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.

Broken

By Stuart Lowe on

I had 30km to go to get to Olderfjord. First there was another tunnel that was 2.6km long. Somehow I seemed to more or less stay in a dry spot between rain showers most of the way.

At Olderfjord I went in the little cafe and had a tea and waffle for 80 krones. That was my luxury for today. There I met Barry and Steve who were bus drivers from Staylybridge and Glossop. They were on motorbikes and had driven from home to Nordkapp. They were now on their way back. We shared stories and Barry went and got me three Wayfarer all-day-breakfasts from his bike. Thanks Barry!

I was a few kilometres out of Olderfjord when I met Wenyuan. He was from Shanghai but had started down near the Baltic and was heading north. He looked fresh and clean with a smart set of new panniers despite having been on the road for a month. I'm not sure how he managed that. I look a bit bedraggled after only 5 or so days.

Down into Skaidi I rode. There was a little rain. I went into the little shop which also served as a hardware store. I was hoping to find Duct Tape as I'd used mine up packing my bike in Manchester. I didn't find any but did find a long Roullade with marzipan for 30 krones. Yum. In the shop I also had a very brief chat with a lady from Poland who had cycled to Nordkapp with her husband and dog.

The climb up out of Skaidi was long. I stopped in a lay-by to have some lunch and a kind Dutch couple in a van topped up my flask and gave me a cup of broth (thin soup). Today was going well.

landscape
Dutch couple

The road rose to a 240m summit then rose again towards a 386m summit. I was back up at snow-covered plateau level which was worrying after the last few days. This time I seemed to be travelling in my own little dry patch as the clouds were moving south at the same rate. More good luck.

Bang!

There was a noise from the back of my bike. I heard and felt a thud thud on every rotation of the wheel. Something was wrong. I stopped. The metal wheel rim had cracked. I've never had that happen before. I looked limited, for now. But my brake was rubbing against it. I had to disconnect the rear brake and sheepishly continued. I was 60km from Alta on tops that might entertain a blizzard. I didn't want to camp here.

I slowly pedalled over the summit and was dropping down to the 240m mark, with about 40km to go, when another problem hit. My right pedal was suddenly at a funny angle. It was unscrewing itself! I tried to tighten it but it wouldn't fit. It was as if it were the wrong size. Has the cold of the past few days shrunk the metal differently? To make matters worse my front fork has seemed a bit shaky for the past few days. I tried freewheeling down for a bit. That worked until I reached a plateau. Trying to pedal with only one pedal becomes really hard with the slightest slope. I had 27km to go. I pushed my bike 7km uphill to another summit. At this point I realised it was getting late and if I got to Alta it would be at about 1am. Instead I resolved to wild camp in a little wooded area next to the road to recuperate. I ate all of my Roullade cake.

landscape
My friend Amy drew this picture of me