Cycling the Atlantic coast of Europe from north to south during the summer of 2017. Still taking it one day at a time. View the archive.

Cake by the ocean

By Stuart Lowe on

I packed up the inside of my tent before donning my heat net and braving the midges. I left my little woodland camp spot and hit the road. About 500m down the road I saw a sign for the campsite. Typical. At least I'd saved the cost.

The weather improved just as Marte had suggested it would. I arrived at the ferry to blue skies. It took me over to Selvika for about 38 krones. A few kilometres later I found a Bilateral and took them the old camping gas canisters. The claim from hundreds of kilometres away that I'd get some deposit back turned out not to be the gas. At least I'd got rid of them. I was able to buy a new cannister and some new break pads.

On the way into Kristiansund, a Norwegian man on a folding bicycle showed me the way. He left me in the centre and suggested the tourist office might be up the hill. I went up the hill but couldn't find it. Went around the town a couple of times. It turned out the office was just a little booth on the waterfront.

The lady in the booth thought the only way out of Kristiansund was through the tunnel and bikes weren't allowed. She said I should get a bus from the bus station. After Marte the day before, Kristiansund's tourist office was a major disappointment.

At the bus station they said it probably wasn't expensive and might be 91 krones (!) but I should check with the driver. Why is the bus station uncertain about the price? The bus station?! Nobody in Norway seems to know the price in advance. Ughh. The would leave me nothing for food. Rather than get the bus from the bus station (it is cheating to cross land not under my own steam) I rode to the mouth of the tunnel. There was a bus stop. It suggested you could take a taxi for 100 krones or take a bus for an unspecified amount. It also didn't tell you the bus times. There was a number you could call (I can't) or a website to visit (my Internet phone's battery is failing). A lady and her young son arrived at the bus stop. She heard me chuntering about the price. She was originally from Lithuania and had lived here for seven years. She apologised for Norway being so expensive. It clearly isn't her fault. I was particularly despondent about it because of being tired (I haven't had a rest day in two weeks), hungry (everything is expensive), and still damp after what feels like weeks of being wet through. The extremely kind lady insisted on paying for the bus fare for me. Thank you to her. Once I get home I'll be donating that amount to MSF in lieu.

Through the tunnel I was still annoyed about the price and the fact that there was apparently no alternative. Also the fact that it only cost cars 100 krones to get through. So much for Norway encouraging green travel. It left me in a bad mood for the 20 km around the next island.

When I finally reached the Atlantic Highway the view managed to change my mood. This was the view from the tourist brochures. I had the blue skies too. I'd been planning to go to Bud but decided to camp here. I found my own little hill between the road and the ocean where the grass was already flattened from a previous occupant. It was idyllic aside from being buzzed by a couple of drone planes (hopefully they didn't catch me having a wee). There weren't even any midges or flies to ruin the moment. I had dinner of pasta then ate an entire Rullekake with a cup of tea. I watched the sun set. That was the first I've properly seen since the start of my trip. Perfect.

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Atlantic Highway

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bike with the Atlantic

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Wild camping

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Rullecake and tea by the ocean

The sun'll come out, tomorrow

By Stuart Lowe on

I chatted more with Hugo this morning. He works for 4 months of the year then cycles the rest. We both cycled out of the campsite together then shared some brief notes on our roads ahead. It was raining.

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Hugo

As I headed up to the 400m point, the rain really set in more than just the background rail level. Coming down the other side my brakes started to fail. All the rain and hills had nearly worn them through. It only seems like a week since they were new. Despite the blind corners, I had to just ride it down at quite a speed even pulling on them as much as possible. It levelled off at around 180m for a bit. The rain and the wind meant I was getting chilly. Despite the fact all my clothes were wet through to my underwear, I put on my second waterproof jacket just to reduce the wind chill. A little further down I met two Germans going up. One told me it didn't make sense to wear so many layers. Going up I'd agree as the effort keeps the temperature up. Clearly he couldn't appreciate the cold of a descent yet. Along a few more kilometres and I met a Polish man. Actually, in trying to stop with my worn through brakes, I toppled off the edge of the road (Norway has steep banks on the side of most roads). Hugo had told me to apologise to a Polish cyclist who he'd left behind the day before. So I did.

As I approached Kyrksæterøra the rain stopped. Finally. I found the tourist information office on a quaint little street. Inside was Marte. She listened to my story, gave me advice on the best route towards Kristiansund, then invited me to have coffee and cake. She insisted I could eat the whole plate of cakes if I wanted to. I did. Over coffee she told me that she was related to the man who'd beheaded Charles I and that she has the claim to a castle in England. Marte then checked the weather for my route ahead. The sun'll come out, tomorrow. Saturday would be sun and cloud. That was good news. I could have sat and chatted with Marte for the rest of the day but I had to bid a fond farewell. Kyrksæterøra now joins the ranks of Tromsø, Batavia (New York), Osijek (Croatia), and Oberkirch (Germany) Tourist Information offices in the welcome and help I've received.

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Marte

I had a quick stop at the Coop on the way out of the village and bought a yoghurt. While eating it outside the shop I heard a "hello Stuart!"; Marte's shift had ended and she was doing her shopping. It was such a pleasant thing having someone greet you by name. It was like being at home.

Leaving the village meant another steep climb. I should be used to that by now. Thankfully I had some energy thanks to Marte's cakes. Down the other side I met Gabin who had cycled from France. I made him a fried egg and he made me coffee. In the rain. We talked in a mix of French and English. I'm glad to say it was possibly majority French for once. I had to dig up words I haven't used in years but that was good for me. I'll reach France in a couple of months after all.

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Uphill

I followed Marte's route. It added extra kilometres but kept me on the coast. The rain intensified. Once that angry shower had passed me by I watched it head off up the fjord to the north west. It was quite atmospheric.

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Atmospheric

Over the bridge near Aure, I was on the look out for a campsite which was on the map. Kilometre after kilometre and hill after hill seemed to go by and no sign of it. Eventually I gave up. I found a little wooded area off the road and pitched my tent. I put on the head net before the flies and midges descended. It was still raining. I sealed myself in the tent and did my cooking, rather dangerously, inside. I tried to dry off although that is hard when your towel is damp.

I was exhausted, still hungry, and in dire need of a wash for me and every item of clothing I have.

Don't look back Orkanger

By Stuart Lowe on

The rain had stopped by 8.30 or so. I packed everything up then had breakfast just in case it decided to start again. I had a nice short ride of a few kilometres to the ferry through the flat farmland. I turned up just as the ferry was unloading again. This one over to Valset was 38 krones.

Valset was really just the ferry terminal with nothing else. I then had a surprise hill to climb before heading down to fjord-level to Lensvik. I stopped there to make lunch between light showers. Then 49 kilometres along (with a hill in the middle) to Orkanger at the fjord end. Just before Orkanger, my road was signed right but I went there extra couple of kilometres to the town to see the tourist info people. They turned out to be a hotel reception but they did let me use the WiFi and told me about the next hill on the E39. I then sat in a shopping centre having a 20 krones (bargain!) hot chocolate waiting out the rain before tackling the hill.

The rain had stopped. I rode on. The hill started. My old, familiar friend, the 8% gradient sign, came into view. 1.6 kilometres of up. The rain was back too. The climb took me up to a big lake at around 180m altitude. I knew that the summit was at 380m but then I saw a sign for camping. After lots of long days, I decided this was it for today. I pitched my tent in a gap in the rain. The camping fee was a remarkable 50 krones meaning I had only overspent by 10 krones today.

As i was ready to call it a night a Belgian cyclist named Ugo arrived. He also had a Garmin eTrex 20 so checked my memory card for me. It couldn't see the Norway map either. We swapped stories. He warned me that Kristiansund cost 85 krones to leave through the tunnel.

Will the rain stop for a whole 24 hours? Will I get flooded in the night? What are the signs of trenchfoot?

A day of big climbs

By Stuart Lowe on

Standard start to the morning. The rain stopped and I packed. I had my now standard porridge with banana and Nutella (substitute, because it is a third of the price). I paid for my camping and the guy at the reception gave me advice on how many big hills to expect, and where to expect them, between Osen and Brekstad. As I was about to go, he rushed back inside his reception hut and produced a sticker for my bike! With it stuck on next to the Nordkapp one, I was off.

Around the northern side of the fjord and over the bridge back to the south. Around the coast a bit more and then the first uphill started right where the campsite man had warned. Eventually I got to around 250m to a small wind farm he'd mentioned. The weather was overcast and threatening rain but yet to seriously deliver on that. I had the final big uphill for a while, taking me up to 360m or so. Then it was sort-of down to Åfjord. That is, it was down on average.

I stopped to have lunch at a sheltered picnic table outside a Coop. My luxury item today was a bag of own-brand, "xtra" value, tortilla chips. They were the cheapest crisps at 25 krones (£2.50). A tube of Pringles will set you back between £3 and £4.50 depending on the shop. Given my cash budget is down to 17 krones daily, for the rest of my time in Norway, I won't be wasting it on those. I have to somehow afford essential food, ferry fares, and occasional campsite fees.

With the hardest hills out of the way, I set off again. I had one more a few kilometres down the road that took me up to a junction. I had a choice. I could now follow the Dutch couple's route or the advice of the man from the campsite. I went with his suggestion which kept me truer to the coast but missed Trondheim out. I had been hoping to find somewhere there to take my empty gas canisters but that was weighed against the prices for places to stay. The Youth Hostel was apparently 770 krones! I turned right.

I had more hills to climb. Given that these were of the 150m variety, they probably don't count to Norwegians. After a spell of rain, things cheered up and I could remove my waterproofs. I reached the coast again at Botngård and cycled up around some headland to a flat farmland which seemed very out of place after the last few weeks. The fields felt like parts of the English coast but the farm buildings and flatness reminded me of parts of the Great Plains in Nebraska and eastern Iowa. That is, if you ignored the mountains in the backdrop.

The road dropped down to the water, past an old Norwegian manor, to a little harbour and a campsite that had been recommended to me by the man at Osen. It was just after 7pm and I'd cycled 120 kilometres with 2.1 km of ascent (according to Google). I was tired. The man at the campsite reception was so surprised at how far I'd gone, and was going, that he decided he would let me stay for free. That was so kind of him. It also meant I stayed precisely on budget today. I was able to put my tent up in the evening sun so it dried out in time for the rain that started before I went to sleep.