Challenging the Strength of the Arctic Wind
After 3 days taking a good rest in Kiruna, I fully recovered and well prepared for my next journey to get deeper inside the world of Arctic. My target is to get to Abisko, which will put me closer to the Norwegian border. I felt that I cant wait to be on the road again, staying 3 days inside the hostel making me to feel bored and I started to miss being on the road. It is nearly 100km away but when I looked at the profile map, it is a good downhill and I was confident that I can reach it within a day. The gravity will be my friend and will push me fast towards Abisko. When I left the hostel in Kiruna, it was around 10 am and once I reached the road, I saw dark clouds in front of me and very strong headwind. Awww its a bad day to cycle, I said to myself.
I then just started pedalling fighting the wind, it seems endless and really slowed me down even though it was a good downhill from Kiruna. After some 15-20km of riding, I saw a man stopped his car at the roadside some 300m in front of me, standing still while holding his badass huge 600mm Canon lens and kept snapping my photos until I passed him. He then drove far in front of me and stopped again at the roadside and kept snapping my photos until I passed him. Again for the third time, he went far in front of me and stopped again, and kept snapping my photos. Mannn this guy just couldn’t get enough of it. That third time, I decided to stop and talk to him, asking him if he can email me the photos. He must have good pictures of me with that huge prime lens, which is basically a price of a car. He is actually a professional photographer from Sweden, who has been all around Scandinavia photographing the landscape and the Aurora Borealis and the Midnight Sun in the Arctic. After chatting for some 5 mins, I then continue cycling further and he told me he wont bother me anymore hehe. Mann I don’t mind at all actually. While I kept pressing further, 2 more guys did the same but with normal compact camera, stopped at the roadside in front of me to photograph me while I’m riding. Hehe they really made me feel like a superstar lol. They said its really amazing to see a cyclist at this time of the year and were really interested on the spiked tyres that I used to ride on snow and ice. One of the guy told me that to be careful, there gonna be a snowstorm in few hours in the mountains in front of me soon from the forecast reports. I simply gave him my usual automatic answer, “Don’t worry, Ill push slowly”. And when I left, I could hear the sound of the camera from behind, the guy just couldn’t stop snapping my photos from all possible angles lol!
Riding towards Abisko feels like forever, I don’t feel like Im going downhill. The headwind was way too strong and I had to pedal very hard, I was actually panting even going downhill. Worst… my mouth was so dry and I kept drinking every few minutes since the wind got inside my mouth even when my scarf covered all over my face. I couldn’t wear my balaclava since its not so cold anymore, it was just around -5c so I had to use my scarf instead. The wind blew more and more fiercely the further I go. After some 50km of ride, I crossed the mountain areas in the arctic tundra and had a bad snowstorm. I felt really tired even when riding downhill, the fierce Arctic wind seems much stronger than the gravity. I took so many stops, I stopped every 5km of ride, just stood still while holding my handlebar and kept my head down to prevent the wind from getting through my mouth. But I couldn’t stood still for long, even though the temperature was only around -5c, but this fierce Arctic wind made me feel much worst than being in the -20c! I stopped only a while, a few seconds just to let my breathing back to normal before continued fighting the wind. I went slower and slower after each kilometre and reaching Abisko on the same day had become a distant dream. After some 65km of ride, there was a big climb and I was really struggling, now I’m fighting 2 enemies, the gravity had change side and became an ally with the headwind.
After the big climb, I looked up and was really amazed by the very beautiful view, the landscape had totally changed. There is no more forest up here, it’s the Arctic Tundra… its mountains after mountains and frozen lakes in between. Whenever I see beautiful view, it gives me extra strength. I ignored the endless headwind and riding slowly enjoying the scenery. The sun was at the horizon giving very special lights to the landscape, makes it look really dramatic and I feel like Im in a fantasy movie. The mountains look mystical with the special sunset lights, I then decided not to get to Abisko on the same day but went scouting for a place to camp in the wild to really enjoy the beautiful sunset. I kept pedalling only for another 5km which put me really close to Abisko, only some 20km away which I can do easily the next morning. I then found a very nice spot, it’s a big parking place at the roadside with free public toilet and has heater and running water inside. Nearby the parking place there was a wooden table and a BBQ place to make fire, I then dig some soft snow out and pitch my tent near it. I felt really comfortable camping here knowing that theres a toilet with a heater and running water. It is not so cold now anymore, at night the temperature went down maximum to only -8c and I slept sooo comfortably inside my -29c rated sleeping bag.