One recurring feature of this trip has been that whenever I commit to reaching somewhere by a particular day, something happens to cause my plan to fail, or at least to jeopardise it. The last thing I did before leaving Moss was to use the dodgy wifi (for which of course I'd paid extra) to book a hotel in Gothenburg. I'd checked some the night before and already by morning the cheap options had disappeared, so I thought it best to book ahead, and took the cheaper 'no refund' deal. It surely would be easy enough to get there in three 70 mile rides?
The first day was OK, I rode through light rain all day and camped 15 miles inside Sweden. I ended up not paying as the office was shut when I arrived at 7.30 and still shut when I left after 9 the following day. As there is no map available for the Swedish section of the North Sea Cycle Route, and I hadn't seen any signs for it either, I stopped at the Stromstad tourist info and asked. The helpful woman there had never heard of the route, but let me use the internet and gave me a free map, which was a lot better than the one I'd got in a garage the previous day. So I've not been slavishly following the NSCR here, though I'm sure my route and the official route have coincided for many miles.
The next day it rained on and off in the morning but I was going OK until some really bad weather hit in the afternoon. It was some of the most testing weather I've ever ridden through, I was being lashed by driving rain with no end in sight, and while the wind was never less than very strong indeed, sudden gusts occasionally threatened to throw me off the bike. Luckily I was on a cycle path separate from the road for most of the time but it was still disconcerting. I wanted to get the ferry from Lysekil and get a hotel on whatever island I found myself on then - I'd long since given up the idea of attempting to pitch the tent. However by the time I reached Lysekil the weather was so bad I threw in the towel there and went to Harry's Hotel, where the charming receptionist knocked twenty quid off my room. What a relief it was to be indoors. The shower I had was one of the most welcome I ever remember taking: if I were giving prizes for the trip that would definitely win the Golden Shower Award.
I had a nice meal in the pub downstairs too. Sweden is a bit cheaper than Norway, and in my experience the food is better value too. Instead of £20 for a poor quality Chinese dish or a lacklustre pizza, I'm paying £15 for food which seems to be prepared by someone who'd like to see me return to their restaurant sometime. And showers/wifi seem to be included in the price of campsites and hotels too, rather than being ryanaired onto the basic cost.
I still had a problem though, after catching the ferry the next morning I would have to get another one to the next island, and when I asked about it (it was shown on my map), it didn't exist. It wasn't clear if it no longer ran or if it was just closed for winter, but I definitely needed to find a workaround. I stared at my map, but it seemed I would have to add 40 miles onto the route, which would surely mean failing to make Gothenburg and forfeiting the first night's hotel bill.
In the morning the rain had almost stopped and the wind had dropped completely. I looked at the map again. Somehow overnight a route had appeared on the map that would only add maybe 20 miles. How had I missed it? The ride would be long but not impossible, if the weather didn't get worse.
I went for breakfast and while trying to use the wifi in reception (it rarely works in the hotel rooms, despite what the hotels claim) I asked the morning receptionist about ferries. She called over her colleague who told me about a route involving two chain ferries not shown on the map that would add no more than five miles, maybe not even that. That was superb news, and the ride was very nice too, along lanes with virtually no traffic. After arriving on the second island I envisaged no further problems reaching Gothenburg. The next island was accessed via a major road bridge so no need to worry about ferries any more.
An couple of hours later I saw the suspension bridge stanchions appear ahead and shortly after that, some No Pedestrians, No Cyclists signs. I tried a parallel road hoping it would lead to the bridge, but it seemed to diverge from it. I returned to the junction and scratched my head. Backtracking to the point where I could cross to the mainland (according to my map at least) would add maybe three hours. Ignoring the sign would be at best very dangerous in fast traffic and could bring me unwanted trouble. I definitely didn't want to get a lift from a flatbed truck even if I could flag one down, so I switched my phone into Very Expensive mode and tried to load the North Sea Cycle Route website. At this point, the first cyclists I'd seen for days came round the corner, and they were coming from the south. It turned out the road I had been on looped around and joined up with the bridge, which had a cycle path. So cyclists were only barred from the main access road. Result! I was across that windy bridge and heading to Gothenburg, home of sensible cars and a very extensive tram network. It rained sporadically but never looked like setting in, and there turned out to be another ferry involved, but I soon reached the city and checked into the very nice Riverton Hotel, where my tenth floor room overlooks the harbour.
After 15 dry days I went to a specialist bar for some Swedish microbrews. Beer is still expensive but, like with the food, you pay a bit less and get real quality. I'll have a couple more today, but then get back on the wagon. My wagon is a hop-on, hop-off affair, like a city sightseeing bus.
This morning I went on the Wheel of Gothenburg. It rotates surprisingly fast and I was at the bottom again within a couple of minutes. I thought, well that was OK but at £5 a minute somewhat pricy. But the wheel didn't stop. By the time I'd started the sixth revolution I was wondering if they'd forgotten I was inside. Since then I've just wandered around. It's a nice city and I have concluded Sweden suits me more than Norway, despite the stunning scenery I cycled through in the latter. The route doesn't stay long in Sweden though, it's only one more day's ride to Varberg, whence I catch the ferry to Denmark.