The Gravel Grind: A Cyclist’s Tale in Småland, Sweden

In the heart of Scandinavia, where forests whisper ancient tales and lakes mirror the endless skies, lies Småland—a Swedish province rich in natural splendor and cultural lore. This is the land that gave us the enchanting stories of Astrid Lindgren, and for gravel riding aficionados, it offers a journey filled with beauty, challenge, and the spirit of adventure. As a local and passionate cyclist, Jessica Claren guides you through the captivating gravel trails of Småland and shares insights on the terrain, bike choices, travel advice, and culinary delights.

Reading time: 3 min

The Terrain: A Canvas of Nature and Adventure

Småland stretches over 29,000 square kilometers, with a diverse tapestry of landscapes. The gravel roads traverse through dense forests of towering pines and spruces, reminiscent of the magical woods in Lindgren’s tales. These paths open up to vast fields, you will be blown away.

Exploring the gravel in this part of Sweden is a delightful mix of smooth stretches and more challenging, chunky sections. For those seeking a deeper connection with nature, the singletrack trails beckon, offering a serene journey through the heart of Småland’s wilderness – and me as a mtb lover at heart – love exploring on single tracks on my gravel bike.

The occasional transition onto quiet country roads is seamless, with drivers exhibiting a respectful and kind demeanor towards cyclists— hats of for that!

Your Trusty Steed: The Gravel Bike

In the spirit of adventure that Småland embodies, a gravel bike proves to be the ideal choice. It gracefully navigates the varied terrain, providing a balanced ride across both smoother sections and more challenging gravel patches. While an MTB may seem like an option, it could be unnecessarily heavy for the smoother parts of your journey.

A tire width between 35mm and 45mm strikes the perfect balance, offering both comfort and a dependable grip. Opt for a versatile tread that adapts to different surfaces, ensuring a smooth ride regardless of the terrain.

Setting Forth on Your Journey: Travel Tips and Weather
The best time to embark on your gravel riding adventure in Småland is from late spring to early autumn. The weather during these months is mild, but it’s wise to come prepared with layers, a waterproof jacket, and versatile clothing to adapt to the ever-changing Swedish climate. You never know… it could be sunny and hep – windy and rainy. But that is the thrill of it.

Culinary Delights and Fika Stops
No ride would be complete without indulging in the local culinary scene and embracing the cherished Swedish tradition of “fika”—a coffee break accompanied by delightful pastries (cinnamon bun is my favourite, well a gluten free variant so my stomach stays happy). You will find cozy cafes on the countryside, offering warm welcomes and a taste of local flavors.

A regional specialty is the “Swedish cheese cake” – not at all probably what you think it is. It is a fantastic little dish that goes super-well with strawberry jam.

Astrid Lindgren’s Legacy: A Journey Through Imagination
Småland is intrinsically linked with Astrid Lindgren, one of Sweden’s most beloved authors. Her stories, filled with whimsy, bravery, and a deep love for nature, have left an indelible mark on the region. Cycling through Småland, one can’t help but feel a sense of connection to the magical worlds she created.

Visit the Astrid Lindgren’s World theme park in Vimmerby, where her characters come to life, providing a tangible link to her stories.

In Conclusion: The Magic of Gravel Riding in Småland
Gravel riding in Småland is an odyssey that goes beyond the physical journey. It is a dance with nature, a culinary exploration, and a dive into the rich tapestry of Swedish culture and storytelling.