The sky was overcast and rain looked definite as I departed from Bergen. My bike felt especially heavy as I carried it up and down stairs trying to find the bike route out of town. After much talk with several cyclists I have decided to cycle the Rallarvegen route to the fjords in the city of Flam. The route was an early logging road used in the1930’s and is now too rough for automobile traffic. It is said to be one of the best cycling routes in Norway but to get there and to avoid the endless tunnels I have to take a bit of a detour. Instead of riding north, I will head south to the city of Os, where I head across the fjord on a ferry to Venjaneset. While on the ferry the rain starts and I can tell its going to be a long day, as I prepare to get soaked I contemplate my shoe options. Other than my funky sandals I have one pair of shoes and socks. Please comment on this but I feel that It is better to ride in sandals in the rain than get my shoes and socks wet. If these are dry I can put them on at the end of the day to warm me up when I cook, plus it could take me days to dry the shoes. It is not the coldest rain but downhill riding can be pretty cold. From Venjaneset the road hugged the fjord, and I passed waterfall after waterfall heading north. In the small town of Eikelandsosen I head inland and climbed to the top of a step pass. “Be happy even though the body is not” I keep telling myself, and look forward to a nice warm sleeping bag.
It is totally pouring!! My front panniers are a great wind block for my wet feet and my fenders which were a joke to south westerners are doing a great job at keeping the road spray off my legs. By this time the rain has mixed with fog and visibility has become so bad that I struggle to see the turns in the road. I pull of the road at a gas station and ask directions to Torvikbygd. “You must really like cycling” a motorcycle couple asks me outside, “not today” I respond, “well at least you can warm up on the step hill’s”. They ride off, I think to myself how they will probably reach my destination in 20 or 30 minutes.
I warm up in the ferry waiting room and observe a family feasting on hot dogs, mother can’t finish hers and throws away more than half of a juicy frank. The steam continues to rise from the garbage. The ferry is designed for automobiles, and does not offer shelter from the storm, I wait in the restroom for the sounds of the engine to stop. I depart the ferry in Jondal, (one of the best fishing spots in western Norway). Utne is about 35 km north and is the only name that I have been able to pronounce correctly). This is fruit country. Outside of each town is a small kiosk where fruit is being sold, and I see raspberries, cherries and currants. I pass a house with two people sitting outside smoking, and decide to try the Julian charm. ” Do you know if there is a spot nearby where I can camp under a roof and be dry for the evening”? Response “I have a house nearby and you can camp there”, “just cycle over that hill and I will meet you”.
About an hour later I am lounging inside a warm house, smoking a home rolled Norwegian cigarette and frying up a whale steak. Whale is so good! I actually filled up on it! Lars, my host gave me over a pound of meat to cook! He introduces me to his girlfriend Monica and her brother and we stay up till 3am and become good friends.
I wake up in a daze and pack for the road, I am introduced to brown cheese which is very similar to caramel but creamier. Lars tells me of some epic Viking ruins and my day is planned. Sad to say goodbye, I have stayed with so many people on the road but I really felt connected with Lars and Monica, there is something more than just coincidence here.
I cycle up hill to Utne and marvel at the beautiful, historic hotel built in 1722. Just outside of Lars’ hometown, Grimo there is a dirt road that leads up the mountain to an ancient Viking site. It is so steep that I have to push gaby in the mud. The rain just doesn’t stop and I befriend a farmer working on his tractor on the way back to town. It is already 5pm by the time I take the ferry from Utne to Kinsarvik. On the ferry I run into the farmer again. He asks me where I am headed and I tell him hopefully to a dry place. He invites me to his house and offers me room to sleep. He lives in the town of Loftus, and has many acres of Morello Cherries.