Twenty, Twenty

By Stephen Ewashkiw | August 19, 2013

5652 km so far.

More often than not, during this past week, 20 km has taken us close to two hours to ride. Today, for the first time in what feels like a really long time, we managed a 20 km hour. This used to be our average.

Ever since we left Stockholm a week ago we have been battling the weather and the terrain. Hills upon hills. I remember about two months ago we looked at the elevation change between Stockholm and Malmö. It was close to 3000 meters. “Yes, but…,” Jane assured me, “It’s going to be spread out over two weeks of riding.”

When we looked more closely at the elevation changes we did in fact see that most hills were not more than 100 meters and it really did seem manageable. However, when they come one after another after another, it is quite tiring, and slows us down considerably.

At Sixes And Sevens

All the rain, the threat of rain, the uncertainty of whether it will rain, the cold nights, the wet tent, and the hills, the hills, the hills, have driven us a bit mad these past few days. Should we pay for a hotel? Should we just go to the nearest train station and get on a train? Should we just stop cycle touring all together?

woman bike cleaning

Cleaning the bike after one of many rainstorms.

It has challenged us, tested us. So, at lunch, we bought a tub of Carte D’Or Chocolate TofuLine Vegan Ice Cream and devoured the entire 750 ml. That definitely made us feel better.

And then, the sun came out and the uphills became downhills. We have been joking that we must have finally crossed the middle line of Sweden and after climbing from Stockholm we are finally on the descent to the opposite coast. The joke is, partly, that we are about two thirds of the way across the country and we still seem to be going up.

Hindsight Is…

We are almost there. Tomorrow we ride to Göteborg and beyond that we will ride along the (mostly) flat coast to get to Malmö. The worst of the elevation changes, in Sweden, are behind us. We hope.

We faced the challenges, we met them, and we came out the other side. Are we better for it? Did it make us stronger? I don’t know yet. But I do know we saw some beautiful parts of Sweden, and we met some interesting people.

wooden church in sweden

A red wooden church, Sweden.

I would climb more hills, face more inclement weather, to meet the guy we met today in Ryd who didn’t speak much English but wanted to know about our bike trip: where we were from, where we’d gone, and where we were headed. He even told us the weather was meant to improve for the rest of the week.

Would I do it again? Hells yeah. It’s been a challenge, but why turn away from a challenge? We could have hopped on a train at any point, but we chose to ride our bikes. We haven’t kept a log of our elevation change on the trip, but I would guess we have easily climbed more than 20,000 meters. What’s an extra 3,000?

When you end the day camped on the edge of a Swedish lake, having just eaten a delicious ‘home’ cooked meal, and having had a refreshing swim to wash off the day’s work, how can you complain?

perfect camping spot boras sweden

Reflections on the lake, Boras.

I can’t.

Soundtrack: Julia Holter, Ekstasis  

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  1. Comment by Tomas

    Tomas August 21, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Just to set your expectations, it’s 99.99% sure that you can NOT bring the bikes on the train in Sweden. You might have some luck once you get very close to malmö if they have a commuter train there. The same goes for long distance buses.

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane August 25, 2013 at 10:13 am

      You are able to take your bike on the regional trains in Sweden, and we have now done it. It’s a bit crowded, but there are specific cars for bikes, wheelchairs, and prams. The conductor is even supposed to tell people to move so you can fit your bike in, though this doesn’t always happen.

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