Sunday, August 27, 2006

Memoirs of an Artic cyclist














Figure shows cycling trail in green. Started from Trondheim via Heimdal and ended in Trondheim via Flakk.
Approximately 200km total.

3 day 2 night trip around Trondelag.
...3 days 2 nights, that's the sales pitch of a typical tourist agencies marketing the latest weekend get-aways, and this is anything but!

A journey of superlatives! How could I ever forget my brush with the cold trondelag night, which left me with the bone chilling mind-numbing experience of my life. The scenery was spectacular, as usual. Miles and miles of Trondheimsfjord can dull one's senses a bit, blasphemous to say! Hope I don't utter too early, but do I regret this journey one bit? NO.

Feb 14 (Fri) 2003

7:30am:
Set off from Moholt Alle. Took off from Jonsvannveigen (as usual) and got down to Holteammsveien. The conditions were extremely wet for a cyclist, which was rather daunting. My heart wasn't set for such adventurous ideas as skating on ice, just yet. Confidence is key in such uncertain times. I reckoned I should walk quite a bit.

8:00am:
The road to Heimdal was surprisingly smooth, and so beautiful.. Here I was, cycling down slope, with about 1 m of snow piled up on its sides, and a stream flowing parallel to the path. I felt like an artic squirrel, burrowing my way through snow. The air was crisp, and smelt of spring. The white kingdom beckons.

winterhouse
Nice house? Think again. The nearest amenity (aka hawker centre) is miles and miles away.

snow river
My mitigation plea--The D70 wasn't yet invented back then! Classic example of how snow glare can ruin a photo.

8:15am:
Had a near collision with another cyclist who was coming head-on. KEEP LEFT? RIGHT? LEFT? RIGHT.....ARRRRGH! My mistake. I was supposed to keep right, or rather, as much right as I could in this narrow burrow, but didn't. A barrage of unfriendly Norwegian went my way, but this is a lesson for me to bear. KEEP RIGHT AT ALL TIMES!

8:30am:
Reached Heimdal! With sky high confidence! I thought if I could clock 10km in less than an hour, I could cycle to the end of the world. Grand visions about travelling to Hitra then to Brekstad came.
Travelling along Heimdalsvegen was perfect. Started referring to the map, and reached Burvika soon enough.

9:00am:
On the road to Orkanger (around 30 km), while the sign, somewhat comfortingly, proclaimed Alesund (or was it Kristensand) to be 250km away.
The start on E39 was great, contrary to what some websites say. Traffic was going Trondheim, and as usual, I got my morning timing spot on. It's always easier to cycle on the side of the road with few vehicles.

10am:
Visgja came soon enough. I knew the road to Orkanger was 60% complete. Started taking pictures at regular intervals.

10:30am:
Nearing Orkanger, my bicycle chose the most inopportune moment to dislodge. Having totally no choice, I had to fix it back, while cursing the Sykkelbua guy who fixed my bike mutteirng under my cold breath. It was surprisingly easy, but got my hands soiled with grease, and what was I to do but to deposit as much grease and as fast as I could in the snow. Bare hands in snow, not a good idea. Also, the 3rd gear seemed to be totally dislodged.

Took pictures of a kitty and soon forgot about my chain worries.

norwegiancat
The cat must have thought me nuts to... Cats are always contemptuous of humans regardless of what we do.

Turned in 710, which was to be the crux of my journey. Gruelling 54km. A nice lady wished me, "God tur!" when I asked her where Valset the ferry terminal was. She mentioned 54km away. I wondered how could she have gotten it so accurately measured, until later when I encountered a road sign stating Valset was 54 km away. She must have driven on 710 before.

4:00pm:
reached Valset. Replenished water supply at toilet.

4:15pm:
Boarded ferry. Tried to bargain for a student discount, but the man good-heartedly rejected with NEI.
22 kr for the trip. So far so good.

5:00pm:
When I touched down from the ferry, Brekstad seemed like a foreign land. The weather suddenly took a chilly turn, a forewarning of what was to come that night.

5:45pm:
Explored the small town of Brekstad a bit. The cafes sold delicious hambergers, which I could certainly do with, but they were priced at 100 kr++(S$25++). Instead, I settled for the next best thing, 7 kr worth of bananas from Coop Mega.

6pm:
Sky was getting dark, very dark. Panicking, I went out in search of Austrått. Unfortunately I never made it. It was so dark and so so cold.

6:30pm:
Unable to withstand the bitter winds, I took refuge at a bus shelter labelled Skaun, which i was to find out later, had neither seen a single bus nor much shelter. It was strewn with rubbish, but that was the least of my worries. At least I thought it kept me from the wind, but to my horror, not from the cold!

Shivering....shivering....I had never shivered so much in my life before....my mind began to race in pulses....tried to build a fire...laid in shadows....discovered my buckle used to strap my stuffs on the bike broke....worse...it was entangled with the wheels...decided to unentagle it....

Bad idea. Took all of 10 min grappling in the dark and a lot of my body heat trying to unentagle it. Some bad beat.

Tried to sleep...but it was impossible. I wrapped myself up in layers of clothings and blankets. Just when I though I had triumphed with the next layer, that apparent warmth evaporated into the icy air, and I had to scrample for another layer... My ears were ringing, and my hands numb. This battle with the cold went on and on...until I...

3:00am:
...almost shivered to death. Had to leave my temporary abode and find somewhere else.

4:00am:
Found road to Austrått. At that point in time, it could have been Auschwitz. My hands, if I could even see in the complete darknes, (gloved of course!) were frozen to the metal bike handles. Trempled too much to balance on the bike. Had to walk.

Was there anyone who could help me out here? Ok...I realised my huge mistake in wandering off into the Artic night at a time like this. Please somebody just take me in!

Tried knocking on a few doors. No responses. Finally stumbled onto a deserted horse range, and inevitably a horse shed, which was twice as big as the bus shelter. Approached with trepidation, luckily there weren't any horses in them. Bus stops with no buses, and now, horse sheds with no horses. Anyway, I had to take it. Immediately, I was greeted with an unpleasant smell, but what choice do I have?

Parked my bike, and buried myself with the stacks of hay inside. Drifted in and out of consciousness. Dreamt about my family back in sunny Singapore, and what was I doing out here inside a stack of horse hay.

Think I even managed 2 hours sleep there.

7:00am:
Set off for Austrått. Was rather disappointing. What? I had struggled so hard just to make it to a deserted camp site? But the thought of spending the next night shivering in cold was enough to set me off to Rorvik at once!

8:00am:
Could not bear to leave Austrått. Still lingered there, even found time to deposit my Coop Mega bananas.. They came down shaped just like bananas, which I find amusing. Not so amusing was where I chose to deposit them. I wondered if the camp site people would be delighted with a early round of spring fertilizers for their garden flowers.

Was hoping to catch some spectacular sunrise photos, but they never happen in winter I guess. The sun goes down in sunrise and rises in sunsets? When you are way up north, the celestial stars simply stop behaving themselves.

sunrise
About the most cheerful sunrise you can find in the North.

9:00am:
continued the 710 journey.

12:00am:
710 ends, and I took 715.

12:30pm:
Took 718. Great scenic route, spent my film trying to capture it. My sole aim though, was to be back in Moholt Alle enjoying a hot pizza watching movies on my comp! Time was not my side. Had to rush!

Waterfall
Yet another ferocious waterfall? *yawn*

3:00pm:
Took 717. The first sight that greeted me...a huge climb that took the fight out of me ON THE SPOT. Now, how high was that? I have no idea. It would be fun to know, but I know my pizza dream was ebbing away.

4:00pm:
Cycled aimlessly up, awaiting my doom. By now, I know I have to get settled by 5:00pm, or before you know it, darkness would have already swallowed you up, trapping you helpless and defenseless against the deadliest of all monsters, the Artic winds.

Saw a church, Stadsbydha Kirke, and tried my luck. Voila! A fine modern toilet in the midst of nowhere. Trust the church goers to treat themselves well! No doubt this toilet is the high of my journey. I'm spending the night here. Went a mile further to a quiet suburb and bought some foodstuffs there, following directions by a man in his 40s who jogged faster than I could on my bike! Was grinning from face to face, all because I had found a toilet which I could bunk in.

10pm:
Penning this whole entry from the comfort of the toilet. Gonna sleep soon. After cleaning and washing all the dirty linen, the bad horsey smell still cling on to my pores. Had to throw away a blanket, and lots of cloths that were making me ill. Anyway, this Stadsbyddya Kirke has certainly renewed my faith in bicycle trips.
Total spent to date:
22 + 7 + 29 + 24 = 82 kr = S$21!

Worth it?
Not a doubt.

Hotel
Comfy hotel room. Though I must admit the layout is rather strange, with the toilet placed as the centrepiece of the room.

kirke
Farewell to Hotel Lavatory

LonelyRoad
Fancy being miles away from civilisation with not a single soul in sight? Then Norway awaits you.

5 comments:

SpaceCake said...

Hey, where's the picture of the kitty you took? I demand pictures! :)

Anyway, sounds like quite a trip you took back in '03...More, please!

bananapen said...

Inspired by my post eh? ;)
That was one helluva trip, huh?

Restless Rain said...

Self-discovery trips, although harrowing, always leave you wanting more eh....

Required field left blank said...

#spacecake
The IT "professional" still hasn't figured out how to post pictures online. :(

Alas. That was the only trip I had with an accompanying written commentary. I had other trips, even a 6D5N one, with only scars and a broken down knee for show.

#bananapen
Yes. My blog was inspired by bananapen. But my trip was inspired by:
http://www.trentobike.org/Countries/Norway/Tour_Reports/Summer2000/

#restless rain
not so much about self-discovery actually, but more about the beautiful planet i live on.
I found loneliness, not in the desolate lands of the north, but in the teeming streets of HK.

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