Monday, 23 December 2013
Day 9 - Lulea to Skelleftia
I woke up at a fairly reasonable time despite last night being a very late one. I knew I had to make the most of this rare opportunity to do some blogging and upload some photos so got on with this. Everyone else was up at a reasonable time too wanting to make the most of the internet. Chris didn't make it to the cycle shop for it's opening but wasn't too far off, courtesy of Häkan very kindly giving him and the bike a lift to the shop in his car. Tom went along too. We of course had a generous breakfast. The large quantity of photos of course took a while to upload onto Häkan's computer before posting onto Facebook. I was already running behind on my blog, and managed to write up maybe a day and a half. Chris and Tom returned, Chris having successfully got his replacement wheel, but this caused him to eat into a significant chunk of his contingency money. He knew with the old Boardman bike he had there would be problems (he should have had a new bike from the start but didn't have the money) as it had already done Land's End to John O'Groats as well as London to Istanbul amongst other things, was over 5 years old and had never been maintained that well. Michelle also couldn't afford a new bike, so had to settle for a second-hand Ridgeback from Gumtree shortly before the start. Anyway the plan was to leave by late morning or midday at the latest (we knew it would't be early with the bike shop delay) but this seemed like a realistic target. Of course this didn't happen. By the time everyone was finished blogging, facebooking, packing and doing everything we needed to do in the flat and made it downstairs to get the bikes out it was after 1pm. Tom then had to fit his new stand (he had liked my one so decided to get the same one for himself). He was rushing, sensing everyone's desire to get going and ended up overtightening one of the bolts causing it to become threaded/unable to tighten up. This led to a massive faf with us all trying to improvise with a cable tie - we spent a while with this determined to make it work (very funny). After a good half an hour we gave up. After a some photos we said goodbye to Häkan, and finally got going at around 2.15pm. Normally I wouldn't have been happy with this but I was as much to blame as anyone else with this late departure. Everyone was in good spirits and we started off with a nice casual ride through the picturesque town and along the water's edge. We then went over a bridge and lost Chris and Kinza who had ridden off ahead. Thankfully we were soon reunited. The late afternoon consisted of riding along a busy E4. We stopped for a food session at around 6pm before carrying on along the E4. It became quieter as it got later (in a way it was a good thing that we left so late avoiding the traffic). Although the road was quiet it was a long, boring slog that lasted the rest of the day. Chris, Tom and Mark had pushed on ahead and I was with the girls. As the evening progressed this was the first time it had started to get a bit dark (not properly dark - maybe just enough to warrant cars having their lights on). At maybe about 10pm we heard a police siren - it passed signalling us to pull over. The police were very friendly explaining that we should have hi-viz clothing and each have lights. Thankfully they were happy for us to carry on, so we took to a tight formation of Kinza at the front (she was the only one with a front light), Michelle in the middle and me at the back (I had a back light and my jacket was slightly more visible than theirs). After this we didn't want any more police warnings, so were very keen to get to the Skelleftia and off of the E4. After maybe half an hour we saw a petrol station. Knowing that the lads would be in there we went over. The rave train was in full swing and we ended up dancing around in the forecourt. It turned out they had also been pulled over by the police. We collectively decided that we would invest in some hi-viz vests tomorrow. The petrol station marked the end of the E4/Skelleftia turn off. After some food we made our way to the campsite (easy to find). It was now about 11.30pm and the reception was of course closed. Kinza had already booked and paid for this and was charged for one pitch. We found one pitch and quickly set the tents up, ensuring that we stayed within the confines of our one allocated pitch (we didn't want to be charged for two pitches). Chris, Mark and Tom set their tents up first as usual. I was halfway through setting up my tent and noticed that the girls had positioned their tent right next to my tent so that one of my lines was immediately in front of their door. Kinza asked me to move my tent. I told her there was absolutely no chance that this was happen as I was there first and if she wasn't happy she should move her tent. This argument continued for a short while, with Michelle getting involved mentioning about the line being in the way/ they couldn't see it very clearly in the poor light. I then joked that she should put a hi-viz vest over the line to solve the problem. Both tents ended up staying put. After sorting the tents out me and the girls were up for cooking food. The lads were tucked up in their tents ready for bed so didn't want to get involved with cooking. So me and the girls went over to the kitchen area with our food and I got the rice on the go. It took frustratingly long to cook when all we wanted to do was eat and go to sleep. Eventually it was ready and we hungrily saw off the rice. The girls washed up before we retired back to the tents and finally got to bed at what must have been about 1am.