Peter Wrangel is a part-time pensioner from Östersund and Simon Oest a multifaceted consultant from Åre. Simon has, among other things, assisted St. Olavsleden in forming an economic association that will manage the Swedish part of the trail, and now he’s looking at ways to improve the part of St. Olavsleden that goes along Skalstugevägen. Despite this, had he never explored the trail himself. This summer that finally changed. Simon laughs;
– If I am to work with the trail, it’s nice to know it a bit better. I contacted Peter and asked him to join me. I find bike riding to be a good way to experience a lot of the trail in a short amount of time, says Simon.
Said and done. The two friends took the train to Sundsvall and started their ride back west. The conditions were perfect, with overcast and hardly any wind, the first few days. Then Hans, the storm, arrived.
– The weather kept getting worse, and when we stayed the night at my place in Åre it escalated, with thunder and heavy rain. The next morning a VMA (Important announcement to the public) was waiting for us, informing about floods in central parts of Åre, says Simon and Peter continue;
– Our original plan was to bike to the church in Åre and collect the stamp there. But when we got out it looked like someone had plowed the road. The main roads were closed and the parking lot by the train station was just a big muddy field.
So, did they consider cancelling the adventure? Peter and Simon laughs and answer in unison:
They managed to continue their bike ride without any major delays and were rewarded with better weather as they arrived to the, according to many, most beautiful part of the trail: Karl Johans väg – where the trail takes you past Skalsstugan, over the mountain and into Norway.
– That part of the trail was very fun to ride. You’re almost above the tree line, passing small mountain birches, ponds, and streams. The road is undulating, before heading downhill, dropping hundreds of meters in height. And once in Norway the forest roads were very nice, says Simon.
According to Peter, part of the charm with St. Olavsleden, was exploring parts of Jämtland he hadn’t seen before.
– I’ve driven E14 more times than I can count. But along St. Olavsleden I got to see something completely different. You bike along lakes, and on other sides of lakes, than when you drive. It’s an enjoyable trail, and it was also fun to realize that you can manage to bike five days with hardly any luggage, says Peter.
They are happy to share some of their best tips to others who plan a bike ride along St. Olavsleden. Disc brakes are to prefer, and it’s also good to bring equipment for any chain breaks or flat tires.
– I accidently hit a rock that made me somersault and break my gears. It helps a lot when you can fix small things like that on your own, says Peter.
Another tip is to plan your food and make sure to have maps that are up to date. If you use a map on your phone – make sure you have battery enough. Peter and Simon noticed that it, as a cyclist, was sometimes hard to see the road signs in time. Especially in what direction they were pointing.
– It’s partly very well marked with signs, but partly it was a bit tricky. At least if you’re on a bike, says Peter.
– It feels like the signs are mainly made for hikers and are often located on the left side of the road. When you bike, you’re usually on the right side. The smallest arrows are only a decimeter and shows up without a notice, so at some places you need to be prepared to stop. Even if it happens to be in the middle of a downhill, says Simon.
However, despite partly tricky directions, Peter and Simon wouldn’t mind doing the adventure again.
– We will likely visit St. Olavsleden again, in some form or another, says Simon.