Day 26 Sheer magnificence

5 Jul

Day 26 Sheer magnificence, originally uploaded by Big Al!.

Some days of bike travel, everything seems to go wrong. Other days, even when it’s gone wrong it goes spectacularly right. I leave camp quite early after noisy residents wake me up. There’s always someone noisy in a camp site, but this is the first time I’ve been disturbed by a goat. A short ride through stunning scenery on brilliantly fun roads, a short ferry trip, and then I park at the visitor centre for Priekestolen, a slab of rock with sheer drops for thousands of feet on three sides. I know there’s a short trek involved to get to the rock, so I lock up helmet and gloves and set off. What I don’t know is that the 3km is pretty much vertical and is practically mountaineering, clambering over rocks and boulders. A tenth of the way and I’m shattered, drenched in sweat because I’m wearing motorcycling trousers, jacket and boots. By half way I’m nearly dead and fully understanding the funny looks I was getting from all the people wearing shorts, t-shirts hiking boots and using walking poles, and there are a lot of people here, even families with small children who must be taking a whole day to do the hike. At the top it turns out to be worth the effort. The view is stunning, the precipice is daunting, and the act of standing right on the very end for a photo is nerve wracking. I look at the young kids scampering about and wonder how their parents don’t have heart attacks. The drop is immense. Peering over the edge is utterly terrifying. People, including me, gingerly creep forward, acting as if they might fall, even though they’re really 6 feet from the edge. I ask several people to take photos for me, and as usual they are all useless, apart from one heroic aussie from Victoria who does a stirling job. Then I head back down. At the bottom I’m done for. It’s been 3 hours of rock climbing in bike gear. Back in the car park I meet some English bikers, five of them, all heading for Nordkapp like I am, and some of then are members of Horizons Unlimited, too. They kindly allow me to join forces and together we head north onto route 13. After half an hour of exhilarating riding there’s another ferry crossing and I take the opportunity to part company. They’re in a hurry to get to the north, and riding way too fast for me. I want to enjoy the incredible view and not take risks into hair pin bends, assuming that there won’t be anything coming the other way. After the ferry I’m back to a slower pace and the landscape gives all the stimulation I need. It is impossible to describe or photograph and do it justice. Having followed the others, I’m now off my intended route and have to re plan. Going this way means I’m not sure where I’ll find a camp site. The payoff is that going this way has led me to one of the best biking roads I’ve ever been on. Definitely top 10 in the world. For drama of scenery, top 5. It’s breathtaking and utterly enjoyable. So many times I round a bend or emerge from a tunnel to be confronted with landscape that makes me say very rude words, as in f… me look at that. If you’re a biker, make it a mission to ride Norway’s route 13, it’s magnificent. Tired, the thought of camping does not appeal, so I try my luck in a ski resort hotel that I pass. It turns out to be little more expensive than last night’s camp site, the room is a luxury apartment, the view is sensational, the beer is cold, the reindeer steak is delicious, and this day has been one of the best biking days I’ve ever experienced. Well, top 20 at least, and realising that a day like today only makes top 20, makes me feel very lucky, even if my knee and my hip which were damaged in the cycling crash, are killing me after the climb up to that bloody stupid rock.