Saturday, June 22, 2019

Day 6: Stay Unplugged

And then there were four. With Marcia taking a day off given her non-functioning electric bike, my wife Karen, former school boss Terry, family friend Heidi and I set off yet again through lovely countryside. The sun out yet again, the constant wind (but warm) blowing, the silence of the trees and occasional cows, horses and a few colts. A lovely lunch by the side of the lake— cheese, bread, avocado, cherry tomato, cucumber, cut on Heidi’s little board she carries with her. Some time on the main roads with a shoulder 1 foot wide and occasional cars roaring by (see photo below), then off to the dirt roads through the barley fields, down a hill with a particularly rough washboard surface. We came back to the main road and suddenly, Heidi’s electric bike gave out. We suspected the washboard jiggling jiggled something loose. Some 30 miles from our destination, we had to call the woman who organized the tour and have her pick Heidi up. And then there were three. 

On we continued around the lake and after a relatively flat first few days, these past two were constant ups and downs. Luckily, my San Francisco bike riding well-prepared me for hills, but it was still somewhat challenging, especially with the accumulated 300 or so miles we rode over the five days (with one day off). We alternated between the gravely dirt roads through fields and forests and the “tarmac” main road. The smoothness of the latter was always welcome, but it came at a price. Cars whizzing by with that aforementioned narrow shoulder. 

We finally arrived at one of the bigger (but still small) towns of the ride—Mariefred. Off for a beer at a hotel that was founded in 1609, a light dinner and a hilarious game of miniature golf in a little park nearby. Tomorrow a day to ourselves before a 3-hour boat trip with bikes and bags returning to Stockholm. We could spend the day biking around the area, but I suspect we’ll opt for casual strolling, park-sitting and catching up on e-mail.

All in all, a delightful 6 days and happy to know that this almost 68-year-old can bike some 200 miles in a week and have it feel just fine. And more than just fine, with all the pleasures of trees, lakes and fields as company, the busy mind falling out into the wind, time to refresh from an always-hard-working-industrious year. Still a week ahead in Sweden with touring in Stockholm and visiting a friend out in the countryside. With or without more bike riding ahead. 

“Stay unplugged” was the take-away after the failure of the electric bikes, but also good advice to unplug from that always-busy self. Gratitude to bicycles, nature, friends and Sweden’s hospitality. 

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