Sweden and Norway via the Trans European Trail (TET)
We like Sweden and Norway for their wide open spaces, beautiful nature and generally laid back lifestyle. The summer days are long, especially when near the arctic circle and as most holiday makers head for southern Europe it's not overcrowded. Both countries are very different. Norway is known worldwide for its stunning nature, rugged mountains and majestic fjords. Sweden is the country of lakes, forests and rolling hills. Most visitors tend to shoot through Sweden as quickly as they can into Norway. They take the main road or E20 up to Gothenburg followed by the 165 to Oslo, and then claim Sweden is a bit boring… which is great for us as we now know which roads to avoid! Better still it leaves the Swedish countryside free from holiday makers! If you take the backroads in Sweden, of which there are plenty, there is a lot to see and enjoy. Especially on an Enduro as gravel roads are quite common in Sweden once you leave the main roads behind.
I've been to Sweden many times but this time we followed the TET route from Malmö up. The route can be downloaded from the TET website and picks you up at the bridge between Denmark and Sweden. It then takes you around Malmö as best as it can before dropping you straight into the backroads and the real Sweden.
Before you get there though, there is quite a bit of motorway to tackle, and not the best one either: the German Autobahn. Notoriously for being long, boring and full of idiots in fast saloons. It's also known for horrible accidents and massive traffic jams. To top it all off an enduro is hardly the best bike to ride Autobahns with… or is it? Let's get one thing out of the way first. The salesman that will tell you that a big bike is perfect for the Autobahn is lying… there is no bike in the world that makes the Autobahn fun so it can never be perfect. You could argue that a big adventure bike allows you to adopt the 'blast over it as fast as I can' approach... and end up in the fatal accidents statistics list... which I wouldn't call perfect either. But even if you do survive that approach then you'll still get stuck in roadworks and traffic jams like the rest of us. With a narrow agile enduro you can at least find your way through traffic jams easier than with a truck-wide adventure bike.
We tend to take it a bit more steady, cruise at about 110, listen to some music via the intercom and arrive relaxed and a lot less tired at the end of the day. With the right tyres, a steering damper, the Nomad tower keeping the wind off our chest and the Seat Comfort seat which is good for about 700 km a day, motorways are no problem on an enduro whatsoever.
Once in Sweden and on the gravel part of the Swedish TET, the fun really begins. A large adventure bike is no fun at all there. The route winds its way through forests and along the many beautiful lakes Sweden has to offer. There is hardly any traffic either, pure bliss. There are some short more technically challenging parts thrown in for good measure but generally it's easy to do on a light weight bike.
Free camping is allowed in Sweden (!) it's a part of Allemansrätten, (everyone's right) which entitles everyone to enjoy nature as long as you do not disturb anyone and don't destroy anything. Max stay is 24 hrs. We camped in forests, along rivers and lakes, enjoying the serenity and beauty without screaming kids, blaring radios and the other 'prefab-fun' usually found on campgrounds. In short, we had a great time!
Along the Swedish part of the TET there are plenty of places to get fuel and food, usually in smaller towns and local shops. Just how we like it.
The linesmen in Sweden have truly done a great job!
The route eventually crosses the border into Norway. Although you also leave the European communion at that point, there isn't really any border control. The TET in Norway is basically a short detour which takes you further north and then back into Sweden again. As we wanted to go further north in Norway we left the TET and made our own route from thereon, again all back roads and as much gravel as we could find. The stunning Aursjøvegen road was our most northerly point for this trip.
From there we zig-zagged our way down via the Trollstigen, Geiranger and Jostedalsbreen towards the south western point. Most of the roads are asphalt in this part of Norway and as we were there in the middle of summer it was quite busy at times too… What didn't help was the sheer number of motorhomes on roads where they should have never been on.
I mean you don't take your glorified porta-loo over narrow mountain roads when a sign at the beginning says 'Maximum width 2.0 mtr'… we even found one stuck in a tunnel! We fully understand why Norwegians seriously hate people in motorhomes, having to put up with their stupidity and egoistic behaviour every summer. Luckily OSMAnd+ which we use for navigation, uses the excellent OSM Streetmaps which show more tracks and off-road options than most GPS systems.
That brings me right to the beauty of an enduro for travelling. For a non-enduro ace such as me it offers the option to continue when the road ends and the tracks begin. I don't have to turn around because the bike's too heavy, too big or both. The superb suspension with 300 mm+ travel copes with it all without ever giving the impression of being stressed. Roads that would have had me rattling off the hinges on any other bike can now be taken with ease. What the above all means is that I can go places I couldn't before and enjoy the scenery rather than being hard at work wrestling my 300kg monster with luggage through it. It allows me to take tracks where I won't find holiday makers and loads of traffic. It thus allows me to enjoy the trip and really get away from it all. Yet when I want, or have to, I can take a motorway without a problem as wind protection, good seat and a long range tank allows me to cover them with ease too. With a 14/48 gearing the engine is unstressed and returns 25-26km/ltr at 110 km/hr.