Monthly Archives: August 2009

A note on comments

I just thought I’d clear this up.  I read all the comments you post, but I don’t add them to the blog.  It’s either because I’m a control freak, or I don’t particularly care to get involved in moderating posts, checking for spam, and generally babysitting the blog.  Your choice.

Update:

I just read that and think I kinda sound like a douche.  I really do enjoy your comments and love getting them- I just figure that since most of the comments are directed to me and I can’t check on things that often, I’m just better off leaving comments off the blog.  Thanks!

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Nordkapp or bust

The road from The Loften Islands to Nordkapp starts as a fast run- decent views and good tarmac with nothing making you stop for pics.  It then weaves in and out of some fjords with typically impressive scenery.

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Unfortunately, it just doesn’t feel that extreme.  You could be a thousand kilometers south and the views, roads, and stores would be the same.  Come on, I’m in the Arctic circle riding north here!  Throw me a bone!

Nothing doing- the insane prices in Norway seem to be have been used to create an excellent road network that reaches the most remote points in Ferrari loving style.  Ah well, who am I to complain about a bit of extra comfort?

As my butt is focused on enjoying the smooth roads, my eyes start to see the terrain changing.  The massive walls of the fjords shrink, the trees become gnarled and less frequent.  Then you hit it.  Then you know you’ve crossed a line…

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That’s right- Rudolph appears!  While you quickly come to dread seeing these near sighted beasts on the road, the first time you see a herd wandering across the open land you really feel it.  You are north- you are seriously north and your still a few hours shy of 71°1′8″N 25°47′50″E.

While the roads may remain smooth, the weather and scenery become increasingly stark the further north you go.  Hard rain, low clouds, and brutal winds force cold water into your gear.  The now scrubby trees begin to disappear, leaving a wind ravaged landscape for you to ride through.  Every gas station, every hotel become trials of Job as you force yourself not to stop, but keep moving, keep going.

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And then you get there.  You take your pics, are rewarded for your tenacity with the weather clearing…

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And just feel a little deflated.  It’s cool and all, but it’s too easy.  Anyone can get there- the only reason it was hard was because I was on a bike in bad weather.  The rows of tour buses disgorging their walker toting passengers prove it.  I did it and am proud of it, but unlike crossing that imaginary line to the Arctic, it’s not a dramatic moment.

Would I go there again, no.  Would I recommend anyone skip it- not on your life.

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Lofoten Islands

I’m sure I missed many hidden gems in Bodø, but other adding yet another entry to the list of Norwegian names that reinforce the connection between Tolkien’s Middle Earth and Nordic sagas, it really didn’t do anything for me.

A couple of hour ferry ride to The Lofoten Islands cured that indifference with a swift smack to the head.  This place has drama to send a Victorian matron running for cover!

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To be honest, the riding was satisfying, but not amazing.  Good thing, since with views like these, a great road would be wasted.

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Railway Swede became a riding companion for a day.  I don’t know what it is about The Swedes and adventure riding, but they seem to have made it a national pastime.  Eat that baseball!

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Norway has this ability to keep you guessing- never letting you get complacent with the roads or the views.  Throughout my riding in Norway this impression remained; an almost active participation in my trip from the country.  Silly I know, but ride Norway and try not to feel it yourself.

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You crossed an imaginary line, so?

That’s basically what crossing The Arctic Circle is, but for some reason I feels very cool.  I don’t think it’d be the same on a tour bus and I know it certainly isn’t on a plane since I’ve crossed The Circle and gone much further north in the air than I ever have on land.  But there it is- it felt cool to cross it the way I did.

The little morning ferry ride kept up the road 17 tradition of fantastic views.

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Especially when crossing into The Circle and seeing the marker.

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Views from the deck of a boat always seem to have a magical quality.

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Finishing with the ferries and getting closer to Bodø, you pass the Engabreen glacier as the cherry on top for this road.

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Road 17 from Moirana to Bodø

Okay, I take back what I said about my old favorite road in Norway, this is my new favorite road in Norway!  Call me fickle, see if I care- this road hugs the rugged coastline, requires a couple of ferry rides, has a few cool tunnels, a campsite that serves fresh caught local fish, oh and it crosses The Arctic Circle!  Heck, if it’d fit in a dress I’d marry it!

Leaving Moirana the road is enjoyable, but really just another strip of tarmac.  The view begins to get more interesting until you come to the first tunnel and then, on the other side, it goes straight to jaw dropping.  And it’s not just the views- the riding is fun, twisty without being annoying and fast without keeping you from enjoying your surroundings.

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This was the view from the deck of my cabin at the campsite.  You know you’ve got people running a place who understand their customers when they keep the trees from blocking the views.  Norway is packed with birch trees, I don’t particularily need to see any more- especially if they’re going to block this view!

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The guy at the site cooked up a mean fish dinner.  You got to pick the fish you wanted from what had been caught and he then pan fried it with a light breading.  It was a refreshing change from most Scandinavian cooking which is heavy on sauces that cover the flavour of your food.  I’ve lost count of the number of interesting foods that I’ve never tasted because the sauce they were drenched in took over completely.

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Finally getting some miles in

After spending far too much time stopping for views and sights like these:

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Dale Church

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The Saga Column

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I really wanted to get some miles in and, what do you know, Norway helped out!  Riding further north towards Bodø the land flattens out, the roads start to empty, and the riding speeds up without as many stops for pics and faster roads.  I did stop in Trondheim for a quick tour around and to see the impressive Nidaros Cathedral.  Once again I just couldn’t get into the city- I think all the riding and natural beauty of the countryside kind of spoils you for city sights.

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Yay, Troll dolls

Trollstigen is a very popular attraction on Romsdal.  There is the inevitable legend about trolls (the mountains are said to be a troll bridal procession turned to stone) that lead to the inevitable score of souvenir shops selling all matter of troll dolls.  The road can’t handle large vehicles, but rented caravans being driven by inexperienced tourist drivers are more than welcome.  The pass is actually stunning and the mountain views are fantastic, it’s just the crush of people and slow procession of RVs going up and down the switchbacks that conspire to rob the place of some of it’s magic.

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The construction was also a bit of a bummer, but from the looks of what they were doing I think they’ll end up with a very cool visitor’s centre.

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From the valley below the mountains are no less impressive.

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