Ambassaor and adventure man, Angus Teeton, takes us through the first part of his cycle tour through Norway. Cycle touring has been a part of my life since my early High School days and I've found great joy in it in my University life as well. For this reason I didn't have to think hard about my primary mode of transport around this magical country.
The Norway Mission Begins
I got off the train in a little town called Oppdal, with my life strapped to the back of my bike and plans to stay with local Cape Town trail runners Tim Chambers and Jonno Black in a nearby village for 5 days of running. Everything after that a complete mystery.
During those 5 days we explored the highest peaks in the area, got lost several times, got extremely cold and I experienced the most frightening descent down a mountain in my life. Eventually it came time to get on the bike and pedal away from Tim and the others, I was excited, but exhausted already and a little nervous of the unknown to come.
The next 3 days were extremely beautiful, but very tough and made harder by being wet both on and off the bike. Cycling in Norway is kind of like cycling the Cape Town Cycle Tour route day after day in the way that you almost always have beautiful waters on one side and steep mountains on the other. Norway has very cool laws allowing you to camp anywhere for free as long as it's 100 meters from private property.
Every night I was able to find a magical spot next to the fjord (the long arms of sea that split up the land in the west coast of Norway). I had the opportunity to run a famous hike called Romsdalseggen - a beautiful run with amazing views. Unfortunately the clouds came down just before I made it to the viewing point, my photos proving that very often the picture on the brochure often don't match reality.
Challenges along the way
I was extremely tired, both mentally and physically when I was taken in by local rock climbing duo Mary and Miguel. They not only opened up their home and allowed me to rest for a couple days, but took me to their local crag for some granite sport climbing. I left their place refreshed and in a much better head space than when I had arrived, now I was ready to tackle the next few days.
Cycling in Norway offers two challenges that you don't get to face too often while in South Africa. The first being the fjords by ferry. Now this isn't normally a problem should all things go smoothly, unfortunately for me I managed to unknowingly drop my phone in the loading bay on my first ferry ride. I notified one of the staff of my missing phone half way across the fjord and a few minutes later he returned with my poor phone looking a little worse for having being ridden over by all the boarding cars. By some miracle it still works!
The second obstacle is tunnels. There are many in Norway, some you can cycle through and some you can cycle around, it was on this same day that I found myself in front of one which offered neither of these options. I strapped every bike light, headtorch and flashy gizmo that I could find to me and my bike and headed into the tunnel. What followed was probably the most terrifying cycling of my life, pumping downhill for 4km with all the weight on the back of the bike and my spedo reading over the speed limit. Multiple prayers of thanks were shouted as I emerged into the light once more to the most incredible view down the famous Geirangerfjord. I stopped immediately and scrambled down a small slope to set up camp.
Treasures en route
The very next day I stopped to explore a large piece of ice next to the road which had a river running through it creating a tunnel. While stumbling back onto the road from the place I had hidden my bike I was lucky enough to bump into local sailor, Lisanne. She invited me onboard her boat, docked in the village below, for dinner and even offered a place to stay the night. We joined up with a wild couple from New Zealand who had been traveling the world by boat for almost 25 years and exchanged stories over a couple beers and some reindeer steak. Hospitality at its finest!
Waking up slowly the next day with the rain coming gently down onto the deck of the boat I had no intention of cycling. We had a good breakfast on board and I finished off my second block of brown cheese. Brown cheese is a classic Norwegian food made by boiling goats milk with water until it becomes a sticky caramelized goo. They then press it into slices of cheese. Normally it's eaten in pretty small quantities, but it tastes so good that aside from just taking bites out of it as a form of energy bar on the bike, it's also usually the last thing I eat before bed and the first thing I reach for when I wake up.
Making New Friends
One of my friends, Shanga, who I met on a cycle tour last year was coincidentally staying in the mountains near by for a school trip, so I left my bike at a friendly farmers house and started hiking towards her. Unfortunately I rocked up at the wrong campsite and was greeted by 20 or so Norwegian mountaineering students, none of them my friend Shanga. Nevertheless I joined them for supper and quickly made friends with a solid group of people.
After a lot of chatting and some much needed socialising with people my own age we performed the customary 'hokey pokey' dance to get warm before jumping into the tents. Well they jumped into tents, the farmer j had dropped the bike with had told me that there was a group of small old huts at the campsite and that one would be open. It was very broken down and had a very funny smell, but it was open and, from the conversations I had the next morning, was a good bit warmer as well.
This brings me almost to now. The last few weeks have been amazing, filled with ups and downs and packed with a solid 'memories to days ratio.' This has been my first time travelling alone and I've found it to be a difficult, but highly rewarding way of travelling.
At times I found myself joyful in my loneliness, other times I've felt wishful for my friends back home, aware that sometimes the best views and most beautiful scenery is worthless without someone to share them with. Overall I am extremely happy with the last three weeks and consider myself extremely blessed to be where I am on this adventure and excited for the week to come.