I’m in Denmark!!!

Hello all

Well it’s been an eventful 4 days since my last post with many trip firsts occurring. My day off in Flekkfjord was very leisurely. It’s quite a small town so it didn’t take long to wander around so I just put my feet up for most of the day; setting out for the seemingly never to be reached Kristiansand the following (finally sunny) morning.

A hill climb on the E39 to start the day got the legs moving and built up a sweat to the point where I took my top layer off for the first time! It’s been off for most of the time since then (leaving me with very sunburnt upper arms).

While the road markers were saying 102km to Kristiansand, the tourist map was quoting 149km for the car version of the Nordsjø route, and there was still 208km for the poor cyclist! So the day had a lot of detours, firstly  inland along a river to Kvinesdal to avoid a tunnel on the E39 (perversely going through three tunnels on the way), crossing a bridge then retracing the route while crossing over the hill the E39 tunnel passed through. The trail then crossed under the E39 to do a loop to the town of Farsund- a beautiful place, and a shame to just pass through it before continuing the loop back the the E39 and the town of Lyngdal.

A very nice ride until 12km from Lyngdal when the trail took a detour from the secondary road and then another detour from the backroad onto an extremely steep climb that led to a mountain bike trail. Not very amused when an hour later I arrived very hot and bothered on the original detour road.

So I covered the last few kilometres to the campsite I was aiming for to discover it was a Bible Camp! Alex (Jones) will be disgusted that I didn’t take this opportunity to convert them all to atheism but I was exhausted so peddled into town, had a pizza and found a decadent hotel to stay in instead.

Here I started a chat with a guy with the same brand of bike trailer and his story of it being tough going and that his brakes were almost shot. I was somewhat more surprised when I realised he had only just started from Kristiansand. What could possibly lie ahead?

Pondering this on my decadent private balcony at midnight, the next first – I saw some stars, about 8 of them (2 were actually the planets Venus and Jupiter). No full nighttime yet but getting there.

Well I was to find out why the guy had had a hard time next morning when the first detour led to yet another off-road challenge – wet gravel trail, 20-25% gradients, uneven surfaces. Just a totally stupid stretch to take a bike and trailer geared for a cross-continent ride.

Having to change my line on one descent on coming across two walkers led to the next first – I crashed. Front wheel hit a rut and stopped and I went flying! But in a show of riding brilliance (OK sheer good luck) I managed to land on my feet and my momentum meant I hit the ground running thus avoiding the tumbling bike. Pity it wasn’t captured on film as to end up as I did I would have had to have somersaulted over the handlebars!

The rest of the day was uneventful but I called it quits early at the campsite at Mandal. It was more like a camp city – restaurants, pool, mini golf and a concert in the evening (all in English) comprising 1980’s disco and funk hits (hallelujah it’s raining men).

Alas it didn’t start raining till after the concert finished and it was wet when I packed my already mouldy tent and headed off. No more surprises, just pleasant rides. I was in Tangvall in time for an early lunch with just one more road (the 456) between me and the end of my Norway ride.

Winding around the coast the hamlets soon became satellite suburbs and before I new I was on the bike path into town. Kristiansand 6.2km.

I was almost there – soon it would be the podium and the cute young girls in yellow mini-skirts.

Kristiansand 4.9km – damn another tunnel, another detour over a hill. Will this be the last for Norway.

Kristiansand 4.1km – the city comes into view. I can see the finish line at the dock.

Kristiansand 2.5km – hmmm nice parks.

Omg! Look at all the people lined up to cheer me home (oh, hang on it’s Saturday and this is the shopping mall).

Port of Kristiansand 200m. Better zip up my top (oops it’s in the trailer – sponsors won’t be happy). Raise hands in a victory salute (not with my bike riding skills).

Done.

Well I did it. Nordkapp to Kristiansand.  75 days, 3,020km and 29 ferries. No pomp, no ceremony but that’s probably fitting. In the words of Winston Churchill – for this is not the End, nor is it the Beginning of the End, but it is the End of the Beginning. So time to move on.

The next ferry to Denmark left in two hours so I went and bought a ticket from a lovely young lady who after enquiring about my trip said that I was inspiring! I hope that wasn’t in the context of brackets “for someone your age”!

So farewell Norway. A beautiful country with lovely people. Just need to work on the food:p

The ferry ride was smooth sailing and it still amazes me how they squeeze all the cars, trucks and mobile homes in. I booked a hotel over the wifi connection and stared out the window watching Norway recede over the horizon and eventually Denmark coming into view.

I checked into the Hirtshals Hotel, had a shower and a steak for dinner followed by disappointing profiteroles for desert (can’t beat Roses’s). And there we are.

Hirtshals is at the top end of Denmark and the start of the next stage. The familiar cycling sign is out front the only change is that the green “1” has been replaced by a red one (forget Eurovelo the locals mark them as national routes). I still need a new camera but as everything will probably be closed tomorrow I will head off and hopefully have a pleasant flat ride along the coast and take Monday off to shop (and get the bike serviced if possible).

So all is good and I am feeling proud at ticking the first country off the list. I bought a sticker on the ferry and will place it on the bike as my first scalp – 6 more to get!

Been a bit slack on the photos as I was too busy cursing the bugger who came up with those silly detours.

Keep well.

Into the Geopark

Hello all

Well I am in Flekkfjord and having a day off (it’s been a week since my last rest day in Bergen).

It has been 2 great and challenging rides since being rained out in Bryne having entered a totally new terrain.

The area I am now riding through is described as a Geopark and is essentially 180km of rolling mounds of volcanic rock involving steep “switch-back” ascents -3645m over the course of this section- flat tops with lovely lakes descending into lush valleys with more lovely lakes and stretches along the North Sea coast through scattered fishing villages.

It’s hard going, wet and wonderful.

Shortly after leaving Bryne the trail headed of towards the coast and the Nordsjøruta leading to an old preserved farm at Håvegen. From there the gravel road turned into a tractor path and then through a gate into a sheep paddock followed by  two cow paddocks. Certainly not what I expected!

But other than the fiddly process of navigating bike and trailer through the paddocks and explaining to the cows that I was as surprised to be there as they were to see me, it was a pleasant change of pace and soon enough the paddocks led to a walking trail that in turn led to the old coastal road. The trail follows this old route rejoining route 44 from time to time.

On the first day out of Bryne, I made my way to Steinsnes- a camping site just outside Egersund. A wierd place – situated on a river and an industrial zone – it was like a big gravel car park with a motto of rack em, pack em and stack em as far as visitors were concerned and most of those just sat around staring at other visitors. Very creepy! I think it may be where the characters from Jo Nesbro books go for their holidays. Then again as the cost of a hut was only slightly more than a tent site it clearly was not targeting the sophisticated trans-continental cyclist market.

I set off the next day towards Egersund (much nicer looking place) and followed route 44 till the first turnoff back to the Nordsjøruta which did a loop down to the coast through the fishing villages of Dalane and Rekefjord winding back to join route 44 just before the next turnoff to Sogndalstrand.

Dalane wins my vote for best fishing village ever. It breathed the fact that this was a place for fishing and had all the charm but none of the gloss of others aspiring to various heritage listings!

Sogndalstrand (where I had lunch) was definitely a listed place and deserves it. Away from the main town it is the original fishing village built along either side of a river and has been set aside to preserve as is.

With hamburger in stomach, I set off for the afternoon ride and the thought of an easy ride into Kristiansand soon vanished. Three tough climbs (the last of which was definitely “push” biking) and the usual afternoon rain. The views were still spectacular though I imagine on clearer days the view to the horizon would be awesome.

As always there was the final pass, the descent, hot shower, hearty meal and warm bed awaiting. My legs are still a bit sore (will walk that off this afternoon) but I’m looking forward to the rest of the ride to Kristiansand and Norway’s final challenge!

Flekkfjord is a lovely place (well appears to be from my quick ride in and from the hotel balcony) and like Sogndalstrand is predominantly why weatherboard. It’s actually a pleasant change from pastels. I can only assume it doesn’t snow much here, and the need to find your home in a world of white not as big an issue.

Still need a new camera but these were taken with my iPod.

Moving On

Oh well, looks as though my camera has moved on. Thankfully I have copies of about 250 of the best shots so no tears required. Missing bit will be Bergen to here but the internet is full of shots of Bergen’s world heritage area and given the ongoing rain I hadn’t taken many shots on the road this week – farms, fir forests, ferries and frustrating freeways mainly.

The ride from Bergen has been pleasant at times and frustrating at others. I followed the marked trail out of Bergen for a while but turned off when the bike path disappeared.

The traffic is much heavier now and few tunnels allow bikes, so I have made my own way (with only one blunder) along backroads through farming areas and small rural towns. My blunder was not zooming in far enough on the map to see that the last 10km into Stavanger was a small stretch of highway and 9km of tunnel.

A very ignoble entrance to Stavanger- with my bike and trailer in the buses luggage compartment. Oh well it’s meant to be a bike ride not an orienteering contest!

For the record the route was Bergen, Krokeide, Ferry to Huftamar, Husavik, Ferry to Sandvikvåg, a roadside camp in a park next to the first McDonalds I had seen since leaving Oslo (and yes I did have McMuffins and Hasbrowns for breakfast), a detour around the Bømlafjord tunnel to Langevåg, ferry to Buavåg,  Haugesund, Hervik, Melkevik, Arsvågen, ferry to Mortavika, bus through tunnels, Stavanger, Bryne!

A few spells of sunshine but mainly rain and today I as approach the North Sea coast, I see why it isn’t on the list of tropical paradises.

With 200km left till Kristiansand I am finding it more difficult to stay in the moment, and having made the mistake of starting to plan ahead, I dream of the 2,000km of flat straight cycling that appears to lie ahead (I’m going to follow the North sea route through to Dunkirk). After weeks of care free riding and the occasional car rush between ferries, I’m not really enjoying the mad race to get somewhere or the long detours required so that some slack arse motorist doesn’t have to endure the effort of moving their foot from the accelerator to the brake and back. Far better I ride an additional 20km! (I needed to get that off my chest.)

If my map reading doesn’t trip me up again it should be easier going for the final leg following route 44 for a few days before one final tussle with the E39. It’s been an experience, but if my aim wasn’t a north-south crossing of Europe then the ferry from Bergen to Scotland would be the go. But these southerners do have a hard act to follow and Bergen and Stavanger are great little cities (they just prefer you to visit by car).

Sorry there are no new photos but if you google any of the places mentioned above I’m sure there are plenty out there (and I will grab some to fill the gap when I return).

Trivia piece – a golf course is called a golfbane in Norway. Quite astute of them!

Keep well!

Grumpy in Bergen

Hi all, I am in Bergen, or more to the point just passing through. My big city inability to get accommodation continues so I have a bed for the night and then it’s back to the road.

If the ride from Ålesund has a theme, it is rain, and as the forward forecast is for rain for 8 of the next 10 days, I am pretty much over it. I will make haste to Kristiansand, hop on the ferry to Denmark and hope that there is a European summer somewhere.

While I had hoped to have a break here, I am in pretty good condition and my main need was a washing machine. Unable to clean my clothes, I threw most of them in the bin and got some new ones; and my room for one night only has a bath tub – which was lovely.

No doubt there is a lot to see in Bergen, but I walked through the world heritage area while looking for a bed and tbh I have seen so many lovely old waterfronts it was hard to be overawed. The area was also totally overshadowed by the multiple cruise ships docked just across the road. Oh well as I said, I’m grumpy. I was planning to stay just outside but bike restrictions on the E39 meant I couldn’t get there, and the bike route into Bergen could have been designed by Jeremy Clarkson as his revenge.

Not many photos over the past week as I have usually just been trying to spend as little time getting soaked as possible, but a lot of lovely green valleys, wild Atlantic coast rides, and lovely fishing have to be seen.

I would definitely return here (with a car) as to cover a single fjord from outer islands to furthest inland reaches involves many hundreds of kilometres but going by what I have seen and what is out there towards west cape it would be a lovely week or two of touring.

Anyway, final tally for the Eurovelo 1 leg: 84km walked, 2,430km cycled and 24 ferries caught.

 

The Road is Long

With many a winding turn, that leads to who knows where. Who knows where. But I’m strong. Strong enough to carry it. It ain’t heavy, it’s my trailer.

Ok, serenading my trailer is a bit excessive but other than in gears one and twenty seven it is behaving quite well. So don’t knock it if it works.

We last left our intrepid hero in Namsos and it has been a long and winding road. The main highways are very busy now, so we departed ways at Route 720 and I have been winging it since then.

My planned 3-day ride to Trondheim became a 2-day ride when my target turned out to have closed and it was 30km later before I found a camping spot. The smell of seaweed had been replaced by the smell of dung as the land became more suited to farming, though it did have many stretches where it was freshly mown grass. In fact the main game seemed to be bailing up enough grass for when darkness returns.

The move to cycling through rural areas has it drawback – the streams run through the paddocks and while people always recommend iodine tablets they have never been part of my routine. As far as I am aware they do not actually remove the cow shit from the water they just reduce the risk that it will make you sick. So not really a solution in my book.

So I ended up having to make do on two litres of water for 100km and finished the last moth full a few kilometres before the last descent to the ferry in Rorvik. Must have been pretty dehydrated as I drank about three and a half litres of fluid over the next couple of ours before needing to go to the loo!

The ferry took me across to Flakk and as there was a campsite there, and I would be heading out that way, I decided to pitch my tent there. I caught the bus into Trondheim the next morning for a look around before heading back for a lazy afternoon.

Trondheim was a nice little city and I didn’t do it justice; just wandered back and forwards along the streets of the old town.  I walked around the grounds of the cathedral and bishop’s palace, but while it claims to be the most northern gothic cathedral there was not a stick of black eye-liner to be seen. Every part of it seemed to have a seperate entrance fee so I just roamed the grounds. Gotta hand it to religion, first they extort the money to build their palaces and then charge you for the privilege of seeing what they did with your money. Sorry but I am a cynic and not a Theist!

From Flakk I headed off towards the west coast avoiding the E39 wherever possible and after a short day found another nice camping ground at Viggja.

Reading the tourist literature for the new region, I was surprised to discover that I had just entered Norway’s fjord region. It begged the question of wtf have I been riding around all these weeks, but when you look at the map they are certainly much bigger.

After setting up the tent, I spent the rest of the day watching Euro2016, only moving from the couch to eat dinner (I moved to a table behind the couch). Another wet night (six sunny days so far this summer) had me contemplated get spending the next fortnight on the couch watching football, but ever onward.

I rode to Orkanger for breakfast and after enduring the E39 for a short section took to the backroads for the ride to Kyrksæterora where I found a cheap hut (the rain got worse) and decided to take the Sunday off.

From Kyrksæterora I made up for my lazy Sunday with a 95km ride (plus a ferry) to Kristiansund.

Kristiansund is a great little town built around four islands (boroughs) each with a unique character…. You can visit the website for the rest.

I mistimed my arrival with their annual musical festival about to start although I got to hear the opening nights acts from my hotel (which was just across the water from Tahiti).

Having listened to bands till 1am, I set off late and had to hang around a bit longer to catch a bus through the tunnel that lay between me and the Atlantic Road.

On arriving at the start of the road I came across a group of VW Beetle enthusiasts about to head off in a convoy. I had such an urge to say “wait for me, I’ll just duck home and grab mine” as they looked so cool, but as the rain got heavier train behind them lost its appeal.

So in what ended up as a short day, I finished mid afternoon at a campsite overlooking the start of the road. They didn’t normally take tents but let me pitch mine along their breakwater to the envy of those in huts and rvs and after a bit of a wander I found another place called Kro (which apparently means pub) to sample the Bacaloa – the salted fish stew that is the regions speciality.

Obviously in the middle of winter in a remote fishing village your options are limited but it wasn’t too bad and as you got a saucepan full of the stuff, very sustaining. I’d probably order the paella if it was also on the menu but if all you have in the pantry is potatoes, onions, tomatoes and salted cod, google the recipe and give it a try.

Another wet night and a foggy morning preceded my journey along the Atlantic Road and so it probably wasn’t the best of conditions. A great piece of engineering but the linking section only covers the first 8km. At top speed, Jeremy Clarkson’s Lamborghini would do it in about 2 minutes! The car adds must just do multiple runs with different camera angles.

Anyway having made an early start I managed my best day’s riding yet passing through Eide, Molde and across the Island of Otroy to finish the day at Brattvåg- 103km plus two ferries (my maiden century).

A short ride to Hamnsund and express boat (they let bikes on) had me in Ålesund by lunchtime.

Ålesund is the jewel in the crown so far (as far as towns go) and could easily be to me what Edinburgh has become to Rachel. A very Art Deco place with beautiful buildings lining cobblestone laneways. You could spend weeks on an architectural tour.

So that is what I will be doing for the rest of my day here after my after-breakfast walk to the lookout it’s time to see what’s on the other side.

Tomorrow I continue the long and winding road to Bergen which between tunnels that cyclists cannot use and lots of roads to nowhere (well at least to places with no connecting ferries) is going to be a challenge – just need to follow the right 61X’s till I reach Route 57 and I will be fine!

Here’s the pics ….

From Namsos

  • Well it’s a cloudy Monday morning and I am having a day off in Namsos after arriving here yesterday lunchtime. A week (and 4 hours) from Ornes, I had covered 500km and caught 9 ferries (11 if you count when I jumped on the wrong one).

Leaving Nensa on a cold, cloudy morning I had planned only a short hop but the sun finally appeared and I had a nice ride to Bronnoysund stopping at a great 13C church on the way. It was wonderfully restored and transformed with modern art. A brilliant collision of the old and the new.

A ferry and ride on I got to Bronnoysund and like most towns on the way it was a very quiet affair. Not sure if I am still too early in the season or it’s just that high Norwegian wages have priced out the service industries, but there is not a lot going on.

I continued on to Vennesund thanking my luck I was doing it on the Friday. The route was marked for a marathon on Saturday and the idea of being overtaken by fit young runners didn’t sound like much.

At Vennesund (drum roll and fanfare) I got to turn my map of Norway over – I am officially in the south of the country. A short ferry ride and another cycle ride and I made it to a nice campsite near the base of Mt Heilhornet.

By Saturday my legs were beginning to run out of power with 108km still to go. A late lunch at Kolvereid proved an exception to my town rule.  Fresh and welcoming with lots of people out and about. Had a great chicken burger (just to be different) and then it was off again – a ride, a ferry, another ride.

At Salsnes I pulled over at an interesting looking building called Kro. It turned out they had rooms available so I grabbed one and spent an evening lounging on the balcony surrounded by mountains, sea and the local fishing marina.

I reluctantly pushed finishing the last 30-odd km to Namsos, legs weakening with each hill. I really need two logs of fillet – to implant into each thigh! My bike handling and confidence has improved so I can zip along once I get the momentum up, but my thigh muscles are not there yet and the torque for the climbs just isn’t there sometimes.

So a day of rest today and then off towards Trondheim. Hopefully the sun will return.

Just a few picks (not from lack of scenery just having fewer stops).

In Nensa

Hello all. Well I left Skaugvoll on Saturday afternoon when I realised the owner of the campsite was taking the day off and I wouldn’t be having waffles and coffee to see me on my way.

A pleasant, though cold ride, I made my way to Ornes – a lovely fishing village and ferry port to the islands.  I figured out the detour around the Svartisen tunnel and set off Sunday morning on the ferry to Vassdalsvik and the island hop around the tunnel.

After a run of lazy days it was a long one – 72km and three ferries to the Aldresund campsite. On the last ferry from Jektvik to Kilboghamn I crossed the Arctic Circle 38 days after crossing it on the train to Fauske. It’s hard to believe all that has happened since has occurred in five and a half weeks!

Being in sub-Arctic climes one would expect things to be warmer but alas Monday was another cold day. Island hopping resumed at Nesna but there was a long 75km up and down the bay to get there and I had decided a shortcut may be in order. I rode the 9km from Aldersund to the ferry port at Stokkvagen arriving at 10:00 only to discover that the next ferry wasn’t until 16:20 – on Wednesday 🙁

So I headed on up the bay hoping to grap lunch at Utskarpen. There were two long (uphill) tunnels on the way but one nice thing about tunnels is they just point the drill in the right direction and let it go. As a result you get the most even slopes you can imagine and once you get going it’s just like being on the flat. Still find the noise wave from trucks a bit disorientating but they have none of the dread I had a few weeks back.

No luck getting lunch so I headed off down the other side of the bay and 55km in started a 6km climb. If the sun had been out no doubt the views would have been spectacular but I was almost in the clouds and expecting a blizzard any minute.  Bundled up in my jacket I eventually crossed the last pass and a 5km descent.

Descents are ok, but kind of like amusement park rides where you stand in line for two hours so you can squeal weeeee for five minutes. Not a great value proposition really. While my jacket kept me warm my fingers and toes were iced by the time I reached the bottom with another 10km still to go.

When I got to Nesna just before 5pm, I went straight to the first restaurant I could find and inhaled a hamburger and chips. I was starving!

This morning the weather was even more miserable than yesterday (not a great summer so far) so I stayed put and caught up on eating.

The island hopping resumes tomorrow.

So my Arctic adventure is over. Wow! It seems like an age since I was up to my armpits in snow and Honningsvag, Alta and even Tromso seem a long way off. But what an experience.

Content in Skaugvoll

After a few short hops down route 17 I have finally found contentment at the campsite in Skaugvoll where my tent is happily placed about 10m from an endless supply of hamburgers, pizzas, fish and chips, and waffles. I finally get my day off.

The inn-being-full at Bodo and early morning peddle through to Saltstrauman left me a bit flat and weary – though on the plus side I got see my first moose. Four to be precise, begging the question of what is the plural of moose?

Finishing the Tromso – Boda leg, let alone finishing the far north was a bit like coming off a high. The trip, which ended at the ferry stop was such an assault on the senses culminating in a 7 hour wait for the ferry mostly spent chatting with Bill and Crystal (easy pair of names to remember), while 4 truckies turned the next picnic table into an impromptu Master Chef set. In all, probably 50 people happy to pass away an afternoon just hanging around. It was a fitting end being surrounded by people just living in the moment.

A month of false starts, blizzards, rain, strong headwinds and visual cortex overload had clearly taken its toll though. I headed off from Saltstrauman on the first day of summer and was suffering leg cramps by the end of the first pass, so stopped at the first camping site that along (Kjellingstraumen). This was a lovely sheltered spot, but with no shops, and tbh the thought of recovering on my freeze dried rice, mince and veges was pretty dismal – so I headed off again finding Skaugvoll about 25km down the road.

It’s raining today after yesterday’s summertime heatwave of 16C so after sleeping in until 11am I have just lounged around in the cafe moving from waffle breakfast to fish and chip lunch, pondering maps in between.

The transition from cycling through magnificent vistas to simply beautiful ones is very disconcerting and hopefully a day’s break will reset things. As I said earlier it is like coming down from a high and needing to recalibrate things to recognise that this is good too. I spent most of yesterday’s ride thinking “Oh no I’ve come the wrong way and the next 8K will be an anti-climax!”. That’s not true of course but gosh it will be hard to beat some of those 360-degree panoramas!

So tomorrow I continue on my way to Trondheim and with lots of camp sites along the way I am in no rush – remember the ferry stop Stephen and stay in the moment.

Only foreseeable drama in days to come is a 7.8km tunnel cyclists are not allowed in, but given this part of the national and euro cycling route one assumes there is an alternative. Annoying bit is that the best view of the Svartisen glacier is at the other end of the tunnel!!

Anyway, time for some squats and leg stretches and maybe a bit of a wander to prepare my appetite for dinner (I haven’t tried the chicken yet).

Stephen

The Long and Winding Road

Well here I am in Tromso. I read somewhere that it is the Paris of the North. I haven’t been to Paris yet, but I’m not convinced.

Geographically, it is (you guessed it) on a fjord surrounded by (you guessed it) snow covered mountains. Architecturally  it has no Gothic buildings and the people wear beanies rather than berets. Admittedly they don’t speak English, but that hardly warrants the Paris of the North tag.

Much like the Paris-end of Collins Street, maybe someone ate a baguette here once?

But I digress. The journey from Alta to Tromso was indeed a long and winding road. Long stretches of coastal road followed by an ascent over a peninsula to another fjord.

Slartibarfast certainly did give the place a very baroque feel, but in terms of giving a fulfilling feel of progress it does bog things down a bit. After a day cycling around a fjord the road you traversed is a short stretch of water away. Kieran Perkins could match a days cycling with a quick warm up swim.

A sign just outside Alta claims Oslo is 1395km away and it is highly plausible that it is just over the other side of the hill but with 1395km of circuitous road to get there.

While building up some leg strength, I’m not yet up to the 90km stretches that seem to the standard unit of distance between towns so I have basically been doing a full day followed a half day cycling with a roadside camp followed by a hut or motel.

While Norway has an “All Man’s Right” provision for free camping, the reality is that there is not much unused flat land along the coast and inland is still snow. My luxury campsites have therefore been largely just off the road with nights listening to trucks whizzing by.

It has been largely overcast and I think I got mild hypothermia on the inland leg from Breivikeidet to Fagernes, which was a three hour battle with a blizzard, but I am sure as I move south I will miss the ability to ride in full thermals and a down jacket! Mmm, maybe not.

And on the clothes front, you will all be relieved to hear that the bike shorts are doing the trick and I no longer feel that the bike seat is coming with me when I dismount.

I’m staying in Tromso for three nights – recovering from the blizzard and doing some washing (my shirt can literally stand up by itself) and then will head west towards the “finger”. I’m looking forward to this as the ride along the highway from Fagernes to Tromso was awful – hard enough cycling up hills without having two 18-wheelers passing on the same stretch of narrow road. Will need to avoid the highways from now on – but on this route until I reach Boda I won’t have to worry about this (and can hopefully learn from Udo and Tina after that).

Glad people like the panoramas. It’s a bit harder to take pictures while cycling and I sometimes feel they are just repeats.

It’s the question I always ask the locals, “Do you ever forget how amazing the place is?”. The young guy who gave me a lift from Lillefjord admitted that sometimes you do but only until you leave and return and realise how “ugly” other places are in comparison.

At times the monochromatic rock and snow of the mountains and the blue of sea and sky do seem to just be the permanent canvass over which the fishing huts, cabins and sparse forests are placed. But stop and lose yourself in the glaciers, waterfalls, streams, rivers, lakes and it comes back to you. I cannot recall another place where you can do a complete 360 so often and still get a continuous beautiful view.

In coming weeks those views will gain more colour. Leaves are beginning to sprout on the Beech trees and the Birches won’t be far behind. Above 100m it is still Winter but Spring is coming!

Hopefully that will also mean that the shops and campsites I marked on my GPS will finally open, though going by the signs to date June 1 is more likely. Still I won’t complain at times over the past few weeks it has been like having the North to myself and I think that’s probably the way it is meant to be seen. Stark, desolate and beautiful.

More pics ….