Monday, 23 December 2013
Day 10 - Skelleftia to Umea 137km
It was a real struggle to get up early after the last couple of days - I think I managed to drag myself out of my sleeping bag at around 8. I knew that with Michelle's strict 8-9 hour minimum hours of sleep requirements and Tom having a similar opinion that we were never going to get away that early. I remember going to watch TV and have some breakfast before the others were awake. Then I went for the first free campsite shower since we started (you normally had to put coins in a machine to give you a limited amount of hot water). There was some kind of mountain bike race taking part in the campsite with a big start/finish line setup 100 metres or so away - there was no time to watch this. I remember fixing Kinza's brakes and gaffa-taping her dog-chewn saddle before we finally set off at around 11.30 (later than intended of course). Our route took us through town and in the town there was a massive supermarket. I was able to buy a cable I needed for my camera charger (I had lost this a few days ago) and Kinza was able to find some hi-viz vests. I went mental with the food purchasing, spending over my day's budget there and then (I was like a kid in a sweet shop and couldn't resist all this delicious food). We sat outside for a food session after with me trying to eat as much as possible so that I didn't have to carry as much. After about 45 minutes the others were getting bored and started getting ready to go. I saw off the remainder of a litre pot of yoghurt and ate another doghnut before tying my hi-viz vest around my waist (this looked better and was more comfortable than wearing it conventionally) and caught up with the others. There wasn't any E4 cycling today which was a relief after yesterday's slog. The weather was gorgeous and we rode through some lovely countryside - the only thing was the road surface was inconsistent and there was a bit of navigating so progress was slower. This remained the case for the majority of the day and as usual we split into two groups of the other lads followed by me and the girls. At one point we reached a small village and stopped to have a snack/look for directions (I remember Kinza's regime of stopping every 20km or so for a snack (typically Karl Fazer chocolate or sweets) - this was annoying for me and Michelle who would have rather got a decent distance done/kept the momentum going before stopping). I was slightly ahead of her and I heard an 'Arrrgh'. I turned around and saw her lying on her back with the bike above her in the air with her feet clipped into the pedals. She had slowed down to a virtual stop look at a sign, lost her balance and fallen over. I helped her up and she was fine - just a few minor grazes. After having some chocolate and checking directions we carried on. Later on in the day there were some exceptionally nice stretches of road and I remember racing Kinza between two telegraph poles at one point - she won. Our destination today was a town called Umea and we got there at maybe 8pm, stopping for the standard McDonalds before finding our campsite. Locating the campsite proved tricky and we ended up cycling all around town in an attempt to find it. At one point we passed a party boat with music playing and a crowd of people outside. We got a few cheers as we cycled past and me and Mark decided we were going to go there later. Our campsite turned out to be like a car park area with poor grass maybe 2km further along the river from the party boat. The place was almost deserted with only a couple of caravans there. There were a couple two or three little cabins in the middle of the area. One of these looked empty so I went for a closer look. Sure enough it was empty and the door was unlocked - accomodation sorted. There were two bunk beds meaning that two people would have to get the sleeping mats out and kip on the floor. This ended up being me and Mark as we were the only ones wanting to go to the party boat. By the time we'd squezzed into the cabin it was getting quite late and me and Mark were eager to get going. My decent clothes were buried at the bottom of one of my pannier bags. I wasn't sure which one it was in so emptied the contents of both onto the floor. Mother Kinza was not happy about this and would not let me go until I had cleared up. My solution of kicking everything under one of the bunk beds was not good enough for her so I slagged everything back in the bags before leaving. It was too far/ too late to walk so me and Mark took the bikes. There were loads of bikes outside so we just locked them up with the others. We had to queue for a little while before getting in and I got chatting to a guy in the queue - it turned out that Umea had a university. Once inside there were a three or four areas including a couple of bars. Me and Mark went and got our first drink from one of these (one drink each cost us about half of our daily budget). The music wasn't really to my taste but it was a decent enough place and people were friendly. There were people smoking everywhere and Mark got a cigarette from someone and joined in. We stayed for another drink conversating about the trip. I remember a guy jumping in the river and going for a swim at one point (he was a bit drunk but not dangerously so). We were a bit pissed so cycling back was fun. I think we got back at about 1.30am - we had agreed before leaving that the door would be locked and someone would let us in when we got back. Michelle let us in before shuffling back to bed. Naturally we wanted something to eat - I had some tupperware pasta and some garlic bread so me and Mark polished this off trying to be as quiet as possible. After the food Mark tried to squeeze into one of the bottom bunks with Tom who was only taking up half of the mattress. Tom reacted dismissively and there was no way that was going to happen. So we had to make do with the poorly-inflated sleeping mats on the floor. The plan was to be up and out early before the campsite owner caught us in his cabin so I set my alarm for 7 or 8am.