First bike touring trip, 82km on Sydostleden

When we lived in Blekinge, and our son was small enough to sit in a bicycle cart we used to go on day trips with our bikes more or less every week. When we moved to Växjö, and he got too big for the bike cart we got out less. Because of his handicap it’s hard for him to learn how to ride a bike by himself. But last year we got a tricycle for him. At the start he just rode it back and forth on the street a couple of times before loosing interest, but this spring we got him to go on a 5km ride without any major problems.

We have biked the 42km Växjö Runt and parts of Sydostleden a couple of times without him, but we both have classic bikes that are heavy, slow and not really meant for touring. But with both our younger kids now being able to bike we got back the interest in doing bike touring trips. For my wife, who’s not too fond of camping, bike touring is sort of a perfect middle ground, where you can alternate between tents, hotels and B&Bs. We have wanted better bikes for touring for a couple of years and started to look around for some that would suite our needs. I ended up buying a Nishiki Rush, and my wife bought a Crescent Femto. Biking with a backpack isn’t very comfortable, and after this trip we decided that we will get both side panniers and water bottle holders to our bikes. So after next trip we might be able to review some panniers.

Info

Sydostleden is part of the three national bicycle trails that together forms a 929 km long route. It starts in our hometown Växjö, goes down to the Baltic sea in Karlshamn where it more or less follows the coast to Simrishamn. Here Sydkustleden starts, and follows the coastline in Skåne all the way to Helsingborg. From Helsingborg you can follow Kattegattleden all the way to Gothenburg. It was named the European cycle route of the year in 2018.

There is a map with a route planner, where each section is estimated to be a suitable day trip. You can download the routes to your GPS as GPX-files. The route goes through the dark spruce forests and lakes in Småland, over the longest bicycle bridge in Europe in Blekinge and along the endless beaches of the coast of Skåne.

Trip report

My oldest daughter and her friend was going to celebrate a friends birthday, and for that they wanted our house for a sleepover. We had promised that they could use our house but as usual we didn’t really plan ahead on what to do. But the youngest kids would stay at my parents house so we could decide on something just for us.

On Thursday we decided that we would drive to Åhus in Skåne and bike south on Sydostleden. The first plan was to drive down on Friday afternoon, sleep in a tent, bike on Saturday and then stay at a B&B on Saturday. It ended up being too late to drive down on Friday afternoon so we drove down on Saturday morning instead. We had booked a B&B in Åhus that had great reviews. The owner wasn’t there when we arrived, but we parked the car, got our backpacks on and started to bike south. Our goal was to bike as far south as we felt like, and then turn back to Åhus and sleep there. We had to get back home right away on Sunday morning, which was the reason for us to have to stay at the same place as we parked the car.

The forecast had changed during the week, from showing strong wind and grey skies, to showing moderate wind and some sun. But once we got out the weather couldn’t be better. Hardly a cloud in the sky and not much of a wind to speak of. And the bikes felt great and really easy to ride.

We did a lot of stops in the beginning, to find geocaches. The whole route is littered with them, and we just choose different ones here and there. If we where to stop at everyone we would get nowhere.

While some of the biking is done on smaller roads, much of the route consists of bicycle lanes. This part of Skåne is really beautiful, and we biked through pine forest with the beaches close to us. The beaches here seems endless, and have the finest whitest sand you can imagine.

After passing Furuboda we left the route and biked down to the beach, made coffee and had some snacks. It was surprisingly warm and really nice to lay in the sand and watch the beach streach as far as you could see. Far in the distance we could see Stens huvud national park.

Instead of biking back to the designated route we biked a while along a trail on the sand dunes. But it didn’t take long for the sand to get too lose for the bikes. So we ended up walking for quite a bit before we got back on solid ground and could bike back to Sydostleden.

We biked for about an hour before we stopped for lunch when the trail turned back to the ocean.

We put the blanket up against a fallen log, and layed in t-shirt and rolled up pants and just enjoyed the surprisingly warm March sun. We had regular Real Turmat freeze dried meal, but I added a lot of parmesan to mine.

We almost didn’t want to leave, but Mia wanted to bike all the way to Kivik to have a solid goal to aim for.

It was a lot of gravel, and tough to bike through. We where starting to get tired so it was nice to get closer to Kivik.

We biked the last stretch down to the harbor in Kivik and discussed on our options. We were pretty tired and hungry, but didn’t look forward to another freeze dried meal. We ended up sharing a pizza at the harbour pizzeria. We had discussions on wheather we should take the bus to Brösarp and bike back to Kivik from there, to skip the worst uphills, but in the end we decided to just push through and bike the 40 km back to Åhus.

There are a lot of hills between Kivik and Brösarp, but in a way I guess it was a good thing to start the return trip with the hardest part. We pushed through the uphills and even had rednecks yelling something at us when they passed us with their shabby EPA-tractors.

In Brösarp we put on the lights on the bikes, as the sun was setting. We saw a lot of rabbits when we passed Brösarps backar. It was getting darker and darker, and I was glad that Mia had bought a front light that felt bright enough to cut through steel. Near Furuboda we saw a bus, and almost wanted to hop on, but we only had a little more than 10 km left.

When we got back to Åhus we looked for the B&B but eventuellt we came to the conclusion that we had missed it. We looked it up on Google Maps, and as it turned out we had to turn back. We laughed about how tired and zombiefied we were to have just biked passed it, since it’s just next to the bike lane. It was wonderful to take a shower and get into a real bed instead of a tent after 82 km of biking.

We had read the reviews of the wonderful breakfast on this B&B, and they sure wasn’t lying. By 9am the hostess knocked on the door and came in with a large tray filled with freshly baked bread, coffee, fresh pressed orange juice, yoghurt, berries, fruits, cheeses, ham, salami and proscuito.

It was a great way to end a really nice trip. It really felt like spring, and when I write this with sleet pouring down outside the window it doesn’t feel like it was just a couple of weeks ago.

First trip of 2022

For a few years now I’ve had a tradition of going camping in the first week of the year. This year though all of the family got Covid by new years eve. But on 14th of January C and I got away on a trip to Stocksmyr-Brännan nature reserve.

Info

Stocksmyr-Brännan is the largest nature reserve in Kronoberg, with its 2313ha. It has trails between 80 meter to 16,2 km long. There are two different shelters, one of them next to a lake in the northern parts. There has been a forest fire here, so there are signs all over the place to be wary of falling trees and the stems where still black. The fires can burn off the roots, and the trees can fall without warning.

Trip report

C and I wanted to use a tent, and it had been a long time since the last time we camped together. But since I’d never been in the reserve I wanted to check out the shelters first, to have a backup plan.

I used Google maps to find the way, but it took us out on a tractor trail, and it was almost too rough for my car to handle. But eventually we found our way through and parked at the shelter near the lake, on the northern part of the reserve. There was a flat area that could house our tent, but since it was pretty close to the parking lot I wanted to check out the other shelter before we decided where to camp.

I drove to the center of the reserve, and we started hiking on a trail south, to reach the southernmost shelter. The trail was really nice, with old pine and spruce forest and mossy grounds. C hiked with a good pace, but did long for the tent. Hiking is ok, but camp life is her favourite.

After a while we came to the southern parking lot, where we turned east back into the forest. After a while we spotted the southern shelter, on top of a small hill. The hill was just large enough to house the newly built shelter. I thought it was really nice, and wanted to stay there, but C was dead set on sleeping in the tent. There was no room what so ever, even for a 1 person tent, so setting up our Ultamid 4 was impossible. We hike back in a circle to the car and drove back to the northern shelter.

When we came there it was already starting to get dark. I set up the tent, got all of our sleeping gear out and C snuggled back in the inner tent with a movie. I sat in the vestibule and started to make dinner. Spaghetti Carbonara. It was delicious, but C didn’t eat too much of it.

After dinner I got into the inner tent with C. The trees creaked a bit ominous, and while I had checked for burned trees nearby I got anxious that I had missed one, and the forecast had predicted quite strong gusts during the night. In the end I realized that it was better to be safe than sorry. I would never forgive myself if a tree fell on the tent and hurt C.

I managed to persuade her to move to the shelter instead. So we moved all of our gear over to the shelter and lit a fire and played “Go fish” together for the rest of the evening. I haven’t been too fond of shelters before, and prefer a tent. But it was really cozy with the fire, and comfortable to spread out our gear all over the shelter. It was Cs first time in a shelter, and while she prefers the tent she still liked it. C fell asleep, but I stayed up a bit longer, before I dozed off to the dying fire. ‘

I slept fairly good that night, and the next morning I forced myself out of my comfortable sleeping bag and started a fire. After the fire got going I got back into the sleeping bag and made breakfast.

When we finally mustered enough energy to get up we packed up the gear and got back to the car. On the way back I checked out the site for our tent, and there where no dead trees nearby, so we could have stayed there safely. But as said, better safe than sorry.

Stocksmyr-Brännan was a nice nature reserve, and I want to explore more of it. I’d love to try the southern shelter too one day, but it might take some persuasion to get C to agree on that.