was checking his email. When I returned, he said ominously:

We need to talk.

The good news was, he’d been offered a yoga class at the Copenhagen Yoga Festival. The bad news was, it’s on Saturday. It seems someone had to drop out last minute, and they wanted Stephen to replace him.

There was no way we could ride there in time. It didn’t take us long to decide that teaching at the festival was more important than riding another 95 km down the coast, so our plans abruptly changed. We’ll be getting on the train tomorrow, for the first time since we left Rome all those months ago.

This will probably not be the train we take to Malmö.

This will probably not be the train we take to Malmö.

Now, instead of the self-imposed pressure we’d felt earlier, there was real pressure to get somewhere on time.

Since our day’s destination was close to the train station, we pushed on, and rolled up to the local supermarket at 6:51pm, leaving us exactly 9 minutes to shop for dinner. As it turns out, the time pressure was no problem. We are getting pretty good at getting in and out of stores with the bare minimum of fuss and bother.

From Within

After dinner we walked down to the beach, chiefly in search of a toilet.

The beach was surprisingly beautiful, with giant reed-covered dunes giving way to a wide, sandy waterfront. It would have been a great place to camp if we hadn’t already been ensconced at our cottage.

If you ever find yourself near Halmstad, be sure to visit the beach is Frösakull, just a few kilometres to the north.

The beach in Frösakull.

The beach in Frösakull.

The toilets turned out to be elusive, and we walked several kilometres, the pressure in our bladders mounting. Finally Stephen asked someone, and she told us about a campground just off the beach.

Families enjoying the sunset, Frösakull.

Families enjoying the sunset, Frösakull.

We headed there, only to discover that all the restrooms were locked up tight, and we needed a key card to access them. Fair enough, I suppose.

Still, we really needed to use the facilities, not least of all to get some drinking water and to wash away the dirt and sweat from our long ride. We loitered around like a couple of street urchins, waiting for someone to come or go. No one came or went, but finally, we noticed that the door was not shut properly, and we could just walk in. Success!

Refreshed, we walked back to our campsite in the dark, along the main road in this tiny community. I always feel a little displaced when we walk by houses at night, with the warm glow of lights and TVs seeming to beckon us closer. We know we’re not really welcome inside though, and I find myself wishing we had our own place to go.

Still, we had our cozy tent, and after we washed the dishes out in the cold, dark yard, we crawled inside. As the pressure of the day faded away, we almost felt at home.  

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