To those planning a similar trip - notes on our route down the middle of Sweden:-
This alternative to the EV7 suited us. We prefer country to town and there was just enough of interest to satisfy our cultural needs. However 1500+kms of lakes and trees might not be your cup of tea! The route also provided us with the opportunity to “pile on the miles”.
We entered Sweden in early June and the tourist trade was just waking up. It was not unusual to find campsites “half open” with no one at reception (Just the phone number on the door) and facilities still being repaired from last year. Having said that, we found cabins available at almost all the sites. (camping.se provides a very useful brochure)
The Roads - A country of two halves
Road surface was generally good with occasional road works where the entire top surface would be removed. In the North, the minor roads, outside towns, are generally dirt tracks in various states of repair.
Traffic levels were low increasing near larger towns and generally increasing the further south we travelled
Generally drivers are very respectful of cyclists to the point of stopping in anticipation that you might want to cross the road from one cycle track to another. However there is always the occasional idiot and tourists might not be aware of the rules! It was also noticeable that many drivers, including those of large lorries with trailers, were using their mobiles)
Towns and villages were generally very cycle friendly with cycle routes everywhere and you are expected to ride on the wide pavements where they are provided. However you do need a cycle route map to know where they are going!! Cycle routes were excellent but occasionally much longer than the road alternative.
Route signs occasionally run out when you need them most.
Not many options to explore alternative routes in the north but increasing further south
Main Roads in the south are much less cycle friendly
Route 26 directly south of Mariestad the most dangerous road I’ve cycled on. 2 standard lanes divided by wire crash barrier and crash barriers on the nearside of both lanes. Heavy duty rumble strips just inside the crash barriers on both sides. Maybe 40cms of tarmac between the nearside crash barrier and rumble strip. Speed limit 100 kmh but traffic travels (much) faster. For the very short time we were on this road (big mistake), lorries could only give us ½ metre clearance and that was with our trailers very close to the edge of the tarmac and the bikes on the rumble strip. Very few vehicles slowed down.
We came across several short sections of road with similar “improvements” to this section of the 26. A major part of the E4 in the north is of this type.