Bikepacking Family Style in Öland
Hi! We are Ann, Guilherme and Aliss, a Swedish/Portuguese family with a love for bikes (in general) and biketouring (in particular). After a long hiatus from multi-day bicycle travelling, we were set to hit the road again this year. Our daughter, now 2 years old, seemed a little more prepared for such a feat but to be honest, neither of us had the slightest clue how this would go.
During the winter we built new bicycles specially chosen for our comeback. Ann really needed something else than her much travelled Surly and I didn’t really have any bicycle designed to pedal long distances. The choices were made and although the current supply chain crisis made everything much harder and expensive, we managed to get the bikes ready just in time for leaving.
Öland was the place we chose to go this time. Not very ambitious but safe enough for this first time with a small kid. It’s also a very flat island which is a very welcome feature when you are pulling a fully packed child trailer. But something was distressing us for many weeks in advance, it seemed that with the current situation people decided to spend their holidays in this island. Our fears were that there wouldn’t be any little space left without mobs of tourists enjoying the Swedish summer but there was only one way to know, to go there and see for ourselves.
Packing was a breeze, we used the frame bags to store larger tools and cooking ware. Gui’s saddle bag, Inova, had our complete sleeping system (double pad, quilt and 2 inflatable pillows). Attached to the handlebars we had the Askme for electronics and the Bongo’s for snacks. Food was packed in the trailer and clothes packed in the other bags we had. It was time to hit the road and the excitement was high.
Although you can drive to this island we decided to take a ferry to save some driving time. On the way in we tried to book a camping ground in advance to make sure we would have a place to sleep for the first night, but it turned out all of them were full. What a start! We were forced to look for a wild camping spot but this was probably for the better as just after 10 km of riding we found our place for the night, perfect spot between some trees, right on the beach, all for ourselves, what more could we ask for? To make things even better, our daughter seemed like she was on her element, she was absolutely loving it from the beginning, we had the feeling from the start that things would go smoothly.
Time for bed was made easier by the sound of small waves of the Baltic breaking on the beach. Around 1 am Gui wakes with very loud waves breaking, strong wind and the occasional lightning. Gui checks the weather app and a storm is approaching, time to use the extra tent pegs and take inside everything that could get damaged with rain. Luckily the storm passed a few kilometers from us and we were spared from an otherwise unslept night.
The next day we started our tour for real, heading south following the coast line. We got really lucky with the weather and we managed to stay away from main roads almost all time. It just felt right to pedal with the sea as the background, the summer breeze hitting our faces and our daughter singing almost constantly while sitting on her little trailer. Days went by perfectly and we really managed to disconnect from the daily rumble and adopt the typical slow living which travelling by bike allows for.
By the end of the day it was time to find a place for the night. Probably one of our favorite parts of the day. Find a place, pitch our tent and make dinner. Nights were also meant for route planning. This is such an exciting activity, the options are endless, so many variables to think about: food, sleep spot, road type. In the end we decided to do a round loop from Byxelkrok We started by going south until we reached Borgholm and then we rode to the east side of the island. On the east side was where we found the most remote areas of the island. Beautiful places to camp by the sea, sandy beaches and nice places to have a meal when we felt like something fancier than our camping food. On the east coast we rode north until we got to the very northern tip of the island which was just a few kilometers from Byxelkrok. We really enjoyed this route, we took it easy each day, averaging around 50 km per day with very little climbing. Also, finding wild camping spots was easier than we anticipated which was a big plus.
Our daughter also enjoyed every day. We had two ways of carrying her: in the trailer or on a seat on the bicycle top tube which she loves. She enjoyed being outdoors so much, picking little stones, playing with her Minnie. This trip just opened our eyes to what we can achieve next, to go further and longer seems now to be a possibility and the options are endless. We just hope she keeps enjoying this way of being outdoors, travelling by bicycle, finding new places and new people.