A bike ride in Sweden

Yesterday was my last free day before the conference starts (running til Saturday), so I decided to explore a bit of the Swedish countryside by bike.

I made my way to Fridhems just by the University where they offered to rent me a standard city bike (fenders, basket, and fairly heavy) for a reasonable 150 SEK. But when the guys at the shop heard I was heading a little further afield, they spontaneously agreed between themselves to put me on a brand new Skeppschult hybrid.

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It turned out to be a great choice. Eight speed internal hub shifting, disk brakes and very durable 28 mm X 700 mm Schwalb tires made this a good ride. The rear hub made overall weight a bit heavier than my own hybrid and I found I was perched a little too far forward over the handlebars. But I quickly adapted to the apparent “squirrelyness” of the front wheel. Shifting was butter smooth and the ride was fast.

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Like many Swedish urban bikes, this one sported an integral rear wheel lock. Turing the key allowed the rider to swing a semi-circular pin through the rear wheel, effectively preventing anyone from riding or wheeling the bike away. And the same mechanism also used a cable to noose the bike to a bike stand. Clever idea.

Graham (a displaced Brit) and Mike (from Malmo) suggested following the bike path from my hotel west to a beach at Lomma, then turning north and following the Atlantic shore to Bjarred, where I could have lunch. And from there, it was easy to to complete the triangle by returning to Lund.

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So off I set, mostly cycling on segregated bike lanes, but ocassionaly following pedestrian/bike paths or secondary roads. In Sweden, many paved paths or sidewalks are alloted half and half to pedestrians and cyclists, with different paving (asphalt, concrete pavers, or cobblestones) used to physically delineate between uses.

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Generally routefinding was easy. I followed my nose, the GPS, and signposts where I found them.

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At some some road crossings, I encountered these spring loaded barriers designed to slow cyclists as they approached the road. Although I merely wove around them, they seemed designed to bounce out of the way when struck by a front wheel – but perhaps low speeds would be better. These seemed to be the most intrusive effort to control cycle movement I’ve seen in Sweden.

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The beach at Lomma, where I rested briefly before heading to Bjarred, a few kilometres north.

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At Bjarred, I had a swim and walked 200m or so along a pier to enjoy an al fresco seaside lunch at a restaurant at the end of the pier. Well worth the walk.

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I made my way back to Lund by cycling first north to Loddekopinge, then north east to Kavlinge and south to Lund. As I went, I was struck once again with the way Sweden combines the old and the new in surprising ways: traditional thatched roofs and modern wind turbines, cobblestone streets and unisex public washrooms, iPhones and pre-war bikes.

I was tired and hot when I got back to Lund in late afternoon. I was surprised to see that my GPS had recorded a 50 k journey, since thecycling didn’t seem that taxing. But pretty happy with my route and bike rental. So I helped Graham and Mike move bikes into the shop as they closed for the day and bought a round at a near-by pub where we swapped cycling stories. All in all, a very good day.

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