Since I’ve previously travelled with my bike, I was anxious to try out my new Pika Packworks bike bag.
This is a pretty amazing bag as it’s light, durable, and simple to use.
All told, the bag weighted 45 lbs with the bike, and all of my cycling gear. I’m sure with future trips (with more consistent weather) I can get as low as 40 lbs. The bag hid it’s contents well and I was never asked about it’s contents or charge extra. Sweet!
Back to the trip, our check-in at the hotel was pretty much as documented in the Ottawa Citizen (link to Citizen article - scroll down a bit) by Allan whom we met at the Sens/Pens practice on the Friday.
While Allan got it wrong saying I was trying to book the same hotel as the Sens, I did inadvertently manage to book us in the same hotel used by the Penguins organisation.
Sidney Crosby pic. He has a real firm handshake!
The hockey venue itself was held at the Globen arena. Honestly, it makes for a pretty ugly backdrop to Stockholm's more historical architecture.
Looks like some kind of alien spacecraft. Observe the 'portholes' even.
Inside it's quite large and comfortable (both games sold out at 13,000). Although by Swedish standards, it's quite inefficient with only the lower half of the 'ball' in use.
OK, onto the biking. The bag did amazing on the trip and I was able to rebuild the bike in just a few minutes. However, things took a turn for the worse when my mini pump refused to inflate my tires.
Thankfully Cykel Works came to the rescue
As cool as the shop owner was talking about hockey & cycling in Stockholm, I wasn’t expecting to see him again. However, on day 2 a rear spoke suddenly popped and I was back to get it fixed.
The shop all kinds of cool antiques. Here's a late 1800's big wheel.
Once I finally got out to ride, I quickly discovered that the Stockholm cycling infrastructure was actually a little overwhelming.
Public air pump for bikers
Every few hundred meters there was an intersection with well marked directions and distance to various bike routes. Stopping each time was too slow so I eventually just rode and depended on my trusty Garmin Edge GPS computer to point me in the right direction when it was time to head home.
Morning commuters crossing the road, note the cycling-only traffic light on the upper right.
In the end I managed about 150 km which is not bad considering the amount of intersections and traffic lights.
GPS results from a typical bike outing
It was pretty cool rushing along a busy street in town on the bike-only lane.
The best part of bringing a bike on a trip is that you can get away from typical touristy stuff and play ‘local’.
Some cozy Swedish homes
Cycling along a boulevard, weather was great for every day except one.
As for the bike that the local used, they were pretty simplistic machines. Many of them appeared to be single speeds but in fact some of them were geared hub machines.
Neat built-in bike lock welded onto the seatstays
In hind site, I was very glad I brought the road bike instead of the MTB. Apparently the MTBing is world-class here (hosting the 2006 Singlespeed World Championships even), but I was worried about carting a muddy bike through a 5 star hotel lobby every day. Also, the overall lack of speed and increased complexity of a MTB was another deterrent.
My usual bike-in-pic #1
My usual bike-in-pic #2
Besides the hockey and cycling, there is a couple of other Swedish must see.
The Vasa is a warship that sunk in 1628 within a few hundred meters on its maiden voyage when a slight breeze capsized the vessel. Apparently adding that second gun deck later in the construction phase wasn’t a good idea eh? Since the water around Stockholm is brackish (mix of salt water from the Baltic sea and fresh water from lake Malaren), the salt worm doesn’t flourish and so the hull was almost perfectly preserved. They raise the ship in the 1960s and restored it.
This picture of the Vasa doesn’t do it justice, this thing is HUGE (220 feet long, 38 feet wide, keel to top of the rear deck has to be 30+ feet high)!
Link to more info on the Vasa if you’re interested:
Cathy and I also visited Sigtuna which claims to be Sweden’s oldest town. In main drag is in its original layout even. Besides it's documented history, Sigtuna's biggest claim to fame are the number of Rune stones which dot the town. These stones are remnants of Viking era where people etched their personal story clockwise around the perimeter of the stone.
Some of the Rune stones are quite large as shown by this lovely model.
All in all we were very pleased with the trip. The locals are very pleasant, and yes, HOT! Since English is taught in their schools, it is quite abundant and very well spoken, dare I say better than Canadians and their French. Everything is clean and due to their somewhat socialistic government (55% income tax plus 25% sales tax on services and goods!!!!) they appear very healthy and well educated.
Swedes are naturally practical and efficient. Even the dogs are put to work.
I've been told that Sweden is one of those places which everyone will recommend to a friend but will probably never return themselves. I now see why. It was great to have a reason for us to go there (Sens) but having seen it there’s really no reason for us to go back, especially with the feel and geography so similar to Eastern Canada.
However, I will miss seeing all those blondes…