Resting a day in the B&B in Åsäng. The perfect place for it. The breakfast is so massive that it almost last all day. I supplement it with some food from the store 7.5 km by bike. So I do almost nothing all day, the place is so quiet and peaceful.
I talked to the owner, Lisa, for a couple of hours, she has this really, really crazy idea to just do things she like. She lives in a place she likes, she does something she really likes for a living. What would the world become if everybody did this ? I have the distinct feeling that this B&B will be on my top 5 list for the whole trip.
I wake up one hour before the alarm. Feeling supercharged after two days of eating, resting and sleeping. I am having breakfast while Lisa leaves for the city by bus. She tells me that after Örnsköldsvik it will get flatter and flatter, no more high coast. Sounds like paradise to me.
The day starts with 11C and some drips of rain. Starting with some long uphills, I get off and push the bike some. Then there is a very long downhill towards the highway E4 in Ullånger. After 2 hours and 30 km I arrive in Docksta. They have a restaurant with menu of the day (Dagens lunch), chicken stew, rice, salad buffet, bread, butter, drinks, the lots for 85 SEK.
I keep going on the cykelspåret track, it goes through the woods, 30 km detour just to avoid 12 km of the Highway that can’t be bicycled in a safe way.
The uphills are still long but not as steep, pushing less and less.
I aim for central Örnsköldsvik, once I get there I quickly find out that - Both hostels are full. - The camping on my garmin GPS (Maps from 2013) isn’t built yet. - The hotels wants at least 1000 SEK. - The locals know very little. There might be a camping or something 5-20 km south or east of the town.
After a while I manage to find the phone number of a camping 10 km east of the town, I call them but it seems they haven’t opened for the season yet. After some talking we agree on that I camp there and transfer the money to their bank account afterward. I get a magic code to get in to the showers.
While I stand on a parking in the outskirts of town and talk to the camping another touring cyclist arrive. It’s Jean-François from Grenoble, we quickly agree that JF is easier for me to pronounce. He is also looking for a camping, I tell him that I have found one and he follows me. It’s getting really late and cold, the GPS shows more than 90 km. The camping is at the end of an island outside the town.
Just before the bridge we find a pizzeria and have dinner. While we talk at dinner I quickly discover that I have forgotten almost all my French, but JF speaks English so we get on. JF tells me that the maps on his GPS isn’t very good, they are not zoomable down to street level. We arrive at the camping and setup camp, I crank my computer up and download openstreetmaps to his GPS, just luck that he also had a Garmin and that I kept the files locally.
At 22 its still full daylight and cold, only 7C. Sleep comes quickly, I am completely wasted from the long day and the bad mood from lodging problems.
Wake up around 6, make some tea and Nutella sandwiches, a breakfast for champions. Starting to break camp, sunny and no wind. I let the tent dry in the sun. We start to bike at 9, JF is a much faster cyclist than I am. He has made Grenoble – Örnsköldsvik in less than 4 weeks. He averages at ~18 km/h and do 100-150 km/day, I go at maybe 10 km/h. In a few minutes he is gone. Bon voyage JF !
It’s starting to be summer now, 22C at 10 in the morning. Still struggling with the cykelspåret track and sometimes have to go back a few km just because they built a railroad or highway where the track used to be. After a while I am forced to riding the highway, then I see a sign “Husum Grill – 3 minutes”, I hate those signs. I am hungry and if I had a car I would have food in 5 minutes. Now I have to bike and bike and bike to get the food. I somehow get in to Husum, ride around in the area and suddenly BINGO ! I find a bank, shop and restaurant clustered together. So now I can get things sorted.
While I wait for my lunch, unfortunately a pizza, I play with the GPS and find a shortcut that will avoid 10-30 km through the woods. Sounds to good to be true.
The shortcut mostly worked but I had to backtrack two times because the new railroad. When I cross the highway I meet two women that are biking like mad on the highway. I talk to them and they have given up on the cykelspåret, too much detours to be worth it. They ride between lodgings and have no camping gear. They are now in a hurry to get to Örnsköldsvik (another +50 km on the highway). They had started in Haparanda only 7 days earlier, I guess they can bike really fast.
Found the camping in Nordmaling, it was unorganized and unwelcoming. The check-in was at a nearby restaurant/truck stop, the staff had little time for anything except collect the money. I had to ask them several times if it really was 155 SEK just to pitch a tent. Yes it was. The camping was generally dirty and also there was a bunch of Russians who apparently had hearing problems since I could hear them talking from 50 meters away.
I was in desperate need of a day of rest, so I started to look for somewhere to stay two nights in Umeå. Absolutely everything was full, there was waiting lists for lodging. All of this made me very unhappy with life on the road. There is one last hope, the STF Vandrarhem (Hi Hostel) already closed their reception when I called, they open at 8 next morning. I went to bed and tried to sleep it off.
Wake up before 6, the sun is burning, this will be a long day. It seems the spring is late here, the air is full of pollen. I pack all of my stuff and go to the reception/restaurant/truck stop just before 8 when they open. I have read the price list and found that I should only have paid 90 SEK, I demand a refund and I get it. I just had to do it.
I give the hostel a call and they have one room for one night, since the camping in Umeå didn’t answer their phone I had very little choice, so I booked the room. Obviously it was their most expensive room with WC and shower, it wiped out most of that days budget but I looked forward to a room. Imagine that four walls can be so desirable.
It’s already 25C when I start to bike out of Nordmaling. No major hills or backtracks, keep switching between my own track and the cykelspåret. I arrive in Hörnefors and finds a restaurant that serves a huge pasta carbonara. Massive amount of food for only 75 SEK, great stuff. Its getting warmer and warmer, in the afternoon its 27-28C.
I arrive in Umeå 2 hours before the hostel opens, but when the staff see me through the window they have mercy on me and let me check in ahead of official hours. Get a washing machine going, run out to get a kebab in a roll of bread. I create the route for next day, I make a list of accommodations along the route just to be prepared.
Its hard to go to sleep, full daylight at 23:30.
I wake up and its clear blue skies and 24C. I eat the breakfast buffet and check if there has been any cancellations for tonight, but there is a waiting list with people so I decide to leave ASAP. I am in a good mood and decide to pay the hostel 50 SEK for cleaning the room. I carry all my bags to the bike in one go.
I heard that yesterday was the hottest May day since they started measuring temperatures in 1800-something. Today will be warmer. I really wanted a days rest, just sit in a park and eat ice cream all day, but I have to bike on.
Umeå is a student city, lots and lots of bikes and bike lanes. I find that they have made a nice bike lane all the way to Sävar. So 17 easy km on the bike lanes. At 09:30 the thermometer on the handlebar shows 31C. This will be a long and warm day.
I sometimes follow the cykelspåret, sometimes Google maps and sometimes Garmin GPS. It goes really well except for a 2 meter wide “road” with deep sand. Then I get tired of the slow roads and decide to go for a bit of Highway cycling. This part of the Highway E4 is a normal national road with 60-80cm hard shoulder. Easy to ride but maybe not so fun. On the other hand there are few cars and even fewer trucks here.
I manage to get 100 km closer to Skellefteå in only 77 km biking, feels like a reasonable result from maybe doing 15-20 km on the highway.
When I arrived at the camping I was wasted from the heath, I drank lots today and even used some salt/mineral tablets to compensate for heavy sweating. At reception I found out that only 140 SEK extra would get me a cabin for the night and save 2 hours of fiddling with the tent today and tomorrow.
They have a swimming pool at the camping, I ask if it’s open, they replied that it was frozen last week. It seems I bring the summer with me.
I feel that the past few days with lodging struggles and longer than I wanted days have left me with the feeling that I am just transporting myself rather than enjoying the journey. I have decided to take 2 rest days in Skellefteå to enable my body and brain to catch up. This time I called ahead and made the reservation.
My little cabin has a bunk bed and a small table, but I still like it. At 22 its still 26C and full daylight.