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Europe by Tandem

From Castellon (Spain) to Northern Cape (Norway) by Tandem supporting the fight against cancer.

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Day 13. From Bollnäs to Tarmsjo

Posted by admin On Julio - 21 - 2010

159 kilometers. 9 hours and 40 minutes.

~

IVAN: Today’s weather forecast called for drizzle from noon onwards and called for downpour from 6 p.m. forward. Thanks to the Vanir, the weather forecast wasn’t accurate enough but this little favor wasn’t for free. Apparently, we weren’t capable of honoring them as they deserved or as they wanted to be honored; and on the face of this, we were punished with an excessively long day with loads of headwind. This has left its mark on our muscles and joints; and has awaken, in our damaged bodies, some ghosts from the past.

When it comes to speaking about the road, it’s a road as snaking and aggressive as a viper, capable of delivering a bite with its ascents and descents. This is what we, cyclist, call a real legbreaker. As to the surroundings, they are magnificent, amazing. This is one of the most beautiful spots on the Scandinavian peninsula. A road full of lakes with beaches, where people take the opportunity to relax and read; bright and vivid colored farmlands. This place is heavily forested, I mean it, it is covered with FOREST with a capital letter. Sometimes, I find myself, with my head tilted to the ground and below shoulder-level, peeking under a school desk as a kindergarten kid would do; and all this to see…what? Well, how can I put it, to see the F-O-R-E-S-T. In fact, it’s not that easy to put this into words but I’ll have a go. The first ground-layer is grass-covered, then you have another layer of perfectly plaited tree ferns; a green blanket which reveals cracks of deep and dark grey rocks, huge rocks in fact, which crop up in between; and a thick moss layer. You can see, just on top of the moss layer, the first branches and twigs of the small firs; then, the birches; and the pines and the tallest firs that are neck and neck in the height contest. So lush! Such dense vegetation! So dark! So gloomy! You can’t even walk 3 steps straight; in fact, you can’t even see your hand beyond your face in 5 meters. It is as if the trees, the rocks and the bushes plotted with one another not to uncover the secret the forest keeps, as if they spoke in a whisper, “if you want to know, you have to get in”.

Regarding the small hotel we got to after cycling, well, it was, at first, what you see above. Yes, sir, a locomotive engine. However, we couldn’t find its owner so we wind up staying here. As you can see, it’s a such a cozy place! Not suitable for claustrophobic people, though. What’s more, this place is in the sun during the whole day, which makes it really really hot. I do need to be funny here: a couple of days ago, we were absolutely freezing while leaving the Arctic and now we sick of so much heat.

Joking aside. Just for the curious: if we bear in mind the parallel we’re on, the afternoon doesn’t get that longer. In fact, according to our Garmin, today the sun will set at 10.06 and it will rise at 3:58, so the night will last 6 hours ;-) which is a huge relief.

Day 8. Overkalix- Jamton- Baden

Posted by admin On Julio - 17 - 2010

139 kilometers. 7 hours and 4 minutes.

IVAN: Day count 7. Today’s 139-kilometer stage makes 900 kilometers already covered. I guess you can reckon what all this means to our solidarity count: if we add the odd donation here and there (which I’m posititve somedody will make), we’ll raise, through this experience, almost 2000 euros.

Well, back to what I was talking about before: today’s stage. The truth is that the day started off on the wrong foot . I was stretching myself while I was still in bed, when suddenly I suffered a sharp neck muscle strain on the left side that made me jumped out of my bed. Let’s say provisionally, nothing serious. Nothing that can spoil an ordinary person’s day. But, if we consider the fact that I was going to spend 7 hours on the bike, well, the story is different. Anyway, to make you feel better, I’m writing to you right now without pain, and the strain issue was the least of our today’s worries.

Regarding today’s stage, well, how can I put it? I suppose the locals are so used to such scenic beauty that this would have seemed totally insubstantial to them, with no special charm, neither deep ascents nor steep descents, with no specially charming places, but, hey, we’re not from here! There’s no spot with a stream, lake, a house surrounded by flowers and trees, hills full of firs, paths that lose themselves in the darkness of the Swedish woods that does not amaze us. Well, dunno, endless things that are unfortunately hard to find in our country or short in supply because of simple mismanagement. This place is stinking rich in these endless things, which is grossly unfair.

We reached the Baltic Sea. No mishaps. In fact, things got complicated once we got there. Our plan was to take a road along the coastline and that it would take us 6 days to Stockholm. What a nasty surprise we had! We were cycling along a road that looked like a highway, in terms of size and traffic flow, but… with no shoulder! It was madness! Trucks loaded with lumber passing us at a one-meter distance and at startling speed! Under these circumstances, respect for cyclists is nonexistent; truck drivers are not to blame but the road profile; therefore, cyclists are banned from this type of roads, especially those riding tandems and carrying bicycle bags. In fact, we were able to put up with this situation for about 10 kilometers and, in the end, we gave up. So, we took the first exit that led us to a coastal town, Jamton; and, without realizing about it yet, the new stage of the trip began. In Jamton, we asked the first person we bumped into about the different options to get to Stockholm and, once again, we met with Swedish kindness. Not only did this person got us a map, but also he went along with us for 2 kilometers in his car up to the first junction, a junction that meant a possible solution.

After all this, the “joy” of our legs was gone, not only for the mishap but because we were heading inland, along an uphill road (of course!) and which would lead us 90 kilometers further north than our plan aimed at. This feeling vanished the moment we got to the first outdoor table we saw to sit at and to fill up with the gas we bought at a nearby supermarket ;-)

So, here we are in Boden, thinking about how to make these kilometers against Cancer be cycled to its destination, Castellón, on time. Regards!

We reached the Baltic Sea. No mishaps. In fact, things got complicated once we got there. Our plan was to take a road along the coastline and that it would take us 6 days to Stockholm. What a nasty surprise we had! We were cycling along a road that looked like a highway, in terms of size and traffic flow, but… with no shoulder! It was madness! Trucks loaded with lumber passing us at a one-meter distance and at startling speed! Under these circumstances, respect for cyclists is nonexistent; truck drivers are not to blame but the road profile; therefore, cyclists are banned from this type of roads, especially those riding tandems and carrying bicycle bags. In fact, we were able to put up with this situation for about 10 kilometers and, in the end, we gave up. So, we took the first exit that led us to a coastal town, Jamton; and, without realizing about it yet, the new stage of the trip began. In Jamton, we asked the first person we bumped into about the different options to get to Stockholm and, once again, we met with Swedish kindness. Not only did this person got us a map, but also he went along with us for 2 kilometers in his car up to the first junction, a junction that meant a possible solution.

After all this, the “joy” of our legs was gone, not only for the mishap but because we were heading inland, along an uphill road (of course!) and which would lead us 90 kilometers further north than our plan aimed at. This feeling vanished the moment we got to the first outdoor table we saw to sit at and to fill up with the gas we bought at a nearby supermarket ;-)

So, here we are in Boden, thinking about how to make these kilometers against Cancer be cycled to its destination, Castellón, on time. Regards!

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