Friday, 21 June 2013

Day 6 - Middle of nowhere (before Pello) to Tornio 131km (kolari to tornio)

Woke up on time despite a poor nights' sleep - this was as much a case of wanting to get up and out of the horrible bumpy field we had chosen to camp in as anything else. It was raining outside which did nothing for motivation levels - the only good thing being that there were no mosquitos around. I was up before the others and remember having a bottle of cider that I had bought in the supermarket last night along with some food. Chris and Tom had fared worse than the rest of us, choosing an especially poor patch of ground when pitching their tents last night and having flooded tents. Packing up was a case of struggling to put everything away into the pannier bags within the very confined space that was our one-man tents before braving the rain, dismantling the tents and slagging it all onto the bikes as quickly as possible. Everyone except me and Mark made fast work of this and were up and away within half an hour. Eventually probably 20 minutes or so after the others me and Mark finally got going sharing a bottle of cider before pedalling. It wasn't long before we got to a town called Pello. At this point I was totally reliant on Mark as didn't know where we were going or supposed to be meeting. I also didn't have any credit on my phone (this was the case for the entire trip - I foolishly thought before leaving the UK that I would not need credit as would be with the others all the time eliminating the need to make any calls). Mark did have a phone so was our only way of contacting the others. Having said this Mark tried to call the others at Pello and couldn't get through. We stopped for a toilet/food break at a petrol station taking it in turns to go in and out. After the break we got back on the bikes and I followed Mark out of Pello towards the Arctic Circle line. We were pedalling at a decent pace and managed to catch up with the girls before getting there. Soon after that we had reached it. Chris and Tom were there waiting for us. There was a large car park area with a continuous white line running across the tarmac marking the Arctic Circle. This was a pretty big milestone in the trip, so we took several photos. We had left the early morning rain behind in Pello and it was now cold and windy. We went inside the Arctic Circle shop to escape the elements and buy souvenirs/postcards. I was after a troll as wanted something fun to represent Finland to attach on the bike. Unfortunately there were no decent/reasonably priced trolls there so I just got a postcard. I remember Kinza buying a little white cuddly reindeer that was named Sami. After getting the souvenir/postcards out of the way we pushed on. Soon after leaving I had my first extrawheel issue - one of the bolts had come loose so I screwed this back in and continued. The others were waiting for me at a junction a bit further ahead. We did a right at the junction, taking us over the bridge over a river and into Sweden. There were no big signs marking the crossing. Anyway once over the bridge we turned left along a road that followed the river and would eventually lead us to Tornio (our destination for the end of the day). About 10 or 15 minutes after turning onto this road Chris got his first broken spoke. Sensing that this could be a lengthy delay the girls cycled on. Off came the wheel. The broken spoke was easy enough to take off and replace. However replacing this one spoke had caused the wheel to spin horribly and it was unrideable. Chris was now getting frustrated. After some considerable time tweaking this spoke and the other spokes the wheel was rideable but far from perfect. We were probably by the side of the road for an hour or so - thankfully the road was quiet. I was very eager to get pedalling again to warm up more than anything else. It was a long, flat and boring ride to Tornio with the only thing noticeable being all the road signs and arrows being in yellow and blue to represent the colours of the Swedish flag. I was starting to struggle about halfway along this neverending road so Chris and Mark went off ahead and Tom stayed with me. We found them sitting at a bus shelter waiting for us further along. Mark had managed to get red paint all over his hi-viz jacket (he failed to see the 'wet paint' sign at the bus shelter) making him look like he had been in a RTC. Eventually we got to the outskirts of Tornio and got a hot dog at a petrol station. We managed to get in touch with Kinza and find out where we were supposed to be going (tonight was our first nights' Couchsurfing). We soon got going again. One of the first things we saw after leaving the petrol station was a massive Ikea - apparently being the furthest north Ikea in the world. We crossed a bridge back into Finland and the main bit of Tornio. After the standard difficulty navigating in a foreign town we eventually found where we were staying and reunited with the girls. We didn't arrive until late in the evening - it was a good job the girls went ahead earlier so they could get to our host at a reasonable time. Anyway we introduced ourselves to our hosts Juan and his girlfriend. Juan had allocated an annex for us all to sleep in. There was a choice of various mattresses and a hammock. Kinza shotgunned the hammock. Nobody cared. I managed to get a decent mattress :) . Juan very kindly brought us in some tea and snacks - this was soon gone. Next was the sauna. We were all very keen for this. I didn't have any trunks so had to make do with boxers. We went in the sauna and relaxed in the intense heat with a beer. We had cups to pour water small amounts of the cold water over ourselves to stay cool/toss in the furnace every now and again. There was also a large container filled with water and some buckets. Juan joined us for a while before leaving. A bit later Tom came in. He had no idea what you were meant to do in the sauna with the water so we thought it would be funny to get him to pour an entire bucket of the cold water over himself. He was a bit unsure about this but we convinced him to go ahead trying not to laugh. He went ahead and did it and screamed like a girl. We were all crying with laughter. He saw the funny side. Anyway I ended up staying in the sauna for a few hours feeling properly relaxed. I had a wash in there just before leaving to save having to get in the shower after. I went back our annex, had some more food, chatted for a bit before finally going to bed in the early hours.

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