Hotel all-you-can-eat breakfasts can be useful on a long cycling trip but I think this morning my IBIS fill up put me in a lethargic mood from the start. I wouldn’t say that I was on a go slow all day but it was certainly a ‘go medium paced’. The cycling day came to an end after ‘only’ 64 km but that’s the beauty of having cycled nearly 170 km to Gothenburg on Sunday; I can now afford quite a few days of cycling under the target average while still maintaining that average above 75 km/day.
I no longer had the Kattegattleden to follow – that finished in Gothenburg – but I was able to follow the ‘Cykelspåret’ which translates simply as ‘bicycle track’ heading north from the city along the west coast. Unlike the Kattegattleden, not every twist and turn is signposted, far from it, and the signs themselves had a faded old-time quaintness about them (see an example below) but they were a sign of reassurance that I hadn’t got lost. The fact that I didn’t was mainly down to using the online Open Street Map for the first time. The Cykelspåret is clearly highlighted and it was easy to follow. Looking ahead, the red line shown on the screen grab below, continues not just to Oslo but beyond all the way to Nordkapp. I’ll be using it quite frequently over the coming weeks I think…
The first 10 km were through the industrial northern suburbs of Gothenburg and then along a long cycle route next to the motorway. It’s the nearest I’ve come to cycling on a motorway since I actually did cycle along a motorway in Albania in 2013. What a day that was! (Buy the book…) Then, after a brief foray through some drab and rather British looking housing estates, suddenly I was presented with a castle. Not really what I was expecting but then again, having spent so little time researching today’s route in any kind of detail, the only surprise should have been that it was a surprise. The castle was that of Kungälv. It was medieval in design but had been spruced up somewhat in more recent times. Not a stone was missing or indeed out of place. The nearby tourist office was staffed by a helpful young guy who was keen to tell me that it was only his second day in the job when I raised an eyebrow at his suggestion that the castle was built in the 18th century. (I’ve just checked on Wikipedia; it was built in the 12th century.) He did, however, come up trumps on the map front. I have a small gap – about 100 km – in my map coverage of the entire route from Tarifa to Nordkapp and I’m now in it so once we had disagreed about the age of the castle, we looked at various maps before I picked one – free of charge – to use today and tomorrow.
Back on the Cykelspåret the cycling finally started becoming more vertically interesting. Not in any mad mountainous way but definitely a notch up from the flatlands across which I have been travelling since, well, the Pyrenees. I do feel that I am finally entering the foothills of the mountains that make up much of the parts of Scandinavia that I have yet to cycle through.
After following the river for a few kilometres, I headed west towards the coast where I bumped into a chatty Candadian cyclist who had just begun her Oslo to Paris trip. In that direct way that only people from North America can usually get away with, her opening sentence was “How far is it to Gothenburg?” Nice to meet you too love. It was hard not to like and admire her however; early 50s, on her own, positive outlook on life… Someone has told her that The current May/June period has been the coldest for 200 years in Norway. After about 10 minutes we continued along our separate paths.
My path was to take me over a couple of high bridges – see the pictures – after which I paused in the viewing area to read the extensive notes, translated into English, about the building of them and the story of the one that has now been replaced by a suspension bridge being destroyed in 1980 when I ship ploughed into it. It took just 17 months to build the new one!
I can see the two supporting towers of the new bridge across the water from my pitch on this waterside campsite. A German cyclist, Manfred from Friborg, has just arrived and I spent ten minutes chatting with him. He told me that cycling to Nordkapp won’t be very interesting as the scenery will never change. Thanks Manfred… Bloody cyclists!