I had been in Norway for nearly two whole months at this point… but I still had another week of cycling in front of me before my Scandinavian bike tour would be over.
I had spent a week cycling across Sweden and southern Norway with Pablo and Ana and their dog Hippie. I had spent 10 days on a self-guided bike tour with Active-Norway.com and my high school friend Eric. I had then cycled across Norway from Oslo to Bergen with my Canadian friend Rob. Then I had spent a week cycling around Fjord Norway with Berg Fritid and my friend Katelyn. And I just had just spent the last two-and-a-half weeks living on Sula island off the western coast of Norway – a free lodging opportunity that was presented to me and I just couldn’t pass it up.
But now the time had come for me to leave the comfort and stability of my remote island home and climb back onto my Co-Motion touring bicycle for one final push across Norway and into central Sweden, where my trip would ultimately come to an end. I needed to be in Umea, Sweden by September 10, 2016… and I had just ten days to get there (more than 1,000 kilometers away).
In the video above you see a few quick shots of the incredible island home I had the pleasure of staying in for two-and-a-half full weeks. Rob’s friend Kjartan and Ingeborg offered the house to me after meeting me in Bergen, Norway… and it was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up. I spent those two weeks on the island working on my computer, play darts on the house’s back patio, going on a daily run, going on several long hikes, and generally just relaxing and exploring. It was an incredible experience!
Upon leaving the island, however, I caught an early morning ferry boat that took me for an hour or two up the coast of Norway to the tiny town of Selje. From there I cycled east along the coastline and then up and over a small hill before arriving at a second ferry crossing (taking me from Koparnes to Arvik). With the sun about to set and my energy levels low, I cycled a few kilometers further and then pushed my bicycle just a short distance off the road before setting up my tent in a small flat area located between some pine trees and two small (and vacant) summer lake houses. I dived inside my tent and called it a night. I was exhausted!
My first day on the road had been warn and sunny (an oddity, it seemed, for cycling in Norway). So, I wasn’t surprised when I woke up on the second day and it was pouring rain. Little did I know, the rain would last for days and days. But I pushed on. As soon as the rain stopped, I packed up my tent and hit the road, cycling across a large island, catching the ferry boat from Hareid to Sulesund and then cycling along the coastline for a while before climbing a long, wet ascent into a forested mountain. One moment the sun would be out and the next moment it would be raining. And despite a slow start to the day, I managed to cycle over 100 kilometers and find an ideal spot to camp for the night, high in the mountains near a local ski resort.
Day three of my Norway to Sweden bicycle touring adventure was possibly the worst day of weather I encountered in all of 2015. The rain lasted almost all day long and drenched me to my core. After taking another ferry boat from Vestnes to Molde, I cycled along the coastline for a while and then climbed up a steep hill leading to the town on the other side. The rain during this part of my day was extreme, and the downhill descent was windy and cold. By the time I reached the town of Batnfjordsora, I was ready to call it a day. I managed to cycle a bit further, however, and after finding a graveyard in which I could refill my water bottles, I pushed my bike up the hill behind the town of Hogset and pitched my tent in the trees behind some summer homes.
I was so happy when I woke the following morning to a sky that was only half filled with clouds… because the other half was filled with sunlight! And after two days of near non-stop rain, that sunshine sure did feel good. Now well behind schedule, I needed to press on and continue aiming to ride about 100 kilometers per day if I planned to be in Umea, Sweden in time for my flight back to the United States. This was a fun day of cycling for me because I got to cycle across a number of small islands, crossing first on bridges and then taking my final Norwegian ferry boat from Kanestraum to Halsa. Now back on mainland Norway and with Sweden just a couple hundred kilometers away, my spirits lifted – while at the same time making me realize that my bike tour was nearly over.
After spending the night camped out in the forest, I packed up my touring bicycle and hit the road. It was another cold and wet day on the bicycle. My toes were freezing, but the scenery was spectacular. I had planned to cycle all the way to Trondheim and then get on a train from there in order to quickly get to Sweden, but in the town of Fannrem I spotted a bus stopped on the side of the road, and the driver informed me that he wasn’t going to Trondheim, but he was going to Stjordal – and he could drop me and my bicycle off there. Stjordal, I learned, was a little east of Trondheim, which suited me just fine, so I jumped inside the bus and was grateful to be warm for even a few minutes. Once in Stjordal, I jumped off the bus and cycled to the nearby city of Hell and arrived there with just minutes to spare before the train pulled into the station and I jumped on – traveling the final stretch across Norway to the town of Storlien, Sweden – and arriving just before dark. I pedaled a couple kilometers east of the train station and pitched my tent on the edge of what I thought appeared to be a nature reserve.
After a cold night of camping in Storlien, Sweden, I jumped on a train to the city of Sundsvall. Once there, I hopped on another train to the north and was kicked off a short while later in the city of Harnosand. Watch the video below to learn why I was kicked off the train. Then I rode a bus for an hour or two to the city of Ornskoldsvik, where I set off a security alarm at the bus station and then spent the night camping in the woods near the local golf course. Again, I recommend you watch the video below for a full, blow-by-blow account of exactly what went down on this particular day. It was my worst day of travel in all of 2015!
Finally, during my last full day of cycling in Sweden, I woke up in the forest about 35 kilometers west of Umea, packed up my bicycle and cycled into town. I spent a couple hours in the city – buying food and just looking around. Then I spent one last night camping in the woods on the northern side of town.
Early the next morning, I cycled back into the city center of Umea and checked into a studio apartment I had rented on AirBNB.com. I spent four full nights in that apartment and used my last few days in Umea to explore the city, pack up my bicycle and all my belongings, and prepare for my flight back to the United States. My 2015 bike tour was officially over!