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).
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.