Saturday, 11 June 2011

Suicide Run

Kalix – Boden   89.8 kms   947’ ascent.
Well, it has to be said, summer is here. Not just a whimper but a full grown shout. The entire population has donned shorts and tee shirts (or, in some cases even less clothing) presumably in an endeavour to transform the pasty white of winter into a glowing tan for summer. We, ourselves, are somewhat bemused. We had not expected to search the bottom of our bags for summer gear quite so soon, in fact, not really until we had left Sweden.  Anyway, clothed in shorts and shirts we left our very posh apartment and set off for Ranea. We knew this would involve some 15 or so kms along the E4 and that this would be a challenge. It was a terrifying ordeal! Imagine, if you will, a single lane motorway with a wire crash barrier on the offside and about enough room on the nearside for a thin sheet of paper. Well, we were that paper! It was even impossible to ride along the white line as it was a rumble strip(not the UK ribbed white paint but 2cm deep runnels cut out of thesurface)  which loosened fillings and rattled what little sense we had left. Lorries thundered past at 110kms (70mph) filling the carriageway and unable to give us any clearance. An extra wide load approached from behind, horns blaring. Desperate to change underwear as Ranea hove into view, well the exit anyway, and with a sense of profound relief we rode into town. You might think this heralded the end of the problems – wrong again. Having failed to locate anything remotely resembling accommodation of any sort, and after a particularly vicious mosquito attack on Alan’s legs, we had little choice but to move on – again!
At this point the terrors struck. The only way on was another 8 kms along the road of death, followed by another 35kms to reach the next campsite. Somehow we survived our duel with the lorries who vied with each other to see who could get the closest to these insane cyclists. Fortunately, despite their best efforts, we eventually reached our exit. Trembling  with relief and, armed with the knowledge that we should never have to undergo that experience again, we finally stopped for a very late lunch and about half a gallon of liquid.
The next 35 kms were a very pleasant anti-climax, but, by now, VERY HOT. “It should be cooling off with the evening,” quoth  Alan,  forgetting that there is no evening!
Boden finally materialised and, having followed campsite signs which circumnavigated the entire town, by supper time we were in our shed (a very nice shed with sauna again) eating an instant fish pie and making plans to take the morrow off from riding, do the washing (in a machine!) and service the trailers, (Alan’ is squeaking a bit) replenish stores and find a bank. Maybe, even sunbathe. Mmm, maybe not.
Alan’s Boring Bits – EV7 Route Notes
We have not stuck assiduously to the Eurovelo 7 route. Initially there is no choice (one road in and one road out) but when given the option to follow the old postal road out of Alta, we opted for the tarmac. Some of the trail was still being used by snow mobiles! We also chose to spend a couple of extra days on the Finnish side of the border s as we had seen the other side of the river on the way up.
Those planning to travel light and not carry camping gear, should be aware that are long stretches (80+kms) of sometimes very exposed countryside without advertised accommodation. The cycle route signs in the north are very faded, I guess because they have spent several winters under snow. Most of the campsites (and some of the hotels) have cabins of various grades and prices but not all were open this early in  the season.
On reaching the sea, the EV7follows the east coast. Some previous riders have loved this part of the route but some have been frustrated by the meandering and some positively frightened by the E4 motorway sections. (One guy even took a sea crossing to Finland to avoid having to use the motorway.) Many of the minor roads are compacted dirt tracks showing the ravages of winter. Having checked out some of the route on the way up by car, we have decided to leave this coastal part of the EV7 and head inland for a while. It may be a mistake but today we bought some t-shirts that say “Just Do It”, so no more procrastination.
Recommended reading :  “Kök & Tvätt - Through Scandinavia on a Tandem” by Neil Gander. Brilliantly funny little book on his journey with Kathryn on the EV7 in Scandavia.

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