Heading North Towards Gavle
After almost 2 weeks of waiting and staying still in Bjorklinge and Uppsala, I finally got all my equipments and ready to roll north towards the Arctic Circle. I’m now ready to face the cold in the northern Scandinavia, where the temperature can reach anywhere between 0 to -30 celcius. After a week staying with Karen and Fredrik, I finally had to say goodbye to them and hit my bicycle on my way north.
Packing my stuff on my bike gave me a headache since I’m now carrying a huge… giant sleeping bag! It’s so huge until it uses almost 100% of my 90 litres backpack! The best is to keep my sleeping bag dry at all times, which means I should put it nicely inside my backpack. But with that, I don’t have space for my other stuff. I had no choice but to carry my laptop bag on my back while riding, which is not a good idea since it will hurt my back after hours and hours of cycling… day after day… But that’s better rather than leaving my sleeping bag to get wet which means I will turn into ice at night. I always prefer to have back pain rather than get frozen at night :)
The weather turned to be really nice on my first day of cycling out of Bjorklinge. The sun was shining… well… sometimes… and it was quite warm, not as cold as I always expected. It was only around 0 celcius. The big problem now is when I sweat. Up here, when you sweat, basically you’re dead. Its not a problem to sweat while cycling if you will get to sleep indoor every night. It’s a problem to me because I will camp in the forest each night and will only get indoors once every 4-5 days. Its really expensive here to sleep indoors which I cant afford, so I will only get into hostels here once in a while to get warm, clean myself and sleep in a proper bed.
I realized cycling on ice and snow powder is much harder. There was once, I fell down when the snow got really thick, which was around 10 inches. I fell down and I laughed at myself. I was alone… and I was laughing loud. It was hilarious! Most of the time, I was cycling as slow as 10-12 km/hour. The day is getting longer day by day but still quite short, where I have to stop cycling somewhere around 4.30pm to find a place and prepare to camp. So I can only cycle around 6-7 hours a day. I can only move around 50-60km per day now…. much shorter than my usual 80-110km daily on normal road. And I have to stop a few times, to take off some clothes when I started to sweat and to put more clothes on when I feel cold again.
Camping in the thick snow here is another new experience for me. I realized the tent pegs are totally useless here camping in the snow. The only solution is to cut some tree branches and use it to hold my tent instead. Luckily, my new tent by Hillberg is super easy to setup. It only took me 3 minutes to setup the 2 person tent. The hard part was to dig the deep snow. I need a shovel to make it easier for me to do that. It took forever to dig the snow with my legs… and its very tiring! I’m still not used to all these and I still get a lot of sweat from cycling, which made me struggle of the cold everynight. The sweat will never get dry and the cold is hitting me all the way to the bones! Everything is slower in the cold. Boiling hot water took double the time compared to normal condition. Even to tie my shoe lace took forever, the shoe lace was frozen in the morning like a cardboard and my fingers move slower when frozen. Another problem I had was the bad ventilation inside my tent. It was really nice and warm inside my sleeping bag, making me to feel comfortable sleeping at night. The problem came the next morning, after hours of sleeping inside the tent, my tent got warmed due to my body warmth while outside was really cold. My tent then became wet and finally it all turned into ice and frozen solid! It was hell, took me some 5 minutes and a lot of motivation just to get out of my sleeping bag to the cold.
Since Im now late by almost 2 weeks, I was thinking to take some train at some point. The main problem now is the visa. I can only stay 3 months here in Europe and have to leave the continent before 2nd week of May. I was discussing with Fredrik, and decided to cycle all the way to Gavle and take a train there to Umea up north, and cycle all the way from there. It’s the same landscape between Gavle and Umea which is only forest… and the fun will start when I cross into the Arctic Circle and beyond up north. Since I can only cover some 50-60km a day here and have to take a rest day after 3-4 days of cycling, I think this time I might take train at some point…