It is an early start for us. We are back on the road after 10 days ‘ rest ‘,with Oma and Opa and cycling North up the island of Rugen from Garz. The Dave Yates touring bikes look like new after a few new bits, bolts and a good cleaning. You may want to have a look at a short film about Dave here. Esther is on new wheels and rubber after putting 30,000k on her previouse Mavic hoops. As ever, we are as nervous as a teenager on a first date, after time off the bike. In the first few meters we look as if we have never been on the bikes. A few rides on mountain bikes and now we are wrestling with the heavy touring bikes. It catches us out on the first turn. It looks like day one but with a fake cyclists tan.
Yesterday we had done the first part of this ride with the bikes unloaded as I picked up new lever hoods. Today there is no easy glide, no acceleration and the chain goes no where near those small cogs at the back. Touring is hard, and that is the brutal truth of it. The bikes even sound new.
We are going up the spine of the island past Binz and on to Sassnitz and the ferry at Mukran. We come to Prora where there is a building that has to be seen to be believed To Wiki quote –
Prora is a beach resort on the island of Rügen, Germany, known especially for its colossal Nazi-planned tourist structures. The massive building complex was built between 1936 and 1939 as a Strength Through Joy (Kraft durch Freude or KdF) project. The eight buildings are identical, and although they were planned as a holiday resort, they were never used for this purpose. The complex has a formal heritage listing as a particularly striking example of Third Reich architecture.
What is you can not imagine and the photos do not get across, is that it is 4k in length. So big is it, that the Allies had not got the resources to blow it up and had to just section it up with explosives. It is worth a visit.
At the ferry terminal most of the cars are Volvos or Saabs and almost all are being filled to bursting with bottles of booze. Foot passengers have custom trolly rigs onto which crates are gaffer taped. It looks professional, but at the same time desperate. The first box gets opened early in the crossing. A ten hour round trip is worth it.
First night is just up the coast from Trelleborg. The campground is busy as it is now school holidays, and we find a quiet corner a bit into the no camping zone to pitch our new Exped tent. The Venus 2 Ultra Light is bigger and we hope, more sturdy, to take us into Autumn in the rainy North. As a bit of a test, it rains and blows a gale, and we learn that we can not be quite so lazy with the securing bit of the pitching.
After 20k of riding into the gale we will turn North and this may even be a tail wind. In the end it never quite manages to be better than a cross wind, and a cold one at that. I am trying to take in what is new before it become familiar. We turn from the coast at Skurup, and ride through quiet lanes. Quiet, that is new, they are empty of traffic and quiet. We stop to look around a church. It is a style familiar from Rugen and the North of Germany, but the colours are more Scandinavian.
Near Blentarp the road kicks up. A short 8%, another, and then a 10% just after we had stopped for a heavy load of shopping. Up until now there has been big corn fields taking advantage of the long summer days for a big yield. Here there are smaller fields. Things are a bit more ‘ dog and stick ‘ and cows watch us pass, with bovine curiosity. There are also horses by the dozen. I often wonder how many horses ever get ridden per year. Horses and yachts, both waiting to be used and costing a fortune, you have to wonder about it all.
We pick up some bug spray in a chemist in Sjobo. ” What do the locals use”, it is always soothing new to us. We buy the stuff that the forestry workers use and then go next door to buy some cakes. The girl is enjoying speaking English. She gets into the swing of the subject as well, ” Worst summer in 40 years “. We live in Scotland, we know misery. Only alcoholics on park benches and building site workers have tans, you all have them here. ” I don’t “, true, she is quite pale. ” I am the only Swede who burns”.
We set off next morning to take a look at a church and castle. I use the gps to find a quiet route. In this I am more successful than I could have imagined. Roads here fall into three types; fast, slower and gravel. We want to be on the second but the gps can not distinguish between that and the third. Much of the road infrastructure is gravel and once you get over the shock you will embrace them. This is where the real Sweden lives, or at least has their summer house. It is a wonderful ridding experience. The monastery at Ovedskloster is neat and the castle has a Swedish pole similar to a May Pole. It is all part of National day celebrations. The information board informs us that they ” Hiss the flag and sing the national anthem “.
I am trying to take photos of the landscape. The big open vistas when they come around always include at least one Volvo parked where it can most spoil the shot. The sleek lines of the new Volvo are in the drive, but the yard will have 50 years of the more bulky versions very slowly turning green with moss. If there are 10 cars in a car park here, six are Volvo, two are Saab and there is probably a Skoda. It is so much a part of Sweden that if you have ever driven a Volvo you have experienced a big chunk of the culture right there.
We turn right at the village of Ostraby and then try a campground. They want a fortune, and we move on to Höör and try another site further around the lake. They want much less, but they want us to have a Swedish Euro camp card which we have to buy. ” You need it all over Europe “. Well of course I have to point out the obvious fact that we have just biked all over Europe and you are the first. ” It gives you insurance here on the site ” and there again I point out we are insured. We give in and pay for the stupid card. The con of insurance is a pet subject and the poor lady puts up with a rant from me with good humour.
One of the things that sparked the rant was the cost of the camping. It may have been cheap, a bargain even, but the Swedish money, the Krona has too many digits. It all dances around in front of your eyes in a sort of Dyslexia. It is like trying to count sheep and ends in dreadful mental arithmetic to work out exchange rates.
Rain over night but it is followed by a bright morning. We are heading towards Hässleholm and trying to avoid the busy 23. We are on hard packed dirt roads and having a great time. Red barn and another red barn pass, and then wonderful painted houses. Damp woodland and the smell of mushrooms as we ride now that the air is warming. These are now small fields often with huge boulders as field boundary. A farmer is turning a hay crop which is always encouraging unless he is just blindly optimistic. Good weather ahead we hope. It is certainly hot now, 27’c and then 29’c with fluffy white clouds for the first time in a while. We head for Hagnarp, avoiding the 117. We pass through pine forest and the smell of them is strong, the first time in a long while.
There are wild flowers from home in Scotland. Rosebay Willowherb and Foxglove and other plants of the North. The forest is familiar as well, with cushions of mosses covering the floor. Their seed caps are held high to catch the wind and spread spores. We are enjoying Sweden a great deal.
It feels a million miles from our start this year in Portugal but strangely close to Boston and New England and the end of our travels last year. It is great being able to communicate more. ” What do you cal someone who speaks two languages – bilingual, and three languages trilingual “. ” So, what do you call someone who can only speak one language?” — ” English “, and yes they are right. We camp near Vittsjo, by a lake. I get more bites in one evening than on the trip so far.