Cycling the Atlantic coast of Europe from north to south during the summer of 2017. View the archive, the route so far, or donate to MSF.

Arctic conditions

By Stuart Lowe on

I work to the sound of rain pattering on my tent at 6am and went back to sleep. At 8.30 it was still going on. I had to pack up my tent from the inside and head to the little kitchen to make breakfast. After another chat with the Swiss guy, I eventually got a late start. Had I not learned how hard progress is in Norway?

I rode around fjords and over small hills. I wished I hadn't filled my 10 litre water carrier but I didn't want to run out. Although, that clearly wasn't likely today. At Lebesby I stopped to get a small coffee and waffle then bought food in the adjoining shop. A loaf of bread costs about £3. The lady at the checkout told me the rain would last until Wednesday.

I then headed on around the headland and along another fjord. Then the road started going up. There was a raised barrier that indicated this road could be closed in winter. Up I rode to snowy uplands like yesterday. Only this time it was raining and the clay was down to about 200 metres altitude. It got cold. I had no idea how long this stretch of upland would last. I couldn't even see a view. So much for this being the 'scenic' route. Eventually I saw a man up ahead. He was removing the red poles that mark the edge of the road in winter. He told me this was pretty much the top and that it would head down to Hopseidet before another upland stretch. He warned that snow was due tomorrow. The weather forecast had changed in 30km.

Hopseidet turns out to be a little sliver of land that stops Halv Öya being an island. It had a little toilet block that sat between two fjords. One toilet also had a radiator so I tried to dry my sodden gloves after wringing them out. So much for being waterproof. I made some sandwiches and some soup sat in the toilet doorway (it was still raining). At this point a little red car stopped and the driver asked if I was OK. He insisted he would go get me some "plastic gloves" and returned a few minutes later with some old industrial rubber gloves like you might use on a fishing trawler. He said the were to be a gift from SalMar. Thanks.

landscape
My glove benefactor

My glove benefactor then suggested I head to Mehamn instead of KjĂžllefjord as it was 12 km shorter. As I neared the top of the 240m hill he pulled up alongside me. It seems he wanted to check I was OK again even though it was the opposite direction for him. I thanked him and headed on. About 19km of cold rainy clang on, I reached a fork in the road. Even the rubber gloves had started to get cold water in them so I headed to Mehamn. It would cost me double on the Hurtigruten ferry but I wasn't sure I'd survive the cold otherwise.

I saw a "Mehamn 9km" sign and then the real downhill started. That made me happy but it also meant a chilling wind from the speed.

I rolled into Mehamn and saw a shop was open. They were advertising ice-cream and a "brain freezer". It mostly sold chilled items. I walked out in search of something warm. I found a Coop and bought food for tomorrow then headed to the Hurtigruten port. There I found a warm little waiting room. It was empty. I put my clothes on the back of chairs and my shoes on a radiator to dry out. I slowly started to thaw.

The ferry is at 1am. There is nobody here so I don't know what to do about a ticket. The website doesn't seem to have an option for bikes. I shall wait in the hope a person turns up at the little office. My daily budget is well and truly blown today (by a factor of four) but at least I don't have frostbite.