16:45 pull over, in a forest 20 miles north of Mora. Approximately 1300 miles since London.
I was kidding myself. I have another half of Sweden or Norway to cover before turning round. The night spent by stream and graveyard was very cold, I woke up several times. The light never went away, even at midnight. I wished I had brought my fleece blanket, eventually gave way and put on my thick pullover. Today has been testing. In the afternoon I tried turning left into Norway, getting past the frontier over the mountains, the higher I climbed the fewer the trees until no trees, sleet, beige tiny reindeer and a derelict cafe at the top. I forgave myself as I cold see the weather – black clouds hanging over Sony mountains as far as I could see. I dodged a steamroller laying asphalt over the deserted car park.
Down back to the E45, the next test was about to unfold at five o’clock. I pulled over and turned into a gap in the forest and gingerly paddled down the steep slope. It’s OK, it’s gravel I thought as the gravel turned into softer plants. I kicked the sidestand down and it disappeared into the ground or should I say quicksand… Panic. Move forward turn.. No good, the front wheel dug deeper into the soft ground, nature had finally got her own back on me. Evil spirits. Stupid me… Shove twigs under kickstand get off bike, dump luggage. Not easy unlocking the luggage balancing the bike with one hand, whoops. She’s over. Panic. Haul her up. At this point I remembered how to lift a heavy bike, you lean with your back to it in the middle and walk backward. Fuck that I thought, got her up. Luggage off. Haul her backwards out of deep rut we had made. The bike spoke to me soothing words, she and I puffed and grunted, fired her up and we were round and back up the hill. She toppled twice more at the top. Two Swedish women stopped and asked if I was OK, I thanked them, by which time I had the bike on the road safe and sound. Luggage up hill, heart beating. Muddy and embarrassed we plodded on at the modest speed limit that seems to be everywhere. A lake. A big lake, a metalled Road, loose but wide, leads me to my spot tonight. Wind and lapping water.