Sweden ITR 2018

The International Tandem Rally, Sweden, August 2018

A little too far, we thought, to ride to, so we put the Pino in the car and headed for Harwich – only to find we were a day late for our overnight ferry! My mistake 🙁 A night in a Harwich Inn, followed by a dash to Calais and drive to our pre-booked hotel in the Netherlands saw us back on track. At each place we stopped, it was for two nights, so we could retreive the Pino from the car and get in a ride then move on the following day.

We spent a week on Öland in Sweden with the Tandem Club, enjoying the lack of hills – the highest point on the island is only about 90 metres – quiet roads and ‘different’ scenery but the strong headwinds we encountered made us work hard.

A photographic journey:

Our first hotel in Groningen. It was an ‘eco’ hotel – modern and airy with a good restaurant. The car park was well spaced out and well away from the hotel!
Groningen. We tried to dodge the showers as we headed for the town centre on our first ride of the trip.
Wet one minute – dry the next. We sheltered under some trees when a squall hit.
Heading back to our hotel along the canal.
Our next stop was Bremen. Route choice was restricted by a sporting event.
The centre of Bremen was a wonderful mix of old and new.
What splendid guardians!
The town Hall, Bremen.
The ‘Town Musicians’ of Bremen.
Karon says ‘Hi’ to Roland. Erected in 1404 – protector of the city of Bremen.
Back at our hotel, storm clouds gather. It was the second of the trip. After departing the ferry at Calais, we drove through a huge storm on the way to Groningen.

Our next stop was Uschi’s Gasthof in Neuendorf, a small village near Rostock. We had a ferry booked from Rostock to Trelleborg but before that we had a day free to cycle to the seaside resort of Warnemünde via Rostock.

A very tasty meal in Uschi’s Gasthof, near Rostock.
Warnemünde was pretty busy – a popular destination for tourists, including us on the Pino. The ride there via Rostock wasn’t particularly pretty as we ran beside a busy road for much of it.
For the return ride to our hotel, we took the ferry across the mouth of the Unterwarnow, dodging the cruise liners and large ferries, then cycled through the forest and beside the arable fields of the less developed East side of the estuary/inlet.

The following day we took the morning ferry for the five hour crossing to Trelleborg in Sweden, then drove East, along the coast and up was far as Åhus to stay in a beachside holiday camp.

We arrived in Åhus with enough time to go for an evening walk around the nearby beach facilities and spotted a ‘Tandem Club’ sticker on a mudguard. The tandem belonged to another English couple, Bernie and Sue, who were also stopping over on their way to the ITR.
Next day we decided to ride to Kristianstad and followed a cycle path for most of the way, mostly running through woodlands to the east of the lake.
We returned via the west side, but there were fewer good cycle paths.
Old guns and an old gunner in Kristianstad, Sweden.
The impressive organ inside the Holy Trinity Church, Kristianstad.
Karon on the Pino at Åhus after our ride to Kristianstad. The jetty had been renovated and the planks were embossed with the names of donors who had contributed to the costs.
The Absolut (Vodka) Villa – we took a taxi there in the evening for a meal and cocktails – expensive but kinda worth it for the experience.
Normally, the bridge between the mainland and Öland is closed to cyclists… you either have to use the bike-bus or take the ferry across to the island. But this day a triathlon was taking place and the competitors were using a closed off section.
Our semi-detached residence for the week at KronoCamping Saxnäs. The campground was not far north of the bridge to the mainland.
Double bed to the right, kitchenette left and dining table by Karon. At the rear left was a walk-in shower/toilet. It was small but had all we needed.
The abundance of windmills on Öland should have been a clue as to how windy it could be.
On our first ride out we spotted this side-by-side Tandem Trike.
Coffee stop in Mörbylånga. Most cafés opened quite late at about 11:00am.
Lunch stop in the forest Penåsa Rastplats.
More coffee. We were riding with Peter & Ros, Bernie & Sue (who we had met at Åhus) and Colin & Rosy.
Stopping for a puncture repair gave Karon the opportunity to hunt for fossils and it wasn’t long before she picked up this trilobite.
Late Bronze-Age burial mound (1100-500BC), laid out like a long boat. The dead were cremated.
‘Twas the time of year for the pumpkin harvest. Roadside displays were quite common, and many of the farms had pumpkin stalls.
The view from Borgholm Castle, about half-way up the west side of the island.

The following day we decided to drive to the southern tip of the island. A return trip by tandem would be beyond our abilities for one ride.

We stopped off in a few places along the coast to wander and look for fossils. Much of the coast was unspoiled, with only small fishing huts and the odd small harbour.
Near the lighthouse at the southern tip, we spotted a sea eagle trying to hunt for some lunch as we sat in the car and ate our’s. After a while of fruitless dives and swoops at the geese and ducks, he gave up and sat on a rock, presumably sulking.
Next day we latched on to Colin & Rosy along with Lee & Vicky for a ride on the mainland. With the bridge closed to cycles, this meant taking the bike ferry.
Tandem galore on the bike ferry to Kalmar from Öland.
Empty roads and very few hills – perfect for riding. Once away from the towns vehicles of any sort were few and far between. Then again, the same could be said of cafés.
Lunch stop – please don’t feed the caged tandemists, they are highly dangerous!
Kalmar Castle.
The return ferry back to the island. The crossing was a little bumpy mid-channel as the wind had picked up.
The following day we decided to ride on our own and explore the west coast, staying as close to the sea as possible, which meant most of the outward ride was along gravel tracks. Doted along the coast were limestone ‘quarries’ but not in the usual sense. The limestone here is horizontally layered, so just needed lifting.
Karon hunts for fossils again. We hardly saw a soul for much of the ride and the solitude was nice. The island on the horizon is Blå Jungfrun.
Limestone slabs that make up much of the shoreline along this stretch of the west side of Öland.
Fishing huts at Alvedsjö Bodar.
Fishing huts at Alvedsjö Bodar.
We carried on along the coast for a few miles further, then headed inland for the return to the campsite and into a pretty hefty headwind.
Near Sandvik.
At Sandvik we stopped at the windmill café before the last push back to the campsite.
In the evening there was a photo-call and the local radio station turned up to cover the event and I was fortunate enough to give the young lady a ride on the Pino – which I think she enjoyed, judging by the squeals and laughter.
Our last day at the ITR. We decided on a shorter ride across the island to sample the fish and chips at a recommended sea-side kiosk.
Pumpkins for sale in one of the farms.
Nice café in Färjestaden. The chocolate ice-cream was very good!
The last evening of the rally and some tandems were already loaded for the drive home.
In the marquee we enjoyed one last get-together with food…
… and entertainment from a local Swedish lass – Ingela Carlson – who had some blood pressures raised as she changed from cycling gear into traditional dress as part of her act.