Trans Euro Trail: Sweden

Coming from Denmark, I have to cross the Orensund Bridge. Once I have paid the 39 euro, I tap “TET Sweden section 1” on my GPS device.

The track leads me south of the city Malmö and then continues up north. The first hour I find myself on minor tarmac roads, meandering through the fields. It looks a bit like Denmark, and I’m not sorry for that at all. I do like riding a motorbike in these conditions.  A bit further the first gravel tracks show up. More fun, of course. As the day moves on, there are more and more gravel roads. Some of them stretch out over several kilometres and are pure pleasure! My Honda Africa Twin’s Bridgestone AX41 tyres do what they are designed for!  Although they also did a great job on the asphalt sections.

I enjoy the variety of different surfaces and the remote roads. But I also keep in mind this is a solo ride and that I will not encounter many people around here. Some caution is needed because this Africa Twin is a big and heavy bike.

The rest of the day on the Swedish TET can be described as a pleasant mixture of gravel sections and minor asphalt roads. Never too technical or too hard to ride with a big adventure bike.

I leave the Skane region and enter Smaland province. One of the largest provinces of Sweden and home base of Pippi Långstrump (Pippi Longstocking), the main character in series of children's books written by the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. Pippi, a nine-year-old girl, got her name from Lindgren's daughter Karin, who asked her mother for a get-well story when she was home sick.

I spend the night in Älmhult, a pleasant small town where Ingvar Kamprad opened his first IKEA store in 1943.  Beside an IKEA museum there is even an IKEA hotel, but I’m afraid I’ll have to assemble the bed myself, so I choose another option.

I stay overnight at Sjöstugans camping, which also has 2 or 3 rooms available. It’s a fantastic spot overlooking the lake. Sitting in the evening sun I enjoy the peaceful landscape; it is a marvellous way to end this first day on the Swedish TET. I think I could stay here for ever…

The next day the landscape is changing. The roads and paths are smaller and the surface changes. In the vast woods of South Sweden the tracks are covered with grass and solid sand with - from time to time - larger stones. I need to concentrate, but things never become too difficult. It’s a fantastic ride through the woods. The nature in Sweden is astonishing!

While I ride along one of the 1000 big and smaller lakes, an older car passes me and stops. It’s the owner of all the land I’m driving through. The owner tells me it has been in his family for 6 generations. Proudly he explains how they try to keep things as natural as possible. He also remarks me that the past year he saw many motorbikes on the forest roads in his area. I tell him about the Trans Euro Trail and that the track runs through his land. Does he even like it? “Yes, as long as they are respectful and don’t race through the woods”. With this I can only agree. A very important rule to keep the TET alive!

I keep on travelling north through the vast forests of South Sweden; the further I go the more I notice how big this country is and how sparsely populated. You really can be on your own without encountering other people. At certain points there are more animals than people. A little pig, mice, squirrels and even a small deer cross my path as I continue the track. 

But I’m getting tired. And from time to time I don’t pay enough attention on the GPS device and make a navigation error. It’s hard to turn the 250kg heavy bike on a small forest road. There is one section that is more or less tricky. A small path, some deep trenches, some big stones… it doesn’t have to become crazier! I manage to keep the bike upright and with sweat still running from my back I’m happy to feel easy gravel again under the Bridgestone tyres.

This was the hardest point of the whole Swedish TET. The rest of section 1 is more or less like what I encountered the days before. I pass the enormous Vätternlake and continue the ride further North for a while.

I will not be able to complete section 1. For this I do need at least 1 day longer. But unfortunately my time is limited and I do have to end my exploration of the Swedish TET here. But I’m sure I have had a very good impression of this part. I turn back south and in the setting evening sun I head to Jönköping. A pleasant town overlooking the lake.

Next time I will head directly to the North. I’m sure that Section 2 – which is the more Northern part of the Swedish TET must be a delight to explore !

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