29 May - 3 June, 2016 - Southern Norway
After staying up to watch the European Cup final on May 29th, I decided to stay in Hällevadstrom, SE one day longer. At any rate it was good to have a rest day.
On Monday, 30 May I continued north reaching the border to Norway in the late morning. When I got to Halden, NO I had the toughest limb of the day just to get to the campground. It was situated within the walls of the Fredriksten fortress which is high above the city. I ended up making the climb twice that day (once on the loaded bike and once without all the gear). I needed to ride down into the city to get Norwegian kroner and to get a good map of Norway.
Tuesday gave me my initial lessons in Norwegian topography and how keeping to the planned 90+ km per day pace I had set for myself would be impossible. I started with an exhilarating downhill ride into the city of Halden which was followed by a long, tough uphill climb out of the city to the north. The weather was fantastic, and the scenery was beautiful. During the day I came upon many beautiful lakeside and valley views. I hoped to find a campground, but ended up with my first night wild camping. I was just north of Knapstad, NO. For my first attempt, the site selection was in need of serious improvement. I barely had room to set up my tent. Still, it was o.k. I managed to get a good night’s rest, and that was the important part.
The weather and the hills got better / worse on Wednesday. The weather has been great up until this point, but for cycling these hills I would prefer it to be a little bit cooler. The town of Lillestrom, NO was especially nice. Lake Øyeren and the surroundings are especially beautiful.
I made one big mistake on this day. When I got a baguette for breakfast, I bought a second one for lunch. Later in the day I bought a liter bottle of orange juice. When I stopped for lunch I should have had half of each. But, you work up an appetite, so I ate it all. The really bad thing was not taking a while to let this big lunch settle before taking off and tackling some more serious hills. My stomach revolted in protest to my stupidity. Ugh! I had cramps that just about drove me to stopping for a while. Fortunately, all was better by late afternoon. But, the lesson was learned. Keep the lunch light and take some time to rest and digest before pressing on.
The only thing different on Thursday was that it was even hotter, making the climbs even more difficult. The scenery and the beautiful vistas were as they have been every day I’ve been here. I managed to reach a campground just north of Gjøvik, NO where I got a much needed shower and the opportunity to wash my laundry. I had a cabin there where I could also recharge all my electronics, the most important of which are the battery pack, the Garmin, and my phone.
On Friday, the hills almost had me giving up. My legs are like rubber. That, plus the fact that after Tretten, NO, the next campground is quite a ways up the road, convinced me to stop at 15:00 after only 65 km. I decided also to stay here two nights and give the old legs a break.
Tretten is a very nice little town. It has a number of inhabitants who are deep into the hobby of restoring and driving old American cars. You see these all over in Sweden and Norway. The difference in Tretten is that they have quite a number of restored American trucks.
There’s also a diner here called The Cadillac Diner. It’s run by Brittirèn Bjerkestuen, a young lady who drives a massive Ford F-150 pickup truck. The décor of the diner is amazing. I real felt like I was in the States. The music was streamed from K105, a country music station in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Brittirèn showed me her truck and a huge Lincoln Continental Mk IV they had in the garage, as well as a Freightliner and a Mac truck they had outside. It was really cool and I’ll be eating there again tonight as the food was also very good.
With 1,685 km behind me I have now also passed the 1,000 mile mark. By my original calculations I’m just short of half way to the North Cape. Looking at the map I’d guess I have a few more days of travel before I pass that point. But, tomorrow I’ll press on northwards. The day of rest really does wonders.