I am normally a reasonably confident cyclist however I did find the E4 in north of Sweden had me considering slinging the bike on a bus for a few hundred kilometres. Whist probably not actually unsafe to cycle on, you do feel decidedly vulnerable and it certainly isn't much fun.

In the south the E4 is a fully blown motorway and is treated pretty much as such by drivers in the north, despite  being single lane for long stretches.  Where there is room to pass drivers will generally give it, but if there is no room then tough luck cos they are going to pass you anyway!

For long stretches there is what amounts to a cycle lane, i.e. some road between you and the rest of the traffic separated by a big corrugated white line, it is actually so vehicles can half move out of the way and allow faster traffic to pass.  However this all but disappears when you need it the most, through long narrow sections over bridges or uphill, forcing you into the traffic.

Whilst being unpleasant and something I wasn't relishing dealing with for the next 400KM, this wasn't what put me off cycling it.

The real problem came between Pithea and Skelleftea in the shape of about 10 miles of road works and contra flows.  Obviously the road works wont be a permanent feature but, for the moment at least, they make the E4 a dangerous place to cycle in my opinion.

In many places in the contra flows there really is no room for lorries and coaches to pass you, but that wont stop them trying (the coaches seem to be particularly prone to this maybe they think their smoother sides make them safer.)

I was, at times, cycling within a foot or two of a 20 foot drop onto jagged rocks with no fence or kerb (or even white line) to mark the road edge.  I gave up in the end and rode or pushed the bike along the gravel and stone road that was being newly laid.

When I got to Skelleftea there was at least an alternative road for a while and, although it headed of into the hills, I gladly took it to the end of the day.

Upon considering my position I decided the E4 was not for me and so needed an alternative plan.  The choice seemed to be get a bus from Umea to Stockholm which would seriously shorten the trip or secondly get a ferry operated by RG Line from Umea to Vassa in Finland and continue south from there with another ferry back to Stockholm later on.

If you plan on using this detour be aware that the RG Line Umea ferry terminal is actually in Holmsund (about 15KM south of Umea); a fact which caused me to miss the 12:00 sailing and resulted in an eight hour wait at the terminal for the next one.

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The E4 Breathe in! Road Works