Sweden to the UK
Disembarking the ferry from the Lofotens in Bodo, Norway, I headed through the cool evening south along the E6, then turned off to the east, heading for Sweden. Twisting mountain roads, tall timbers, rushing rivers. Great stuff. It was glorious riding weather and I was really enjoying myself. Stopped at the roadhouse near the now almost non-existent border crossing customs point, to have a coffee and, fortunately, was able to change some money into Swedish kroners in case I needed it for a camping park this night.
Just after I crossed the actual border into Sweden, two smallish red deer bounded across the road behind a passing semi-trailer, just in front of me. When speaking to some Swedish bikers in the following days, they'd never seen any red deer, and one had never known there were deer in Sweden. Oh well, there's a first for everything, I suppose.
Above and below: Sweden
Above: Yet another Arctic Circle crossing and sign. I've crossed the Circle in Alaska (4 times), Finland and now Sweden.
I was on the lookout for a campground, but most of the ones along the road were only for motorhomes or caravans, not tents. so I just kept pegging along into the falling dusk until I got to Jackvik and found one which took tents. But there was no-one there!! So I just set up the tent on the edge of the lake, took some photos above and below then went looking for the loos and showers. Next door to where I was camped was a building with Eves and Adams, so I naturally assumed that was the facilities block. Opened the unlocked door and wandered in, all very nice, with lounges, a kitchen and a bedroom. Oops! It was an apartment, or rather, two apartments, a his and hers arrangement of some sort.
But I needed to go, so tootled into the bathroom as if I owned it! Still no-one around when I walked back out, so I could actually have stayed in there for the night, as no-one would have known. But the tent was up, so after fighting off the huge mozzies and lighting a mozzie coil to burn through the night in the vestibule, it was time to crash, and crash I did.
Below: Finally - a sign post showing that Australia exists!!!
Not long before I'd stopped to camp the previous night, I'd encountered some areas of roadworks/construction. Mostly these were fine, just hardpacked gravel with a few loose stones. But then I unexpectedly hit a patch about 100 metres long of loose tennisball sized stones! Instinctively, I must have backed off the throttle, and the front end started to rapidly go into a tank slapper. I was going down for sure, I thought frantically!! Then a voice in my head started screaming at me: :POWER ON! POWER ON!! So I did, and the front settled down somewhat and I managed to keep it upright and get back onto the hardpack safely. Phew! I thought I was a goner, that time!
There were several more patches of stones to negotiate before camping, but I was aware now, and slowed down but kept the power on all the time.
The next day, much further south into Sweden, there was more roadworks. This time there were longer stretches of the loose tennisball stones, but as they were often only on one lane, it was sometimes possible to move over into the other lane of hardpack to avoid the, I followed a car all the way through, as he was travelling at a sensible speed and negotiating the bad spots carefully. But we had to endure one stretch of about 500 metres of stones, as there was too much oncoming traffic to get out of our lane. These roadworks went on for mile after mile after mile, seemingly neverending, with occasional patches of the stones.
Towards the end of the roadworks, our lane was all hardpack with the oncoming lane totally being the stones, for about 4kms!!! As I was departing the roadworks, I really, really felt for the two-up BMW1150RT about to hit these 4kms of stones. I do hope they made it through safely!
Above and below: a great fire ring, and below, fireweed which is profuse in the arctic regions of the world, taken at the next campground I visited in Sweden.
Above: And my ship comes in ..... The ferry from Sweden across to Denmark.
I would heartily recommend you do NOT run out of fuel on the motorway into Copenhagen!!! DAMHIK !
I rode on through the evening and into the night, finally diverging off the autobahns onto smaller roads leading to Cloppenburg, in Germany, where I found a hotel. As it was almost 11.00pm, the night manager looked at me dubiously, until I flashed the credit card and my passport, then he hesitantly booked me in. Funny how he spoke no English, until after I had booked and paid! But it was a lovely kingsize bed, with lots and lots of hot water for a long shower. And the included brekky outside on the patio was superb.
Above and below: The pretty city park in Cloppenburg, where I stayed at the hotel. Breakfast was outside on the patio, seen centre right, above. It was so relaxing, while having brekky, watching all the cyclists of all ages pedalling through the park on their way to work, school or other activities, as some of them were quite elderly.
Below: The things one sees beside the road! A very tall wooden giraffe, just after I'd left Cloppenburg.
I wasn't able to get on either of this day's eurotunnel train or the ferry for less than an exhorbitant price, so after checking online, decided to stay overnight in Calais, and catch an early train, as that was the cheaper option overall, even taking the hotel cost into account.
While checking the Calais info board to see where the hotel I'd booked online was - as the GPS wouldn't find it - up walked two Aussies! It's really a small, small world out there. We chatted for a while, then the male said he'd seen the street I wanted, not far down from where we were. He was correct. Booked into the hotel, securely parked the bike in their small locked garage beside a French registered V-Strom, then went wandering up the cosmopolitan sidewalks, looking for somewhere to eat. Naturally, I accidently just happened to sit at a sidewalk eatery table right beside some more Aussies, although we didn't speak, as they seemed a bit too toffy, for me.
Off the train in the morning, I went straight to the Folkstone Macca's to check my email. As I was leaving, a guy walked up and started chatting, and so we chatted, and chatted some more! Keep your dreams, Tim, and plan ahead. Your time will come, one day.
Tootling along on the M20, I must have been miles away, as I missed the turn for the Dartmoor Tunnel and the M25 ringroad (or Orbital, as they call it over here), which I'd taken many times before! So had to exit off, across the overpass and get back on the motorway to go back 4km to where I should have been. Then as I came up out of the tunnel, I was in the wrong lane to exit off to go to Southend, so had to take the next one and work out where I was from there. Not my day, that's for sure!
But it was great to get back to Leigh-on-Sea to visit my friends Gary and Ruth again and experience their wonderful hospitality, and also to get the bike serviced again by Paul, at the Motorcycle Shop, who graciously does it as soon as possible for me, like the next day, in this case.
Gary and Ruth are very keen cyclists as well as V-Strom owners and have lots of push bikes, so we went cycling through Southend in the cool of the evening - up hills and down dales, along the beach, stopping for a drink at a little pub, pedalling through the woods where we saw a fox slinking along. But still no foxes seen roaming the streets, Ruth! Great exercise, and we did about 4-5 miles, I think. Ruth had participated in a British Heart Foundation charity ride the previous Sunday, from London to Southend - all 59 miles of it!! Better her than me!
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