July 16th – ferry to Bodo

I endured quite a noisy night on the campsite. About 7am it started to rain hard – so I had to pack a wet tent. Nonetheless, caught the 10.30 ferry ok, whereupon it went back to drizzle! Took some final photos of Lofoten, and one of the Hurtigruten, moored in Bodo.

image image image imageNow settled in to a nice room in a guesthouse. Tomorrow (Sunday) I plan to visit the aviation museum and then spend the afternoon in the lovely modern spa, trying to get the knots out of my legs.

July 15th – back to Moskenes

This was my last day of cycling – so I was determined to make the most of it! Knowing the route in the other direction made it even more appealing. It is just so stunning.

I left the campsite as the sun started to break through the clouds – good news for the English PhD students who needed sunny conditions for their data collection! The climb over to Leknes was easy and I visited my favourite supermarket for the third time. Then it was the underwater tunnel and back to the most spectacular scenery.

imageAt Skagsand I stopped and watched the surfers enjoying the waves. And there was a shack with coffee and waffles.


imageFrom the beach I picked up a tail wind – but it propelled me towards the cloudy end of Lofoten, and back into drizzle.

image imageBut Reina was as good as ever, even in dull conditions. I spent an hour wandering around a couple of art galleries and cafes. The village has a sea kayak centre where some youngsters were having their first lesson.

imageAnd finally, through my last two tunnels (I’ll miss them – they’re nice and dry inside) back to Moskenes. I have pitched my tent and put on every item of clothing that I brought with me in an attempt to stay warm until the lovely sea food restaurant opens in about an hour.

 

July 14th – day trip to Stamsund and towards Henningsvaer

Another great day of sightseeing, albeit that the skies are still grey, there is more wind today, driving showers across the islands fron the N Atlantic. At least it’s more interesting weather than yesterday. Did I mention that it’s cold?

Stamsund turns out to be a major fishing centre, not just a modern harbour but a couple of processing factories and a couple of hundred homes for the workforce. That’s why there’s a big road from Leknes – going back to single track for the rest of today’s ride I am pleased to say. Raining so no photos.

Further along the coast I managed coffee and some drying out in a campsite. Soon after I got my views of Henningsvaer and its magnificent cliffs.

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imageThe village is off to the right on little flat islands, again connected by bridges. I had first seen these huge granite cliffs on a TV programme about Vic Saunders’ climbing holidays. Spectacular shots of the climbing with the village below. So I am delighted to have seen it from across the fjord- though the urge to climb has long gone! I thought of going right round the fjord for a close up view, but that would have added another  35 miles and I am officially tired. 

On the way back I stopped to photograph this church, right at the back of the beach in the tiny hamlet of Valberg. Right on cue a woman pulled up in a car and strode purposefully in, brandishing rubber gloves and a mop. Every church must have one!

imageThe last few miles were in slightly brighter weather!

imageimageI’m now watching the tdf about to tackle part of the Ventoux. Last night here and tomorrow I reverse that fabulous ride back to Moskenes. It’s in my all time top 5 days out – so looking forward to it.

July 13th – a short day exploring

It’s back to the low cloud and freezing cold today. Oh well – it was nice while it lasted! I managed 11 and a half hours sleep last night – I was really tired. So a lie in this morning and a late start.

I decided to visit the village of Ure, in search of the ancestors of my neighbours in Ripon. It was a pleasant ride, but I wasn’t impressed by the hospitality. At 10.45 I turned down a track signed ‘cafe’ and parked up. A woman came out and explained that she opens at 12 noon! She had to make quite an effort not to serve me. That’s how it got into the Ripon gene pool. Yorkshire via Norway. A picture of Ure.

imageSo on over a small pass to Leknes. Here I first had coffee, and then an early lunch in the sea food restaurant. A beautiful, rich Stockfish soup.

I then set off to visit Ballstad, a major fishing village. Entering town I met Gierty! It turned out he had cheated and taken the Hurtigruten to Bodo on the day I cycled it. He looked tired and had booked 3 nights in the youth hostel in Ballstad. We explored both sides of the harbour together, and had a drink and chatted in a gallery.imageimageimageThe wooden hulled boats were beautiful to look at. Ballstad has a huge dry dock where they are maintained.

Gierty started his ride on April 21st, a week after retiring, at the southern tip of Italy. He had passed his own house in Lucerne and kept going! He confessed that he was getting tired of being on the road and, particularly in today’s weather (and no change forecast), he seemed to be struggling for the motivation to go on to Nordkapp. I gave my best encouragement, but I could see his point!

Back in Leknes again I bought food and headed back over the pass to the camp site. En route I met Ana coming the other way. Both of them in one day! She had taken the fast ferry to Svolvaer and was heading south to Moskenes and a ferry to Bodo on Friday and then home.

Also on this site are 2 Sheffield Uni students collecting data for some climate change research, so much chatting with them too. It’s a busy social life I lead.

July 12th – across Lofoten to a campsite near Leknes

This has been the best weather day of the trip, and probably the best scenery too – though last week much of the Fv.17 route was great even in cloud.

The campsite was very busy, with more tents than on any other site. Most campers seemed to be young, beautiful and Norwegian – here for hill walking – and travelling by public transport (there is a good bus service). Tents were packed tight and I feared the worst, but all were well behaved and I had a good night.

The first village, Reina, is one of the jewels of Lofoten. It is perched on a group of tiny islands, connected by whalebacked bridges, and all packed tight into a circular bay rimmed with gigantic cliffs and jagged peaks. Absolutely magnificent!

imageimageimageimageAt this stage I was in shorts and short-sleeved jersey for the first time since cycling out of Trondheim. But then the road turned north and became exposed to a cold sea fog that was being blown across from the seaward side of the island – where the road was heading. I had a ‘down’ few minutes as I found myself unexpectedly back in windproofs – view gone – and a cold headwind (about 8C I would guess). Coffee in a campsite helped, and then 30 minutes later I was out of the fog again and the temperature jumped 10 degrees. The next few miles round a huge bay were just sensational.

imageimageimageNext there was a 1.8km tunnel – but this one dipped down 150m under the sea to connect two islands. Luckily it had a British style pavement with a kerb, because the traffic was coming thick and fast, and the gradient was steep down and then up.

A few more great views on the run in to Leknes, where I bought food.

imageThen on over a climb to reach a very good campsite by a lake – except the wifi which is lousy. I plan to make this my base for the next two days. Unladen cycling – there’s an idea! Then I’ll retrace today’s ride on Friday and get the return ferry on Saturday. It was so good I am already looking doing it in the other direction!

July 11th – day off and ferry to Lofoten

Found a nice guest house in Bodo with a very cheap single room. The young staff were great – and hugely proud of Lofoten and enthusiastic. I have booked again for my return to report back.

This has been the best day’s weather so far. Some cloud over the Lofoten mountains, but otherwise blue skies and light winds. Most importantly, calm seas for my 3 hour crossing!

The ferry was packed – and this is by far the busiest place I have been. I arrived early afternoon and pitched my tent on the site close to the ferry. I have just spent a happy afternoon pootling down south to where the road runs out at the fishing village of A. (Yes, A, but with a circle on top). I visited my second museum – the Stockfish (cod) museum. The cod is dried on poles like hop poles, then shipped to Spain and Portugal – Bacalao. Anyway, some pictures.

image imageimage imageimage imageimage imageI have my eye on the local restaurant for some fish tonight, it looks excellent. Then off north again tomorrow. Let’s hope that the weather holds.

July 10th – to Bodo

I woke to yet more low clouds and drizzle – actually it was pretty much a fog. Another early riser promised me that the cloud would lift during the day – and he was right. So I set off for Bodo in good spirits. The first obstacle was a tunnel (tunnelen in Norway!). I thought it was time for a picture of a tunnel entrance. This one was 3.1km.

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They are well lit, but the disconcerting thing is that, when cars approach from behind, the wheel noise comes from all directions and you cannot judge their road position. Normally you get some idea how close they will pass, but not in the tunnels. Just have to trust my twinkly lights and high viz. Actually, early on Sunday morning the road was empty and the main danger was dying of tunnel boredom!

image image image imageThere was a series of about 6 fast, downhill tunnels at one point – which was more fun!

Bus shelters have proved brilliant for the regular food stops that keep me going. But, after a couple of those I came across my first roadside garage. A sign of approaching civilisation. I stopped for coffee and waffles – just like in the USA last summer (except 20C colder).

There have been lots of great bridges, but the one over the Saltstraumen whirlpool was one of the best. It is such a graceful arch – and a steep climb up. Unfortunately the tide was exactly wrong for the whirlpool and I wasn’t prepared to wait for it.image imageMy plan is to follow the excellent example of the tdf and, after 9 days cycling, to have a rest day. I’ll use it to get the ferry to Lofoton. Then my second week will, I hope, involve a little more ‘exploring’ on Lofoton (poddling about and sitting in cafés) and a notch down on the cycling.

July 9th – to Reipa

This was always going to be the most complex day logistically. I was hoping to use 3 ferries, at the end of which I would have a direct road connection of 75 miles to Bodo on Sunday.

The first two ferries are on the Fv17 (the coastal road I’m following) – but then there is a 14km tunnel on the Fv17 where cyclists are banned. So we have to take a minor road to the third ferry. Which only runs twice on Saturday, the second sailing being at 13.05. And if I miss that then the next is 14.15 on Sunday.  To make it work will involve some rapid cycling between ferries – the gaps are tight!

So I was up early again, to another cold, cloudy but, thankfully, dry morning. The 10 miles to the first ferry included many short steep climbs – not ideal. On the quay at 8.00 were Gierty and Ana, and a dutch guy with his tent on a trailer. Company! All except Ana were determined to try for the 13.05 connection. (It turned out that Gierty and Ana had taken a lift in a car yesterday, following his puncture, and had managed to avoid the big climb. No wonder they had caught me up!)

After 20 mins of the 1 hour sailing we crossed the Arctic Circle. There was an announcement, and a sculpture on the shore to prove it. That’s the dot in the middle!imageOnce disembarked, my new Dutch friend shot off and I couldn’t keep up. We had 16 miles and 300m climbing to do in 1 hour 40 mins. Gierty and I worked together well after he caught me up in a 4km tunnel. We made it to the second ferry with 20 mins to spare. imageAfter a 15 minute crossing we were off again. This time the gap was even more challenging – 19 miles, 380m climbing in 1 hour 30 mins. (My average speed has been about 11mph on my own).  This time Gierty and I caught the dutchman after about 5 miles and all three of us worked hard together. (Though his trailer was a pain for drafting). As you can tell, I really enjoyed the team time trial, and we made it easily with 10 mins to spare. Here is the triumphant team.

imageArriving in Ornes we split up. Gierty went searching for a bike shop and the dutch guy set off for a distant campsite. I was tired and stopped a few miles on, as planned. A few hours recovery are needed. I must say that being only a day’s ride from Bodo and a train connection is reassuring after the remoteness and complexity of the past few days. Stunning scenery – though more sun would have been nice.

July 8th to Aldersund

This was my longest day so far, and the most beautiful and spectacular. No need for an alarm again – this time it was the 6.00 flight landing over the campsite on the runway next door. So up and away at 7 for a 26 mile run to a 10.00 ferry.

So there was time for some moose hunting. At this stage of the trip approaching from down wind is essential.

imageThen a spectacular bridge.


image imageAt this point the sun came out – and there was a tail wind to the ferry. Heaven. In fact I only just missed the 8.45.

image imageIn Nesna I bought food for 2 days in the coop, and had a second breakfast. Off came the leg warmers!

About 3 miles out of town I met Gierty – who had just fixed a puncture. But he had decided to go back to Nesna in search of a spare tube and to get the pressures checked. I didn’t have a tube his size, so I left him to it.

Next came about 350m of climbing – and quite steep. This was because there’s no possible route at fjord level because of huge and unstable cliffs dropping straight into the water. For the first time I got properly hot and mobbed by flies. You would think they’d have evolved to avoid being inhaled by long distance cyclists – but no. Still the view from the top was fantastic.

image image Soon the sun disappeared and the air is still very cold – so the descent was freezing. Then it was round the head of the fjord and back down the other side. By now I was tired, and the return leg was back into an increasing head wind. Lucky the views were good because it became a bit of a trial.

image I stopped 10 miles short of where I intended, and was so tired I hit the wrong button on the garmin and failed to save the ride from Nesna. Total for the day about 75 miles and 600m of climbing.

Just seen Cummings win on the Aspin. Can’t believe they did just the Aspin – Tim and I prefaced it with the Tourmalet!

July 7th to Sandnessjoen

In exploring Bronnoysund last night I found that it claims to be the half way point, N to S, in Norway.

image imageSeems surprising to me!  Anyway, this morning it was raining again as I left my very nice hotel. Just a short hop north to a ferry. But here it got complicated, with two routes to choose from. Waiting on the quay were 2 cyclists, Gierty from Switzerland and Anna from Austria. They had met up the day before and had shared a camping hut that night. Their plan was to take 2 ferries via Igeroy to our common destination – Tjotta. So I joined them and we chatted happily for a couple of hours.

image image image But by the time we arrived in Tjotta I had decided that I was enjoying the solo travelling, so I let them go ahead. It rained some more, but I took shelter in my first tourist attraction of the trip – the Petter Dass museum. This is a sleek, modern building with, crucially, a cafe. Petter Dass was a 17th century Norwegian poet and priest. I must admit that I was expecting paintings, and was a bit disappointed with the exhibition – though not with the cafe!

image imageHis church was next door.

For the first time I think I have miscalculated slightly. I had a second very short day’s cycling today, what with extra ferries, chats and a museum and, as a consequence, I’ve left myself a lot to do tomorrow.  Oh well, I can start early.