Monday, 23 December 2013
Day 15 - Hedesunda to Uppsala approx. 95km
I successfully woke up at 5am feeling anxious. I packed all my stuff up and was out of the toilet by about 6. There still wasn't really anybody around yet. I decided I'd have a shower to perk myself up so made my way into the male toilets/showers. The showers were on the meter so rather than paying for this I found a disabled toilet, locked the door and had a splash in the sink. By the time I was done people were starting to emerge from their tents/caravans. I went over to reception which was now open. I explained the situation (the fact that Kinza had booked the campsite, hadn't made it and that I needed to contact her). I left out the bit about me sleeping in their toilet. The lady was helpful and let me use her phone to try and call the others - I couldn't get through. I also went on their computer briefly and sent them an email explaining where I was/to call me asap. All I could do now is wait for them to call. I made my way over to the lounge/kitchen area. Unfortunately they didn't have sofas so after plugging in the electronics for a charge I sat at the table and had some food. After half an hour still no response. There was only the odd person coming in and out so I decided to get the sleeping mat out in the corner and have a lie down. A while later the reception woman came over with an email from Kinza. It explained that she had got a puncture back in Gävle yesterday evening, was unable to get the tyre back on so would have to go to a bike shop this morning to sort this out. The original plan was to try and get to Stockholm today - this was now virtually an impossible task. At about midday I left Hedesunda and made my way through the drizzle towards Stockholm. My knee felt better, but the saddle sore was now bad (after not being able to stand up whilst cycling yesterday). To combat this I adjusted the height of the saddle (Mark had though my saddle was too low from the start). The higher saddle did help quite a bit and relieved some of the pain. After maybe an hour the heavens opened. I had to stop at one point during the rain to cable-tie something back together. I was in the middle of nowhere with no shelter around so had to get on with it on the rain. In these conditions it took twice as long as it should have done. About 15 minutes later I got going again. I was now cold due to the rain so got my windproof jacket out to wear under the waterproof one I had on. The double-jacket combo worked well and I felt comfortably warm. Thankfully directions were straight forward today - just as well as with no map/working able to make calls I would have struggled. I got to a town after maybe 3 hours. They had a petrol station selling hot food so I went in and got some takeaway sausage and mash in a cardboard box. I ate this quickly not wanting to get too cold and knowing that there was still a long way to go. Shortly after setting off my brakes started to play up so took shelter under a tree to make adjustments. A woman who lives in the house where I had stopped was very friendly and asked if I'd like to come in for some coffee. I was tempted but knew if I went into the warm now that I wouldn't want to start cycling again so politely refused her offer. Brakes improved I continued battling the rain for another hour and a half or so when the rain gradually stopped and sun came out. At about 5pm I still had not heard from the others. I walked over to some houses to try and see if I could borrow a phone to find out what was happening. One man came out and was happy for me to use his phone. I finally got through to them and found out what was going on. Chris explained: they had to find a bike shop in the morning before replacing the tyre, started cycling and decided to sack the day off when the rain started and check into a cabin until tomorrow. Their new plan was to get to Stockholm by the end of the day tomorrow (they HAD to do this as Kinza had her flight home the following day). We planned for me to push on to the next big town of Uppsala and find the campsite there, with them leaving very early tomorrow morning, meeting up with me late morning/midday at the campsite, and cycling the remaining miles to Stockholm. Uppsala was only an hour or so away so the rest of my day would be easy. I had a chat with the man whose phone I had borrowed - he had travelled a lot. After quite a long chat and making notes on how to find this campsite in Uppsala I thanked him and pushed on. It was a nice ride at the end of the day. I reached the outskirts of Uppsala by about 6pm. I saw a building site with old bits of wood lying about - I needed some wood to try and build some internal framework for my handlebar bag (it was being crushed under the constant strain of the sleeping mat/bungee arrangement I had going on, so it needed reinforcing). I found some bits of old pallet that should work before pushing on to the town centre. I managed to find the campsite easily enough and went in to enquire about the price. It was very expensive and I wasn't prepared to pay the amount they wanted. So I had a slow cycle around to try and find anywhere I could sleep. I came across a supermarket so went in and got a load of food. It was now raining again so after buying all the food I sat on the chairs by the checkouts and had a food session. 30-45 minutes later the rain had subsided so I went back out and continued my search for somewhere to sleep. I got to a car park and spent about 15 minutes trying to get as close as I could/taking photos of a massive hare that was running about. The town centre wasn't looking very promising in terms of sleeping potential so I headed back out the way I came where it was less built-up. I went up to a small collection of houses set back maybe half a mile from the main road surrounded by fields. There wasn't really anyone about and the first house I came across looked empty. They had a nice patch of grass that was pretty well hidden so this would have to do. I stuck up my tent and put the bike in an old barn that was right next to me. My plan was to have a relative lie-in and go for a buffet in the morning (I had seen lots of buffet restaurants in the town). I went to bed at 11pm.