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2020: Sweden ride report, part 1

Swedish gravel road

A 2020 roundtrip in Sweden. Michael, Kurt, and I went on a clockwise trip from Malmö and back.

It was originally the plan to ride south to the Balkan countries, and then a little later, the British Isles. But you know: Covid-19. Luckily Sweden is a big country with lots of great roads, so it ended up with a Sweden roundtrip.

Setting off from Malmö, we rode towards Höör, and Hovdala Castle. As we had all been there before, we didn’t stop. But we were close.

Michael working with luggage close to the Hovdala Castle.
Michael working with luggage close to the Hovdala Castle.

If you haven’t been to Hovdala Castle, it is worth a stop. There’s a small museum, a little cafeteria and lots of gardens. I guess you’ll be wearing riding gear, so long walks may not be an option for you. Luckily there are lots of public gravel roads around. Also, there’s Lake Finja which is a great picnic spot, if you’d rather do that.

Just northwest of Hässleholm, we rode on to a great gravel road (route 1895). It wasn’t the first on the trip, the roads around Hovdala are grave too, but I had not ridden this road before, so I was quite excited.

As it happens quite often, the map data isn’t updated with private roads and gates, so we had to backtrack a few times. That’s just part of the “plan”.

On the route up north, we went through the town of Ljungby as Kurt had to hand over some documents to his swedish accountant. We continued north, towards Borås where we stayed the night. The roads from Ljungby to Borås was paved roads.

Taking a break outside Hestra

We stopped to have a break outside a town called Hestra, a town otherwise locally known for its skiing facilities. It is quite small, and easy piste, but it is there.

The campsite we found at Borås was quite expensive. We did opt for a cabin, which was only a little more than 3 tents, as it came with private bathroom and toilet.

Michael updating social media at the cabin at the campsite near Borås.

The following morning, we rode to a town, called Håverud, which has an interesting intersection of both road bridge, railroad bridge, and an aquaduct.

Road bridge, and aquaduct, Håverud.

Håverud wasn’t actually part of the original plan, but we decided to go there the night before as it was recommended by my neighbour. The road continuing direct north from Håverud turned out to be great fun. A small hilly road with lots of curves.

The second half the the ride of that day turned in to a quite nice ride on mostly gravel, through forests, and along lakes.

The day ended at a campsite a few kilometers south of Torsby.

Morning view from the cabin at the campsite south of Torsby.

While we where at the same approximately latitude as Oslo, we continued north on gravel roads along the border with Norway. It is a quite popular skiing area, Sälen, and is really a nice ride.

I felt my rear brake wasn’t performing well, and after inspecting the brake fluid level, which was fine, we decided the only thing we could do was to air out the brake. None of us carried brake fluid, so we rode to a small town, Sälsätern, where we found a workshop for ATVs and skidoos.

After airing out the brake, which worked well, we continued north, along the most beautiful forest roads. We had a lunch break at the town of Idre. Last year, on the Murmansk trip, I camped at a campsite at Idre.

We had the most awesome weather, and the roads where fantastic. We ended the day at a youth hostel on Flatruet, the highest public road in Sweden. We actually had a little trouble finding a campsite that had decent facilities. We’re not picky, but the campsites we found were either for RV’s, or really worn out, with no decent facilities.

So we decided to wild camp at a site we found on iOverlander, which was along the planned route on top of Flatruet. It said it had a great view.

On the way to the site, we came across this really nice youth hostel. As it was really cold, and Michael’s sleeping bag was a minimum 10 degrees summer bag, we decided to get a couple of rooms. We were the only ones there, so it was no problem getting it. We even got it at a good price.

Flatrauet, being the highest placed road in Sweden is a great scenic road. It was a quite cold, but definitely awesome.

Flatruet is hard packed gravel, but a popular place, so some traffic is to be expected. We finally came to the site we found in iOverlander the day before. It was in the middle of huge open plains, with RVs on the site. It wouldn’t have been too comfortable staying there, with the winds and low temperature, and there would be absolutely no privacy for one to do one’s business. If there’s one thing I’m quite sure of, it is no one wants to see me squatting.

Open plans of Flatruet
Open plains of Flatruet

As there was no direct roads north after Flatruet, and we weren’t allowed to enter Norway, we had to ride towards Östersund. It was paved roads for the most part, but before Strömsund, we took a left turn, which took us on gravel roads all the way to the scenic waterfall, Hällingsåallet.

Hällingsåfallet

The day ended at a Gäddede campsite. It is located just next to lake Kvarnbergsvattnet.

Next on the route was what is called “Vildmarksvägen” and is loosely translated to the “outback road”. It is paved, and it is a nice ride, although (except the Stekenjokk section) not as scenic as the Flatruet, that we rode the previous day. It’s a route that a lot of RVs are taking, and with the facilities along the route, there is no “outback” feeling about the route in any way.

We continued on quite uneventful roads; don’t get me wrong, they were fine, and a nice ride, but no much happened; until we came to a town called Arjeplog. We refuelled, and headed north on route 629, where we wild camped next to Piteälven (Site river).

I noticed a sign at the side of the road reading “Troll vatten från kärlekes källa” which translates to “Troll water from the water source of love”. I topped up my camel bag.

Magic water from the source of love
Magic water from the source of love

I wasn’t sure if was a good idea that we all would drink water from that source, and what unpleasant scene it would turn in to (there’s a mental picture you cannot erase), but we had to top up for the night.

We found a pretty nice spot (which I have added to iOverlander) with established fireplace and a couple of good spots to pitch the tents. Nice and quiet just next to the river at a place where the water is quiet (and probably invaded by mosquitoes in warmer weather).

I had an okay night, there was no strange sounds, except our snorring, in the darkness. I remember dreaming vividly that a flock of elks were walking by, one of them extremely close, sniffing to the tent. As seen on Jurassic Park, but elks rather that Velociraptors, luckily. It was a cold night, though. I was fine, my sleeping bag keeps me warm down to 0°C, but Michael had a cold night. We made some hot coffee, ate some bread for breakfast, and continued our journey.

Route 629, along Piteälven is a very nice road and was definitely worth the detour.

We continued the ride south again – and east towards Storforsen. We ended up on E45, but took a right turn on to gravel roads, that took us along a military airbase, with runways un each side. It was clear that only a few was actively being used, the others probably just in case. Also, it was clearly signposted, that they did not appreciate you taking pictures. So we didn’t. But it is a public road, so no problem going there.

Storforsen is a very nice place, and a very popular place for a picnic. It is quite busy. There’s a camp site, and a hotel, not too far away. We didn’t stay there as it was noon.

The route from Storforsen was zig-zagging north to Jokkmokk. But before getting that far – which was the place we wanted to stay the night – we would be passing the Arctic Circle.

The gravel south of Jokkmokk is fantastic.

As we were riding gravel roads, some of it also part of the TET (Trans Euro Trail), we would be passing the Arctic Circle at a little less travelled route. When I studied the map prior to the ride, it looked as if the Arctic Circle wasn’t really marked, and could only be found using our GPS.

Where the GPS said the Arctic Circle was.

It turned out, though, a few hundred meters further, it was clearly signed.

Where the sign says the Arctic Circle is.
Where we put our sticker.

We actually rode to the sign on the E45, for no reason other than to say we were there and mark our territory with a sticker.

Arctic Circle sign on the E45 south of Jokkmokk

We rode in to town, found a pizza joint, had a pizza, and watched how the youth drove their EPA-tractors back and forth. EPA tractors (now A-tractors) was originally intended to allow conversion of automobiles for farm use, but are now used to convert pickup trucks and other cars to allow youth under 18 to drive them. Check out this article for more information on these conversions: Automobile-conversion tractors and other homemade versions

Our cabin at Jokkmokk

We checked in at a campsite at Jokkmokk. This was the last day Michael would be riding with us, as he had only one week. The campsite had a restaurant, where we sat and had a good talk and a few beers with a couple of riders from the Netherlands. It was a great evening and a great last day with Michael. He left early the following morning, and I only heard him leaving as he started the bike.

Continue to Part 2

Jesper Dybdahl View All

Riding motorcycles around Europe, filming, photographing, blogging and vlogging. My passion is riding and seeing new places, sharing the awesome sights and seeings with the world.

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