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.

Limping to Alta

By Stuart Lowe on

I was up early. If I was to make the bike shop by midday I needed to be off. I left my woody camp amongst fragrant, short, plants at 8am. I was able to free wheel a bit but it got scary with only one set of juddering brakes. At the bottom I had to walk again. I could see Alta across the bay.

panorama
Alta and fjord

I got frustrated aCnd worried on the walk. How much would it all cost? Would I have to use up my precious Norwegian currency that has to last to Bergen. Would I have to go a week without food and camping rough? I wanted the walk to end. A Frenchman on a bike stopped to see if I needed help. I was beyond the help of anyone else on the road themselves. A Dutchman in a van offered to give me, but not my bike, a lift to the bike shop. I couldn't see how that would help as it was my bike that needed to be there, not me. I kept walking.

The bike shop had been suggested by Chris, a friend from Cardiff. During the night I'd been able to contact a local cyclist (who was away in Oslo) and he'd recommended the same one. I eventually reached Sport 1 at midday with very sore feet. After days of cold and wet I'd subjected them to walking in neoprene socks that chaffed my toes. But I was there.

Jørn at the bike shop explained he had a full load on and had been working since 6am. However, he said he'd see if he could squeeze me in. I should leave my bike and come back in a few hours.

I lugged my bags around the corner to a cafe in the nearby shopping centre. I treated myself to a hot chocolate and a small portion of fish and chips for 200 krones (about £20). Norway is expensive. My daily budget is down to 150 krones so I'd overspent. I hadn't even paid for bike repairs yet.

I snoozed on a bench in the sunshine with my solar panel out for the first time in days. Later in the afternoon I returned to the bike shop. Jørn had replaced the wheel.He didn't have the same valve as my front wheel unfortunately so I had to buy a spare inner tube to add to the other two spares I have. He gave my a discount on the wheel given my journey. Thank goodness for local bike shops. Make sure to support yours.

I was able to pay with my UK bank card so felt less stressed. It can come out of the budget for the entire trip, not just the Norwegian part. By this point there were more staff in the shop and they told me where there was camping. I paid 180 krones for the night. I was way over budget but showers were included in the price so I could have my first in a week.