Day 25 Egersund, Norway

4 Jul

Day 25 Egersund, Norway, originally uploaded by Big Al!.

I wake to the sound of heavy rain. Breakfast is an MOD ration pack which I eat sitting outside under the eaves of the lodge. A duck and a squirrel join me to eat and watch the rain. I don’t know what they’re having. I video the squirrel until it stops scampering and becomes still. Just as I stop recording, it performs a leap worthy of an Olympic gymnastics gold, nailing the landing. Breakfast complete I set off, in heavy rain. Bike, gear and I am completely soaked within a few miles, but there’s no other option. It’s wet enough to cause the hitherto note-perfect BMW to miss the occasional beat. Bullet cameras mist up and the controls go haywire, but the cameras wouldn’t be able to see anything anyway. I can barely see the road, which makes mountain hairpin bends a touch tricky. I’m still faster than the hopeless Norwegians, and feeling confident on the bike, heated clothing working its magic. I can sense that the view is probably spectacular, but can’t see any of it. It’s mid-morning so I pull in at a roadside cafe for a break. The cafe is closed, but fortunately I made a flask of coffee earlier, and the cafe’s wi-fi is still on so I can check the weather forecast. It still says sunny and dry at my intended camping spot, so I resist the urge to book a hostel or hotel, suit up, and head out into the heavy rain again. Lunchtime, it’s still raining, it’s still cold, I still can’t see a thing, so I stop in Evje and seek out the cheapest looking roadside greasy spoon. A burger and a coffee still sets me back nearly a tenner, but a bit of hot food makes me feel a lot better and ready to head out into the rain again. Although it’s wet and misty, the roads I’ve picked are sensational. I’ve barely gone in a straight line all day, it’s just one bend after another, biking heaven. Forests, mountains, fjords, great sheer walls of rock disappearing vertically into the mist. Up one long climb I pass two cycle tourers, painfully slogging their way up the hill, towing one-man tents, looking so wet and bedraggled it almost makes me feel guilty to be warm and dry and under power. Almost, but I’m too busy enjoying the road, even when the occasional idiot driver or road-blocking motorhome tries to spoil it. I ride through the rain, little point stopping. Shortly before Flekkefjord, where I’d planned to stop, the sun breaks through and suddenly the road is dry and I can see the view. I pass the camp site I’d planned on, and it looks spectacular, perched on the edge of a lake hanging beneath massive cliffs, but conditions are the best they’ve been all day, and I’m enjoying the ride, so I carry on. The coastal route to Egersund is magnificent. Pure biking exhilaration and a glorious spectacle of nature at it’s best. The landscape looks pre-historic, crossed with martian. I half expect to see dinosaurs. I pick a few scenic picnic spots, and I’m reminded of making scrambled eggs by a mountain river in Tajikistan, or cooking noodles by a lake in Siberia. At the top of a superb road up the side of a fjord, cutting through the mountain, I discover a monument to the first act of war on Norwegian territory during the second world war, when the Royal Navy attacked a German ship holding British POWs, which had tried to escape by holing up on Norwegian territory. Onwards, and to a camp site which, though not as nice as the one originally targeted, turns out to be just fine. I only have one MOD ration pack left, and I’m saving it, so I prepare the classic bike travel dish known as pasta slop. Ingredients, on this occasion, pasta and a tin of sardines in tomato sauce. Trust me, it’s delicious, especially after a day of nearly drowning. In Mongolia you’re limited to pasta slop or noodle slop by lack of ingredients. In Norway it’s because even one packet of dry pasta or instant noodles costs a month’s salary. The clouds return, the temperature drops, and I retire to the tent to finalise plans for tomorrow, thankful I elected to buy a warmer sleeping bag for this trip.