Archive for the ‘arctic cycle’ Category

The Next 2000km

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Wednesday 23rd June

Location: Sundsvall. Total distance cycled 1116 km.

When we said we would be travelling in James Duthie’s tyre-tracks, this was supposed to be a metaphor.

But given the state of the roads we traversed yesterday, it could almost literally be true.

Friday 26th June

Accomodation in Ulvön proves more luxurious than expected thanks to the Hallbergs. Tack så mycket!

Monday 28th June

Location: Åsele. Total distance cycled 1520 km. Today we entered Swedish Lapland, and hit the halfway mark to Nordkapp. Husky dogs in kennels and place names in 2 languages: Swedish and Sami.

Yesterday we met with Lena from the Örnsköldsvic Allehanda in which an article will appear later this week (pictured).

This is exciting for us because James Duthie’s story was covered by this same paper when he passed through in June 1951.

Thursday 1st July

Location: Piteå. Total distance cycled 1849 km.

Having survived last night’s lightning storm, we scarcely noticed this morning’s drizzle. But when it became a steady downpour, we found ourselves on a clay and gravel road which was rapidly turning into a mud slide.

Thankfully we found a village unusually well-equipped with eating houses, including one serving magnificent pizza. Disregarding our muddy state, the chef fed us royally and invited us to watch the ‘fish cam’, a live TV feed from a local river.

Sunday 4th July

Location: Töre. Total distance cycled 2044 km.

We turned the page of our map and found we’re on the same page as Finland. It is getting brighter and brighter at night as we approach the Arctic Circle, and harder to sleep.

Monday 5th July

Location: THE ARCTIC CIRCLE! Thunder and lightning and a cheese sandwich …

Tuesday 6th July

Location: Pajala. Total distance cycled 2288 km. The Torne Valley is looking beautiful in the sun, and the myggor (midges) have all but disappeared.

Local youth in trackies and backwards-facing caps remind us of home. A rest day on a campsite with sauna and cold river. Perfect.

Thursday 8th July

Location: Enontekiö (Finland). Total distance cycled 2583 km.

Yesterday we met a reindeer or three, cycled 105 imperial miles fuelled by banana curry pizza, and stayed in a hostel full of religious kitsch.

Friday 9th July

Location: Kautokeino (Norway). Total distance cycled 2674 km. Another day, another poorly understood Nordic language, another species of biting insect.

At our campsite we are invited into a laavu (the traditional Lapland teepee), and get chatting with a Sami lady. We discover the effectiveness of the laavu: the fire in the centre is good for warmth and brewing coffee, and its smoke keeps away the midges.

Sunday 11th July

Location: Alta. Total distance travelled: 2816 km.

An exhilarating 130 km of cycling across the mountain plateau of Finnmark, culminating in a plunge down through a narrow gorge: sheer cliffs on either side, a rushing torrent beneath, concentrating hard on road and corners.

Munro-scale mountains with patches of snow still lying. It’s tempting to stay and explore, but the Nordkapp draws us on.

(Later …)

Location: Russenes. Total distance travelled 2937 km. Still on target to arrive at Nordkapp tomorrow night.

Today’s cycling was up and over a large expanse of high moorland, ringed by craggy mountains and with patches of snow not far from the road.

Tonight we’re wild camping above a peaceful bay. The sky to the North is clear.


The First 1000km

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Saturday June 12th

After 36 hours of sleeping and eating on the freight ferry Tor Ficaria we arrive in Gothenburg in time for a torrential downpour. The city is quiet by Glasgow standards for a Saturday night, but there are cyclists everywhere. A friendly couple on the ferry – Clarence and Raija – have invited us to stay in their wooden cabin 700 km north of Stockholm.

Monday June 14th

Location: Trollhattan. Total distance cycled 213 km. Our first taste of rural Sweden – grassy meadows filled with buttercups, multi-coloured lupins, mixed woodland and a field with some elk in the distance. Very pleasant!

Wednesday June 16th

Location: north of Åmål. Total distance cycled 404 km. A long ride up and down gentle hills, and the occasional rutted track not suited to our loaded bikes. We have just exercised the Swedish ‘right of way’ or ‘Allemansrätten’, camping wild off a forest path. We’re looking forward to Karlstad, the ’sunshine capital’ of Sweden.

Thursday June 17th

Location: Karlstad. Total distance cycled 471 km. After a half-day off, a comfortable bed, and a breakfast fit for His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf, we are all set. Today we’ll pass near Molkom, setting of the wonderful film “Three Miles North of Molkom”.

Friday June 18th

Location: Grangärde. Total distance cycled 694 km. Nearly 130 km today, some of it at over 50 kph. Hills, and the sunny spell has come to an end. Our campsite is near a lake.

Wind in the trees, a boat rocking gently in the waves, and occasional honking of geese flying overhead – a spot of rain is no big deal. A bolt sheared off Olly’s bike today and currently his pannier rack is held on with string.

Saturday June 19th

It’s past midnight and there’s still light enough to read by. Not that there’s much reading going on, simply eating and sleeping to cope with 8-10 hours travelling each day. That’s not all cycling, but still hard work.

Sunday June 20th

Location: Bollnäs. Total distance cycled 900 km. Hard day today with lots of up and down, clouds of midges, some poor roads, and another sheared bolt for Olly.

A very kindly Swedish man made an effective repair (he wasn’t impressed by the string). His wife made coffee and offered slices of her delicious homemade bread.

Later we watched two fox cubs soaking up the sun by the roadside.

Sunday June 21st – Midsummer

Olly has just worked his fire magic. This is wild camping on the shores of Lake Storsjön, about 15 km SW of Hudiksvall on the east coast of Sweden. It’s 11pm, the sun is below the horizon but it’s light enough to read. The fire is good for warmth – I’ve got my wooly hat on.

Please sponsor Olly & Alex and help them reach their target of raising £5k for charity.


Monday, June 14th, 2010

After a surprisingly civilised journey across the North Sea on a
freight ship, we arrived in Gothenburg, and cycled through the rain to
our first campsite. Into town to visit Alex the tenor and drink beer
in a Brazilian theme bar (authentically Swedish, naturally) and then
back to the tent.

Yesterday we spent an inordinate amount of time faffing in the city
centre, finally leaving at about 2 o’clock. Some roadworks and a
diversion nearly sent us back into town, but we were soon on the
Sverigeleden path north. About 100 kilometres later, we rolled into
Trollhattan and found a beautiful campsite. This morning we’ve
spotted an enormous hare, a German couple on a tandem, and a very
noisy chattering bird. Time for a quick coffee by the canal before we
set off north again.

Total distance covered so far: 213kms.

And They’re Off!

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Olly & Alex with a copy of James Duthie's journal 'I Cycled Into The Arctic Circle'

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