|Cycling on the beach in Denmark|
But was has made this trip such a success?
First of all I think that the Scandinavian countries I have visited, Denmark, Sweden and Finland are a cyclist's paradise. The terrain is indeed usually pretty easy and your only problem can be a strong headwind. My biggest personal problem is that I am scared of heavy traffic and this has definitely not been a big problem on this trip. I usually followed bike routes that kept me off the main roads. And free camping has been as easy as expected with the designated campsites in Denmark as an unexpected surprise.
|Rune stone in Sweden|
I have very little negative to say about this trip. Cycling Scandinavia is not exactly cheap but I had expected that and shopping at my beloved Lidl made the living expenses bearable. But whereas Sweden and Finland are just a bit more expensive than Germany prices in Denmark are outrageous. The biggest negative surprise was that even culture was expensive. Usually I just visit about every museum and castle along the way but here I had to consider carefully what was still within my average daily budget.
|Dirt road in Sweden|
As the terrain is quite easy you don't need a specific bike. But you'll be on a lot of dirt roads and it helps to have relatively broad tires. I had a lot more wear and tear on my chain and brake pads than I had expected from a pure road trip - and that despite the very little rain. But other than oiling the chain occasionally I had no serious bike problem in the whole three months, not even a single flat tire. Only the chain is totally worn out now.
Maps were my biggest concern in preparing the trip. I highly recommend downloading the free maps from velomap.org. They were fantastic for Denmark and Sweden and showed the whole respective national bike route system and a lot of regional routes. Only in Finland they could have been better and lacked huge portions of even the big national bike routes like the Via Finlandia. I don't want to rely on my GPS only and carried paper maps, too. As a cheap comprehensive solution I bought the Freytag & Berndt road atlas for Scandinavia. This option brought mixed results.
The road atlas is almost useless for Denmark. The scale is too big to show many of the little roads that are used by the bike routes. Instead I recommend the 2 Denmark maps also from Freytag & Berndt at 1:200000. Unfortunately neither shows the bike routes but you can remedy that by getting the free overview map of Denmark from the Danish Tourist Information Board. And of course don't forget the book "Overnatning I det Fri" for the designated campsites.
|Sverigeleden sign post|
In Finland I only cycled the 600 km Via Finlandia and was lucky to get the outdated guidebook for it in Sweden which was more than adequate. For longer trips I highly recommend the Finnish cycle maps that cover the whole of Finland in 6 maps. But as each map costs 17,60 € even in Finland this is a pricey option for long trips. But these maps are great as they also show you the type of road (dirt road, minor road or separate bike path).
|My bike on the island of Aspoe|
My sleep system consisted of a full length TAR Prolite and a BPL 240 quilt and was more than adequate. This summer a lighter quilt would have been enough but considering my usual weather luck this was not to be expected. The full length TAR Prolite lived up to my expectations and started delaminating exactly on the last day of this trip! I know that it usually takes about 6 months before delamination starts and had chosen this mat accordingly. As I had already used it about 3 months on other trips I expected it to last just long enough for this bike trip but when it was so conveniently punctual it even surprised me.
|BA Fly Creek 2|
I carried 7 litres of water capacity. 3 litres in bottles attached to the bike frame and a 4 litre Ortlieb water bag. I have not used the water bag a single time.... The water bottles were sufficient. I had brought a little Silnylon day backpack which was very useful on town days when I left my panniers with my host. And I should have brought more elastic bands. They tend to disappear but are incredibly useful for closing all sorts of food packages.