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Published: September 16th 2008
Another rainy day. I've been cycling for weeks now in the constant worry of being forced to seek for solutions to stay reasonably dry. I drift through the immense Swedish forests of coniferous, that after the rain release a sweet and pungent smell that brings my mind back to Asian and Middle Eastern spice markets. Other journeys that today seem to belong to times so remote that could not be possibly mine. It's the traveller's dilation of time, where a day still lasts 24 hours, but the density of present events pushes the past ones in far-flung, almost unfathomable cells of memory.
I'm cycling along the road 239, a hilly and desolate blade of tar that leads to the Norwegian border. The region is an endless of forests and lakes, the smaller ones not even marked on my map, such is their number. The rain continues to pour down, indifferent to my solitary protest. Whenever I see a house apparently uninhabited I stop to check if the entrance door is locked. They are all locked. Then I see a beach in the distance, small and sandy and with a wooden hut built a few meters away from the water. I
get closer, leave the road and walk down to the shore pushing Rocinante. The hut is open, it must be something like a dressing room for swimmers in summer and a place where to store firewood in winter. And September in Sweden is winter rather than summer.
I make myself comfortable inside the hut in the relative happiness that only a small success in meagre times can cause. Outside the rain keep coming down, I see it on the lake surface, I hear it on the tin roof. My mind travel back in time, again, to a similar hut, a similar beach, a far away place, a completely different situation: the island of Koh Samet in Thailand.
Outside the rain has finally stopped and I go out to explore the surrounding area. The vegetation grows up to the very same shore, except for those few tens of meters of sandy beach. An immaculate, pristine refuge. I've made only 44 kms today, I should continue cycling, but I know that I won't find another place like this so easily and so I decide to spend the night here. Back in Koh Samet I had taken the very healthy habit
of swimming naked before dawn in its warm tropical waters. There was no electricity there, so I could fully enjoy the black sea and the natural star light reflexed on the water. On Lake Gröcken there isn't electricity either. At dawn next day I would have swam naked in the lake.
Neverthless, there are two differences between that tropical island of a few years ago and this Scandinavian forest today. Difference number one is that there I use to leave the woman I loved sleeping under the mosquito net and that a few minutes later, after my nightswim, I would have embraced and gently woke up with the refreshing contact of my skin still wet. Here I am alone. Difference number two I would have discovered it when tryin to enter into the lake.
The thermometer marks 12°C. I'm completely naked and yet I'm not cold. There is no wind, everything is still, and this must be the reason why I'm not shivering. I put my right foot in the water: "Fuck!". The water is cold and pass me an unpleasant sensation. I think that I maybe should give it up, then I have a moment of pride
and say to myself that a man who has cycled all the way up here can not be dwarfed by a bit of cold water. I put then my left foot in the water too, ankle deep this time: "Jesus Christ!!!!!". The whole body receives a wave of ice, a cold tsunami that takes by breath away and forces me to an immediate, shameless withdrawn in the warmth of my sleeping bag.
The Swedish part of the journey had been so far already quite eventful: two ticks, the first one incredibly gotten on the ferry from Denmark; A spoke broken while I was cross-countryin in the forest by mistake; two punctures. Everything always (almost) in the rain. Then I thought about visiting Martina, a Swedish friend of mine who has recently developed a keen interest in reflexology, an eastern healing massage similar to acupuncture, but working exclusively on feet, where points of correspondence with the various body parts are. Or at least, so I understood from her explanation. I should have doubted about her competence in the matter (based on a two weeks course in Bangkok) when she hadn't been able to respond to my "So, if someone had
got his feet amputated, won't be possible to apply this reflexology to him?". Instead, I underwent -guinea pig- this form of Chinese torture introduced as foot massage.
My first scream of pain corresponded, according to her manual, to my talkottkortel
. To what? So she, always retaining my left foot prisoner, had a look to her school notes and justified herself: "Lessons were given in English but I sometimes translated to Swedish to be more secure" and after a few seconds of research: "ah, here it is, it means temporal area
". Temporal area
? Do we have an organ whose name sounds like a basketball rule? However, my friend had restarted with all neophyte enthusiasm to martoriare my foot. Second scream of pain.
"Ah, this is the pancreas. Probably you have a pancreatic cancer."
"I have no fuckin pancreatic cancer."
"So why does it hurt when I press here?".
"Exactly because you press there."
"Many men have a pancreatic cancer. It is very common."
"Many men have a wife. Many men have a mortgage to pay. Many men work. What does that mean?".
But I must admit that I had few seconds of concern. Only until the third and final cry.
Another look at the manual: "Anxiety. Are you anxious?". And that put me at ease: "Look, if there was a global scale of anxiety I would be probably classified as autistic. And this proves also that I don't have a cancer neither in my pancreas nor in my Tutankhamun or whatever it's called".
August 18th: Remels - Wüstewohlde 127 Kms, 6h55', 18.3 Kms/h
August 19th: Wüstewohlde - Kaiser Wilhelm Koog 98 Kms, 5h03', 19.2 Kms/h
August 20th: Kaiser Wilhekm Koog - Husum 90 Kms, 4h36', 19.5 Kms/h
August 21st: Husum 0 Kms
August 22nd: Husum - Esbjerg (Denmark) 140 Kms, 6h50', 20.4 Kms/h
August 23th: Esbjerg 0 Kms
August 24st: Esbjerg - Sunds 104 Kms, 5h26', 19.1 Kms/h
August 25th: Sunds - Ranum 94 Kms, 4h49', 19.5 Kms/h
August 26th: Ranum 0 Kms
August 27th: Ranum 0 Kms
August 28th: Ranum - Randers 82 Kms, 4h30', 18.2 Kms/h
August 29th: Randers - Grenaa Strand 70 Kms, 3h24', 20.5 Kms/h
August 30th (night): ferry to Varberg (Sweden) 0 Kms
August 31st (day): Varberg - Ljung 120 Kms, 5h42', 21.0 Kms/h
August 31st: Ljung - Mariestad 126 Kms, 6h17', 20.0 Kms/h
September 1st: Mariestad - Torsö - Karlskoga 123
Kms, 6h44', 18.2 Kms/h
September 2nd: Karlskoga 0 Kms
September 3rd: Karlskoga 0 Kms
September 4th: Karlskoga - Kristinehamn 28 Kms, 1h27', 19.7 Kms/h
September 5th: Kristinehamn 0 Kms
September 6th: Kristinehamn - Sunnemo 91 Kms, 5h13', 17.4 Kms/h
September 7th: Sunnemo - Lake Gröcken 44 Kms, 2h15', 19.5 Kms/h ITALIANO
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Link: Cavalcando Ronzinante VI: Lago Gröcken (Km 4010)
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