Day 4 – Norrkoping to Harnosand

Peering slowly through the tent door I could see the day was going to be another hot one. The sky was blue, the air warm and the sound of birds filled the air, well they would until Paul started his bike and the roar no doubt would frighten off any wildlife within 5km! The plan for the day was to head north and try to get to Harnosand where we would look for a campsite for the night. The day would be like most of the other days for the first week, long, lots of riding, hot and refuelling on a constant basis.

We packed up our tents and gear and prepared to get on the road, first stop fuel and a coffee. This was the second night packing up the tent and I was starting to find better ways to pack it up. It was never going to all fit in the tent bag again but I had the main tent canvas, bedroom and groundsheet all in their, the poles and pegs strapped to the outside and the whole log dumped into a dry bag which held it together.

Whilst this was going on the second bike dropping incident happened when Roy’s BMW R1200 GS toppled over whilst he was getting ready to leave. Thankfully he was OK and the bike wasn’t damaged.

We headed off and found a local Statoil garage, one of the main companies we used during the trip. There were a few others, Shell and YX come to mind. Statoil stations generally had a food counter, small shopping area and toilets! In fact the thing we found was that the toilets in these petrol stations in Sweden were immaculate! Often with plants, pictures on the walls and nice decoration. Not the graffiti covered and dreary affairs you find in England that’s for sure.

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Another big difference that became apparent early on was the condition of the roads and the traffic. The tarmac and surface were fantastic, smooth, not pot holes, very few bumps at all! It the traffic levels were minimal, no jams or congestion except around the major cities. It was a pleasure to ride on.

During our breakfast planning session we set a waypoint to get some lunch. Paul had consulted “The Great and Powerful Iphone” which saved our bacon many times over the 2 weeks I must admit! We found what looked like an interesting point of interest at roughly the distance we would need to refuel again. What looked like a castle on the side of a lake called Wiks Slott. So we rode.. and melted in the heat for a couple of hours until we reached the castle.

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The castle… unfortunately not open!

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Sadly there wasn’t really anywhere to grab some lunch or coffee and as we were all suffering from the heat we decided that sadly we would find the nearest McDonalds with air conditioning and cold drinks!

After a big mac and cold coke we headed off once again, more motorways, more roads, more heat! None of us had prepared for this weather, I had thermal socks and underwear, thick bike gear, winter boots etc… It wasn’t comfortable at all. We stopped for another fuel up and I had wanted to get some meths for the cooker I had brought with me, a Trangia style burner bought from Clas Ohlson. I had read online before I left that the stuff to put was a pink/red bottle called Rodsprit (see Trangia website for suggestions for lots of countries) However I was with Vladimir who thought it was a good idea to check with the assistant in the shop. The reality was neither really knew but there was another bottle of liquid labelled “Camping Paraffin” which they both were adamant must be the right thing to buy. So I put the Rodsprit back and bought some of that instead. Due to the lack of room in my luggage Paul offered to carry it in his with jokes of watching his bike exploding as we rode off!

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We headed off once again and when we stopped for the next fuel stop some 2 hours later we noticed the sky was looking a bit dark in the distance. Almost immediately there was a rumble and it was clear that a storm had built up due to the heat although it wasn’t clear if I was coming our way or not. We packed up and decided to head off on the last part of the trip for the day with the hope we would get to a campsite ahead of any bad weather.

We reached Harnosand and found a campsite that Paul had seen online before the trip. Whilst trying to find the right road we ended up down a slightly gravelly road which is were bike no3 went over as Vladimir’s front wheel dug into a sand filled hole as he was riding slowly, causing the bike to go over on top of him. Once again we were lucky, his pannier detached on that side that hit the ground but he was OK and the pannier clipped back on.

The campsite was literally 5 mins away and when we arrived the scene across the lake was lovely, clear skies, still water and hills in the distance. The terrain had been changing from rolling hills and green fields to hills and trees (there are trees everywhere in Scandinavia) The site itself was basic, there was a shower block with toilets but that was all. Roy, Gregg and Vladimir took a shared hut and me and Paul decided to camp. We sat and ate some food we’d bought form the petrol station earlier just as the wind started picking up and sky darkened!

Before we knew it Thunder rolled in and myself and Paul were out getting soaked trying to put our tents up. The rain was pouring down and we ended up with more water in the tents than out! Paul had tied his tent to 2 of the bikes and I had tied mine to a wooden fence. We eventually went to the guys cabin to chat about the day, plan for the next and make a cup of tea with the newly bought paraffin.

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Paul, wet and fed up!

After about 15 minutes of trying to set fire to the burner it became very apparent that the paraffin wasn’t the right stuff, it simply did not burn! After failed attempts to also get a cooker and coffee machine in the cabin working we decided to call it a day and give up on the idea of tea! We worked out the next days route…

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before we headed off to our tents, left the guys snug in their dry cabin and tried to sleep.

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By 3am the wind was howling and the tents were flapping! All I could hear was the occasional mumble from Paul as the tent tried to take off (I can’t repeat what was being said, suffice to say we both used slightly colourful language) By early morning we’d had enough and were out trying to pack the tents up in the wind, which somehow we managed to do.

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