SkiBike Tour 2011-12 - We Are Not Gods

Posted: Tuesday, 28 February 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,

What a strange day, arriving at 2am, crashing out with the smell of pine forests still in my nostrils, nerves jangling from the 650 mile drive, to awake in a familiar bed with the ambient soundtrack of South London playing; trains rolling past, birdsong, sirens in the distance and gruff  modern day cockney voices. I popped down to the local corner shop cum mini supermarket and bought some freshly baked baguettes then polished off my left over Camembert brought back from France. Washing it all down with a couple of over sized cups of tea, something which would have caused Serge to have a hissy fit, but 10am was too early for wine, even for a SkiBiker.

I unpacked Uncle Fester, the tired old Fiesta and treated the sad looking object to a wash, the first in 2000 miles of salty roads. The weather in London was balmy and warm, spring bulbs will soon be in bloom and blossom is appearing on the fruit trees.

I repacked my wheeled travelling case for the next couple of days trip to Sweden to see how the Swedish skibike scene ticks. I will be flying by RyanAir, their standard baggage weight limit is now 15kg, that doesn't go far with ski wear; at the airport I ended up pulling out my bulky Kangol jacket and wearing it on board, plus a couple of other layers to boot, all to stay within my measly baggage allowance.
Now that I am down to nearly 12 stone again, 168lb in American or 75kg in Europe, I can piously speculate that if the weight allowances were to be truly equitable they should weigh both the passenger and the luggage.

The flight will follow a route from London Gatwick to Stockholm Skavsta, a former cargo airport that I know nothing of, of course my Cousin Paul Kinnon knew it immediately from his days working on the logistical side of the private air charter business. RyanAir prices are cheap; providing you book well in advance, outside of peak demand periods and can resist the many enticements for early boarding, travel insurance and the swingeing costs of in flight catering. I paid somewhere under £100 return.

After clearing check-in, security and passport control, I blew the last of my small change on a pint of Hobgoblin at Weatherspoons. It is a sweetish dark beer and was surprisingly cheap for an airport bar at £3.10, buffered against any eventuality, I headed for the gate.
I spent most of the flight reading the 50 page introduction to Gilgamesh, an ancient Sumerian text written 4000 years ago. This may sound a bit poncy and intellectual for the skibiker, but I had been recommend it by a fellow biker of dirt track and speedway disciplines. Anyone who has ever had a smattering of religion in their upbringing will recognise the story of the great flood, written possibly 1000 years before the Old Testament in The Bible.

One quote resonated strongly:
"We are not gods, we cannot ascend to heaven. No, we are mortal men. Only the gods live forever. Our days are few in number, and whatever we achieve is a puff of wind. Why be afraid then, since sooner or later death must come?"

I felt calm and deeply centred, I shut my eyes and thought about mountains, soft snow and the buttery fluid sensation of skis slipping and sliding in multi-faceted vector motion.
I awoke perhaps 40 minutes later and took a peak out of the window to a view of almost total blackness, but for 2 tiny white lights, what was I looking down on from 39,000 feet, fishing boats out alone on the North Sea on this crystal clear yet moonless night perhaps?

Disembarking down the steps of the aircraft there was black ice on the runway, reminding me that I have moved North East by 1000 miles. Arriving close to midnight I located the Connect Hotel, less than 5 minutes from the airport arrivals hall. The interior is all cool shades of grey and IKEA type lighting with non-descript piano jazz playing in the background. A slightly clinical look perhaps, how I imagine a posh rehab centre must be.
I had forgotten that I had pre-paid for my room, so I will have a little extra cash to spend tomorrow when Tommy Fredj arrives to collect me. The cost is roughly £55 per night, all very clean and simple, much better than a French Formula One motel and on par with an English Travelodge, but less chintzy.

In future, I will have great sympathy for the stressed out Executive types I provide technical services for, once I am making a profitable living again. They have to live like this for months on end and still be on the ball to deliver perfect presentations; never knowing which time zone the next clean pair of underpants will be located in. Mind you what they earn in a month, I can only dream of earning in a year. On the other hand, they don't get to spend weeks on end astride a freestyle pegger skibike. Something, I will hopefully be doing tomorrow with Tommy Fredj of BikerMads, Sweden's top skibike builder and skibiking on-line shop co-proprietor.