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Old 02-24-2013, 06:03 PM   #1
nordicbiker OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Near Stockholm, Sweden
Oddometer: 161
Steel on ice - winter touring in Sweden

Every winter the same problem: latest in February I am starting getting more and more nervous. I am going down into the garage, checking out my bike, want to get out for a ride. But ice and snow won't disappear even so far south in Sweden as Stockholm most winters not before the end of March.

So last fall, after replacing the heavy 990 Adventure with a much lighter 690 Enduro R, I bought some slightly used dubbed enduro tyres. 8mm steel should give enough traction even on pure ice! The only problem: all the roads around my northern Stockholm home subburb are aspahlt. Steel on asphalt won't be very funny, so I need to get the bike out of the city on a trailer first. Too bad that my current company car doesn't have a hook for a trailer, I need to wait until May to get the newly ordered car that can pull a trailer. But that's what's friends are for: my colleage Christian is borrowing me his Volvo V60 for a weekend, when he is in the Alps for skiing. We make a deal: I take him to the airport on friday morning at 5:00, pick him up late on sunday again and in the meantime can keep the car! Good for me, I am an early bird.

So I take the friday off, book a rental trailer at a local gas station and after getting Christian to his flight in time, I load the KTM and hit the road to get up to my favorite place for gravel touring.

Rosentorp is a litte village (permanent population: 6 humans, 28 sleddogs, 12 hens, 5 sheep) about 5 driving hours north of Stockholm. Best: it's in the middle of the woods, hundrets of kilometers of gravel roads and logging tracks around where you can legally take your bike out for and adventure ride. Only problem in winter: by far not all of those roads are ploughed, but there should still be many possibilities for a long weekend.

I am arriving around 13:00 and after moving into the cozy "Moose hut" (one of the four cabins my german friends Karin and Uwe are renting out) I am getting dressed as quickly as possible for a first taste of ice and snow under dubbed tyres. Clothing is the most important aspect for winter tournig, layering is essential. Woolen underwear, microfleece, protector jacket, fleece sweater and a well insulated snowscooter overall, that make me feel like the michelin man. Thick warm woolen socks in winter hiking shoes will keep my toes warm and brand new Rukka Goretex gloves in combination with heated grips keep fingers moveable. Only the newly bought face mask seems to be unnecessary, since it's "only" -5 degrees C.

So finally I am out! Let the adventure begin!

This is actually my second try on snow, but still you need to get used to, that friction is relative... I soon realize that certain speed (50km/h) gives me more stability when I get into loose snow. And the worst thing you could do then is to hit the breaks. Vice versa: a bit of extra gas keeps the bike going well. I am soon relaxing, realizing that grabbing the handlebar too hard does not help, just let the bike to the job. And the 690 does really a great job! If the road is well cleaned of loose snow I am getting up to 70km/h, but above that things start feeling a bit instable again.

The first road I am trying is unfortunately cleared of snow for just 10km, there I come to a dead end. The forrest industry is hitting hard on the Swedish forests and the monster machine parked at the end of the road is a clear indication of what is going to happen here, soon.

I am trying to get north to Hamra National Park, a wide area of untouched forrest and moors, but as I suspected the last two kilometers to the southern entrace are not cleared of snow. I had been here around christmas and had the same problem, but then I had skies with me. Trying to make it to the sightseeing tower near the southern entrace would make me sweat that much that my boots would probably be flooded after just a few minutes. So I keep on going further north.

So I need to go south again and take a parallel road to get furter north to Fågelsjö, my next destination. The weather gods are on my side and after a grey morning clouds are moving out of the way, so I can enjoy a fantastic finter day!

I am passing old farm houses covered in deep powder snow. Nobody had been here for many weeks or even months.

The old farm house of Fågelsjö is a museum today. A rich farmer build himself a more modern house over 100years ago. He then left the old house standing complete with it's original intereriour. His daughter donated it many decades later to the local community who soon realized what treasure they had been given: a real time capsule preserving an insight in farm live 130 years ago. So in summer times the museum is opened for the public, but now in midwinter not even the museum café is open!

From Fågelsjö I am trying to get south again, but need to change my plans again, because also this logging road is not cleared of snow. I have a short try, but need to realize that the snow is too deep and heavy to make reasonable progress without risking a crash. And a crash, resulting in injury is the last thing you want to experience out here in the remote forests in the middle of winter. So I decided to go back partially the same way I came.

I am having a final tea brake to warm up my stiff legs at Storhamrasjön, the "Big Hamra Lake" but somewhere there I am loosing the cup of my thermos can, it's gone later when I unpack my backpack. Will need to come back in summer and do some search, but it would be an unbelievable coincidence to find it.

I am back around 15:30, meeting Karin who is a bit concerned that Uwe is not yet back. He had gone out with the snowscooter to compact the snow on their dogsledding track and should have been back an hour ago. Karin is starting a search expedition and returns two hours later with Uwe on the same one scooter. When he gets off he is shouting some words which I can't recall here, but the famous f-word is one of them: his scooter broke down when he has farthest away. He tried to walk back, but after 10km in deep loose snow he was totally exhausted, when Karin finally found him. This proves again how easily you can get into problems in this remote and lonely part of Sweden. Help is far away and without a GPS position it will take many hours, maybe days to find you!

The evening we are spending the traditional Rosentorp way: a big campfire is lighted and all the guests (today we are actually trippeling the "native" population) is gathering for a bbq and some nicely cooled beers!

Before I am finally ending the day around 11 I take a last look into the stars. Even that it's not completely dark here at the farm, there are so many more stars than in the light poluted city. Too bad we are still to far south to see the northern lights!

It's sunday now and I will need to drive another 5hours home today. So I am starting on a shorter half-day trip today. Checking my phone two hours later I have received an sms from Uwe, telling me that local hero and motorcycle fanatic Hasse is going to show up around lunchtime. I need to go back to meet him!

Hasse is riding his motorcycles year round, almost daily. Even in winter he is riding his bike 15km to the job, "Just when it get's below -20C I am taking the car" he told me once. Amost every free hour he is spending riding one of his three old Yamahas, or the "brand new" KLR 250 he bought some months ago. 40.000kms a year is probably Swedish distance record. And a daytrip for him can easily come up to 500km, most of it on unpaved roads.

Today he has taken his XT600 up to Rosentorp, which is equipped with skies, like the Swedish Army uses in winter. When it gets slippy the feet are placed on the skies, instead of the footpegs and therefore he can use much shorter car dubs (about 2mm instead of 8mm on my tyres) which also work on asphalt roads.

So now we are keeping another Rosentorp tradition alive: let's take out the coffee table and have some cake outside!

By 3 in the afternoon I finally need to get my stuff packed, the KTM is pushed back on the trailer and I need to get on my way home. It's a bit annoying that everone may drive faster than me, but 80km/h is the limit if you have a trailer behind you and considering the expensive Swedish speeding tickets I decided to keep it legal.

What a weekend! I really hope that my new car will come next weekend, so that I don't need to borrow a car with a hook, to take the KTM out on a trailer again. Probably not to Rosentorp, that's too far away, but for sure I will find some closer forest roads for a winter daytrip!

Rosentorps Bageri och Stugby (Bakery and Cabin rental) is located about 45km north of Orsa (Orsa is 320km northwest of Stockholm), 7km east of the only asphalt main road E45.

nordicbiker screwed with this post 02-24-2013 at 06:09 PM
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Old 02-24-2013, 06:46 PM   #2
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Very nice weekend. I love riding forest roads in winter.
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Old 02-24-2013, 07:31 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by nordicbiker View Post
You're never lost till you run out of gas....
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Old 03-04-2013, 05:41 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by mr dual sport View Post
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:54 AM   #5
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Front Page Nominee

I just nominated this one for Front Page status. Awesome!
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Old 03-04-2013, 05:29 PM   #6
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Beautiful photos, keep them coming.

Don't you know there ain't no devil, it's just God when he's drunk.
Tom Waits
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Old 03-04-2013, 11:52 PM   #7
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Location: The Dandenong Ranges, Vic
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Fantastic pics + report!

What an awesome place to go for a ride..

Makes me cold just looking at your pics


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