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.
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.