2013/08/04: 39 km to Langstrand in a hollow beside road
2013/08/05: 113 km to Áiseroravi, a Sami village
2013/08/06: 75 km to 12 km W of Alta
2013/08/07: 63 km to Langfjord, camped early to survive a rainstorm
2013/08/08: 115 km to 12 km W of Storslett
2013/08/09: 69 km and two ferries to just W of Breivik
2013/08/10: 53 km to Tromsø, near the dock
We have left Nordkapp and are travelling SW down the coast of Norway. The arctic tundra has gone at all but highest altitudes. Signs warning of reindeer on the road have been replaced by similar signs for moose. Surprisingly, nights have got colder because the sun actually sets for a few hours. Also, the landscape has become more rugged and glaciers abound. The emerald blue fiords have even exceeded my (C’s) expectations. This was what I had expected of Norway. By entering Norway from the north, I only slowly found the classic coastal Norway we see in coffee table books.
Land use has changed as we go south. We’ve moved from reindeer grazing areas to sheep farming, goats, and the odd dairy herd. There are even riding horses, and I stopped (M) to take photo of a fine Norwegian fjord horse. As far as wildlife goes, we’ve seen groups of dolphins several times, and when Kristian and I were fishing as the tide swept into an inlet under a bridge, we watched a seal play in the current. We thought perhaps it was catching the fish we might otherwise have caught.
Setting out from Honningsvåg as a foursome, we immediately faced a 7 kilometre long tunnel that took us some 220 metres below sea level to bring us to the mainland from Magerøya. There’s not much traffic and the drivers are careful of cyclists, but the noise of ventilation system and the resonance of car engines is disconcerting. This first tunnel was a test of our nerves that served us well for the many shorter ones we’ve been through since; it was by far the longest and deepest.
We saw two distant red dots as we neared the tunnel exit, and as we emerged we met Olga and Tomek, a young Polish couple. We rode with them for a few kilometres, but Ingrid and Kristian had had a long day from Nordkapp, so we camped early. We kept leapfrogging with this pair for days until our routes diverged. Sometimes we rode or ate together, and we made similar progress though we had different schedules for stopping and starting.
There are many other touring cyclists here, of an array of nationalities. We wave and greet each other, and stop to chat with some. We’ve met quite a few Poles, including a group of about seven lads from Krakow. Olga and Tomek were headed to Narvik, where they were keen to see a monument to a Polish submarine crew that was sunk here during WW2. We’ve seen memorials to British submarine crews.
We’ve fallen easily into a routine as foursome, and the mileage has been planned so we have a fairly relaxed schedule. Kristian is carrying the lion’s share of the food; he says he wants a bit of extra training as he prepares for his run across Nepal, and we’re happy to accommodate him! He also eats the lion’s share as he is also trying to put on weight prior to his trip.
We take turns on supper planning, and Ingrid and Kristian made a dinner that will be a hard act to follow: a stew of fresh reindeer meat with mushrooms in a cream sauce. Unfortunately, we’re still waiting for the fresh mackerel dinner.
I bought a lure to go with the rod and reel Kristian kindly brought me, and we try to stop near docks or a suitably steep shoreline so that he and I can cast at lunchtime or before dinner. Despite Kristian’s good luck last year, we’ve caught nothing yet …except for one tiny mackerel that Kristian returned to the water. Chris and Ingrid have been a whole lot more productive as berry pickers, and we’ve had generous servings of blueberries with our breakfast several times.
Just before entering Tromsø, three of us paid to use a campground’s showers, and a fourth (ahem) washed himself cursorily in the local duckpond while a local boy ran his remote controlled boat in circles around him. We are currently taking a rest day here, having separated to see different sights. Chris and I have got a seniors’ priced ticket that lets us into several museums. We’ll meet soon to pedal out of town towards the next ferry crossing, and a route along the outermost islands.
C & M
Chris’s Random Thoughts:
Norwegian engineers love to build tunnels. They have built so many they seem to have run out of places to build, so they have added bridges to their repertoire. Now bridge/tunnel combinations are the latest rage. This all means the worst hills have been removed, and cycling is reasonably flat given the rugged terrain. Bikers must be sad as the best corners are gone.