There's little motivation in me to finalise a blog about a second failed attempt to bicycle from Aachen to the North Cape and back. I need to take some advice from a bicycle touring friend of mine who wrote recently, "It's not about the destination. It's about the sights, experiences, and people you meet along the way." Undoubtably I put too much emphasis on the destination, the route, and the rough daily targets to keep my focus and determination high. Certainly, I could have avoided some of the solitude had I chosen my route in more heavily travelled areas.
In response to a question from a friend in Sweden about my choice of route, I answered that I never liked big crowds. I gave the example of the resort campground I stayed at near Lake Vänern, Sweden's largest lake. It was a small city of summer tourists, and it was not particularly enjoyable. The first day north of that campground I camped in the wild which was quite nice. The next day I rode in the rain through endless forests and sparsely populated farmland, often on unpaved roads. The next days would see much of the same (thank goodness without the rain). The solitude was quite a contrast to the crowds of the resort campground. But, it was never ending. I think my friend was right, and I needed something somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.
Though I didn't realise it at the time, the 30 km ride from Koppang to Anta with 25 km on steeply rolling dirt roads was likely the last straw. I had a rest day in Atna and plenty of time to think about the challenges to come. There was still more than 200 km to go to Trondheim, more steep climbs, and few people along the way. Solitude would definitely be the norm between Trondheim and Bodø, and north of Tromsø.
So, after leaving Atna I came to an intersection where I took a left instead of proceeding straight ahead as was planned. The left turn took me over a small mountain pass to Ringebu, a town I had ridden through three years ago on my first aborted ANCA ride. The mountain pass was long and slow going, but not especially difficult as long as I kept to the theme of, "It's not a race." I enjoyed the scenery and the challenge immensely. It was a beautiful, crisp day, and the views were spellbinding.
At Ringebu, I turned south and retraced my route from three years ago until just south of Biri, Norway. From there I crossed over to the east side of the Mjøsa where I stayed in Tangen, Norway (just south of Hamar). On the way I passed through Tretten where I had spent two days in 2016. The Caddilac Diner was still there, though this time I passed it early in the morning when it wasn't yet open.
After Tangen I had to again ride over a small pass. This one was no more difficult than the larger pass between Atna and Ringebu. But, this one was not paved, and there was one short stretch (less than 200 meters) on a path that was no more than beaten down vegetation with dense forest on either side. For added excitement, there were two places where the path was heavily eroded and collapsed into a steep ravine. I had to do some self convincing before risking going past these spots. The alternative would have been turning back and adding +50 km to my day. I managed and ended the day just south of Skarnes, only one day out from Oslo.
The ride to Oslo was, like every place else I've seen in Norway, hilly. As I got nearer to the city, however, the cycling infrastructure improved substantially. The biggest challenge was once I reached the city and was finding my way to the hotel where I had reserved a room. The traffic, pedestrians, and scores of electric scooters made me have to be extremely cautious. I made it to the hotel where everything was fine.