Failure in Fjällen

Last week I travelled up north to Åre, Sweden, for a few days of downhill with my girlfriend Kajsa and my friend Andreas. We had an awesome time with lots of jumps, berms and other features we normally don’t get to ride on the all natural trails here around Gothenburg. But when it was time for them to go home to get back to work I loaded up my full-suspension bike with the plan to ride roughly 600 km of singeltrack through the Swedish mountains, or “Fjällen” as we call them.

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Unfortunately I didn’t get very far. On day three I woke up to heavy rain and when I finally got out of the tent and started loaded up the bike I realized the frame had cracked sometime to day before.

Standing in the middle of nowhere with a broken frame wasn’t the most “fun” feeling. After bending the frame back a bit I could still push it, so I managed to at least get out to the closest road, some 30 km away and then down to Ljungdalen where I could catch a bus the morning after. Although I didn’t get very far this time I still had a blast, visited some old places I’ve been to before and discovered some amazing new ones. Anyway, here is some pictures from the relative short trip.
Bikepacking sweden fjallen (1)Before I could get to the mountain I had 30 km of road riding, plus tires and a headwind meant it didn’t go very fast

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Finally able to get of the road I found some sweet singeltrack in Vålådalen right before I tucked in for the night

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Plenty of mosquitoes around so i stocked up on water inside the tent for porridge the morning after

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Forest fires are not very common up here, plenty of rain usually prevents them so I was a bit surprised finding this

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Beyond the Wall, signs and monuments from the First Men can be found…

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Camera and snacks, important to have within easy reach

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The terrain ranged between smooth and sandy to rocky and wet. Riding sections like this one was hard, going uphill impossible and at times I had to push the bike for long stretches

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In the popular parts of Fjällen, most larger streams have big bridges. These can be anything from old and rotten, to like this one. Brand new and in excellent shape

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Plenty of rocks to anchor it down during the spring flood

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More rocks and more pushing

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A lonely reindeer antler

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Maybe its owner? Extremely curious reindeer, normaly they tend to be quite shy around people but this one really walked around staring at me when I came riding.

Most reindeer’s in Scandinavia are herded by the Sami people. They move them between the mountains during the summer and lower altitude forests during the winter

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One of many small emergency shelters spread out through through Scandinavia

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“For mans safety against the anger of the mountain has this shelter been raised with funds from the mountain pilot Gunnar “Ghostly” Anderssons memory fund”

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Reindeers cooling down a patch of snow in the sun

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I found a hat!

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Helags, one of the more impressive mountains in southern Fjällen.

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Yeah, I’m not even gonna try riding that when I’m solo up in the mountains. Carefully walking down without locking any of the wheels to prevent further erosion.

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The evening before I discovered that the frame had broken. The bike started shifting weirdly and the suspension started squishing. Looking down on the right side I couldn’t see anything wrong so I continued until I found a nice camping spot. After pitching the tent it started raining so I figured I’d check it the morning after.

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After waking up to heavy rain it finally stopped around lunch time. When I got out to check the shifting issue and pack the bike I discovered that the lower linkage had snapped completely and the whole frame had twisted open. After bending the whole thing back atleast I was able to push the bike without the chain or linkage getting stuck.

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Everything heavy upfront and then time to start push.

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Helags mountain station. Although it can feel quite empty at times it is possible to hike from hut to hut in some parts of Fjällen. This is Helags, one of the larger stations. Especially in more remote location the huts are smaller and only have a single person staffing them through summer and late winter.

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Luckily, most of pushing was downhill on rather large and smooth trails.

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Nature can be cruel at times

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Down from the mountains I barely made it to the small grocery store in Ljungdalen before they closed after pushing the bike for 35 km in just over 6 hours. I bought a couple of large trash bags to cover my bike with and then found a nice spot in the forest to pitch my tent. The single bus a day from Ljungdalen left 6 o’clock the morning after

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After three buses and three trains I was finally home again. Bikes are for some stupid reason not allowed on the state run trains in Sweden, only on most privately run companies trains. So I did my best to pack everything down.

map

A map of my intended route, starting in Åre and finishing in Mora. The red line is from where my bike broke down and to where I had to push it to catch a bus.

Not the ending of the trip I had hoped for but I was glad the bike didn’t break down completely and I was still capable to push it. I had food left for 6 days so even if I had to carry all my gear in turns I could have made it out with no problems even in a more remote location. Still, I’ll probably bring a UL sil-nylon backpack next time.