Tales from the road, towards Hartzö

Taking a break from the England stuff, which I do solemnly swear I will finish up blogging one day soon, I know offer you a breif tale from my journey from the ecological farm I worked on for ten days North of Uppsala down to Hartzö again, step by step. It is not easy to ride public transit with a bike in Sweden. But after my solo two-day, fallin-asleep on a bike, spoke-busting trip from Stockholm to Uppsala, I swore I would not ride back. Three broken spokes was enough.

Step 0: Bike from Gården to Uppsala

The frenchman wanted to go to town anyway, and the Dutch girl needed a ride home, so it seemed only natural to drive me and my bike to Uppsala the night before my depature from the farm. The plan was to pack the bike into the volksvagen buss, drive it the 20 km into town and lock it up in the train station over night.

All went according to plan, that is, until we just reached outside of Uppsala and the van started to slow down. Nynke stopped playing the guitar in the backseat. What is going on? We are running out of gas. I swear this has never ‘append before.

We pulled into the nearest driveway, which, by some odd stroke of luck, was the only driveway along the road for several kilometers. What insued was several minutes of me (the only one who could speak swedish) begging a grain farmer for a few extra liters of diesel. Fortunately, he had some in his tractor, and after a few minutes of fiddling and an exchange of 40 kronor, we had 6 liters, enough to get us to Björklinge.

It was, if anything, a close one.

Gårdn Buss station

I hugged all of my fellow farm workers goodbye, threw my extremely awkward bike bags in the bed of the truck, hopped in the cab an Karin stepped on the gas. Just as we were about to reach the stop, the buss sped by. At that point, Karin really stepped on the gas. And so, we chased that buss down and made the man stop.

Step 2: Buss to Uppsala

I payed the man , sat down, and spent the next twenty minutes in utter silence contemplating the small sign above the rear-view mirror reading that it was illegal to start a conversation with the bussdriver.

Step 3: Commuter train from Uppsala to Upplands-Väsby

After checking with the the lady at the counter if it was ok to take the bike on the train, I made my way out to the platform via elevator and re-packed my stuff onto the back of my bike the first time.

Step 4: Commuter train from Upplands-Väsby to Södertäje

At least I had the company of a German shephard, who laid near my feet and kept sniffing my bike, for almost the whole journey. There was the dog, and of course the strange mix of people that ride the commuter train through Stockholm onthe middle of a Saturday: a group of girls dressed up in army costumes drinking some sort of pink alcohol, another group that looked like they were dressed for prom, and a veritable parade of humanity from what seem like every country in the world.

Step 5: Buss from Södertälje to Vagnhärad

When I said I was from the USA, he got that look in his eyes that I have seen so many times in Sweden, the look that says: ‘O boy! now I get to practice English!´ Funny then, that first thing he thought to say to me in English was ‘I live inthe forest over there, you know. I don’t like the Swedish society, so I live in the forest.’  With a hotdog in one hand and coke in the other, he seemed to be just a local homeless dude with a couple of screws loose, and so he chatted with me for the few minutes as I waited for the buss and re packed my stuff for teh second time. When my buss came he offered (or rather insited) to help me put my bags on, and promptly informed the driver that I was American. I went back to set my bike on the rack, which turned out to be no more tahn two metal arms protuding from the back of the buss. I was horrified, but realized I had no choice set my bike on the arms and wrapped one of my bungee cords as tightly as possible around the frame. I went back to the buss driver, who seemed very confused as to my association with the homeless man. ‘Jag vet inte vem han faktiskt är’ I don’t know who he is actually, I said. ‘Inte jag heller, så det gör ingenting’ Me niether, so it makes no difference. At that point I felt like we had an understanding, and so I paid for my ticket, took my seat, and said ten ‘hail marys’ and five ‘our fathers’ for the sake of my poor, dangling bicycle.

Step 6: Bike ride from Vagnhärad to Källvik Harbor

I stepped off the buss and so started the rain. Typical. I really didn’t want to ride, but I have felt that way so many times before in my life, I have learned to get over it, and even though I had broken spokes on the back wheel, I really had no choice. I bought a candy bar from the kiosk (I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and it was now five o’clock) and repacked my stuff for the third time, this time onto my bike with the rain hood over it. Then it was on with the bike shorts out with the map, and onto the road. I got a little lost for the first 45 minutes or so, but then I asked at a gas station and got on the right track. After 22 wet kilometers, I say Annika and her mom waving at me from the dock. It was beautiful.

Step 7: Boat from Källvik to Hartzö

The bike and the bags and everthing was subsequnetly handed down into the small motorboat that was to be our taxi back out to Hartzö. Once everthing was in, we drove out into the bleak, rainy horizon. Luckily, I was already wet through and through so I hardly felt the difference. Annika’s mom looked like a real sea captian the whole way, rain jacket hood drawn over her face so that only her mouth, clenched in salty determination, was visible beneath her glasses. The boat ride felt short, and before I knew it I was inside a house with a warm cup of tea. Phew.


there is still lots more to tell about England, and my 10 day experience as a farm hand, but I still don’t have my own computer, and writing these blog entries makes me feel a little bit like an internet hog, so I promise you more tales later on, and of course, pictures (if anyone still actually reads, that is.)

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One Response to “Tales from the road, towards Hartzö”

  1. sannlittle Says:

    Oh the journeys of that bike! LOL negotiating for gas out of a tractor !
    Keep it up, so much fun reading in my little cubicle in corporate land…

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