Monday, 23 December 2013
Day 14 - Soderhamn to Hedesunda
It was a bad decision to sleep without the tent. There were quite a lot of mosquitoes and there was a bit of mist in the air and I couldn't get comfortable. I ended up having about 3 hours broken sleep before going for a long walk to kill time before the others got up (I initially tried to run but I had pulled a muscle in my leg yesterday afternoon and running was too painful). Anyway I trapsed around the town for a few hours and getting back at around 6.30am. The others were getting up at 7.30. I started getting my stuff together quietly, and once this was done went over to a decking area to sit down and have a food session whilst watching the others get up/get ready. They all said 'I told you you should have put the tent up'. Remarkably we were all ready to leave at about 8.30. As we were loading up the bikes the owner of the house and her daughter (very attractive) came out and offered us some tea/coffee water. This inevitably led to a delayed leaving time but we were still reasonably early and it we had a good conversation so it didn't matter. It turned out the family owned a nearby petrol station. We ended up leaving maybe an hour later, headed for the petrol station to get some food before properly starting the day's ride. After getting to the petrol station I went to get my wallet out of my tri bag where I kept my wallet, phone and Ipod. The phone was missing - I figured I must have left this behind before setting off. A couple of minutes later we were told by the people working at the petrol station that they had had a phonecall from the attractive girl saying that I had indeed left the phone behind and she would drop it off to me on her scooter in 5 or 10 minutes - massive result!!! I remember Kinza joking that this was a good tactic to see her again. Sure enough a matter of minutes later she rode up and gave me the phone. After thanking her she rode off back home. I bought a 4-plug euro adapter so that we would be able to charge multiple devices if we were only able to find one socket at a McDonalds/somewhere else where we could charge stuff. I also bought some reduced doghnuts that weren't very nice. I had a smile on my face despite my knee hurting for the first half hour or so, with a nice flat start and the morning's events on my mind. However the riding then started to get hillier and after a while I was unable to ride standing up because the pain was too great. Unlike Michelle and Kinza (who never stand up) I always stand up when cycling uphill, so being confined to the saddle slowed me down significantly. Eventually after a few painful hours we came across a campsite restaurant and decided to stop for lunch. I was in a bad mood and wanted a quick break so I could get the day over and done with. The others were keen to get a meal whilst I wanted to eat up pannier food as this was quicker and cheaper. I agreed to stay with them for the main meal. Tom made friends with some children whilst we waited. I had finished eating by the time everyone's food had arrived. It was spaghetti bolognaise and looked nice. The girls were having the standard Facebook session. After they had finished they decided to get coffee. There was no way I was going to wait for this as well (it was bad enough having to sit through their meal) so I made a move telling them that they should catch me up down the road with my reduced speed handicap. So I left them to it and carried on down the road. The next stretch of road was awesome (it was 'the old E4') which was deserted. It was a nice wide road that took me through some forest. There was no noise apart from the birds and very occasional car passing. This lasted maybe 45 minutes, and put me in a better mood. I stopped for a snack/piss at the end of this and when I was done saw the others coming towards me. Once reunited the day consisted largely of flat, monotonous riding. Last night's lack of sleep started to kick in mid-afternoon and there were times when I was finding it hard to stay awake (I initially resorted to eating every 15 minutes to keep me alert. Chris then gave me some energy tablets which worked more effectively). The others wanted to stop at a cafe for a break at one point. I was definitely not doing this as knew sitting down for 30 minutes would do nothing to help the tiredness/knee pain. I pushed on agreeing to meet the others at a supermarket at a town called Gävle a bit further ahead. I reached Gävle and realised that there wasn't a supermarket straight away (I had to follow the road into the town to find one). I locked the bike up outside before unclipping both pannier bags and putting them in a trolley along with my backpack (after Kinza's watch getting stolen I didn't want to leave anything outside unattended). I got a generous food shop and found a seat just inside the sliding doors enabling me to see the road/would be able to see the others approaching. I waited for a good 45 minutes but no sign of them. Due to me not having a working phone I was unable to contact them, so had to find an internet cafe and Facebook message. I was hoping one of them would be online but they weren't. I messaged them saying that I would push on to our destination campsite of Hedesunda (I knew this by looking at Kinza's itinerary) and they would be able to find me there later. With no map and no real idea where I was going navigating was tricky. I ended up on a dual carriageway going in the right general direction. I saw an iphone charger on the floor by the side of the road (it was a bit battered but in one piece), so picked this up as needed a replacement from the one that was stolen yesterday. There was a petrol station just ahead so I went over and looked at a map in the shop and discussed with the guy working there. He pointed me in the right direction so I headed off. Thankfully I was soon able to get off the dual carriageway and onto a quieter road. I was never 100% certain where I was going as was relying on non-existent road signs. I was starting to get quite concerned as the evening progressed as it was getting dark and it seemed like I was heading into the middle of nowhere. My only option was to carry on and hope for the best. My knee was getting very painful by now, I was tired and just wanted the day to be over. Thankfully after maybe an 1.5 hours of uncertainty I saw a sign to Hedesunda - massive relief. Another very slow and painful 7km later after and after asking a couple of the very few people around at this time of night for directions, I arrived at the campsite. It was midnight and nobody at all was awake. I cycled around looking for the others expecting to see them there. I went around the entire campsite, even checking a couple of small cabins but there was no sign of them. I would have to try and get in touch with them in the morning. I wanted to avoid putting the tent up so searched for somewhere to sleep. Thankfully one of the toilets wasn't locked - this would have to do. There was just enough space to lay down and squeeze the bike in (after removing the extrawheel). I locked the door, had some pannier food, cleaned my teeth and went to sleep setting my alarm for 5.30am.