Day 12 – 16th June 2018
Hallingskeid to Voss, Norway
Transport – 80km (with 1 decently steep climb) average speed 17.5km/hr (would have been at least 25km/hr if not for the scenery!). Note we opted for a scenic cruise through the Sognefjord (see below).
We woke this morning to an old friend…the sun. After 2.5 days of on and off rain and holed up in a mountain hut (well the later part was actually pretty cool) we stoked with the turn in weather and quickly pumped some oats with hot choc powder mixed in (quick and 😋) breaky and were ready to roll. Today we would ride the much hyped Rallarvegen trail – one of Norway’s top cycle routes which runs from Haugastøl to Flåm! The Rallarvegen is a 80km dirt trail that was constructed to assist in the development of the train rail running through this #scenicAF part of Norway (actually are there any parts of Norway not scenic??? seriously!). Starting at approx 1000m at Hallingskeid we would ride about 40km to Flåm which provided a dramatic change in scenery as you are going from above the snow line to sea level. One thing that blew me away and continues to do so continuing our journey through Norway is the sheer amount of waterfalls. It seems you literally can’t turn a corner in this part of Norway without seeing another waterfall! And some of them are so high up relative to the mountains you wonder how they even exist (I guess a boatload of consistent rain obviously 🙄).
So we descended down from approx 1000m which is the approx snow line boundary in Norway at this time of year to sea level. This descent provided a constantly changing landscape and is part of the reason I was so blown away. We went from an alpine region with boulders, snow, waterfalls and devoid of any trees to green forested areas with lakes, meadows and you guessed it more waterfalls! The ride took us over 3 hours and not on account of difficulty but rather we just had to stop every 10 minutes to take it all in! Seriously there is video evidence of my making a vow to come back: https://youtu.be/b9uftQzTP-8
So I’ll skip onto Flåm where we had about half an hour before the next cruise was departing to Gudvangen. The scenic cruise operating between these 2 ports is one of the most popular cruises in Norway as it traverses the narrow and very dramatic UNESCO listed Nærøyfjord which is a branch of the legendary Sognefjord – the #kingoffyords in Norway (king as largest and deepest!). Now for 2 peeps and bicycles we paid $150AUD which may sound steep but this is Norway (currently one of the most expensive countries in the world) and I have to say it was worth every cent. The section coming into Gudvangen is simply breathtaking.
Once we landed we had a quick parkup involving digestives, these potato crepe things (called lomper), banana and of course hazelnut spread (Norway’s Nøttepålegg highly recommended 👌).
We then pedaled another 40km to Voss which has one #steepAF 500m climb in the middle (steep is a relative term when your riding fully loaded tourers 🙄).
At Voss it was a no nonsense SOP affair and we quickly hit the supermarket for dinner (fresh tomato based tuna pasta with broccoli) and breaky supplies and found a very convenient camp spot within walking distance of the shops on a lake/fyord front 😍. We packed it in shortly after dinner as we were both cooked both mentally and physically. We both agreed that this was hands down the best day riding either of us has experienced to date. Sorry for the long post but just wanted to convey some of the stoke in this entry.
Daily spend: $200 ($150 for cruise tix plus $50 food)
-B with edit from E
Day 13 – 17th June 2o18
Voss to Odda, Norway
Transport – 83.7km average speed 21.3km/hr with ferry crossing in the middle
Highs lows and all the in between – Today’s ride I thought would be more of a commute to get to a destination and was not expecting a whole lot. What I wasn’t expecting was for this to be the best road ride of my life. It’s crazy but yesterday we rode the Rallarvegen which takes the cake but the scenery experienced today is a close second.
First up we had a 40km section running from Voss to Kvanndal. From goggle it looked like we would be ascending up some pretty epic switchbacks about half way through. I think Emms stoked level in the following video sums up how we both felt when we found out we would be descending the switchbacks instead 😝.
We then clocked the final kms to Kvanndal where we had a half hour wait for the ferry ride to Utne. The ferry ride was about $14 for 2 people and this is probably the best bang for buck in expensive Norway. The ferry is super plush with indoor heated areas and cafeteria with the billion dollar views (million doesn’t convey much context nowadays with the medium house price in Sydney being about 1 million $$$ 😳). Once we landed in Utne we had another 40km to Odda along the 550 road which is dead once all the cars from the ferry have unloaded…a cyclists wet dream! We did have to go through a few tunnels which was pretty unnerving and did take refuge in a bus shelter when it started raining about half way through but all this was overridden by the epic scenery provided by the Sørfjorden running into Odda (this fyord is a narrow branch coming off the much larger Hardangerfyorden). You know this fyord is business when the opposite side has a ‘scenic highway’ recommended for tourists.
Ohh and Emm wants me to add that the cherry picking along this part of the route is top notch! Hey someone has to do quality control!
At Odda we found a pretty epic parkup near the base of this glacier and had fully set up and had dinner (pasta with powdered carbonara and tuna…noticing a theme here??) when a local resident told us in no polite terms we were not allowed in the valley and had to leave 😞 not wanting to upset the locals we packed up and made our way back to the local camp ground which we had avoided in the first place to try and get away from the crowd. Lucky for us there was still a pretty awesome bit of real estate on the foreshore which was just on the cusp of the camping area so we were able to set up in relative peace and had a pretty sound sleep.
Nutella or equivalent jar count: 5 (over 12 days! Oops 😬)
-B with edit from E
Day 14 – 18th June 2018
Odda to Trolltunga to Odda, Norway
Transport – 37.2km average speed 13.6km/hr (725m climbing) with 5km bike along trail.
Highs lows and all the in between – This morning we were up round 7am and with the hike at the infamous Trolltunga on the cards I was pretty pushy with getting Emm up and running. Despite our rush rush morning we didn’t get going until 11am once we had rolled into town, had breaky, updated insta, checked emails…the list goes on )the hardships you gave in touring life 🙄). So we rode the 17km to Skjeggedal which is at the base of the hike and we arrived there round 12pm. Now we knew from prior research that the return hike including the 4km of switchbacks would roughly take 10-12hrs for a moderately fit person. The weather was in and out rain as it has been since we arrived in Norway and not wanting to get caught out with bad conditions for up to 12hrs (worst case with hike we figured) we decided to take the comparatively easier route which goes under the Trolltunga rock along the old hydro dam’s edge (known as Ringedals Dam). This ride is off-road and is suitable for cross bikes at a minimum I would argue as it has heaps of loose boulders and rocky waterfall crossings. We ended up riding the majority of it but decided to lock our bikes up about 2-3km from the end and just walk the final section as it was faster than unclipping and pushing each sketchy section. Now we were rewarded with some pretty banger views the whole way and not trying to pt ourselves on the back (but am doing so in the process) I think the views from the waters edge are equally as good as the views from up above (we compared notes with fellow hikers at the end of the day).
I would honestly recommend this walk for people who don’t have time to do the full hike up the mountain to Trolltunga or if the weather is average (I have always been told if the weather is bad in the mountains don’t go!). We had a quick lunch which consisted of mackerel in tomato sauce with bread and cheese. The tinned mackerel seems to be a staple of the Norwegian diet and is honestly pretty good (I guess anything is good when covered in tomato sauce 😜)
We then walked back to our bikes and rode the mostly downhill road back to Odda. We got some stuff for dinner and breaky at the Coop Extra supermarket (as a heads up this is more of a discount orientated supermarket which is vital in Norway unless your balling). For #BeausBowl dinner we decided to run with a quintessential Norwegian dish fiskepudding. This is similar to a block of tofu however it has as its core ingredients fish and potato flour (Norwegians seem to love making food based off potato – was Ireland founded by some wayward winds Vikings???). We sliced and fried the fiskepudding and had these slices on dinner on bread with cheese and sliced tomato with a healthy side of broccoli. Overall really rated this meal and give the fiskepudding a 3.5/5 on #BeausBowl. Note I would have scored it a 4 if I had some sort of sauce (nando’s extra bloody hot peri comes to mind) to accompany it. Will repeat this meal that’s for sure!
Post dinner we chilled out in the free wifi area of the campground lol and stayed up munching on a combo of nuts, digestives, strawberries and hazelnut spread of course 🙄. It was close to bed when we met a few hikers (Julian and Ashhal) who had just completed the Trolltunga hike and just returned at 10.30pm! They had no food as everything was presumably closed so we thought we would help them out a bit and gave them some of our fruit muslie which we had budgeted for the next day 🙂. They are heading South to Stavanger and will do the famous pulpit rock hike so our paths may yet cross again if we are in the vicinity. That’s all folks for…
Nutella or equivalent jar count: 5 – no change but making a dint on this 5th jar😬)