Olov, a true biking enthusiast packed his bike and went up the mountains, took a dip in the Atlantic ocean and rode along the sandy beaches on the islands of Swedish Lapland. And he brought a friend – Kevin. Let’s play ‘Have you met Kevin?’

– I’ve been to Sweden twice for my main summer holiday, and I’ve also been to Luleå in the winter, and to Stockholm a few times for city breaks. In the rest of arctic Europe, I’ve been cycling in Norway 3 times and Finland 5 times, but Finland mostly for cross country skiing package holidays.

I first met Kevin in March when he was coming to Luleå to participate in Bothnialoppet. A ski race along the ice between Piteå and Luleå. Since Kevin is a cyclist at heart and fat biker by soul he of course was participating in the fat bike class. It was the first time ever a cycling race was held on the ice but due to weather circumstances, the race was unfortunately cancelled. That however did not stop Kevin from exploring the the islands of Swedish Lapland by bike.

I prefer the Swedish mountains because you are almost immediately in the “good stuff”.

When Kevin returned this august to do a coast-to-coast adventure holiday, I hooked up with him in Björkliden. The idea was to explore the mountain trails of Swedish Lapland and ride along the Rallarleden down to Rombaksbotn in Norway, to dip his fat tires in the Atlantic Ocean. Then explore the archipelago of the Bay of Bothnia that he only seen frozen.

I got the chance to have a little chat about why he keeps returning to Swedish Lapland and what’s so good about it, especially in comparison to the Alps.

– I go abroad at least once a year for an adventure holiday. I’ve never gone on a beach holiday, Kevin confesses. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve cycled in the alps. Must be almost 20 times. Mainly Switzerland, but also France and Italy.

Around Björkliden we did an 8 hour ride completely on singletrack. Around Björkliden we did an 8 hour ride completely on singletrack.
Skvalpen, one thousands of islands along the coast of Swedish Lapland.

Even tough Kevin is an Englishman he is not unfamiliar with mountains. He lives in the Lake District in the north west of England, just by the border to Scotland. I rode the mountains of Björkliden for three days with Kevin and we did get our tires wet in the Atlantic Ocean. Mountain biking in Björkliden is fantastic. You basically live above the tree line. Just pedal a few hundred meters and there is endless trails to ride.

– I prefer the Swedish mountains because you are almost immediately in the “good stuff”. The scenery around Björkliden at 600m is similar to that above 2000m in the Alps. Often you have to ride uphill for 2 hours to get above the tree line and find some singletrack. Then you might get 30 minutes of amazing singletrack before hitting the tree line again and descending on a forest road or tarmac again. There are some exceptions to this in the Alps, but the ratio of hard work to singletrack is very high (unless you use lifts of course). Basically the alps are too high and too steep! Around Björkliden I did an 8 hour ride completely on singletrack. In fact quite a lot of it was on no track at all, just following cairns. The remoteness and emptiness is also amazing. The views and clarity in the air was incredible. I felt very relaxed and peaceful in a way which is difficult to explain. Also reindeer must be the best meat in the world!

After spending the weekend together we returned down to the coast. Kevin stayed a few days extra in the mountains before joining us in Luleå.

I could not wait to show Kevin the islands of Swedish Lapland. We decided to go to one of the most remote islands, Skvalpen. A small sandy reef, that is closed most of the summer due to bird sanctuary. But from August it’s available for visits. I’m not certain but we were probably the first ones ever to explore the shores of Skvalpen by bike. Kevin, well, all of us were amazed by the contrast to our big mountain adventures. And of course the fact that this will freeze up in just a couple of months. Last time Kevin was here the coast was covered in ice and bike you can go just about everywhere with a fat. But for anyone who is not used to that it can feel a bit scary.

Riding on ice is incredible. As an Englishman it goes against everything you are taught. NEVER go on the ice!

– Riding on ice is incredible. As an Englishman it goes against everything you are taught. NEVER go on the ice! In Luleå the whole town was out on the harbour! I found it very difficult to overcome my fears and generally kept to the skate way and ice roads, but now I’ve learned and next time there’ll be no holding me back! I have no idea why I’ve had such an obsession with cycling on the frozen sea. Probably because it’s so wrong! Next March I’ll be back and dying to try one of the big crossings to maybe Hindersön, Kevin concludes.

It’s been a privilege to get to know Kevin and share his adventures. It’s an eye opener to see your backyard from someone else’s perspective. Welcome back Kevin. We´ll ride to Hindersön next winter. They got as good waffles as the mountain station Låktatjåkka. That’s a promise.

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