Scandinavia 2011

Day 14: Forests & Podcasts

The daily blog is usually left until all other chores have been accomplished. By this point I rarely have any energy remaining and when I write it is usually an assembly of phrases I’ve constructed during the day’s ride, put together late at night on bleary-eyed autopilot. 

Trailer flag

I wake up later than I would ideally like. Frederik, a former Swedish national-level skiier, has already departed for his job managing the local ski school and working for the ski patrol. I make myself a suitable breakfast but still fail to hit the road before 10:30 in the morning. This, I think, is no good, despairing at the distance still left to cover before my ticket home.

But then, a strange thing happens. Something inspires me to ride yet another 100km through the endless rolling forests, even after yesterday’s almighty struggle. Maybe it was that sauna! It’s certainly not the weather. Hours and hours go by, but a large portion of my mind is lost in thought, and my legs feel very little.

It’s dark before I even register that I’ve joined the main arterial road north, which will take me north for many days to come. That’s not saying much — there’s barely any more traffic on this icy single-lane highway than on the mountain roads I’d followed from now-distant Norway.

The world continues to go by in a blur of moonlit forest and Guardian Science Weekly podcasts. I’m not tired. I might as well continue riding, I think, and I take a detour along the fringe of one of Sweden’s thousands of now-frozen lakes. It seems ridiculous, but in reality I either camp in the woods in the dark now, or I do the same later this evening. It’ll be no more or less dark, cold or snowy. 

It seems a switch has been flicked and I have finally rediscovered the ability to pedal almost indefinitely throughout my waking hours. Except for occasional and important “refuelling” stops, my body is conditioned to just keep on going, burning whatever I feed it at an alarming speed. My attitude towards food has regressed almost to pure functionality, as attested by my dinner of boiled fish-fingers with cheese and mayonnaise.

Only time between sleeps is the limiting factor. Now it is simply a case of putting in the hours, and seeing what happens along the way. I’m pleased that I’ve reached this stage, as I can see that my target is just about within reach.

It’s 11pm when I finally decide to call it a night. My new snow-stakes work wonders for my night’s camp, which I am amazed to actually find myself enjoying! I’m an hour’s ride from Ostersund, and I figure I’ll have worked up a good appetite for breakfast by the time I arrive in the city tomorrow morning.

Boot warmers

Through the Jamtland mountains

Fresh snow on trees

Camping in the woods...

Schwalbe bicycle tyres, Extrawheel single-wheel trailers


6 replies on “Day 14: Forests & Podcasts”

The thumb of the rule is to talk to the locals before a crossing, and you’ll be fine! I’m off to work, I hope you are enjoying today’s trip!

I am following your trip every day now! I’ve cycled a lot in Norway (my country of residence), but only to and from work during our dark & cold winters! Beautiful blog and pictures! I understand that you have been around quite a few places on yr bike, but still a word of advice. In the high mountains, a blizzard and the following white-out can occur in a matter of seconds. Walk out of your tent under these conditions, and you might not be able to orientate your way back again, even if its only 20 feet or so. Stay close to the road! All the best.

Thank you Sven. Very glad you are enjoying the ride. I will bear your advice in mind when I’m heading back over to the coast later on. You’ll be pleased to hear that I have brought half a kilogram of pig fat to eat in an emergency if I get tent-bound during a snowstorm. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen!

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