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Seeing as the forecasted wet front had appeared this morning, I 'developed' a mild flu for the benefit of the office and loaded up the bike for a shakedown run in the local countryside. At the end of the week I'm heading off around the Baltic Sea for a month, so this is my last chance to double check my packing.

I had wound up the preload on the rear shock, so the Africa Twin felt surprisingly balanced when loaded up. I was also evaluating a remote aerial for my GPS and the ergonomics of carrying my camera in the tank bag, a first for me (the tank bag, not the camera).



I'm currently living in Örnsköldsvik, a small town (pop. 30'000) on the coast in northern Sweden. For those who follow the NHL, this town has produced both Markus Näslund (Vancouver) and Peter Forsberg (Colorado). The local ice hockey team is in the top national league, as is the ladies football team, and there's more than one national level skiier in my office alone. There's sporting blood in the veins here. Today I headed south following the coast road...



I think there's a saying in Sweden that a man without a chain saw is no man. This part of the world is almost entirely focussed on wood and pulp, and roadside log piles are as common here as fly tipping is back home. Almost all the millions of square miles of forest is managed, which means regular felling and replanting.



Even though the rural population is comparatively tiny, the Swedes make a valiant effort to maintain a decent road network between any two places that require more than one hand to count their inhabitants. The light traffic adds up to miles and miles of smooth tarmac. We won't talk about the 90km/h speed limit, except to point out how few cops there are.



The road stops at Bjästa, population 5, plus a spaniel called Stig. The church is surprisingly large and well maintained for such a small community. But then it's only been a decade or two since religion lost it's vice-like grip on the north.



From Bjästa I headed inland, across the E4, the main north-south trunk road. Pretty quickly the tarmac disappeared and hard pack dirt was the surface of choice. Without many mountains to avoid most of the roads are pretty straight, and cruising at the speed limit is not a problem. I'm not getting much sway from the back end, so I'm assuming the cross brace I fitted between the panniers is doing the job.



Inland of the coast you can't escape water, with literally thousands of lakes dotting the countryside. The forecasted wet front is lurking to the south, and the dirt roads are softening up quite a bit. Not a problem for the Anakees at this point, but I wouldn't be wanting to try and tackle any serious mud.



Due to the abundance of lakes, land and wood the majority of Swedes keep a lakeside summer house in addition to their normal residence.



I turn back onto the tarmac and head for home. The bike has felt great with no vagueness from the front end, the GPS aerial has worked well with the positional accuracy under 10 metres pretty much all the time. Getting the camera in and out of the tank bag is fairly simple, although as it's an SLR I still need to remove my gloves, helmet, etc. to take photos. All in all, I'm ready to roll, I think...!

 

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Nice pics iswoolley, have not been to Sweden yet but what I have heard only great roads and many lakes. The camera shots from a moving bike is always much thought off but safer and easier done stationary. I reckon a modified camera tripod/holder with remote control would work nice but have not tried it. Luckilly blessed with a wife who loves pillion and taking photo's on our holiday's.

Enjoy the rest of the trip!
 

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yep seconded they are superb pics.
 
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