Despite the miserable fact that it might sound quite thrilling -and maybe it actually is-, Unkown is just a routine that we don’t know well yet.
I told Per-Erik that, when I started cycling every morning, I did not know where I would spend the night, what landscapes I would see or who I would meet that day. Of course -I told him, I tried not to think that anything “bad” could happen because it’s not very useful and travels are, indeed, a way of survival with the minimum equipment, so we can bring the best out of our creativity.
But it was precisely something “bad” how I happen to hit a piece of humanity.
I made it ouf of Stockholm under a cloudy sky after being tempted to stay by laziness, weather, traffic and crossroads. But, as I forced myself to continue, traffic reduced and my instinct rapidly dared to send me into secondary roads and even tracks, towards Västerås (pronounced “Vesteros”). It rained and I got wet, of course. The travel started in a good way: fresh and humid day and a solid good mood. I was clueless about the future -not that I care, I concentrated in every spin of the wheels, I wanted to get to know me better, to know my limits, how to reach them… Perhaps I had to fight a wild moose? or spent the night under the rain surrounded by hungry yetis? or something even worse??
None of these. Perhaps, Fate was kind or it’s a matter of letting the instinct learn from local customs. Anyway, the route from Stockholm went well without remarkable incidents. Generally speaking, things break, mostly when ignorance is involved. Sweden was on the way up. Several hills, one after the other, going up, followed by a smooth and graceless downhill. I was going up, up, up. I left Stockholm by going up and arrived to Halmstad, in the West Coast, with a tiny, shy way down. Non-stop going up and I could not explain what was happening. When I think about it, it might the weight I was carrying along the shallow downhill what made me not feel it properly.
But I could also say that Sweden is subtly reaching the sky.
For the record, this is the first time I face such a long distance on a bike. My record until then was around 30km (now, nearly 700km). By going up, I have built two engines where I used to have legs. It was a good start, that, apparently… it’s going flat!
But “things” must happen for the sake of real adventure and, so, a spoke broke. I was casted away from reasonable civilization by some 20km. I could fix it, McGyver style and, happy with myself for not going “dramatic”. It was the diversion caused by the broken spoke and the eventual stop what made me end up at Per-Erik and Marianne’s house, a beautiful couple in their 70’s who live in a house by one of the thousand Swedish gorgeous lakes (such a stunning landscape). They adopted me for a couple of nights, to get my strength back and, truth be told, my motivation too. We chatted long time, we went shopping, fishing and set the bike ready to go back to the road.
Farewell was quite touching and made me think of the stereotype of “cold people” that Swedes do not deserve (generally speaking). Quoting Per-Erik, “this is normal. It’s normal to help people when they are in need”. Normal. Perhaps.
After such an experience, with my motivation high up, I felt like cycling to Brussels in one go! But, the rear wheel had a different plan: two spokes broke this time, continuous spokes, which makes the reparation something similar to a sci-fi movie. I needed to get a whole new wheel. Yup!
This time, I was near a camping (it was closed because it was past 6pm, of course). Some people were around walking, swimming, chilling… I came across someone and something amazing happened. I will tell you about it later, in another chapter.
The thing is that, as I had scheduled, I arrived to Halmstad that night where Emma, Tom and Anna were waiting for me. Meeting old friends after several years and feel it as if we met only a couple of weeks is a priceless gift. Friendship.
Sunrise and sunset times, the effort, the weather and the beauty of all around have numbed my senses, and it affects my sleep and appetite. It’s actually quite nice. Some kind of “another reality”.
Sweden is almost over. The stairway to heaven is coming to an end. The ocean swells back in the horizon and I continue my way south with summer storms.