From Stenungsund I cycled east at first, over three massive bridges with magnificent views of sea and islands. Then it was south along the coast for a while, before turning inland on a road into the hills. The road followed a stream for a while, then went through forests and past lakes, before turning south on fast, empty roads. I reached the long valley that leads south towards Göteborg with its motorways and railways and ships, and I was just congratulating myself on the possibility of camping early and exploring the city when my rear gear cable snapped.
It was my own fault. I should have changed the cables for new ones before setting out – they’d already done thousands of miles before I started. I’d been meaning to do it, but then I’d done a trial pack-up of the bike that was so good that I’d thought I might as well leave it packed, and so cable-changing went by the board. It had, of course, happened at the worst possible time. It was Saturday lunchtime, and bike shops frequently close early on Saturdays. I was about 20km from the city so I climbed back on the bike, which was just about rideable in an undesirably high gear, and cycled south as fast as I could.
The signing of the cycle routes in this area was a bit of a nightmare, made worse because I was in a hurry. There were lots of signs to somewhere called ‘Centrum’ but as I was still 15km from Goteborg at this point I assumed they were pointing to the centres of the various small towns I was passing through, so I ignored them. There were also signs saying ‘Turist . . .’ which sometimes were, and sometimes weren’t, for the NSCR or EV12 (the official designation of the North Sea Cycle Route). When I finally made it to the centre of Goteborg all the specialist bike shops were closed, but I bought a cable in a sports shop in a mall which was supposedly ‘universal.’ Then I cycled out towards where I thought there was a campsite, uphill all the way, past a vast theme park and into the wooded suburbs. The campsite was there, but it was closed for the season.
I decided to change my gear cable before doing anything else. It started to rain. The cable, it turned out, wasn’t universal, but even if it had been I still wouldn’t have been able to remove the old cable from the shifter without the help of a bike shop. I found a way of jamming it in that let me keep the bike in a slightly lower gear. A couple on a motorbike showed up, stared at the chainlink gates despondently and rode away. A couple of dogwalkers passed by. At least it was downhill back into the centre.
There was another campsite but it was a long way south. Then I thought maybe I could get on a ferry to Denmark that night so I went to the terminal, but there wasn’t a sailing. It started raining harder - so I got out my phone and booked a hotel. I thought if I was going to have to wait until Monday morning to get the bike fixed I might as well wait in comfort.
The hotel I had chosen (slightly randomly) was right in the centre of the busiest part of the city; a street lined with hotels and restaurants. Inside the hotel reception, at the back of a busy restaurant, I told the receptionist I had a bike. ‘No problem,’ she said. ‘You can take it up to your room.’
I wheeled the bike in through the restaurant, attracting a few surprised glances from the diners, then unloaded the luggage and carried the bike upstairs. With everything safe in my room I took a shower then lay on my bed and relaxed. It was perfect – somewhere safe to leave the bike, and a base right in the city centre. It was worth every Swedish Krone it cost! The map is here.