|Härnösand open air museum|
|Trainline next to E4|
It was already getting late by the time I had made it out of earshot of the busy E4 and had found water at a cemetery. I took the first deserted looking side track and found myself at a nice grassy area next to a rickety bridge. Unfortunately there was no tree cover but I was tired and set up camp. I had just settled into my tent when I heard voices coming down the deserted path which might not be as deserted as I had thought. A mother with her young daughter was on her way to an evening swim - across the rickety bridge was a good swimming spot they told me. But I could not be bothered because I was already cooking dinner, although I was relieved that the two late visitors did not make any problems. Next morning I woke up at 5 am because the sun was relentlessly burning down onto my tent turning it into a Swedish sauna. I know why I usually camp under tree cover. At 6 am I gave up and decided to get up and have breakfast - and then remembered the swimming spot. I walked over the decrepit bridge and for sure there was a nice rock with a pontoon bridge and a ladder. To say that this early morning swim was delightful is an understatement! I was all alone in this beautiful lake, the water was refreshing, the sun was shining in a prefect blue sky - this was the picture perfect Swedish summer morning.
Whenever I had a swim on this trip I had the same feeling of happiness - and I had a lot of swims! It had been very hot the whole month and whenever I had the opportunity to swim I did it. Luckily there are lakes everywhere and usually I could find a deserted spot for a quick skinny dip. There are also a lot of official swimming spots that are signposted off the road often with toilets and even changing rooms! It feels incredibly good to submerge yourself into the refreshing water on a hot day and wash off all the dirt and grime.
Next day brought me back to the E4. The Sverigeleden uses it for 12 km and the cycling wasn't actually too bad on it. Two car lanes each side plus a nice and wide shoulder for cyclists. Unfortunately this seduced me to stay on the E4 when the Sverigeleden leaves it for a much longer detour. Big mistake! The nice and wide shoulder disappeared and I was left with only a 30 cm wide strip of pavement right of the road blazes. To make things worse the blazes were not only painted but also washboarded to wake up tired drivers swerving off the road. Things were still tolerable going uphill as there were two lanes this direction and drivers could give me a wide berth. But I was already nervously eying the other, downhill side of the road. Just one narrow lane for cars and trucks and the 30 cm "shoulder" for me. What could be my death sentence was a road barrier between the two directions. With no second lane drivers could not give me a berth even if they wanted. I was doing something unusual for a cyclist: I prayed that the uphill would not end... but of course it did after 6 km. I was now facing a 6 km downhill on the "death lane". Although I was scared shitless there was nothing I could do. There was no alternative road and even turning around was impossible because of the road barrier. Luckily there is not much traffic on the E4 and you get passed by one maybe every 10 minutes. But whenever that happened I expected to die. (But as you can see from this post I didn't.) My German bike guide says that the E4 is pleasant to cycle on and say something about a 3 m wide shoulder.... Forget it: At least up to Umeå the E4 is more like a death trap for cyclists and I now understand why on long stretches it is actually forbidden for cyclists. The Sverigeleden joins the E4 again for a couple of km and I had the same scary experience. No more experiments for me: I stayed on the Sverigeleden although that meant tremendous detours. But it also offered safer and much more scenic cycling. Did I mention the swimming spots?
|Snow shoes in the ski muesum|