Last Friday I set off for Stockholm with my friends Ben and Cameron to see another one of our friends, Rob, who has lived out there for over 10 years. We’d planned this as a cycling holiday, using Rob’s house as a base, but I’d never travelled with a bike box before so I was a little apprehensive and intrigued as to how this would work out!
We hired 3 Bike Box Alan bike boxes from a local company, GoBikeGo, for a very reasonable price of £6 per day with a deposit of £100 to cover any damages. I’d never packed a bike box before but found it relatively straightforward after watching a couple of videos on YouTube, particularly this GCN one.
The airport procedure was a lot smoother than I expected too. After checking in at the automated machines we were ushered down to the oversize baggage belt where a helpful gentleman took both our luggage and the bike boxes for us (top tip – if traveling with a bike box use a back pack or a bag with straps as they’ll take those through oversize baggage too!). All safely arrived intact at the other end (albeit in completely different areas of the baggage reclaim) so we made our way to Rob’s to put the bikes back together.
Rob had planned three rides for us on varying routes around the area south of Stockholm. Day 3 was to be reserved for a slightly lighter ride, with some island hopping and ferry travel mixed in
Day 1 – 80km
The first route took us south out of the suburbs into the Swedish countryside. It became apparent fairly early on that the terrain was going to be much like that of Northern France, rolling roads with very little freewheeling or totally flat roads. The going was fairly tough due to a combination of a stiff breeze, a warm sun and several alcoholic beverages the day before. I don’t drink a lot these days so it seemed to affect me more than the others, plus I was wishing I hadn’t bothered with a base layer by 10 miles in! We headed, stopping only to answer the call of nature, through a town called Västerhaninge down to the coast at Årsta havsbad where we stopped for lunch at a hot dog stall by the ferry port, it did a mean Bratwurst!
After a nice lunch break we made our way back into Stockholm itself and rewarded ourselves with a beer at a place called the Thai Boat
The lady at the Thai Boat wasn’t particularly accommodating of our cyclist ways, denying us a table where we could keep watch over the bikes, but we stayed for one before heading back to Rob’s.
Day 2 – 111km
On day 2 I felt a bit better! I’d managed my alcohol intake the previous evening, ditched the base layer and slept a lot better overall. We headed out along the same route as day 1 but instead of continuing south to the cost at Västerhaninge, we headed South West and stopped at what Rob told us was a castle called Häringe Slott. It looked more like a manor house to me…..
We continued on to a small place called Spångbro, 60km in, where the Co-Op provided lunchtime provisions, consumed in the shade of a large tree on the grounds of a beautiful white Lutheran church at Sorunda
Rob had promised us two things on the way back: a) a 3km stretch of ‘gravel’ road that was a little bit ‘bumpy’ and b) a beer by one of the many lakes in Sweden. Ignoring the first bit in favour of the second bit, we saddled up and got on our way. The ‘gravel sector’, as it had become known, was a bit of a challenge as there were quite a few dips in the road that looked like asteroids had crashed into it. Amazingly, we all came out of it unscathed! The other side of that section wasn’t so bad, more like loose road chippings
From there, we continued up to a lake at Sundby Gård where we stopped for a well earned refreshment or two. I could post a lot of pictures of lakes around Stockholm as there’s lots to choose from, but they all look the same so here’s one!
The lakes were clear and a mecca for the locals on a warm weekend such as the one we experienced. We eschewed the chance of a dip in favour of a couple of beers in the cafe overlooking this beautiful spot
From here it was only an 18km roll home so we took it easy and made our way back to Rob’s. It was in this part, not the awful gravelly bit, where the only puncture of the weekend occurred and obviously it was going to be me! After a year and a bit of rolling on tubeless tyres I hadn’t changed a puncture in ages so it took a little longer than expected! That done we finished the final 5km.
Day 3 – 75km
Day 3 was going to be my favourite day. Since planning the trip I’d wanted to go and see at least one of the many islands that makes up the archipelago around the coast to the east of Stockholm and it didn’t disappoint.
We headed south again to a small coastal town called Dalarö
We parked up, bought some refreshments in the local shop and found ourselves a spot to sit while we waited for the ferry to take us to Ornö, one of the largest islands in the area
Nothing quite like a Fanta Lemon and some wine gums to replenish the sugar reserves.
Ornö was a beautiful island. Good roads, hardly any traffic at all and a gentle breeze that refreshed you as you pedalled on. We cycled from one side of the island to the other, about 10km all in all, then took a breather on the dock of the bay
We’d planned to take a different ferry back to the mainland, one that docked a bit closer to home to reduce the ride at the other end, so we had some time to kill. We decided to visit the remains of a fort at Sundby Ornö
It was there where the weather decided to make a non forecasted intervention. As we left the fort to head to the ferry port it absolutely tipped it down with rain, we arrived drenched and bedraggled. Fortunately, the kind cafe at the port provided blankets and beer so we passed a couple of hours drying out and drinking. It was about an hour in when we considered we should eat too.
We’d just about dried out when the ferry came. I’m not going to describe it, I’m going to let the pictures do the talking as it was a stunning ride back to the mainland (with more beer)
I’ve never been drunk in charge of a bicycle before but those last 20km back after we disembarked were the hardest (and funniest) km’s that I have ever ridden.
We packed up the boxes and returned home the next day. A brilliant trip, I can heartily recommend taking in the Swedish countryside in summer as it is a beautiful place. All in all we managed about 265km over the course of the three days which was very achievable given the terrain. We flew from Gatwick to Arlanda with Norwegian Air who were great, cost was about £250pp for a return flight with a 20kg checked bag and a bike box.
I would definitely go back to Sweden with a bike again. I would like to stay in one of the more rural holiday homes that we saw and explore the archipelago a bit more as that was stunning. Now it’s back to training for the Ride London, under a month to go!