A lot of people say that my entries are too long, that's why I attach a typical background for lazy people at the beginning: Norway is beautiful, physically demanding, it's raining a lot, it's a hasty road, and you can accidentally switch from road cycling to bagging.
Crazy country of crazy people
Norway is a beautiful country: green fjords, blue skies, smiling people, walking in the sun in the mountains ... this is how it looks at the folders and on the commercials I watched before leaving. Reality turns out to be quite different.
If you ever wondered who and where he came up with such diets as: gluten-free, vegetarian, starvation or putting jars out of the house, in my opinion these were Poles on vacation in Norway. We also became gluten-free and vegetarian as soon as we saw the first prices in stores.
We choose the destination of our trip (or rather, Panda chooses, because the whole trip is organized as my 30-piece gift), the town of Molde. You can get there at a decent price with the help of Wizzair from Gdansk (HERE you can check prices and dates). The moment I write it, I can get it in two ways for PLN 80:
This is the only sentence in this entry in which I can use the statement "decent price". In terms of prices, Norway is a world championship. After that, it will be cheap in every next place in the world. Seriously, in this way: a taxi that takes us to the airport on Sunday (6.5km) is well over 200 PLN, half a liter of cola - dycha, snickers - less than ten breaths, bread - three dychys.
We take the bike with us - the ways are many and all expensive (an extra few stakes). We carry in dedicated suitcases, to which we stuff a little food (eg with two kilograms of pancakes that saved our lives), thanks to which the total weight of luggage for two people is over 80 kilograms. One of them has 38kg (6 more than the limit at airports), so there is a small problem in Gdansk, but eventually it flies with us. That explains, I hope, why we need a taxi. We meet alternative packaging at the more experienced tourists on the spot:
Maybe it is less secure packaging, but effective. At least they are not called by the Norwegian airport's security for "facilities" to unpack their luggage and scan it in every possible way. We can say one thing about our largest bicycle cases from Thule - they inspire respect. If, left unattended on the hill, they have gained momentum, the consequences could be catastrophic ...
Returning, however, to Molde itself, where we land after 100 minutes: the airport on the spot is the size of a somewhat overgrown Traffic kiosk. In general, most of the buildings in Norway are tiny - especially when compared to the mountains there ... or women who see that they did not smoke and drink lots of milk when they were young. The average price per square meter in the center of a small city is over PLN 22,000 - the size of the houses justified. As for women, it certainly has something to do with national sports such as cross-country skiing and kayaking - every third car has an attached kayak holder on the roof.
Above our city, there is an elevation that can be afforded on the first day, just after the arrival, as part of warming up and recognizing the enemy and preparing us for what lurks in the following days. In less than 4 kilometers, we are rising from 40m to 400m - partly ideal asphalt, partly off-road. At the top there is a beautiful view of the fjords ... or nothing, because the clouds can ruin everything.
Good weather, only wet
The average number of days with rainfall between May and October is reportedly 29 in each of the months (source). In the remaining few, everyone is busy taking pictures of folders promoting Norway - they immortalize these moments or they do for extras: they are ordinary Norwegians in the background who pretend not to be surprised. Besides, the Norwegians are known for their dark complexion, which they owe their wonderful sun (we do not count here black groups, met with a bit of luck, who spend most of their time taking a selfie with the rods received from the state for a better start). When it comes to temperatures, it is cold in the winter, it is cold in the spring, it is cold in the autumn and it is cold in the summer. We spend the whole stay in sets: shorts + legs, short shirt, sleeves, vest, sweat / thermoactive underwear, rainproof ultralight jacket in the pocket and optional sweatshirt on bad days.
Norway, that is, someone is playing on the codes here
Traveling through Norway is strange and nothing like what I have seen before. Whoever created this country was crazy. It looks like a 6-year-old child has sat down in a drunkard to Sim City or Transport Tycoon with the infinite money mode turned on and has begun to play with the terrain editor. I will try to illustrate this - normal mountains in a normal country look like this: / __ / __, something did not work out in the north and it looks like this: _ || _ | _ |. A huge, almost vertical rock grows out of the flat field. It can also grow out of the sea, another mountain or basically anything. To this, on this sea, huge quantities of islets are scattered: from a large supermarket upwards.
Then, as the time goes by, the kid begins to build buildings. He spreads them everywhere. Sometimes it makes absolutely no sense, almost all distant from each other enough to make visiting neighbors a trip for the whole afternoon, requiring the use of a car, bicycle, kayak and hiking shoes. Unfortunately, he wants the chosen one to have the same option and all buildings look the same. Very small size considering the available terrain, with 2-3 levels and everything from wood. One thing is certain, compared to our villas, Norwegians look like they are 15x poorer. They are betrayed only by the new combi and SUVs on the uphill (probably only such cars know).
There is something unusual about this madness. Fjords are one of the most beautiful places nature has created. Regardless of the time of day and weather - they make an amazing impression (assuming, of course, that they are not covered by rainy fog). Adding to this order that prevails in the country (finding a rubbish bordering on a miracle) we have a recipe for a mandatory point from the list of the best places in the world. Cleanliness of Norwegians chase away the Swiss. However, there is no unpleasant feeling that for throwing a package of yogurt into a bad container, someone will put us in a 500 franc penalty and shoot it on the spot, shouting ugly German words. Here, at most, someone will apologize to you, say that you are doing wrong and will improve you - at least they make an impression.
Cyclists and roads
Every day, on road we meet road cyclists in the countable number on the fingers of one hand. Even if in our youth we played a lot of "knife" and not all of us were left. There are definitely more "trekkers". Students who have been traveling for a month, retirees who have been going non-stop for half a year or, finally, rich Germans who have left their camper somewhere and are now trying to return to it. Almost all combine one element - large panniers mounted to each part of the bike and one-digit speed at the term of 90.
When it comes to traffic and asphalts - there is nothing to write about. In addition to the most major ways, traffic is basically negligible - to the extent that it becomes disturbing. If something happens to us, someone will find us someday? I quickly comfort myself that the trekkers, somewhere in the middle of nothing, have much worse. Fortunately, even the busiest routes in the area are almost empty. Next to most of them, there is an asphalt, an optional pavement path that you can glide around. Tales of cars driving a bicycle for 15 kilometers are slightly exaggerated, but in fact - if there is a continuous line on the road, the Norwegian will not overtake. If there is another vehicle in front, it will not push too. This is probably due to the fact that nobody is in a hurry anywhere because the day is long. The overtaking stock is more or less the same as with us when we overtake a man who has 6 milions in his blood.
When setting the loop it is worth remembering three key things:
White roads (on the map) are generally much nicer than the yellow one, and the asphalt is equally good. Unless there is no asphalt on them, which can also happen. There will be no problem with driving them on the road, but not everyone likes it. We like it, but be warned just in case. Google Street View is our friend. To make matters worse, Strava and Gugle very often set a cycle route along the walking routes. This is probably related to the overwhelming number of off-road machines - after you have saved the route, you must always look carefully at this angle (and for impassable tunnels).
tunnels - this is the worst thing about road Norway. However well we would not plan our route, we can never be sure if it will be passable. It is obligatory here THIS PAGE - we will find on it a full list of Norwegian tunnels with a marking of their passability by bicycle (and commentary) and a possible detour. Tunnels can be a truly traumatic experience. Journey in the dark for several minutes, in the noise close to your level, often to a good rock concert and emptiness - both back and forth. They happen to be civilized, with a shoulder, but there are also those completely Spartan, looking like they were hollowed out by prisoners with teaspoons. We already know why Norwegian music is so loud, these people must be deaf.
Ferries - there are usually no problems with them. As the landscape was designed by a crazy man, on most trips you will have to use the ferry at least once. The page with the list of connections, prices and timetable is HERE. However, I use the search in Google to find some meaningful results. Prices are usually around PLN 10-30, and on each of the ships we will find a warm room and something to eat. Most of them run 24 hours a day, with a frequency higher than our MZA, although when planning a long trip, I recommend first to include these less frequented connections, so as not to be surprised 5 km from the house. During one of the trips we get to the ferry, which, contrary to the timetable - instead of in 15 minutes, is supposed to appear after more than 2 hours. An alternative route is to add 100km. It would also be stupid to get stuck on one of the islets, but the trashcans, which look like our shrines, could come with help. If trashcans in Poland had such houses as there, ultras would be overjoyed. The only plus is that at the marinas there are electronic information boards with the nearest courses.
The roads themselves are crazy - like everything. People who designed them were abnormal and did not know something like "straight and flat". It does not matter how flat profile shows us Strava and our track, even when driving on a relatively flat Garmin shows us 6%. Traveling along the fjord slope, the altitude is between 0-100 meters. The largest hills reach 300 meters. However, this oscillates a good word, because the road usually resembles a sinusoid. Let me be honest - it tortures us over and over. It's like knocking a cyclist up - you ride awfully, and there's none of it, because you're still "downstairs". Quite different are the "mountain" roads ... maybe not something else. Although not ... they are basically the same sine waves but their amplitude is much higher.
It is worth to venture somewhere deep inside. During one of the trips we find a dirt road that leads through empty space for about 2 hours. That's what it seems to us at least, because as it turned out later, during the stop for a candy bar, we are surrounded by housing estates. There are no cars in front of them, there are no people around them, they look like deserted. A bit like a village from horror movies. On the internet I discover later that it is probably some winter sports camps. There are plenty of campsites here, almost as many as normal buildings
Language, or språk
Norwegian is very simple. We take the English and German equivalents of the word we are looking for and then combine them randomly. Then we remove a few vowels from them and add a funny sound similar to the letter 't' with an oral trumpet (such between 'yt' and 'ut')
Why is it so expensive? – hvorfor er det så dyrt?
Can I paint you a fence for money? – kan jeg male gjerdet for pengene?
how much?! – hvor mye ?!
crazy? – er du gal?
Can you borrow me some money? – kan du låne meg noen penger?
I really like biathlon – Jeg liker skiskyting (it's worth putting this into every conversation, for example questions above)
I'm from Poland, but I like Marit Bjoergen – Jeg er fra Polen, men jeg virkelig liker Marit Bjørgen
Can we do without extradition? – Kan vi hoppe over utlevering?
we possibly use English, but this is a weak version. Everyone on site uses it very well. Well, maybe apart from diction: it takes a moment to understand our neighbor who convinces us that she is hiding in this apartment with her friend ('hiding' trying to say 'hiring').
The day is long, we will make it
The day in June lasts 22 and a half hours. This means more or less that any planning does not make sense, because it will happen before the dark, which never comes. I can not get used to it. On vacation I'm used to driving everyone around around 7 am. Our trips sponsor the maxim "do not sleep! visit!". In Molde, it does not make sense, because regardless of whether it moves at 7 am, at 3 am or at 18 pm - we will drive. This is one of those places where you leave the night club with no idea what day it is and whether it is still yesterday evening or tomorrow afternoon. The main advantage of this solution is partial weather resistance. It rarely happens to be poured all the time: you get up in the morning, look outside and wait for a weather window - sometimes an hour, sometimes seven, but sooner or later it will appear. There is, of course, a chance that if you make a window, the opposite side is exactly the opposite, but nothing is wrong - without an ultralight windbreaker there is nothing to leave ... even when the sun is shining.
The Atlantic Road, which is the obligatory first point
The Atlantic Road is probably one of the best associated sights on the internet. Shown in every internet road report, in all road photos. Always the same bridge, always the same shot. Not without reasons - the whole road really boils down to this one bridge, which differs from thousands of other bridges that we find in the area in that it is a bit more side and connects the islands. Behind it and in front of it, there are other bridges, which do not stand out in the area. It's nice - of course. Everything in Norway is nice. The awakened expectations and the hope sparked by all these relationships are a little disappointing. Whoever adds this road to cycling 'bucket list'(places that you must see in your life) has either never been here or has not been anywhere else. This place is a must-see while in the area, but it's not cool enough to go there across half of Europe. Of course, just in case, don't trust me and check them anyway - it may turn out that I have a distorted taste. If you have the opportunity, go there at some indecent hour. The day is full of tourists - campers, motorbikes, cars. All on this one unfortunate path. It is impossible to even make a sensible loop on it, because some 30 kilometers away, a bit before the airport, there is a tunnel that cannot be covered by bicycle.
in the skin: a place to visit, but without unnecessary hopes.
Trollstigen - The Troll Way, or the clue of the program
We were a bit disappointed on the Atlantic Route. Disgusted even, because yes, the road is cool, the fjords are also cool, but we did not count on it. The perception of the fjords changes radically as soon as a bit of sun breaks through the clouds. The world then changes, the dark and gray landscapes become colorful, the water changes color, visibility improves and everything becomes wonderful. It is a pity that the hit of a few such days is like a five-lot hit. Let me say straight: Trolls' road will compensate for everything. Link to the segment on Stravie: Trollstigen. This is definitely one of the nicest cycling places I've ever seen - such a cross between Gavii and Stelvio. The summit with its lake and the mountains surrounding it is so similar to the mentioned Gavia, that looking at the photos, I could be mistaken.
Let's start from the beginning. A reasonable route can only be made from the north, from Andalsnes. If you have a choice, do everything to let your first trip take place in this direction, unless you want to crawl around 28.6 km with a steady uphill of about 3% - yes, this road is 28.6 kilometers with an average of 3% ( link to Stravy: Trollstigen-Brua før Valldal) and it is definitely better to fly it down: through fields, through forests, surrounded by rock walls. Driving there to the top awaits us unavoidable drive depression. The descent, in turn, is something beautiful - long straight, contoured delicate turns, perfect surface and good cover from side winds. Adding practically zero traffic to this (this site is much boring, so nobody drives this way) we have a recipe for downhill success.
However, we are mainly interested in the driveway, we came here for it - 9.4 km with an average of 7.1%. It is a bit like a visit to our very wealthy friends. The beginning is huge, flat (according to what I wrote above, nothing here is flat, but after several hundred kilometers you can quote Rafał Majka, that "5% is not a driveway") glade. It's like their plot, huge and empty space surrounded by a huge rock wall. Then there is a corridor - the walls are huge and they are getting closer to us faster, the ceiling is already a uniform white mass, sometimes somewhat brighter. It takes a bit longer, because similar to the driveways in the Alps, the beginning is boring climbing among trees and without hope for a better view. On the left we pass the Troll Wall, it is the largest cliff in Europe: over 1200 meters with suspensions up to 50 meters - giant. I know it's hard to imagine how vertical it is 1.2 kilometers away, so I will give you some examples: 10 new Godzilla standing on each other or 24 old, or 36 Michelin men from the "Ghostbusters". In the end, we reach the place where the rocks surround us from three sides, and behind us leads the road we have arrived to the ocean itself. Climbing starts, a dozen serpentine, a few bridges, a waterfall.
At the top (852m above sea level, which does not sound very impressive) is what should be found on every such mountain: several viewpoints. All of them, unfortunately, besieged by tourists, are in a traffic jam. We leave the bikes unattended in front of them and move in the SPDs to the stairs to the delight of the crowds. Again, maybe if we came here in the middle of the night it would be better. People do not bother, just like campers and cars on the entrance - they also park every now and then to shoot photos. You can see that everyone is here on vacation, and the road is not a trip. Especially that in a moment a fast descent will begin and the roads will be completely empty for several dozen kilometers. On the Troll Road, we were ahead of 5x more cars than on all other kilometers of the day.
In brief: The Troll Way is so good that it is worth visiting Norway. You just have to remember that, like most of these routes, it is open between mid-May and October.
To the south of Trollstigen there is a lot of great uphill, but we do not have enough strength for loops over 180km, and looking for accommodation elsewhere is not an option. A visit to Geiranger (I do not know how to read it, but if I like Gej Rendżer I like it), we're leaving for another visit. In addition to the view (quite good looking at Google Street) there is a hill: Dalsnibba. High at 1480 meters, which we attack from the sea level - almost 21 kilometers with an average slope of 7%. The final 5km is unfortunately terrain, but podjeżdżalne (edit: contrary to what the maps show, the road is supposedly asphalted to the end). Link to Stravy: Nibberittet 2013
This country can mix in the head and - saying ugly - packet:
- Everyone is indecently kind. The lady who rented our flat for 5 minutes explained why there is no salt, why only one coffee and how the hood works. No matter where you go by bike, everyone is smiling at you
- Roads are equal, cars are overshadowing a great supply - sometimes even exaggerated
- It is clean, the number of garbage noticed by us over these several hundred kilometers does not exceed a few. Even so, garbage can not be seen
- In the summer the day is so long that there is no reason to hurry for anything
- Half (estimates) of residents here has such a view from the windows that hang on our paintings
Why is it so annoying? Because a man begins to wonder why it can not be so everywhere ...
To go or not to go?
Norway is not for everyone. If you have a few days leave a year, you can probably use them a little more comfortably. Here you probably get a little cold, get wet (we've met people who have been wet every day for 2 weeks), you will have a chance to see nothing if there is no weather miracle. On the other hand, you'll create a chance to see places that tourists from all over the world dream about and relax (this is a bad word considering the route profile) on empty roads. Due to the difficulty of laying the loops and the specificity of the terrain, the trekking mode - panniers, tent and road would be much better. In Norway, you can break them down practically anywhere, as we see when seeing a single little tent in the least expected place. Maybe in old age ... for a month or two - as it should be done
For more photos, I invite you as usual >> here <<
At the end I put in a photo as usual, which reminds me that after the holidays you should take some time off to rest after them, because it is not easy: