After my 2 days in an emotional dungeon in Hammerdal and feeling a little bit unnerved, I hit the road on the third morning, determined to push on in a northerly direction.
I'm starting to find that these moments, these states of mind that I'm having that seem to be steering or directing me in a certain direction at times, upon reflection, are necessary in many ways, but they just don't feel like it when I'm right in the middle of them and in a bit of a dark cave in my head.
But the less I worry and try to control situations or feelings that, at the end of the day I really have no control over, the more I just let these moments happen and let them take their own natural course, the more they always seem to work out just fine. And sometimes even better than fine, with a much better outcome than I could have hoped for even if I tried.
I get to think a lot on the bike on those long stretches of road, one or two cars passing by maybe, but then my thoughts always get interrupted by nature and, being the photographer and documentarian that I am, I snap out of it and look for a good spot to stop and park the bike and try not to get frostbite as I snap off some shots. I still can't photograph with gloves on. I guess I better learn.
And since I was riding north to the top of Norway in December, yes, conditions WERE going to get worse, much worse. The -5° temperatures and ice on the roads down here are nothing compared to what lay ahead in wait for me.
I wasn't in a positive state of mind, but I was trying to change that.
So Niklas explained to me just how it's done.
After a little photo fun with the big tire I got down to asking Niklas about getting spikes in my tires. So he told me that you can't spike tires that have already been run on a vehicle as the grit and stones get inside the spike holes and block them up. When you go to put the spikes in it will force the stones or grit further into the tire and not only will the spike not seat properly but you also run the risk of getting a flat easier. Made sense to me, so I asked him what my alternative was.
"Well, it would cost nearly as much to spike these tires which aren't that good of a tire to begin with, as it would be to get a new set of tires already spiked", said Niklas.
"The tires you have are a C rated tire, a heavy load range tire. Too hard for the light outfit you're running them on, the sidewall is like a hockey puck, 6 ply and very stiff".
"Ok, so whats a new set going to run me?" I asked.
After checking around he came back to me and said "Well, I can't get you the size you need for the outfit, we don't have them here, but you would've been looking at about 3,500 Swedish Kronor, the equivalent of about $525.
Ouch, that's going to leave a mark. Not what I had bargained for at this point in the trip. Not what I had bargained for at all actually since the tires I had were practically new with only about 2 or 3000 kilometers on them.
Well anyway, moot point really since they didn't have the tires I needed in stock, but I was going to have to get them at the next big town if I wanted to keep going north and make it at least to Nordkapp, so it's going to hurt somewhere, just not today and just not here, but I kept the Vaseline at arms reach just in case.
At this point it was a little after 2pm and the sun was already starting to go down. Even though I had only ridden 33 kilometers, that distance was going to end up being all the forward progress I made that day.
I was feeling a little bit dejected by the tire problem and more so with the knowledge that I'm going to have to shell out over $500 that I don't really have to spare on a set of tires. Well actually, truth be told I was miserable and feeling sorry for myself, so I just shrugged my shoulders, grabbed my bootstraps, pulled hard and tried to move on and make the best of what I had rather than what I didn't have or what was to come. And there's no point in worrying about what was to come because it hadn't happened yet, right?.
So why bother wasting time on it.
So I just repeated my unofficial mantra and philosophy of this trip and my life and that is "I'll worry about it when it happens". Everything else really is a waste of energy.
And believe it or not the positive thoughts and energy I started to have began to work almost immediately. Really.
While I was in the Ollanders shop and before I left to head further north, I asked the guys there if they had any type of old truck fender or mudflap I could use to make a front fender for my bike. Since I couldn't get the tires I may as well see if I could fix up a better front fender before I moved on.
They happened to have a busted up truck fender in the bed of one of their delivery and repair trucks so Patrick, one of the owners told me I could use it if would help. Positive vibe #1. Cool.
I just watched and kept my fingers crossed.
And of course it did, positive energy at work.
Niklas and Andreas at Ollanders Tire, Stromsund, Sweden.
But with all the good and positive energy going around that afternoon, of course the other box of tire studs worked. It was meant to be.
Now, had I spent more time than I did worrying about having to get new tires and the money it was going to cost me at the next big town instead of moving on and worrying about it if and when it came to that, all of that energy would have been wasted.
As life and the Universe would have it for me that day, meeting Niklas at Ollanders was one of those "Time and Place" moments.
I do know that he just spent a lot of time in helping me. During the course of working on the tires, Niklas and I had some conversations, and over time they went a little below the surface, mainly initiated by the reasons behind my trip and how, through my alcoholism and losing a lot of money and nearly my life, how I ended up where I am today doing what I'm doing. It was getting late, closing time. I asked Niklas who do I pay and how much do I owe. So he looked at me for a few seconds, smiled and said "Nothing, I'm just glad to be able to help someone out when I can".
What a complete turnaround this day was from the last few days in Hammerdal.
Now I had to figure out where to camp. It was pretty cold that evening in Stromsund, or I was just probably cold at the thought of camping for another night. What I really needed was a very hot shower, a bed would be nice too, but I'll settle for a very hot shower. Patrick from Ollanders had already called some of the local hotels for me in the afternoon and just asked about the price. Needless to say they were out of my price range. "There's a camping place just on the other side of the bridge" he said, "you could try there". "They have camping cabins" he said.
This is the Swedish version of camping, usually a cabin, small with a kitchenette, shower and 4 bunk beds.
An hour in the shower was just what the doctor ordered. Ok, well maybe not an hour but I probably spent 20 or 30 minutes in there, but it was a little slice of heaven for me. The cold up here in November is a damp cold, it gets right through to your bones so 20 or so minutes in the shower took care of that.
The next morning I left the cabin and went in to the Tourist Info office who own the campground. I went in to pay and get the 550 SKr shower out of the way, less of an ouchy if I do it now I thought.
Hakan was there to greet me and said "Oh, so you're the guy on the motorcycle". "Yep, that's me" I replied.
"You have some really great photography on your website, I've been looking at it this morning" he said. "Many thanks" I replied.
So I hand him the key back to the cabin and got ready to pay and he says "Do you have 100 Kroner on you?". "Yes, I do". "Well, give me 100 SKr (about $15), that will cover my electricity in the cabin and I'm going to sponsor you for the rest of the cost". Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather. Just blown away I was.
Again, the positive energy flow that had started the day before when I came to Stromsund and got some good vibes and energy from Niklas had continued throughout the course of the day and even into the following morning too.
I was a little overwhelmed at this point but at the same time realizing that everything changed the day before when I just stopped worrying about trying to change things that I had no control over. It all usually works out in the end, although it may not seem like it at the time.
And all of this positive energy flowing my way wasn't about to show any signs of slowing down either.
Next week on Wherethehellismurph.com:
My extended stay at the Stromsunds MC and how I got there and just some more of the great people I have met and the even better experiences I've had so far in this little town of 3,500 people.