Day 14: Norrköping to Nyköping

 As I travel from <something>köping to <another>köping, it may help to know that köping is pronounced “choping” and it means “market”.  So Nyköping is effectively Newmarket.

Today was, in the end, a good day.  Also, today’s post is a bit longer than normal because it was a short cycling day.

  • Distance: 81km 🙂 — A short day.
  • Climbing: 796m ☹️ — Some punchy 9% rollers on the way
  • Route: 🙂 — Despite the rain and the wind, this was maybe the most enjoyable route in Sweden so far.
  • Body 😐 — No creaks…perfect.  
  • Bike: 🙂 — No creaks…perfect.
Unfortunately, the distribution of Swedish towns big enough to have hotels is such that today was going to have to be a short day.  I could either do one 210km day (yeah, right) or an 80km day and a 130km day. 

As you will have seen from yesterday’s post, according to the Economist, weather forecasting is now super accurate — for some definition of accurate.  There seemed to be a window between 6am and 11am where it was going to be dry and that it would be sunny in Nyköping when I arrived.

I woke at 5.30am (<sigh>) and looked out of my window at a beautiful morning.

Right, this is more like it
I did the normal morning routine.
A quick aside on the hotel routine.  Given how appalling it would be to find out that you’ve left something in the hotel room after you’d cycled 30km down the road, one gets into an extraordinarily obsessive routine in hotels.  Anything to avoid retracing your steps to pick up your phone or passport.

It starts with arriving in your room. Completely unpack everything from the bean and the handlebar bag.  Never put anything in a cupboard or drawer: that’s a recipe for disaster.  Wash kit and get it drying.  The “twist things in a towel” trick which Gareth put me onto is brilliant. Put Garmin, phone, lights, headphones on to charge.  Lay non-cycling clothes out on the chair which every Scandinavian hotel invariably has and put everything else on the desk which every Scandinavian hotel invariably has.  Shower.  Go and eat.  Make sure Garmin is charged.  Set up phone, watch and iPad to charge overnight.

In the morning, do the unmentionable thing with the SudoCrem, get into your (hopefully dry) kit and then go around the room putting everything on the bed in two piles. The stuff you’re going to be carrying and the stuff to go in the bean.  Pack bean.  Phone in centre back pocket, headphones in left back pocket, glasses and sunglasses in handlebar bag.  Get bean on bike, put bike out in the hotel corridor and then walk around the room for 5 minutes doing one last check.  

Every day for 14 days.  Yeah, it’s not all wild unbridled fun on these trips.
Although breakfast only started at 7am, the Elite Hotel had helpfully set out some early morning coffee and I helped myself to coffee and filled the water bottles.  My experience of Swedish hotels hasn’t been very broad but the Elite hotel group aren’t bad as a middle market sort of establishment.

Action shots of water bottles being filled.

I waved goodbye to the receptionist and climbed onto the bike.  I had cleverly set up today’s route to leave directly from the hotel so there was none of the usual riding around aimlessly trying to find the start of the route.  Then it was the usual mixture of cycle paths and roads out of the classic Swedish town hinterland.

Where’s a good place for a McDonald’s?
“In an industrial park Bjorn.  Right there”

I managed to resist the siren song of a Bacon and Egg McMuffin™ although, to be fair, at 6:30am and still with a couple of mugs of strong Swedish coffee swilling around on your stomach that doesn’t involve much will-power.

The road headed north and since the wind was blowing at 40km/h from the south, this section was pretty nice.  It was also really nice to be travelling in Sweden without paying £3 per kilometre like I had to in the taxi yesterday.  Northerly road, southerly wind and free…perfect.

However, the road then turned east and I was cycling along the northern shore of the Bråviken.  This, naturally, meant that for the next 40km I had a pretty strong sidewind to content with.  There were no cycle paths and it was a relatively busy road which meant it was less fun than it could have been.

Busy road on the left, fjard on the right.

I turns out that the Bråviken is a fjard not a fjord.  Who knew there was a difference?  Not me but clicking on the link will allow you into that exclusive club which knows the difference. Impress your friends and family by saying “I think you’ll find that it’s a fjard Brian” at dinner parties.

The waves maybe give an idea of how windy it was

A windswept me with a stormy fjard in the background.

The road wound along the shore.  On one side were shuttered holiday homes and on the seaward (or is that fjardward?) side there were little beach huts.  Endless beach huts, each with a little pier, all jammed next to one another for about 20 continuous kilometres.  In the wind and with the steadily darkening sky, they looked sad, decrepit and out of place.
 
Probably nice in the summer…oh wait…

I was getting to the point where some more coffee and maybe a little snackette would be nice and while there were a lot of houses and an awful lot of beach huts, there wasn’t really anything that you could call a town or village.  Or even a hamlet.

I spied a bijou little sailing marina round a bend and thought that it should have a cafe or something.  I realise that the weather isn’t great but it’s the height of the summer season, there’s hundreds of holiday homes all round here.

You’d think the keen sailors would be out enjoying the wind.

It was deserted.  I did find the cafe.  It was shut. Until 5pm. 

Shut. 
There were some toilets but they were shut too.

Shut

Since I was heading into the western end of the Boreal Forest the large number of available trees meant that the toilets being shut was less of a problem.

As I turned north again (hurrah!) the rain started coming down (boo!).  Not very heavily but constantly. So much for accurate weather forecasts eh?
 
Hello shelter my old friend…

I wasn’t in a rush so I could hang out in bus shelters (again) hoping the rain would stop.  It didn’t.

I cycled past the Tropicarium Park.  Hard to tell what it was (and indeed also pretty hard when you check out their website) but it had an absolutely gigantic Disney-sized car park.  That’s the sort of place that would have a coffee shop you might think.

Shut

You’d think that on a Wednesday morning in August, the biggest local attraction within 50km would be open?  Nope.

There was nothing for it but to press on over the increasingly steep rolling hills and through the increasingly heavy rain.  The next set of photographs might look all the same but they stretch over a distance of about 25km.

Trees, wet road, hill

Different trees, same wet road, different hill

Different trees, a differently coloured road, and a bike.

The town of Jönåker had been signed for 20km but was off the route a bit.  Just the place to get a coffee and heat up in a nice cafe I thought.  As I rolled in, there was the obligatory dodgy pizza joint.  
Very weirdly (and I have to thank my daughter Hannah for telling me this) Norway is the biggest consumer of frozen pizza in the world.  Indeed the average person in Norway eats 5kg of pizza a year and 20% of the population say that pizza is the Norwegian national dish.  Given the fact that the only restaurant in a town large enough to have a restaurant is a pizza joint, I can only assume that Sweden is very close to Norway in the league tables.  And, doing some cursory internet searching, it appears that 68% of Swedes eat pizza a few times a month or more. It’s kind of not surprising because outside the main towns and cities, it’s all there is to eat.
Despite the hordes of Swedes clamouring for their regular pizza, in Jönåker, the pizza place was…shut.

Shut

Also shut

No, nothing going on in Jönåker.  I still wasn’t feeling that hungry but I was cold and really needed somewhere to heat up for a bit.  I tried to attack the increasingly steep hill sections to get some warmth and eventually got off the bike in a forest and ran up and down for a bit which helped a lot.

Tree with bike.  A classic of the genre.

By now I was getting close enough to Nyköping that I was resigned to just grinding it out to get there. However, at some godforsaken junction in the middle of nowhere, there was a garage.  The bane of my life in Sweden has been the fact that most petrol stations are entirely self service.  You turn up, put your card in the machine, say how much petrol you want and then the petrol pump does the rest.  No need for people.  Or the usual shop/cafe/place to buy 5L of Castrol GTX.

But this was an old fashioned garage with cigarettes (not for me thanks!) , coffee, sweets and Castrol GTX.

I felt a bit like Alan Partridge…

I know that finding words in other people’s languages funny is childish and immature but as soon as I saw it, I had to have a plopp.

You can’t beat a plopp.

To be honest, the plopp was pretty good.  For those of you in the UK, it was like a Cadbury’s Caramel but with slightly odd tasting chocolate.  Given I was 65km into the day and freezing, I think just about anything would have been pretty good at that point.  But full marks for the plopp.

While I was having my plopp, the rain actually stopped.  So I jumped on my bike and, fuelled by plopp, I sped through the remaining kilometres.   The roads opened up but sadly this also gave the vicious side wind an opportunity to try to grab me, my bike and my bean and throw all of us into a messy heap in the road.  Maximum concentration and effort was required.

Welcome to Sweden. Land of contrasts.

Basically the same thing but with less trees and more wind.

Surprisingly quickly it was all over.  Nyköping started 1.5km from the end of the route and, before I knew what was happening, I was at the final hotel of the trip.  

The receptionist was exceptionally good about letting me have my room even though it was only 11:30am.  I did think about carrying on and just getting to Stockholm today but…I didn’t think very long about it. After the usual obsessive routine on arrival — see above — it was time to go out and explore Nyköping. But not before I had turned on the thermonuclear towel rail.

This bad boy makes it all worthwhile

It would be easy to be snarky about Nyköping but I won’t.  There’s a castle and a nice harbour redevelopment.

The information booth was (unsurprisingly) shut but…”history” stuff I guess.

The harbour front redevelopment is underpowered but pleasant.

Not much going on in the main square.

It’s “Puta Madre” all over again.

It was a seaside (or fjardside) town on a wet Wednesday.  People gamely doing the best they could in the wind and the rain.  Definitely a step up from Hallsberg and I imagine on a sunny day, it’s lovely.

The choice of restaurants isn’t large but I walked past an African food place (!?!) which gets a rating of 4.9 on Google.  It’s definitely not pizza so I’m going to give it a go.

For somewhere with a 4.9 rating it’s pretty quiet…
and the menu is…funky

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The wine is extremely cheap by Swedish standards and the food is actually lovely.  I tried to engage the owner in a discussion of which bit of  “Africa” does the food come from but the intersection of our shared languages wasn’t rich enough to get this concept across.

“African” food in Sweden. Didn’t have that on
the carbohydrate bingo card.

So…today was actually a good day despite the weather.  Two days off the bike meant I felt pretty strong and the much shorter distance made it easier to push it early on.  That being said, I’m glad that most days have involved 8 to 10 hours on the bike because you get a bit bored wandering around small Swedish towns in the afternoon.

Tomorrow Stockholm and the end of the trip.  There will be one more post and then that’s it until next year…maybe.



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