As I write this blog I’m on the ferry crossing The Baltic Sea from Umea to Vaasa. It’s been a wild and adventurous month in Norway, full of stunning beauty and spectacular nature. With nearly 2000km ridden in Norway (a third of my total distance), I hope I’ve captured the host of experiences with the following photographic collection. From the mountains and fjords to The Arctic Circle, Norway became my cycling dreamland!
In one week I rode five mountain passes, including the famous Sognefjellet mountain pass. At 1434 metres above sea level (and of course you start at the fjords water’s edge so you feel each metre on the saddle), it is the highest road in all of Northern Europe. Most of these roads are only opened seasonally, and I was really lucky to arrive at some passes that had only been completely cleared of snow on the previous week. The mountain passes were stunning, and the hard riding predictably brought the greatest scenery.
Norway is simply a camper’s paradise. Unlike many other nations in Europe, in Norway you are allowed to pitch the tent almost anywhere as long as you leave after two nights and don’t leave a trace. My favourite campsites were those amongst the spectacular mountains, ideally with nearby glacial meltwater to supply me with an endless supply of pristine water!
After leaving Aurland late in the afternoon and climbing a set of twelve switchbacks I found myself stranded and utterly exhausted on the top of a snowy mountain pass. For the first time both myself and my gear camped in the chilly snow. In spite of the cold bum, I managed to sleep thirteen hours until 1pm the following afternoon!
As I rode each day in Norway I soon learnt that what goes up must come down! The Eagle Road near Geilanger is named for its sheer height, and it is supposed that before it was built only eagles could enjoy such views. The switchbacks zigzagged straight up the face of mountains, and it was always a moment of euphoria when I finally reached the summit. As well as such gruelling climbs I experienced some thrilling descents, such as the collection of switchbacks at Trollstigen.
The world famous fjords of Norway were truly stunning. The snow capped mountains fall deep into the clear waters below, providing breathtaking panoramic views. But you can be the judge of that…
The race to The Arctic Circle
After the mountainous region of Norway a new challenge had to be tackled in the form of an epic race to The Arctic Circle. Jon Maiden, leaving from his home in Yorkshire, managed to hitch hike an impressive 2000 miles in just six days to beat me by 96km. Along the way he faced a multitude of challenges, and spread the word across Europe about the fantastic work of AICR. For my part I rode sixteen hours on-and-off the bike to cover 195km, so I’m calling it a draw! My soon to be published short video captures this mammoth ride.
It was really satisfying finally reaching The Arctic Circle Centre along the E6, achieving my first major goal of this two year cycling adventure. As I spoilt myself inside the centre with refill coffees and a waffle, the words of Winston Churchill came to my mind;
‘This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning’