Day 3 Thursday 27th May 2016 47 miles
The first night under the stars was very satisfactory, only waking up a couple of times due to the light. It seems to rarely get dark here, being light still around 10pm and the sun rising well before I get up, much earlier than I’m used to.
As I was in the site’s toilets and hearing “It’s going to be a bright, bright sun-shiny day ” being blasted out of the radio, I decided long trousers were not the way today so quickly changed into shorts.
After breakfast, planning the route, looking for possible campsite and food shop, I left the campsite, slightly later than I’d hoped, around 9.30.
A short detour into Grebbestad, I found a Co-op (different from the UK chain) where I was able to buy lunch and usefully get some more SEK’s out of the nearby ATM. I had heard about a possible post office in the town so asked the friendly shop keeper, with almost fluent english. It turned out to be inside the store itself, making me quickly pop out to retrieve the bike bag. I had still been carrying it since the airport and felt it weighing me down, being about twice the weight as my tent. As it wasn’t very valuable, I could have just thrown it away once it had done it’s job, but I felt slightly attached to it as the bag had done so well at protecting my bike on the flight over.
After several different quotes, going from 500 SEK down to the final 280 SEK (around £22). It was heavy but fairly small, so he wasn’t sure which category it came under. Tightly fitting it into a small box, it was placed under the counter, ready to be shipped to the UK. After about an hour in the store, pulling myself away from the beer made right in Grebbestad, deciding it was too heavy, I left and headed back on route.
Passing though Grebbestad’s beautiful harbor and into the woods, I felt like it was time to get some distance away from the campsite. However, about a mile from the town, I suddenly felt a wobble from the rear wheel. It felt like the bike was being steared from the back. As it felt unsafe, I hopped of, and after checking all the brakes, quick release, rack and mudguard were safely attached, was slightly confused what it was. It was only after taking all of the panniers off and riding it down the road that I noticed lots of the rear spokes were completely loose! Not a great start to the day.
A spoke tightener was one of the tools I didn’t bring as I have never used one before and never thought I would need to. The rear wheel was brand new before this trip. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so attached to the bike bag after all. The wheel must have been knocked in flight. Seeing as a pair of pliers were my only suitable tools, I started to systematically tighten them all. I remembered that you are supposed to tighten them a special way otherwise it will buckle, but as I didn’t even have the right tools, I tightened them all to a reasonable tightness. This seemed to do the trick and was off again, having done about two miles in two hours since the campsite!
I was still heading south down Sweden along side the E6 motorway, snaking itself by the coast. The sun was blazing down, being around 20°C by 12pm and with little shade I knew I would get sunburnt, no matter how much suncream I lathered on! The road was fairly wide but with little traffic, only the occasional lorry filled with fresh smelling logs thundered past.
I thought the pliers would have done the trick, but I soon started feeling the rear wheel wobble and a slight notice of them loosening. This caused my to stop every 20 minutes to tighten them again, not good for my progress but I knew it would only get worse. The wheel was now going from side to side, knocking the brakes as I peddled along. I was know wishing I had learnt the art to spoke tightening as I couldn’t see any bike shops in the nearby area.
Progress was slow, having done less than half way by 1pm, but stopped anyway by a service station. This consisted of a slightly hard baguette, sweaty cheese and melted butter! Although when you have to carry all of your food, it changes what you eat. I could almost have eaten anything I was so hungry!
After a fulfilling lunch, I tightened all of the rear spokes with the pliers again, knowing that within a few minutes of riding again they would loosen again. When leaving the service station, I saw two young travelers also on bikes. However, their packs were very small and light compared to mine. They were cycling from Oslo where they lived to a cabin on one of the islands off the coast. They said they only needed hammocks, which was why their bikes were so light. This does have a downside as they said they were awake for part of the night from shivering so much!
When mentioning to them how many cycle paths there where in Sweden and Norway, they thought I was joking. One of them showed me a map of cycle paths and yes, Denmark has almost double the number of paths. I’m going to be in for a treat, if I find a bike shop soon to mend my wheel!
After the two Norwegians talked of a possible Intersport in Uddevalle about 15 miles, I peddled off, albeit slightly wobbly. I could feel with every stroke, the wheel felt worse, so I tried to keep to the smoothest part of the cycle paths, which was sometimes trickier than it sounds.
Once reaching Uddevalle and unable to find the Intersport, I did another search on Google maps and found one around a mile away. With my phones battery running low and the chance the wheel could break in any moment, I sped along to find it.
Cykel Huset bike shop was luckily still open at 5.30 pm and was a massive one floor shop, with hundreds of bikes to choose from. After the bike machanic shrugged his shoulders and said he didn’t have the time, I convinced him to have a quick look. He duely did and as it was wobbling so much and I told him I was heading down to Spain, he told me to bring the bike into the workshop.
He placed it on the special device to ‘true’ the wheel and within 20 minutes it was spinning as good as new! I was so grateful. Half a hour ago I was unsure if I could continue the trip and now it had a bike working perfectly. He was a ‘true’ gentleman (pun intended!).
After a quick Swedish lesson of how to say thanks, ‘tack’ and 300 SEKs I was on my way to find Udna campsite, just over a mile away. Cycling had never felt so good, the bike worked a treat.
As I arrived and set up camp the was slowly lowering in the sky. A hard but rewarding day of many challenges. My arms were bright pink from the sun, something I hadn’t with all of the wheel trouble! I look forward to head into Gothenburg tomorrow, with hopefully a few less events but lots of adventure.