First Horizons Unlimited travellers meet in Sweden

Last weekend in June 2018, Horizons Unlimited hosted the very first travellers meet in Sweden and I was happy to take part. Ironically, it was hosted by a German, Kai-Uwe Och and the venue was owned by a German couple – does it take Germans to appreciate the Swedish countryside, I wonder?

It was a small meet with a shade over 15 people attending, many Swedes as expected but some people from central Europe had made their way up to Dalarna and Finnskogen near Orsa. The atmosphere was excellent, everyone was humble and, regardless of experience and skills, their main focus was to listen and learn from others, just the kind of low key event I enjoy participating in. Together, we enjoyed ride outs, both on gravel and tarmac, and in the evening we cooked food on the campfire and enjoyed old school presentations. For inspirational travel stories, we were treated to photos and stories from Canada and Iceland.

In addition, I talked about WIMA and Pikilily. As the audience was only men, apart from myself and another woman, I was happily surprised that people were so interested in hearing about WIMA and the presentation went on for longer than I had expected due to all the questions.

Lastly, there was a tyre workshop where I got to develop my skills in changing the innertube. As I previously always have had tubeless tyres, before getting my GS a couple of weeks prior to this, it was welcome practice before my summer travelling.

The weekend was a success and I certainly hope that we can see a continuation of this event!

Sweden – at last, and now I’m stuck here

Travelling up to Sweden was lovely and I just took things as they came. Since I felt like it, I stayed one day longer in the south of eastern Germany, I had no ferry booking – I just bought a ticket before riding on to it. The price was just the same as if I would have booked early. Also, this ferry doesn’t require that one books a cabin, which saves me a lot of money since a cabin is really expensive for a solo traveller and I’m happy to sleep on the floor if it saves me money.

I just stopped to have some tea and nibbles from my top case and look who are coming to greet me!
I just stopped to have some tea and nibbles from my top case and look who are coming to greet me!

Entering Sweden, the weather was at its best. I rode up to visit Carola, our national president for WIMA Sweden. She was offering breakfast and I had information to pass on from the Presidents’ meeting in Hungary. We had a long, leisurely breakfast that continued until lunchtime. Then I rode north to see friends in Jönköping. At this point, it was nice to park the bike andnot touch it for a few days. Onwards from there, I rode to Gothenburg, where I was to spend a couple of days riding the good old roads with friends. It was nice to do “social riding” and honestly I was more interested in the coffee and chat than in the riding itself. Sweden has such beautiful countryside and the summer cafés are absolute gems. We had homemade cake at Grovare Lamm och Handel, you have to know where to find these places and in Sweden these cafes make for riding destinations for motorbikers.

Having fika - the Swedish concept when you meet for coffee at Grovare Lamm och Handel. Strictly speaking we were not meeting here, Anne was leading the way since this area is her stomping ground. Photo Courtesy: Ela
Having fika – the Swedish concept when you meet for coffee at Grovare Lamm och Handel. Strictly speaking we were not meeting here, Anne was leading the way since this area is her stomping ground. Photo Courtesy: Ela
Be aware - there might be gravel. Photo Courtesy: Ela
Be aware – there might be gravel. Photo Courtesy: Ela

The last leg, for this time, was up towards Karlstad and my home. The countryside where I come from is called Segerstad, which literally translates as “the town of victory”. When I arrive here on my bike it does truly feel like a victory, every time. Especially the last 5 years, when I have travelled either all the way from Spain, or like this year, from England via Wales and Hungary. Someone pointed out that it wasn’t the nearest way. Who wants to take the nearest way? Well, actually returning to England I do. A direct ferry would be brilliant.

Segerstad - I made it, what a Victory
Segerstad – I made it, what a Victory

Today, I’ve had a busy day, finding out information on the internet. I have tried to sort things out according to new possible plans and mainly I have found out how not the way I want things are going to happen. First of all, I have change a university course in Japanese to Spanish and investigated the time frame of the validity of my motorbike insurance abroad. Since I don’t know where I’m going to live during next year and it is likely to be too cold to return the bike to Sweden later on. Besides I need the wheels. I honestly can’t think of storing my bike away another winter. It is just too sad. As it stands, my insurance days abroad will run out in the end of February so I’ll need to have a solid plan by then. As for the Spanish course, I am now accepted but then the next problem needs to be solved – we’ll be in Scotland camping for the first bit of the course and the 4G net isn’t all that developed – will I be able to find good enough internet for the first couple of seminars?

My home town Karlstad - on my way home from the garage I did some sight seeing.The woman who stands statue is "the Sun" of Karlstad, a waitress at a cafe who had a very sunny temper. Therefore the sun is the logo of the town but unfortunately it doesn't mean that the weather is always sunny
My home town Karlstad – on my way home from the garage I did some sightseeing.The woman who stands as a statue is “the Sun” of Karlstad, a waitress at a cafe who had a very sunny temprament. Therefore the sun is the logo of the town but unfortunately it doesn’t mean that the weather is always sunny

Well, to be able to get to Scotland I must first get from Sweden to the British Isles. So, I have tried to book myself and my bike on a freight ferry for a swift return but without success. Therefore, I will, again, have to make the rather epic journey down to Hook of Holland. It seems like the best option is a ferry from Gothenburg to Fredrikshavn and then onwards, 1000k ride to the next ferry. It will take me a few days longer and cost me a lot more. I hope to be able to meet up with some friends along the way to make the trip more exciting.

Lately, I have been meditating on the idea of changing my bike for a lighter one, perhaps smaller, since we are increasingly riding small mountain roads and the Versys is rather heavy and the weight distribution isn’t brilliant. However, it is amazing when it comes to carrying large amounts of luggage and super comfy to ride far, albeit not fast due to the vibrations. Maybe I should make up my mind and decide to keep it – and then order that aftermarket central stand I so dearly want.

The chain and the suspension - how it works according to Kjell. If only I had a central stand I would be much more able to look after my chain, or so I believe. Courtesy: Ela
The chain and the suspension – how it works according to Kjell. If only I had a central stand I would be much more able to look after my chain, or so I believe. Courtesy: Ela

Well, regarding the bike I have more urgent matters. Getting an appointment at the garage here in town proved difficult. I had expected this, that was why I wanted to get the clutch cable sorted in Hungary and had the service booked in England before leaving. The local Kawasaki mechanic is on vacation and the others don’t want to touch my bike since they are busy with their brands. The bits have been ordered but there is no guarantee that there will be time to do the work when the mechanic comes back. I might have to pack them in my panniers. Knowing this doesn’t encourage me to spend dear money on ferry tickets either. Really, I should learn how to do stuff myself. Therefore, I spent some time googling for basic mechanic workshops and this resulted in a booking for Christopher and myself at the Oval Motorcycle Centre in London at the end of November. I’m cross with myself for not finding this course while based in London. To make the journey worthwhile, we are combining it with the play No Man’s Land with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart – this will be like seeing Magneto and Charles Xavier or Gandalf and Captain Picard together, or both. I’m going to be emotional. In fact, I am, just thinking about it.