The views are breathtaking, even though the low hanging rainclouds and damp air around me make it impossible to see as far as you might from this point. The sea to the north and countryside to south dissolve in grey hues of blue, green and yellow. In contrast, I have not often seen this clearly why I ride a bike; I smile and I breathe in deeply.
Heather blossoms around me, I can smell it, as well as the forest behind me I just left, the rain enriches the smells of nature, the wind carries just a tinge of the sea up here. The stones around me are wet, the bike is wet and muddy, I am wet, the camera is wet, but those views…
They stretch out all around me, in front of me, to the north-northeast, the sea, the Kattegat, (the real one, not a fictitious village from the History Channel’s hit series “Vikings” but the bay and waters between the south of Sweden and Denmark.) To the southwest I see the woods around me, bordering on fields of harvested grain and other crops. Agriculture interchanging with woodlands as far as I can see. A countryside rolling away from me in the distance. I am on the Håkull, with 187 meters the highest point of the Kullaberg Peninsula way in the southeast of Sweden.
On first times out in areas I don’t know on routes I am not sure I will be able to find easily,…
I’ve biked up here, following a well know MTB route “The Beast of the East” I found on View Ranger. It’s a route you have to download and follow with your GPS device, because there is no signage, and you have to search for it now and then. But the riding is great. Through a variety of forest types, beech, birch, oak but also pine, over loamy fragrant wood soil, wet roots and rocks higher up, rich green moss and pink heather. The rain makes colors more vibrant, smells that much richer, the sound of the forest dripping happily away, little waterways working their way down to the shores below.
Coming from Holland where there are no real mountains, and little altitude to work with, the climbs, descents and especially the rocks along the way, make me smile. Although they are quite slippery with the raining haven fallen all day and not letting up during my ride.
This afternoon, at the campground near the harbour town of Mölle, where I am camping with my wife and two kids, I decided to take the Cube Stereo Hybrid HPC TM out, a bike I have taken along to make a video review of. On first times out in areas I don’t know on routes I am not sure I will be able to find easily, I often make the choice to take out an eMTB first (if I have one at my disposal). They are very well suited to search and discover routes, and today I also take the opportunity to do a lot of filming for the video review.
Riding to make a video review, it is sometimes difficult to really get into a flow, but it does give you the opportunity to look even better at your surroundings, to enjoy the beauty of what you are riding through.
The route has some almost impossibly steep climbs, certainly, with the rocks being as slippery as they are, the immense torque on the bike (even when I use the lowest power setting) just has my tires spinning on these sections. So I push the 25 kilo’s of bike up the rocks and roots and smile as I go down on the other side.
…and yet on these rides I feel the company of my bike, the smiles of the trees, the friendly ragging of the rocks, the exciting embrace of gravity,…
The climb to the Håkull point is a fairly long one but not too steep to ride, and as I leave the woods, and the views hit me from all sides, I have a moment of clarity I do not regularly have. I have an incredibly strong sensation of purpose, of understanding why I love Mountainbiking.
Riding through woods that are new to me, adapting to circumstances that aren’t always easy, riding slippery rocks that lead me to a place I can’t see…it’s that sense of personal discovery, that private adventure, reaching a point I have not reached before. I am alone on most of the rides I do, and yet on these rides I feel the company of my bike, the smiles of the trees, the friendly ragging of the rocks, the exciting embrace of gravity, and the way the clear crisp air makes space in my lungs, in my chest, and in my mind.
I understand why, regardless of the physical aspects of a route, how many kilometers there are, how many vertical meters you climb, or how badass Strava tells your friends you are, the real ride is a spiritual one. And in the end, stops you in your tracks, makes you stand still and feel deeply grateful for being able to ride your bike through and to these amazing places.
And maybe the best thing: that you can feel so at home in places you have never been before.
In the next edition of my Swedish adventures, I go rock climbing along the shores of Kullaberg with my fifteen-year-old son. Coming up soon!
Urge Gringo de La Pampa Helmet
The Urge Gringo de La Pampa is a “hybrid” full face mask helmet, where you can take the facemask off depending on what kind of riding you do. I was very happy wearing it with all the slippery rocks and roots, just adds a bit to a feeling of being protected. Even though I didn’t crash with it (yet) I did notice how useful it is with protecting your face against low hanging branches.
Review coming up soon
Cube Stereo Hybrid HPC TM
Like I said, an eMTB is really a great machine for adventure and discovery. At times the torque of the Bosch engine was too much for the tires to grip on the wet surface, but all in all the bike did great. It’s not at as nimble as a lighter bike, but you can still thread it through the woods and rattle over rocks quite well.
Videoreview coming up soon.