Thursday, 28 June 2012

Finland, Helsinki 2012 European Athletics

Helsinik was putting the final stages to  the opening night to the games I have no idea what was going on but mr Lion was excited to be there

Who is Who

In My Helsinki YHA I met these two great characters. I will give you a combined brief descriptions of them you decide what goes with who.
1 French, Italian, Kitchen Porter, Dentist, cycle tourer cycling to Rome, cycle tourer cycling to Stockholm. Divorced, single. Loves pasta, loves Rice. Favourate place Athens, Berlin, pet, little bird and cat

Ok so he is Georgio a kitchen porter, divorced with 6 children. His favourate place is Berlin where he met a romanian fortune teller who told him to go to Stockholm from Rome to get his wife back who had ran off with her boss(a women)He has a cat who unfortunatly eat his wifes bird when she left him!!!! And yes he likes his Pasta
Her name is Louise single from Paris a vegetarian and a dentist she has she says worked on Gerrard depatus teeth and is currently taking a year off to cycle the world. She got a plane to Bergen and is folowing a similar route to me. She wants to go to Athens, her fav place, as when she was a teenager she met and fell in love with a chap called something with an A. They have e mailed texted, not phoned for 10 years and now she is cycling down to see him

This life is so full of amazing people to meet never a dull moment

Sleeping rough

The night before id slept in a overgrown field that was once used as a sports field. Söme of the rules of rough camping are simple;
1. Find a suitable space hidden away from views of the locals
2.Make sure that your not to close to still water or long grass,the midge and their evil friends will be waiting
3.Not to close to a road so that you will get to sleep
4. Nearby suitable covering for the relief of substances your body will no longer need
5.A rock or even better a bench and table to prepare meal.

Id managed to tick no 1,2,3,4 but not 5. 5 I was not worried about as id already eaten earlier and breakfast i could have on the go.or find suitable location further on. So after a good nights sleep I was woken to the sound of a dog barking at my tent, certainly not a wolf or a bear. Soon it disapeared and i was left with peace. I stretched in the confines of my humble compact tent. Unzipped the polyester door and wiggled out of my sleeping bag into a beautiful summers morning. As i stood upand stretched in my boxers I realised very quickly that I was not alone. Even though I was tucked away in the corner of the field today was the junior European athletics day. And this morning the groundsmen were out preparing the field i was in for the days events, Also in MY field were 100s of teenage sporting legends to be, warming up for their big day. I was in full view, luckily my boxers were in good order, quick thinking I began to do a few streches myself showing off my athletic capabilities, and i think that i probably pulled it off passing as a coach for his wannabees!
It was around when things were looking ok the midge appeared and was ready for breakfast so with my extra swatting stretching technique i must have looked pretty cool in my boxers.I packed up and then point 4 needed to be taken care of. The night before I had found a suitable, i think position is the word, for this action however there was so many little blighters running around . I needed to look for another safe house after a bit of very suspicious looking i found a suitable place, i continued and relief was inimant and then  oww i was bitten on the bum by someone waiting for breakfast. Was there no sanctuary. Rough camping is what it is its free and it comes as usual with a price. 

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Rexi is a goer

Ok so leaving Stockholm with mixed emotions, but i have to say my feelings for stockholm was a great place to vist regardless of what happend the pros certainly outwayed the cons, no pun intended. So I grabbed the 730 Booze cruise to Turku,Finland. The locals take full advantage of the duty free allowance and do a 24hr excursion. This day however it was also full of the Summer day holiday weekend, which this part of the country celebrates big style the cities empty and they flock to the sea, country and parks. Id spent the day before departing travelling into the country to sample the festivities and also try out the bike. The parks were full of friends and families enjoying the sunshine, it doesnt last that long this far north, I guess stockholm is about 200 miles north of the outer hebrities. The state owned permantly fixed barbies in abundance were used to the full. The young women  dressed up in pretty dresses with head dresses made from floweres while the young Men were basicly strutting around showing off their bare chested physique. Mid summers day according to tradition is about the ritual of mating and its a statistic in Sweden that there is always a baby boom the following march. But hey thats Nature.
 So I arrive in Turku in the pouring rain and headed out to my couch for the night. Id been talking to a cyclist a few days before and he suggested that I join a web site called,  it sounds a bit dodgy but it was set up by a couple of cycle tourers who were doing europe on a buget and wanted an alternative to couch where at the end of a ride having booked before you spend the night in a fellow cyclists home for free, do a bit of bike maintanance, dry some clothes. So I gave it a try and was allowed to use a cyclists home for the night, picture below, no it wasnt the vw. Her name was Jann and listen to this she was away enjoying the country festvals but let me in while she wasnt there via a hidden key. So Jann your a star if your reading this.
So the next morning I headed to Helsinki a light rain no traffic the holiday weekeng and a flat turrain.A few visits and Rexi my steeds name has been broken in.with 135 miles in one day.she moand a bit but shes handling ok. Finland is resonably flat not so many trees and there is certainly a russian feel happening.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Always look on the bright side of life and whistle

I suppose I over reacted a bit a disaster would be a broken limb, at least I'm healthy and have had the ability to go looking for a bike. Imagine being laid up with a big world waiting for me to see.
The night before the theft Id been talking to two Turkish fellows from Istanbul, they were here in Sweden to learn English, now I know perhaps England might have been a better choice, but they had heard that the locals speak very good English and also the women looked better than the English and the chance to try out their new words would be a good conversation starter No comment there. Later that evening we were doing our best to converse along with a danish and American guy and sooner enough we got around to talking about my travels. We got onto the subject of at least Ive got here  and that imagine if you'd crashed into a car on your first day,and capput how annoyed you'd be. That's if you were a believer and were looking down from the heavens. At least Ive got to here and what a great time id had in the last two weeks so if anything happened now id be content.
The next morning I went for my continental breakfast and to join my fellow Turks, i wished them a morning and got a grunt, perhaps that's the Turkish way. They were strange that morning and were not interested  in their English lesson, but then i am lacking the good looks of a Swedish woman! However they were engrossed in a heated conversation  with another i believe Turkish fellow. I washed up my dishes and prepared for a day of sightseeing on my trusty steed. I wandered down to where i had tethered my steed and all that was left was the tether, my steed had gone a wandering. its not a nice feeling, and i was annoyed and frustrated that now i had another decision to make, should i stay or should i go.
I had to stay or in reality i needed to go on with my travels the thought of going back did cross my mind but the temptation of the journey ahead was so much grater. So I set the task to sort out a new steed. Easier said than done. The city is full of bikes like most cities its the cheapest fastest and in good weather the coolest way to get around a city. But as i visited each bike shop i was taken back that sorry we don't sell touring bikes just city bikes. Weird but  if i think back to the last two weeks the tourer is a rare breed in these parts.Secondly was I can get you one but in a few days how much around 30,000 kroners, divide it by ten, that's an expensive bike, my wandering steed only set me back 500 pounds! So second hand bikes, go to the Internet he said you will find your old bike their soon, there is only one such shop in Stockholm otherwise and that is where i headed. At least i was getting to see the city. and that is where I found my new companion not a tourer  but it had the ability to be adapted and that is what Ive done.I had to get new racks water carriers speedo and i ended up with a bill for 4600 kroners. But I do now have the ability to go on. She handles well she has no fancy gear levers or brakes she has twist bar changers  and she does come with a rusty bell, it will however not replace my lost bell my daughter gave me for my journey. But she will do and she handles OK  and equipped with her new accessories she will do OK, and  now for me and no doubt her for the fist time, we  shall leave this city together to Finland and beyond
The younger of the Turks that night was in a foul mood he was enjoying the last few drops of a bottle of whisky and had decided that the world was his enemy. His vocal abuse had frightened off the other hostelers and was ready for an argument, and i was in the line for it, with the main vocabulary in his native tongue mixed with the words of, your the problem, and i will fix you he threw his empty bottle at me and staggered out of the room his friend, a 65 year old engineer all his life, apologised and went after him, a few seconds later a huge crash, and he had now somehow smashed a window, and was throwing weirdly bits of bread at the walls and the night staff a young girl was horrified I grabbed hold of him and with the help of his friend we threw him in a cold shower. He came out crying sorry sorry I just come here to learn English get a good job its so hard.
Life is one big adventure
PS  thanks for all your kind words here's a pic of my new steed and my fellow Turks and Stockholm

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Disaster Bike Stolen

The worse thing that could happen except for dying or perhaps a physical problem has happened from this beautiful city a rat has come out and stolen my bike that was chained up to a post, I  came down this morning lock in two  no bike. Bugger. Problem Travel insurance  problem does not cover the bike, even though when I took it out with virgin ins I stipulated that cover. Now what

Tuesday, 19 June 2012


On the way to stockholm

Your just a man on a bike and Nitro glycerene

I left my  free four star campsite, it had TVs washer dryer a miniture golf course and 500 caravans, Free because i turned up and the reception was closed, i did try to see someone official, but was told pay in the morning  anyway your just a man on a bike. By morning Id left, after using the full 4 star services, before reception was open what was i to do i was just a man on a bike, and headed out of Karlstrad campsite. I had a little rain, so  waterproofs on, but why bother you sweat so much in them.  I headed into the town for a look around  and was approached by another bicyclist  and we talked and cycled into tow. Most of the people I meet love to talk and in some way they are envious of my adventure. The town was empty shops didn't open until 10 and i had a good look around. I came across of a statue of a are chested women with a broken sword in her hand and she was standing on a cut off head of an evil looking soldier.Great statue but why she needed to be bare chested I'm not sure but most statues are aren't they. There was also a large outside exhibition of photos depicting the lyrics of a  Bob Dylan song very moving.
  The day itself was pretty much quiet it was Saturday and the roads were quieter. By the end of the day I was aiming for a village called Gyttorp. I found the lake that led to it and followed it around to the village, and  as I cycled along  I found a suitable place to rough camp, it was a little early to set up rough camping, not wanting to annoy the locals and so I headed for the village for supplies I came across a village information sign that informed that in the 1940s the village was home to the production of Nitro glycerin. The company had enlisted the services of the English architect Ralph Erskin to deign the village.
With time on my hands I headed for  the restaurant for a pasta meal and was looked on by the locals as i entered. I ordered food and a cold beer. I notice to my side was a large group of women mothers grandmothers and daughter having a meal. I was taken back as to where all the men were. My bizarre thought was that the men had died of a male only disease affected by working with the Nitro. So curiosity made my enquire, the answer the men are on the fruit machines! Later on I bumped into the men and we talked of me, politics, the state run gambling machine, murderers, and putting the world to right, we drank more beer and the chef and waiter joined us, the women went home. Some further beers later and after talk of the deadly moose and wolves around here i was easily persuaded to sleep in the garden of this fine new friend of mine. We went to his house and with his son watching on they looked amused at the smallness of my tent. It amuses me too, small but it is home. The next morning i was kindly invited in to their fine house for breakfast and coffee. How many of us would have done the same! I left after photographs and I will probably never see them again, but they do have the opportunity to follow me as he has bookmarked me on his computer. If hes reading this then thank you once again you were very kind.

The madness in my mind

The roads in Sweden are very good but as in Norway they are used to the full advantage of the motorist and in particular the heavy goods vehicle. As a cyclist you sometimes don't have many choices as to the roads to take as often there is only the one going in your direction. My maps are certainly not detailed enough and therefor do not show the little side toads that would give you some peace. However On this day I was looking at my map perplexed when a local came up and showed me a really nice quiet road that took me into the forests and lakes with good road surface as well. Id been cycling along for a while thinking to myself that I hadn't seen much wildlife, there had been much talk of the bear the wolf and the moose but considering the area id been through not a Dickie bird, whatever a Dickie bird is! It was at this time that out of the corner of my eye I saw something in the woods, I slowed down and waited and there some 100 yards away was a black bear and by the side of it looked to be a youngster. I have been told that you should stay clear of any form of wildlife especially when the young are involved. Do i go forward, stay still or go backwards. a bear will attack and can outrun me was I a threat would it leave its young. So many considerations.So I reached into my bag pulled out my camera and tried to get an image, steady try and zoom in if only i was closer the wind was not in there direction they couldn't smell me,so i moved a little closer, quietly does it, i zoomed in and wow there was the perfect picture of a rock and a smaller rock by it. what a fool.
You would think that I would learn my lesson but no in search of the great outdoors the desire is stronger than reason. Some couple of hours later I was coming out of the woods when out of that same corner of my eye, I must get it checked, I saw the remains of a large fish. I slammed on the breaks and pushed the bike backwards and looked down into the ditch that  was going into the lake.It must be a half eaten fish from a bears dinner or a wolf the grass around it looked beaten down as if something had been through there. As I edged closer it looked as if there was a spear coming out of it, and this is roughly how my mind worked, oh my god it isn't a fish its a section of a large snake by the size of it probably a Boa constrictor that's either escaped or been left loose  because it got to big, that makes sense of the beaten down grass, it wriggled along getting to water prob got impaled on a metal rod or speared by a local and a wild animal has been along and having a great feast. and then reality kicked in it was just a section of drainage pipe spiked to stay in the ditch. I really must drink more water.  

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Pics from Karlstad

pics from Karlstad