Good times

A fucking hectic day, but today was the first time I’ve felt the pain of this adventure was worth it. Going through hell and back every day makes the good times even more special.

My route

▣  Highly recommend       Boring but safe      Shit. Boring, strenuous & dangerous       Incomplete

Hrs estimated duration
Hrs actual riding

What I thought’d happen
I’d have an easy ride to a beautiful fjord

What actually happened
Spent most of my day sitting in a ditch gluing my bike back together

On gravel.

I camped on the edge of Hardangervidda national park last night. I set up next to a small wooden garage enclosed by roughy shrubbery and trees, with a gravel driveway leading to the main road. Behind outstretched the rest of the nature park, I pitched my tent here.

I parked my bike on the loose gravel, right up close to the garage wall, out of sight from passers by. But this morning I realised I was stuck. Unable to drive forward (I’d ram into a dirt ledge and some tree) I could only roll myself backwards. But the rocks were so granular and chunky that my bike sunk down considerably and I couldn’t get any traction.

I took all my gear off (40kgs or so), and whilst simultaneously pulling and pushing, scrunched my face up and made a sound similar to somebody trying to pass a large dump. Success. I moved an inch. Moving 250 kilos when you’re out of shape is no joke. After 5 or so of these contractions I finally budged it enough to turn the damn thing around and re-pack.

More fucking packing…

My bike has a side stand and when propped on it, it leans on a steep angle. This coupled with the fact that the side stand had sunk deep into the gravel, made it exceptionally difficult to tie my gear down. After the third attempt, and like a total of two hours packing so far, I gave in. I think I actually threw my hands up in desperate exasperation towards the sky. My bike was off balance and I felt really uneasy about it but it would have to do.

It didn’t matter, I’d fuck up only 30 minutes later and have to re-pack anyway.

About 30 minutes down the road I pulled over to take a photo of some pretty specular rolling hills and glossy blue lakes. The trip-up I’m about to describe to you is all because I decided to take this god forsaken photo.

So, I pulled over to this tiny shop with a driveway made of… gravel. You get where this is heading.

I parked my bike perpendicular to the shop, like this:

Parking infographic

Sitting in the gutter supergluing my bike back together

Because it took me so damn long this morning to pack I tried to reverse without taking my gear off. I ended up trying so hard to reverse, and my gear was so off balance, that I dropped my bike – it toppling over slowly, all the while I’m screaming nooooo.

I tried to pick it up but it was impossible with all the gear on the back. So to my anger, my incredible frustration, I had to pull everything off again – for the fourth time. I had literally just left my camping spot 30 minutes ago. I was. So. Mad. Tiny cuts and callouses were forming on my fingers from synching my luggage down so many god forsaken times. They burned.

I took everything off and picked my bike up. I’m getting pretty good at this I thought as I wiped sweat off my brow. OH. Nope. It’s now fallen the other way. This time with me also – jerking my neck and upper body over while my lower body was still planted firmly on the ground on the other side.

I picked my bike up AGAIN and realising I had no chance of walking it backwards I drove it forwards a little — then it rolled and head butted the shop.

So now I’m unable to go either forward or backwards. And with nobody around I had no choice but to continue. I turned my front wheel the tiniest bit (it was jammed on the side of the shop) and started to turn. CRUNCH my left headlight fell off. Sigh*

I literally propped my left leg against the shop and pushed backwards with all my body weight, until I cleared the wall a little and took another bite to the right. Finally I had enough room and I accelerated up to sturdier ground.

I decided my only choice now was to take the bike up to the road and prop it on level pavement. Then I’d be able to re-pack it. Except I was on a corner and I had to wave down every single vehicle at the last moment so they could go around me. Arghh.

I assessed the damage, just my left headlight. Lucky I had the foresight to buy some super glue the other day. After 24 years of being with myself I knew there was a 100% chance I’d do something stupid like this. So, here I am, sitting by the side of the road, in a ditch, gluing my fucking bike together.

The road to Lysefjord

After this debacle I drove onwards through the most spectacular scenery – regretting passing by, and not stopping, at a point on the mountain with incredible views of a common brown lake turned brilliant blue by the sky. It was nestled amongst huge shadowing cliffs of rock and mountains.

After this point I started slowly winding my way upwards towards the ski centre. Roads wound around and around, sometimes in the tightest angles imaginable. If you need practice turning corners and twisty roads, then this is a great place to start. Unlike a lot of Norway, it is still double laned in most parts, so you can practice without worrying about incoming vehicles.

The FV337

Slowly the landscape changed from thick forests of tall match-stick pine trees to barren mountainous rock. A deserted paradise for bike riders. The route takes you up, over and around a silver and lime green landscape. Boulders and tumbling rivers fill the landscape with an eerie beauty.
FV337 to Lysebotn

The road down to Lysefjord

Beginning here, the road to Lysefjord is one way for the majority. Tight corners become less sporadic and start to link up one after another as you wind down to the bottom of the fjord.

Soon you will pass by Kjerag restaurant, which is the drop off for the Kjerag hike. Kjerag is a mountain with a pretty cool looking boulder called Kjeragbolten perched precariously in between two mountains. But more about this tomorrow.

The final road to Lysebotn consists of 22 hairpin turns in succession. It is easily the most dangerous road in Norway, and I can see why. Not only is it super steep, it is really narrow, allowing only one lane. You can’t see approaching traffic around the corners – and even if you do it wouldn’t matter as you can’t break on such a tight turn without straightening up and falling off the edge.

3/4 of the way down you will enter the scariest tunnel of your life. Water drips from the cracks in the rough, misshapen walls. The place is incredibly dark and the road slick with moisture. The very end of the tunnel is a well disguised hairpin turn. If you aren’t paying attention you might miss that completely and head straight into the wall – as a car did last year. The passengers were left seriously injured and had to be airlifted out.

Out of fuel

I arrived in Lysebotn and prayed to see a gas station. I’d travelled quite sometime on an empty tank assuming there’d be one because it looked like a decent sized town on the map. When I arrived and realised there wasn’t, I pretty much drowned in stress. The nearest station was 33km back the way I had come, through all of the twisty windy roads. There was no way I had enough fuel to get me there.

I walked down to the small cafe on the corner of the dock. The lady there mentioned that the base jumpers might have some extra fuel from their boat and to go ask them.

I had no idea how popular base jumping was in Lysefjord. Or Norway for that matter. I walked into the shop and was greeted with a friendly smile from an Australian guy – Dan. I asked if I might be able to buy a little bit of fuel. After a slight deliberation he said normally no, but he’d make an exception. Phewwwwww. Life saver.

Actually he was performing life saving duties that afternoon, literally. He was taking the boat out to catch any stray jumpers who might miss their landing and land in the water. He asked me to tag along and so I did 🙂

Sunset on Lysefjord

Watching the sunset

A little later that night I caught up with Dan and a few of the other base jumpers and had some drinks while watching the sun set on the fjord. When it was dark we snuck down a temporary road built for the new hydro plant and down a small manhole which revealed a tiny waterfall walled off by cement on the outside. It was an eerie feeling, but super cool.

So yep, what a good end to a terrible day.

What I learned today:

  1. Don’t park on gravel
  2. Bad days get better

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