Tuesday, July 28, 2009

2000km Cycling Trip Along the Norwegien Coastline

I have been an avid cyclist for quite some time now but have never gone on a long tour before let alone even a short one. When Kim and I recently did a five day trip in Fosen, it definitely got me hooked though and I knew then that I wanted to do more. While neither Kim or I have proper touring bikes, our old converted mountain bikes just keep going, are quite bomber and gave us not a hint of problems; just spin or hammer and you'll go.

We got a one way train ticket from Trondheim to Bodo and had 10 days together to explore the area; while our main goal was to check out the Lofoten Islands, we weren't sure where else we would go and also, how Kim would return home. The problem was that the train doesn't go further North than Bodo so we either had to return there, or take a flight from another destination. My intention was to continue riding the Kystriksveien (coastal route) from Bodo back down to Trondheim.

We took a ferry over to the Lofotens to a place called Moskenes and were immediately floored with just how amazing this place was shaping up to be.

For someone to claim that the Lofotens and, in particular, the Moskensoya and Flaskstadoya Islands are the most beautiful places on the entire planet, I don't think that I would argue with them. On a nice day, this rugged coastal terrain with steep, nearly vertical mountains pointing out of the ocean toward the sky is simply magical.

Kim and I made a last minute decision to bring two small Salomon backpacks in case a light backpacking trip was in order. It was a great decision as on the second day of our trip, we decided to head up to a cabin called 'Munkebu'.

We then decided that we might as well hike up to the highest peak in the Lofotens. It was completely spontaneous and so worth it as we were having steller weather and could just not pass up the opportunity. The hike did not disappoint.

The hike up and the respective summit was simply more than words could describe.

Kim and I at the summit

The midnight sun at Monkebu cabin!

After finishing the hike, we came back down to the sea and continued our bike journey northeastward toward Tromso. Kim ended up finding a cheap flight from there so that is where we would head, and that is where my journey southward would start.

Reine - The most beautiful coastal village you'll ever find.

Kayakers enjoying heaven on earth

The beaches here were tropical with white sand, deep blue-green water and even better vistas. The water, however, was not so warm!

Sculpture Landscape
Kim and I reached Tromso, where her plane would await and my journey would continue. As we ended up heading northward together, I now had over 1400km of road to travel to get home. I was feeling good and was ready to put in some long days in the saddle. I stopped at many places and have so many amazing memories and photos of Norway's gorgeous mid coast line. They claim that it is the most beautiful coastal route in the world... again, I would not argue.
Small farming villages in paradise

The hole all the way THROUGH Torgotten Mountain

The end of the road on Vikna Island.
I'm not really sure what my longest ride has ever been but I know for sure that I far surpassed it a couple days before making it home. 214km with a geared up mountain bike! Average speed was 22.4 km/hour. Estimated cumulative elevation gain for the day was around 7000m.

What amazes me most about all this is that I actually got stronger and felt better as the trip got longer. I started out doing 130km days then worked up to 214km, followed by a 189km day. The crazy thing is, I still felt like I could have continued on! I guess when you cycle that much, as long as you don't push over into the anaerobic threshold much or at all, you just become dialled in and can keep going until you fall over from a lack of sleep! That's how I felt anyway.

While I had steller weather most of the trip, I did get rained on especially over the last day which had me soaked from head to foot. My spirits remained relatively high though as I knew that home was just ahead where a hot shower, clean dry clothes and a nice bed awaited... ok, and Kim too!

I've learned a lot of things from this trip. One of which is that weather or not you are going for 5 days or 20 days, you don't need any more gear. Thus, we both kept it simple and light carrying everything in two Ortleib panniers with the tent and a pair of hikers bungied onto the rack. Without food, my setup was probably around 22-25 kilos (including the bike) which, as we later found out, was probably the lightest of any of the many many bike tourers we encountered. The full Ortleib setup seemed to be standard (front rack panniers, rear rack panniers, handlebar bag, tent and gear bungied to the rear rack and yes, even a backpack with stuff. I didn't see any kitchen sinks on the rack but it seemed like everyone tried to bring at least everything else. Not sure what you need with 50kg of stuff but if you want to be slow and bring it, be my guest.

This was truly an amazing experience that I will never ever forget. Norway is truly a world class cycle tourer's dream come true. During 21 days of cycling, I paid for two nights of accommodation; one at a mountain cabin, and one at a campground that had laundry facilities. You can camp anywhere as long as you're not close to private residences and if you're fine with cold water bathing in the ocean, rivers or lakes (warm), you can stay clean and comfortable.
Would I do it all over again if I could...
In a second!
To check out more amazing photos, click here (should be updated soon).


Patrick said...

Nice trip Todd! Man, awesome photos. Enjoying the updates, keep 'em coming.

Gary Robbins said...

AHHHH, you have me drooling over the pics and the thoughts of doing another big cycling tour! I used to think that the true definition of freedom should simply have a picture of someone on a long cycle tour...everything they could possibly need stuffed into just a few panniers!


Anonymous said...

Hey Todd -

I sure wish I was over there to wander the unbeaten paths of Norway with you. Keep blogging and letting me live my life vicariously through you!

Doug d

Todd Nowack said...

Thanks for the comments.

I feel like I live vicariously through Gary sometimes too! He does all my running for me while I just up the amount of cycling he is missing! :)

Cycle touring is definitely complete freedom. I've felt similar on backpacking trips but your range of daily travel is limited and the gear on your back (regardless of how light you go) becomes a burden over time. A couple panniers on the bike though and hammer away!