Monday, 23 December 2013

Day 8 - Tornio to Lulea

It was an inevitably late start with everyone struggling out of bed at about 9am. This meant we were embarrassingly late for the breakfast that Juan had given us again. After apologising for this me and Mark went into the house to wash up the group's plates and cutlery. Tom then came in and gave us a hand. When we had finished the girls were about to leave, having finished packing their pannier bags and were putting these on the bikes. This annoyed me slightly as the room was still a mess with crumbs and grass on the floor and bits of rubbish lying around. Before leaving Juan came in with the whisky we had bought him yesterday and was insistent on us having a shot each before leaving. It was far too early for this and none of us were up for the shots so we waited for him to go before pouring the contents of each glass back into the whisky bottle. The girls then headed off straight away, the guys finished off cleaning the room, locked up leaving the key in a safe place (Juan had now gone to work) and left. I got the speaker going for the ipod with the new plastic bottle speaker housing working well whilst riding. This was the birth of 'The Rave Train' - my nickname for the trip. It was another really nice day both in terms of weather and in terms of roads and we caught the girls up pretty easily. By early afternoon we reached a lovely little town called Kalix. We had covered a reasonable distance so naturally we stopped. We went over to the supermarket and parked outside, the rave train still going. There was a pretty Swedish girl selling strawberries outside the supermarket. Mark went over to buy some - as much of an excuse to chat to the girl as it was to get the strawberries. A couple of friendly locals then came over and had a chat with me about the trip. The others then came out so it was me and Mark's turn to go in. It was our first proper supermarket shop since Norway and it was nice to actually be able to afford something other than cornflakes or a bulk pack of cheap plain biscuits. I remember getting tupperware of pasta amongst other treats. We headed over the road to a park by the side of a lake to eat our food. This was an awesome break with the sun fully out, good food and everyone was in a good mood. There were two or three girls in bikinis sitting next to a boat on a small wooden pier with their feet in the water. This was a good opportunity for a swim so I got the tri-suit on, Mark got his trunks on and after a bit of persuasion Kinza got her swim stuff on. My goggle strap had broken - I tried to cable tie it back together but this failed. After giving up with the goggles we went over to the small wooden pier and asked the girls if it was alright to swim in the water. They said it was fine so I jumped in. The water was nice. Kinza and Mark were slightly more hesitant but jumped in about 15 seconds later. They were both screaming that the water was apparently 'freezing' - very funny. I swam out towards the middle of the lake - this was actually cold so swam back and got out. After awkwardly drying off/slipping our cycle gear on without exposing ourselves we had a bit more to eat and got going. We were introduced to the notorious E4 road after leaving Kalix - a busy two-lane road that stretched along most of the east coast of Sweden. About half an hour after getting on this Chris got another broken spoke. It was on the same wheel as before and even more annoyingly this time it was in the cassette side of the wheel so he couldn't remove/replace this spoke. The girls carried on. After some deliberation on what to do I had the idea of putting the new spoke in at the rim end, bending this spoke around the other broken spoke at the hub end and tightening to try and create a similar tension to what a spoke should have. This seemed to work alright as a temporary fix - the wheel wasn't spinning true but it was rideable. The rest of the afternoon was spent crawling slowly along the E4 - very boring and monotonous. After what seemed like forever we finally got to the outskirts of Lulea in the early evening. We phoned the girls who had now found where we were staying (one of Kinza's Couchsurfing contacts called Häkan). After a brief snack we headed towards the town centre. Thankfully we didn't have to navigate the town centre and found the girls easily. They were with Häkan and we introduced ourselves before quickly running to the supermarket to buy dinner before it shut leaving our stuff outside with Häkan and the girls. We then walked the short distance to his flat, parked our bikes in a storage area and went inside. The flat was very nice with a spacious lounge/big tv, modern kitchen and clean/fresh. After we had all eventually had a shower we enjoyed a pasta meal Michelle had cooked for us with a beer, followed by a tub of ice cream that I had bought. We then relaxed in the lounge and checked out Benji's website: This was the guy we met on the ride up to Nordkapp on Day 1 and we were all very impressed with what he has managed to do so far. After consulting Häkan and googling Chris managed to find a local cycle shop that he should be able to get a replacement back wheel from, and planned to go there when the shop opened in the morning. After getting to know Häkan better and taking full advantage of the internet and TV novelties in his flat we eventually sorted our sleeping arrangements we finally went to bed at about 2.30am.

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