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 The smell of seaweed had been replaced by the smell of dung as the land became more suited to farming, though it did have many stretches where it was freshly mown grass.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