Swedish gravel fun (not for kids)

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by ecce, May 24, 2010.

  1. ecce

    ecce Been here awhile

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    As spring was starting to turn into summer here in southern sweden we (mike (right), noyah (bottom), ecce(top)) decided to leave home (bakground) and pointed our beaks north to extend spring.

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    We put together a 1400km route that was promising 80% gravel and other unpaved roads. The route was split out over thursday evening (300km transport), friday, saturday and sunday. We went from stockholm in the southern part of sweden to rätan in the middle of sweden (south of downhill skiing area in Åre / Östersund). Some parts of the route was inspired/copied from 100% pannben (english: 100% forehead-bone) which was found on the local offroad forums SOE http://www.soe.se/.


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    Starring:
    1 f800gs 2009 (noyah)
    1 r1200gs 2008 (ecce)
    1 vintage ténéré 1991 (mike)


    What will follow shortly is a ride report of the trip by us three beginning with the first day.
    #1
  2. Two

    Two Been here awhile

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    Bring it on :clap

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  3. waltwhitman

    waltwhitman Been here awhile

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    looking forward to updates
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  4. kktos

    kktos on a bright side of life

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    okay, you got my attention. :lurk
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  5. Cap'n Crunch

    Cap'n Crunch Smelly Adventurer

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    I'm in. Subscribed
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  6. Uncle Mike

    Uncle Mike Adventurer

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    Thanks to David (ecce) for taking initiative, plotting the course, etc.

    Yep, me and the Rat...

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    we were going to stalk the nephews and their shiny Ubertech Beasts on this trip :ken

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    There is always a lot of talk about Norway as one of the hot destinations in Scandinavia. It is, specially if you are looking for grand vistas. My country, Sweden, has a bit more lame geology and is basically flat. Most of our country is covered with pine trees, pine trees, pine trees... But, between the woods, we have massive amounts of gravel roads. Many of these are part of the national road network but there are also lots of logging roads and paths that are being reclaimed by nature.

    The gravel roads up here have very little traffic and you can goof around as much as you like.

    I hereby do declare that the Rat and I acted pretty goofy at times, although not always in unity :D

    We were leaving in the afternoon and would be pushing 300 km on tarmac to reach the gravel forests that would start the next day off.

    After a short stop in Stockholm City I started off before the others who were finishing work stuff. It was a good feeling to leave the congested Stockholm and get going.

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    I would be going slow on the tarmac since I was trying to squueze the last out of my already squared Conti TKC80's

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    These are the same ones that were on when i purchased the bike last year in Norway. TKC80 work pretty well on gravel and tarmac even when squared-off in dry conditions. So setting off, I rejoiced at the sunny conditions.

    The german beasts can hit high freeway speeds with ease and we would rendevous in Uppsala, a city about 80 km north of Stockholm.

    The nephews had been farkling their BMW's all week so I stopped off in Uppsala at "Lelles MC", a motorcycle dealer and shop, and farkled my bike with a matching blue tank net. :evil


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    If you are visiting the capital area, Lelles MC is one of the biggest MC dealers / shops around and well worth a visit. They sell KTM, Honda, and carry spares for most brands. They have a very extensive gear shop for all types of riders with anything from cross boots to racing leathers.

    Anyway, we soon got together and set off as a proper group, with the day turning into night and some rain. Robin (noyah) was the only one sensible enough to bring a reflective vest, which is an item that now goes onto my buy list for the next trip. :deal

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    more..
    #6
  7. Dirt2007

    Dirt2007 Long timer

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    Off to a good start!
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  8. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Excellent!! :thumb

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  9. ecce

    ecce Been here awhile

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    The day was beautiful and it was hot outside. I was working from home and had to see the 1200gs standing there waiting in the sunshine. I would soon be leaving home. Packing started just an hour before I had to leave so I managed to forget my sleeping bag...


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    Noyah was ready since long and was waiting at my place with his brand new helmet on all the time :) He left earlier and went via his place since he had forgotten the charger to the camera.


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    Apart from a stop to buy some beer and meet up Mike at a hamburger joint in Uppsala we didnt stop until just south of Sandviken where a road lined with small cottages on each side was plowing through a big lake. At first, seeing the road going into the lake on the GPS I was afraid I had managed to plot a route that required a car ferry but that was luckily not the case. It was still warm outside and people were fishing and going in their boats.


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    After an hour more on the road the weather changed quickly and we found our selves running in heavy rain with lightning all over the place. It was the first time for me riding a bike during lightning and it made the rain a bit more interesting to ride in. The bikes also needed a bit of fuel...


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    And noyah and I needed some of that well deserved holiday nicotine...


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    We finally made it to Bollnäs around 23:00 where we had booked a small cottage at a camping. Just by the water on the right side for a beautiful sunset which we were too late to get a glimpse of (sundown 21:30) and the rain was killing all possibilities of anyway. Just before we landed we stopped at a gas station to buy some breakfast and as we were stashing it in the panniers a beer fell out of my case, broke and started to flush my already rainwet face in a golden shower of beer. This made some of the local night-dwelling teenagers out in their 1980s "farkled" volvos very happy...
    After some beers under the roof of the closed camping restaurant Noyah took on some weird Ingmar Bergman over-acting black and white movie pose that fitted very well with the wodden interior and overall feeling of this old but nice Härbre (norther european wodden cottage, often two stories tall but with a very small footprint).

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    The gear was soaking wet competing for space at the downstairs radiator which the width of the camera lens (and the floor of the cottage) was unable to fit into one picture. Upstairs were the beds waiting.

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    When we woke up we got to see where we were staying and the Härbre was nice as was the view from the patio. The clocktower was luckily not used since the camping was closed in wait for the summer guests, so we managed to get a good morning sleep.

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    The toilets were nice and clean too. I prefer the toilets and showers to be in a separate building when staying with three beer- and junkfood infused guys in a small wooden cottage.


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    Bikes were being readied, packed and air taken out of the tires for a day full of nice gravel roads!!
    At first we wondered if Mike was preparing his mule for the ride by throwing gravel at it.. It turned out the seat was so sticky from years of oil and melting allweather suits -- that smeering the seat in gravel and sand was the only way to be prevent the trousers from being glued to the seat (common for the 1991 tenere maybe?) I guess he will fill in the missing parts of this treatment as Day 2 unravels.
    #9
  10. rider1150gsadv

    rider1150gsadv € Fl Keys Fishing Guide €

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    Looking forward to this one! :lurk :thumb
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  11. Noyah

    Noyah poser

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    Good day with nice weather and we were going to head out of town for a few days! :freaky
    Headed 50 km in the wrong direction early in the morning to have time for a possible tire change, got a new Karoo 2 Front sitting out at ecce's place.


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    Entering the driveway I got scared mike had some problems with his bike since it was missing some parts :evil
    Turned out to be some vintage TLC session.


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    My little bike posing in the sun.
    Heidenau K60 with about 8000 km on them should do so the Karoo will stay in the garage.
    I spent the day washing the bike and re-pack for über weight distribution Oh and trying to be in mike's way ;)


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    My nephew had been put to supervise so I wouldn't tamper with the other bikes.
    Smart move! :deal


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    First stop together!
    #11
  12. SGrider

    SGrider 376 miles to Chicago

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    Definitely subscribing to this one, I love seeing the pictures of northern Sweden.:clap
    #12
  13. Uncle Mike

    Uncle Mike Adventurer

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    Having done the tarmac part of the trip during the night with heavy rain we were a bit worried the rain would continue but lo and behold, when we woke up it was to a sunny morning with clear skies.

    The cabin we had stayed in at Vevlingestrand Camping was small but dry and comfortable with a good price price (around 400 crowns). Nearest city is Bollnäs and the region is called Hälsingland.

    The cabin had a small kitchen and table on the ground floor and 4 beds above. The whole thing probably took up just around 10 square meters, or 33 square feet, of ground space. For some reason, the door was only about 4 feet high.

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    Built to resemble a animal pen? Or maybe it had been one?

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    I am sure it smelled like one that morning with all the gear still half-wet and the lot of us running around in long-johns.

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    Ready to go. On several occasions during this trip I found David checking out my bike with a skeptical look on his face.


    Maybe he doubted it would make it back home, or he was confused at why I chose the pack-roll instead of my hard bags (I wondered about that too sometimes). Whatever, I like to think he was jealous since the Rat is a real bike :wink:

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    We soon got on our way and took some country roads



    that at times were curvy and passed through nice rural areas. No pics of the twisties though.

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    After going north west we turned onto some well kept gravel roads

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    that progressed into more desolate areas

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    Los tres amigos (and kin) during a break. I think we did some 250 - 300 km that day. As mentioned, zero traffic. We had the region to ourselves and the ever present trees.

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    For those interested, the rear tyre on Robin´s bike is a Heidenau K60 that has 800km on it and still offers good grip. Seems to be a very good dual purpose tyre. I may get one for my bike.

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    Here´s me fishing for a lost earplug. What a pose. Relaxed. Dignified. Bike looks good too! This section has some of the best roads, dry with just the right amount of loose top surface. Video coming up soon from this area.

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    Same location, David with his beast, also on Heidenau K60 tyres.

    There was this hunting coop and we all wondered why there was like a small wood ledge on the right side. Surely not a shooting support since it was only there in one of the directions?

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    Robin tries out the ergonomics of an idea.. :rofl


    If you visit Sweden on these gravel roads that stretch all across the country you will often find hunting hides and also bigger open shelters that have been raised by the hunters or by the national tourist organisations. Feel free to use these and break out your sleeping bag or raise your tent for the night. They often have a firepit and we have now concluded that they are including basic conveniences... :topes

    Anyhow, Sweden has “Allemansrätt” which translates into “Every Man´s Right”. In short it means you may pass over, spend time on, and camp the night, on any land even privately owned, as long as you do not stay too long, too close, or bother the natives. Common sense is what counts. It is a system that works and offers almost total freedom of movement. However, off-road driving is forbidden in Sweden. What a road is though, is debatable and allows for a bit of headroom. Might be good to know if you decide to visit.


    The sun was up but earlier rains had turned some sections into mud ponds where the tracks from earlier vehicles created enduro-like conditions that we pedaled through. These were double track gravel roads but some patches just seemed to have melted and were pretty challenging a few times. No pics of this area unfortunately.

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    After a while, we got out of the wetter parts and turned into an area with drying ruts. This is where the Rat.. or was it was me?. finally goofed it and were laid down by a soft-sided track.

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    Low speed, soft landing but the tank was leaking gas so we brought it up pretty fast. Thus, no pic of the sleepy Rat this time.


    Pop quiz. What´s wrong in this pic?

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    Let´s see if one of the nephews has got a pic with the answer :cry
    #13
  14. ecce

    ecce Been here awhile

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    I have a harder time finding out what is right in the last pic :rofl

    More pics coming soon :eek1

    I wish I had some from the stretches just 20-30 minutes before you crashed. Some of the best gravel I have ridden on the GS. The ones with grass in the middle... way to good to stop and take photos.

    Next time!
    #14
  15. uberhada

    uberhada Adventurer

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    Oj, is that your brake lever folded up?

    Subscribed :lurk
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  16. Andy G

    Andy G 2wheeled alpinist

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    I'll be travelling in Sweden (and Norway) in 5 weeks from now. What maps did you use for finding the nice gravel roads? Any advice on which sections to try out in any case :ear?

    Thanks for the report!

    Cheers, Andy
    #16
  17. ecce

    ecce Been here awhile

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    We used the garmin NT europe maps. Routable, which is nice. One of the roads had trees fallen over it and a small river. So there are many nice roads on the normal garmin road map-set!

    I can of course provide you with the routes and try to indicate the best sections

    Cheers
    /eccentric

    #17
  18. ecce

    ecce Been here awhile

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    We said goodbye to the cabin and started the first day of gravel riding. The first stint had some pretty decent gravel roads and my mind was preoccupied on keeping the wheels on the ground.

    No pics until lunch

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    The super meal at Sibylla plus half a shrimp salad on the fries. Should keep me going for the rest of the day.


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    After a quick visit to the systembolaget (liqueur store) we bought a bag-in-a-box of whine, inspired by many other ADV riders we decided beer would weigh- and take too much space. When you travel sweden look for the green sign/logo of systembolaget. It is the only place you can buy beer/wine etc and it is government owned. Works pretty well allthough in some smaller cities you wont find it open on saturdays even.


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    After having entered into a nature reserve (yes you may travel on the gravel roads there) the roads started to get really great. We took a break by the water. We could feel we were getting further north. Less leafs on the trees but the weather was still warm and nice.

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    We might bring a tent or two next time. There are many great lakes suitable for camping and it is not forbidden to do so.

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    There was a stretch of gravel maybe 30 minutes long that for some reason struck me as the best i've ridden so far. The conditions were perfect and the grass in the middle was not even slippery. The bumps were perfect length for the bike and we could keep good speed. I never considered staying to take a picture because the driving was too good.
    The road deteriorated after a while though and we had to go on slippery soft gravel roads built on mud/soil rather than gravel. The speed went down quickly and I swear that all of us were about to crash more than once :p
    It got worse and suddenly deep tracks. Noyah had to stop to catch his breath. Mike asked what we were doing and quickly passed us but with too little momentum to be able to keep the bike up. An involuntary stop just 30-40 meters passed us. Once we got going again it turned out that we only had 200 meter more on this road before turning right onto real gravel again. Bad luck..

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    Bad conditions since it was loose + ruts.

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    The german beasts were still standing. Luckily. I dont want to lift the GS unless I really have to.

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    Mikes rear brake lever broke in half. I believe he had it re-angled at a repair shop so it was welded in the exact spot where it broke. I guess it might have held up better if it hadnt been welded. Mike new this onbeforehand and travelled with a spare!!

    Mike had loots of spares and equipment in that stupid waterproof bag that took 30 minutes to lock to the bike :p Anyways. This proved to us that even on a short 3-4 day ride it is better to bring good tools and spares since the trip might otherwise end rather abruptly.

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    A picture study of his skidmark. My analysis is that the poor rear wheel was the bad guy to begin with. Anyways the front wheel pushed against the rut and as the rut got more shallow, the fron turned quicker than the bike.


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    But all went well and we were soon on the road again. We were all tired and looked at the route to see how many kilometers were left. After an hour after the crash we got some ashfelt under our feet. It lasted for 4 minutes and then it was time for a crazy ride in kneedeep mud on a road that no-one seemed to use and had just recently melted from its frozen winter state.

    I was covered in sweat and had a hard time catching my breath in the integral helmet so I never managed to get any pictures of that section. It was the first time on the ride that I started to think about going back through mud down to the real road. Since we didnt know how much mad mud was ahead of us. We pushed through though. Mike managed to skid of the road down into the ditch in a controlled manner both feet on the ground. Rear wheel was once again the bad guy. I got knee deep in mud as I helped pull him up. Noyah got stuck in the middle of the road. I looked at him from 50 meter and tried to laugh but I was too exhausted. I could bet my bike he was totally stuck since the bottom of his panniers (high on the f800gs) were more or less planted to the road. He did however come up. I dont understand how!

    We paddled through the rest and was back on real gravel after 10-15 minutes of more mud. I was very happy with the decission to keep going. Turning back would have meant more mud and a very long/wrong way round the mountain.

    Mike was at this stage very happy to hit tarmac after the mountain so I changed to plan and allowed the last 50km to be strict tarmac rather than a majority of gravel which was the original route/plan. The final 50km towards Rätansbyn where we were going to stay was very beautiful indeed. Probably much nicer than the planned gravel route.


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    We stopped to tank and talked (too long) and once we walked over the road to the store for some dinner groceries it turned out they closed 19:00. It was now 19:05. When we finally got to rätansbyn 30 minutes later it turned out that their main store closed 18:00 on fridays so we had to shop at a very small gas station. Canned meatballs in sauce and powder mashed potatoes...


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    We had two beers left from the day before. Wine is great but there is nothing like a beer in the evening sun after a long day on the bike.


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    The camping was great and empty. A cabin where 4 people can sleep and eat only cost us 300kr (30 euros). They had a nice fireplace by the water and lots of wood that were free to use.

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    Even though it was more than a month until midsummer the sun refused to go down until 22:00. It got cold when the sun went down and we went inside to look at some pictures from the day and lie about our driving skills. :)
    #18
  19. Andy G

    Andy G 2wheeled alpinist

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    Thanks, that's the same that I'll be using.

    Some tracks / waypoints / coordinates would be great! I'll PM you ma email address.

    Cheers, Andy
    #19
  20. Noyah

    Noyah poser

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
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    Location:
    Stockholm, Sweden
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    Ecce checking todays route

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    Nice place

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    Pit stop

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    Pit stop 2+ :D


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    Nice camping.

    Posted the pics for day 2 so Ecce and Mike can continue with day 3.
    More text coming up...
    #20