The Emerald Connection Part Three – Recon on The Ore trail.

ore-trailAfter returning from the ice ride on Tuesday we were pretty cold due to the wet ice road and head wind. My lovely Jessica had fired up the sauna and i was giving the boys their first proper steam experience before dinner.

A couple of hours later we had reindeer on our plates and were talking trails and cycling, as you do, i mentioned the fantastic Ore Trail. A 200 km groomed snowmobile trail that runs from the mountains down to the bay of Bothnia along the Råneå River Valley. We decided to check it out. My friend Fredrik Broman lives and has his fabulous Aurora Safari Camp up the river where the Ore Trail passes by just out side. This is one of my favorite places up here and i´ve been here a lot.It´s a 50 minute drive up river to Fredriks place. We tucked the bikes in to the car and took off. I got my self a new car back in May. This baby packs three fat bikes and it´s riders like a boss! Today the sun was shining and we stopped by the local coffee shop to get some classic Swedish cinnamon  rolls for the drive.

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But they were all out, instead i got to introduce the fast bun “Semla” to Wayne and Oscar. A super Swedish specialty. Besides riding bikes this visit had become me showing the Irishmen all the typical Swedish food.

When we arrive at the Aurora Safari Camps HQ we finally got that lovely spring/winter sun that´s warm and gentle, we ride in just our shirts down river to the Aurora Safari Camp where we´re having lunch. Since i´m feeding the lads Swedish stuff we did some serious “grilla korv” roast sausage on open fire and boiled classic hot dogs “Bullens”. Having a fire going, coffee and some good friends, that´s all you need i life really.

Thank you Fredrik for letting us borrow the fireplace at the camp. Too bad we weren´t available to meet you.

After finishing up at the camp we headed north to check out the trails. Ore trail is an historic trail where the Sami transported Iron Ore to the coast. Now it´s a groomed trail, only available during winter it reaches from Gällivare in the north to Strömsund by the coast.

 

This is an amazing trail, and the plan is to do the full 200 kilometers some day. The best time of year for doing this would be late February or early March. There is huts to stay the night in and you get to cross the arctic circle, what´s not to like.  It was a good day and i´m glad we went up here. It´s a lovely place and riding here might not be as unique as riding the frozen sea, but it´s still pretty damn awesome.

On our way back we did a little stop by the Systembolaget, Swedish government controlled liqueur store. It was Oscars idea, he wanted some proper wine for dinner. Wayne got lost in the beer section and also bought a big bottle of The Kraken rum. Promised to make me a sailors drink tonight. It´s called Dark and Stormy, it actually was so good the bottle was empty in the morning… Did i mentioned it was Oscars idea to get booze.

This sums up another awesome day with new awesome friends.  We´ll come over to your green island. That´s a promise. Pirates honor!

The Emerald Fat Bike Connection Part two -Archipelago Adventures

The big thing in Luleå during winter is riding the ice with fat bikes. It´s where my trails are and what i enjoy the most myself. So off course we were heading out at sea. The best ride is the 28 kilometer snowmobile trail out to Brändöskär, the old fishing outpost at the edge of the archipelago. Here is where you can find the pack ice and have nothing but sea and Finland on the other side. I did this ride last year with Kevin and since then i´ve been out there with the bike a couple of times, it is one awesome ride straight out on the sea.

We packed our stuff and bikes, since we were staying in a cabin, mainly food and gear so pretty light bikepacking, that is good cos the weather decided to vote against us. Damp weather and fog makes the trails soft and the lighter the bike the better.

The ride goes via Hindersön, a big island with some year around citizens and a great restaurant and hostel. This time of year they´re just open for the public during weekends. So we had lunch at their outdoor benches. The Irishmen always do peak shots when they  conquered a summit. But since the sea is pretty flat we did island shots instead. Works just as fine.

After a quick stop and some food in our bellys we head out to the outer rims of the archipelago. The fog is getting thicker and the sight is very limited. But since were following a trail there is no way we´re getting lost. As we pedal along the trails are getting softer by the minute but we´re still making good speed. It is so lovely out here and it´s really a shame the fog is messing the views up. But it is also pretty cool to be surrounded by nothing, every thing is all white and you feel pretty small.

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Soon we´re arriving at Brändöskär, it is always a strange feeling to come here by bike. The last time i visited i came by ferry with Jess and the kids. The cabin we stay in is the same as me and Kevin had last year. They are simple but very clean and comes fully equipped with gas stove and all the kitchen accessories.

 

We ditched our gear and went down to the outside to check for pack ice, but it was kind of thin ice so we just went out a few hundred  meters. Still pretty cool surroundings out here…

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We headed back to the cabin and got some wood from the wood shed and an hour later the cabin was all warm and cozy.  I decided to  fry the very northern specialty fried Palt with bacon and lingonberrys for dinner. It´s always a gamble to get local stuff to foreigners, but it was very appreciated.

After eating and emptying our hip flasks getting to sleep was the least of our problems. When we got up the next morning weather looked pretty okay. But there was a heavy wind from the southwest and after a while the fog started to roll in again. But even worse, the thermometer showed +6 and that makes for wet trails and rough pedaling. Fortunately the wind direction was to our favor and we had tailwind all the way back to Jopikgården at Hindersön. Gotta love riding with the lucky Irish, tailwinds and when we got to the restaurant they were open. Not to the public but for a private conference, and because they´re awesome the made us burgers and coffee for lunch.   Thanks a lot for that guys. ❤

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Once again we headed out, the last 12 kilometers was hard head wind and a super wet ice road. It was pretty hard work but going on a plowed road made it lot easier.

A few days earlier i was contacted by Randi Gitz. Randi is a Television journalist and she overheard i was going out with a couple of Irish lads on the sea. She wanted to meet up with us on the ice to make an interview. Check out this LINK for the interview.

Pretty tired and pretty wet we got back to the car. Once again very lucky to get the hard wind and super wet conditions at the very end of the ride. Would have been very hard and cold if we got this wet at the beginning of the trip.

 

Next up… The ore trail recon ride.

The Emerald Fat bike connection – Part one

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November 26:th 2014 i got an email from an Irish bike mechanic who wanted to come over to ride with me on the ice in our archipelago. But due to different circumstances he were not able to make it. We emailed back and forth a bit but we lost contact after a while.

 

img_8315About one year later i made a comment on a beautiful titanium Mukluk against a cliff covered in green Algiers on the super geeky Facebook page “look at my bike leaning at stuff”. This page has about 27 000 members and bikes are posted there by the minute so the chance of seeing all is impossible. Anyway this turned out to be Wayne´s bike pic, and at the moment i did not make the connection at all.

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This made us Facebook friends and since then we been texting every now and then. I know Wayne has been longing to get here, and back in December he texted to let me know he booked a flight to Luleå and he was bringing his friend Oscar. How awesome is that! All of a sudden these guys is sitting in the snow on my back yard having coffee with Jessica.

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This is the thing i love about the global cycling community. Getting new friends from all over the world, friends that you never could have met if it weren’t for cycling.

The guys came early on Sunday morning so there was time to take a little spin on the local trails before heading out at the bikepacking adventure in the archipelago the next day.Wayne, who works as a bike mechanic brought his stunning Titanium REEB fat bike equipped with Lauf fork and Rohloff rear hub with beltdrive. It’s just a beast! Oscar went for renting an ICT from Ourorboros.

Wayne had some experience from snow riding but Oscar had never ridden snow and ice before. I picked up the ICT on Saturday and as soon as Wayne got the TiDonk together again we went for a spin.

Of course they were here for riding the ice and we went down to the city ice road just to get a preview on what was coming up. The plan was to get out to Brändöskar and do an overnighter like i did with Kevin last year.

More on that in next post.

Arctic life style

Got up this morning and the thermometer says -16 Celsius. Few things gets me going like cold weather and blue skies. It must be something in the blood with us Northlings. We were just made for this. Frost biting your cheeks and gets stuck the beard, i just want to stay outside. But it´s just another Tuesday and i take my regular ride to work and stop by the south harbor. I stop by here almost every day before work, to suck in the great outdoors to last a day indoors.  My shop i just a couple of hundred meters away. I love the sea, summer and winter. Its´s  the contrasts between seasons that never stop to amaze me.

December is a dark month. The days are still getting shorter until winter solstice 21 of December. The few hours of daylight is very special. Sun rise around 10 a´clock and sets a few hours later. If the skies are clear the light this time of year is really special. Like a sunset that goes on for a few hours.

Very soon the ice will be thick enough to ride. They already started the ice-road  plowing and i cant wait to get to Sandön and hit the shores on the outside.

This might be my last post before the big update. Stay tuned for Bike Life in Swedish Lapland 2.0

B.L.i.S.L 2.0

It´s been almost four years since i started Bike Life in Swedish Lapland, four awesome years. I´ve gotten new friends all over the world. It has opened up for me too write for Fat-bike.com, Salsa Cycles culture blog and Fatbiking.eu. When i began it was obvious that i should write in English. I wanted to reach wider audience and also to prove how alike we are. I have the same feelings and references as my Japanese, Irish or South American bicycle friends.

It´s been my dream and a idea since i started to take this blog a step further. Now it is finally time. Bike Life in Swedish Lapland is now turned in to a little company. The site will get an update and i will add a little webshop. I will still keep on writing about my passion for bikes and living on the 66 north degree in Luleå Swedish Lapland. In the webshop you will find some cool B.L.i.S.L merchandise and some cool t-shirts from my favorite brand. I will add more cool stuff further on.

New site teaser


My good friend Lars is helping me with the new site and the plan is to launch Wednesday 7th of December. I´m not sure if you who are following me by email will continue to do that. But there will be a “Follow me” button on the new site too.

Near post winter depression

Yeah it´s that time of year again. Those two month of nothingness between fall and winter. October and November usually sucks big time. No snow, cold, damp and dark outside. Or at least that´s how it usually is. But this year has been over expectations. Ok, it´s about 5 mm of snow and darker then agent Coopers coffee. But the temperature stays below zero and that my friends makes the ice freeze up really good and that makes for a good fat bike season on the bay of Bothnia.

I even been riding once a week for the last month. Not very common this time of year. A few weeks ago me and Andreas had a sweet ride down to the canal between Sandön and the mainland. Water levels still super low. Can’t wait to get further out. The days are getting shorter and sunset were around 2 pm. Good thing we got some snow to lighten things up a little bit.

 

 

 

I´ve been lazy and the lack of posts disturbs me, How ever i´m working on some changes here on the website, pretty stoked to launch new site in a few weeks. Also got a dream bike project going on. That´s really something super cool, but i´ll just keep it to myself until all is sorted out.

Until then, cheers!

 

 

 

 

Frosty shores

Winter is coming to Luleå. We´re in for six months of snow and ice. But there is still a few days of autumn left. We´re finally getting  temperatures below freezing during the nights to remind us whats coming. The days are getting shorter but nothing beats the clear crispy autumn air.

I had a day off and everything just lined up for a perfect day of riding. Low tides, dead calm, bright sun. Since it was a Wednesday finding a trail buddy is quite hard. My dear friend Fredrik were supposed to join me but he stayed in due to a cold.

On days like this it´s all about riding shore lines or if possible get out on an island. When water levels are this low Sandön is truly the place to be. This has become one of my favorite places up here and i go here as often as i can. It´s just a canal that separates Sandön from main land, Anders dingy helps me to get across.

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Row row row your boat

 

Sandön is huge and to day i was going to try to get around the whole island. Since my last ride here with Fatbikeadventures.se i kind of  know my way around.

This place offers big variations on the riding but when water levels are low and the sea is calm it´s the beaches on the outside and the dried seabed that makes me tick.


When i left home in the morning the thermometer  said -4 Celsius and i had to scrape the frost of the windshield of my car. We only had a few frost nights so far. Today the temp would not go much higher, still the sun warms the air during the day. But in the shade the frost kept its grip. I cracked through a thin ice layer in some of the bays even on the south side.

 

 

Days like these are rare. This year we had very few times when the water level´s been under average. Since the whole southeast side of Sandön is shores and very shallow water it becomes an amazing moon like landscape on days like this. It´s possible to ride hundreds of meters out on the seabed. I had my lunch on a flat stone that usually is complete under water.

Since we don´t have real tides here the water level can stay like this for weeks. The sea level is controlled by air pressure, wind and during spring melting water from the mountains.

 

A ship passing through the canal on its way to Viktoria Harbor. Luleå has a long tradition of shipping due to the steelworks and ore trains from the mines in the mountains.

After going all the way around the outer skirts of Sandön i end up at the seaside resort Klubbviken. An amazing place, full of life during summer. Cabins for rent, restaurant, shores, summer guests, playground, locals and tourists playing in the sand, Klubbviken got it all you can even rent a fatty and go for a spin. But now it´s all closed for the season. I love to visit places like this off-season. It is something beautiful with a place full of life that´s fallen asleep till next season.

Last time Anders showed me some of the best single track i have ever ridden on local trails. Somewhere in the woods there is a ridge with a crazy trail going all the way down to the sea. I did not find it this time. But hey,  that´s an excuse to return. The lost trail will be found, there is still time, winter is coming but not quite yet.

Here is the route. Total of 37.2 kilometers. (Yes i´m on Strava, it´s just a phase)


https://www.strava.com/activities/742354386