Asarna – Ytterhogdal (Mid Point Sweden) 70.4 kms 296’ ascent.
What a fine start to the day. Sun shining, birds tweeting happily and a wind blowing up our backsides. With the whizzy wind and the fine weather, this fairly short ride promised to be a reward for all the headwinds and hills. And so it was. We were, however, definitely back into trees and then quite suddenly, trees on mountains. Mmm, maybe just hills. Very pretty either way.
For the second day in succession we came upon a café at a time when our bellies were protesting their emptiness. Now, my Swedish is non-existent and the proprietor of the café spoke no English and his answer to my request for food was ‘No’. Quite a bit was lost in translation, for having decided to partake of a coffee anyway, we both re-entered said establishment and Alan spotted what looked like a menu hanging on the wall. A second customer explained, in perfect English, that it was indeed a menu advertising home cooked food. His recommendation was to order the first item on the list which I did. This dish was duly delivered by the male equivalent of Julie Walter’s waitress and was quite delicious. (Rosti type potato with cream and anchovies, served with fresh rolls and salad.)
Our new acquaintance, the other customer, seemed quite keen to converse and so we spent a pleasant and informative hour or so learning more about Sweden, its weather, its trees, its history and its customs. One of the latter is to take place this Friday, namely Midsummer (isummer only started the day before yesterday and already it is half over!) which means the whole of Sweden will celebrate in style which, in turn, means we may have a problem finding mossie free accommodation. Curious to know how the indigenous population cope with these little beasties, Alan posed the question. Rumour has it that the Sami lie outside for the whole night of the first mossie day, quite naked and presumably get munched but the problem is solved for the remainder of the two days of summer. My suggestion that Alan try this cure was, unsurprisingly, declined
It transpired that our companion worked in forestry, or more accurately, owned large tracts of forest in Sweden and in Latvia. Keen to show us part of his empire, he copied that tactics of the TV reporters and stopped us in a layby in order to present his forest to us. It was a great way to learn more about the countryside through which we are travelling. So our thanks to a very interesting Anders Nilsson.
Not content with one encounter with the populace, Alan struck up a conversation with a fellow cyclist (wearing willies) while I was once again surveying the shelves of the supermarket. Having asked the expected questions of where did you start and where will you finish, his answers were somewhat surprising. He was a Finn who had inherited a 200 year old watch made in Mora and he was on a quest to establish its origins and then he would cycle home again. We wished him well and the last we saw of him was on a campsite which we had abandoned in favour of a hotel room minus mossies. It has to be said that the system of huts is a great idea but just occasionally it falls flat on its face as it did this evening. The huts, despite their two star rating, were in a state of dereliction with ill-fitting windows and doors. AND after only a few minutes,( no seconds), Alan had provided a blood donation to the local population. So cheap hotel room it is.
PS from Alan. I,ve just worked out why he was wearing willies. My ankles are covered in bites. The little bastards have no regard for lycra or socks!
A really wide load just made it through the bridge