Abbreviations for types of roads:
Some common suffixes in place names:
In the summer there are frequent sight-seeing trains running from Flåm up to the junction of the main line at Myrdal. It is one of the steepest railroads in Europe. I think the hiker and cyclist gets a better view since most of the time the train is in tunnels!
It was sunny when I left Flåm at 10 in the morning. The lower part of Flåmdalen is a very pleasant although it does climb about 500 m in 10 km. I quickly come to the gate where all motor traffic (except local farmers) stops. This is another fairy-tale dale, it probably hasn't changed much in centuries. There a few little farms and the dale bottom. There were several gates to be opened and closed. At one point I had to pause for a herd of about 100 goats to pass. There are numerous waterfalls coming down the cliffs along the road. I passed a few hikers and met a few cyclists
When I had reached the 500 m level, there is only another 300 m up to Myrdal and I thought it would be easy. Then I saw the wall! The end of the dale is a 300 m cliff. The railroad climbs up by going in a spiral tunnel. At several levels it comes out of the cliff wall, then goes in for another loop. Rallarvegen goes up the cliff in 20 hairpin turns with an average slope of 17 %. The surface is boulders the size of large grapefruit. It's more of a scree slope!.
A waterfalls comes down the cliff and several times the road comes back to the falls. These spots were nice rest spots. But now I'm worried about people coming down, there were quite a few by now. Everybody I saw coming down was walking most of the way. I would rather walk up, even if is extremely hard, than have to waste a downhill by walking down. Maybe it would be possible to ride down if you have an expendable mountain bike - and an expendable body? I am a little worried about the cracked rim on my rear wheel.
After the toughest 2 km I've ever pushed my bike over, the road levels and becomes smooth and I am soon at the junction of the road to Myrdal station (about 800 m). I foolishly thought that it would be smooth riding all the way now! I also foolishly thought the weather would continue sunny and warm.
I continued past the Vatnahalsen hotel and had lunch by the lake. By now there were cyclists going by every few minutes. There were many families and some were pulling trailers with children. The sky started clouding over.
The road was smooth except where water erosion had washed away the surface and left large rocks. But soon the eroded spots became more frequent. I began to worry about my cracked rim so I walked over the rougher sections. Soon I was walking most of the time.
In mid-afternoon there was a steady stream of cyclists of all ages. I found it quite amazing, this is the roughest riding I've ever done, yet these cyclists are laughing and smiling as if it's a ride on a flat paved path in a city park. Although many had mountain bikes, many others are riding commuter bikes.
The clouds got thicker and I was above the treeline. It became cold. After the sunny morning and green valley this was a disappointment. The gray sky made the barren landscape look even more barren.
The road climbs steeply on a narrow ledge in Klevagjelet canyon with a raging river below. Then there is a stone arch bridge Klevabrua. At Hallingskeid (1110 m) there is a railway station on the main line. Now the land looks totally lifeless, at least on this gray day.
At Låghellervatn (1180 m) there is the start of the new railway tunnel to Finse which was opened in 1993. The road follows the old line which still has snow sheds over it, although they are being dismantled. There are now snow banks along the road and I had to walk across a few short stretches of snow. In most years there would be much more snow left here in early July. There is a wind and cold drizzle. The wind blows through the snow sheds and rattles the metal roofs.
Then at Gjontrust (1300 m) the road goes into a door in the side of a snowshed. At first I didn't know where the road went in the semi darkness of this "tunnel". There seemed to be a door on the other side but it was blocked with snow. A sign did point down the tunnel, so I had to lift the bike over the tracks and walk along the tracks for a short distance. There are piles of snow on the tracks where snow has come through cracks in the roof, at least that means there haven't been trains through here recently. I'm glad this rail line is not used now! The Bergen-Oslo line must have several trains per hour. Three years ago they would be on this track!. There is a door on the other side, but then there is a high steep bank to carry the bike over. Some cyclists were coming the other way and I pointed out the door to them. A few minutes later I saw a family pulling a trailer. I wonder how they managed on that section?
I reach the highest point 1320 m, this is the highest railroad in Northern Europe. Every few km there is an old railworkers cabin. The one at Fagernut has a museum and a cafe. I was looking forward to some Rallar Vafler and römmegröt! Unfortunately it closed at 1630 and I got there at 1700. There were some "dressin", railbikes, like the ones I saw in Sweden, in front of the building. The railworkers used these railbikes until about 1950.
In late afternoon there were fewer cyclists on the road. I was going to camp before Finse, in the hope that it would clear by morning so I could see some of the area.
The temperature was now about 5C and it was windy with light rain. I now had just about all of my clothes on. At Slirå (1300 m) there are several railway buildings. One of them was open but there was nobody there. There was a notebook there with notes of people who had sought shelter here. I thought I would spend an hour or so here out of the rain and wait for the weather to improve. I ended up spending the night. The wind rattled the tin roof of the snow-sheds all night.
It was still foggy and cold in the morning. I looked to the north for views of the Hardanger Jökulen, a large dome of ice about 15 km wide, reaching to 1800 m. It is also called Blåisen, the Blue Ice. But the whole world is gray this morning. Gray sky, gray rocks. It was really cold, about 2C. At Sandå (1280m ) there is stone hut and a newer rail workers house. There was a group of cyclists camping in the lee of the building.
At about 0830 I got to Finse (1222 m), the highest railway station in Norway. Several trains stopped here in the next hour and lots of people got off. All were cyclists, hikers or ice climbers. There is a grand hotel Finse 1222, a small general store selling everything from bread to ski wax, a railway station and a museum. Nearby there is a DNT hytt, one of their high class "huts". (Den Norske Turist Foreningen - Norwegian Hiking Assoc.) I went into the railway museum which told of the building of the railway by the Rallar.
I waited around until 1000 waiting for the clouds to lift so I could get a view of Blåisen. I had waited 30 years to see the Blue Ice. I had read about it the novel "Blue Ice" by Hammond Innes. Finally the clouds lifted so I could see just the edge of the glacier so I left. It was probably perfectly clear in the afternoon.
The road is better but there are a few rough spots. There were tractors spreading fresh gravel. I read that NSB, the railroad company, is planning to repair the surface on Rallarvegen. Now there were many more cyclists of all ages, going in both directions. At Storundu there is a cafe and I stopped for some waffles (vafler) and bought a Rallarvegen T-shirt.
There were even a few sunny breaks! I stopped in the lee of some rocks by a lake and had lunch. The road becomes much better and I am speeding downhill. Then there are a few small birch trees, something besides gray. Then there is a gate (bom) and there is some motor traffic for the last few km to Haugastöl (988m) on Rv 7. I stopped at a grocery store at the corner. My cracked rim has survived the punishment of Rallarvegen!
Back on pavement, with a tailwind and a gentle downhill it is a fast 20 km to Geilo (800m). This is a major ski resort. In town I had a talk with a Brit who had been living here for 30 years. He had been to Finse a few days ago and hiked to Blåisen and it was sunny! It's probably sunny there now! He also said he was watching the Tour de France on TV and most of yesterday's stage was cancelled due to snow. So someone else is having cold weather! On Rv 40 there is 200 m climb in 3 km up to 1010 m where I stopped at a picnic area for a late second lunch. Traffic was moderate and there is a shoulder or bike path along some sections.
Then it's a nice downhill to about 800 m into Skurdal. At Bruvoll I turned off on a pleasant Fv through the woods with several 100 m climbs and descents above lake Tunhovdfjorden. Past Tunhovd there is a picnic table at a corner of the road to Buvatn. I had supper here, while a herd of sheep walked by. By now the sky was almost completely clear.
I found a spot for my tent in open pine forest near Buvatn. What a joy not to be camping in the rain and cold.
There was hardly a cloud in the sky this morning! I had a pleasant breakfast by lake Butvatn. There a little more climbing to 860 m. Then I finally get the downhill I earned when I climbed up from Flåm. It is almost a 20 km downhill through Rukkedalen on the nice road with little traffic. One still must be wary of sheep on the road, and cross the ferist (cattle grates) at right angles. Most of the way I am beside a roaring river.
Finally the woods open up to farm fields as I approach Nesbyen (168 m) in Hallingdal. This place recorded Norways highest temperature (36 C). This morning it was not that warm but it is warmer than it has been in 2 weeks.
I got a little lost coming out of town. I was following bike paths that come to dead ends. The road up to Hedal has been re-routed and the signs aren't all there. Finally I get on the new road which is good gravel. My climbing is not over. This climbs in wide switchbacks up to Todal. It is hot (20C is hot!) This is marked on the map and in the book as a bomveg but it has been taken over by the county and is being upgraded. I stop for lunch by a waterfall at the bridge at Todal Bru.
It's a nice gravel road in the woods past a few lakes. It climbs to about 1000 m and above the treeline.
I passed the county line into Oppland Fylke and shortly came to old pavement. I started going downhill when I came to a construction area where the road was covered in rough rocks. I had to walk for a while but soon got to new pavement and had a nice coast for about 10 km down to Hedal. The woods opens up to small farms. I had lunch at a small grocery store.
I stopped for a few pictures of the Hedal Stav Kirk, not to be confused with the Heddal Stav Kirk in Telemark. There is a legend that a hunter discovered this church in the middle of the woods in about 1400. He went in and there was nobody there except a bear. He shot the bear with his bow and the bearskin still hangs in the church. This area had been abandoned after the Black Death.
The road then goes back into woods. There is more downhill, gradual at first but then becoming steeper along a raging river for about 15 km to Nes (155m) at the junction of Rv 16 and the north end of Sperillen.
I filled up my water bottles at a service station then headed on E16, along lake Sperillen (152m). It is still sunny although to the east there is a cloud bank. After 8 km I turned east on the road to Bjonevatn (272m). I had supper on the shore of this small lake. Then it's a nice ride east to Bjoneroa on Randesfjord (135m). When I go into the shade of hills, it becomes cool.
There is a ferry across the fjord at Tangen so I have a choice of 4 ways, 2 on each side of the fjord. I chose to head north on Rv 245 on the west side. Although it is in the cool shade now, I expected it to be in the sunshine in the morning. I couldn't find a spot to camp on the lake so I just camped in the woods.
I went a short distance to a picnic area on a beach and had breakfast. The water is much too cold for swimming. The cloud bank had moved back in from the east, so I didn't get the warm sun shining off the water.
It a pleasant, easy ride on Rv 245 along the lake to Dokka. There are multi-coloured fields below the wooded hills on both sides of the lake. I had been to Dokka 2 years ago, going from Lillehammer to Fagerness. I had a snack of strawberries in the town square. Instead of taking the direct route to Gjövik on Rv 33, I chose a Fv towards Völstad and Snertingdal. This is a steep climb into the woods. I had lunch at the corner in Völstad (550m). A bunch of sheep were sitting on the road here. Only a one or two cars passed by but they had had to slow down and move around the sheep, the sheep own the road.
I decided not to take the long hilly route into Snertingdal but get to Gjövik before the stores closed, it is Saturday. There are a few small farms above lake Landåsvatn. Then there are more hills through the woods before coming down to open fields at Mustad in Vardal. I thought I recognized a few roads but signs on these back roads are few. There was a bad fold in my map just here too! Then it started to rain, and my glasses are useless in the rain. I could see Rv 33 down at the bottom of the dale but I want to stay up on these back roads. I wish I had my good map of Gjövik Kommune!
The rain ended and I did find the right road to Vardal Kirk. I remember some sunny days in winter in this pretty dale. There were a few bright patches but I wish it was sunny, across the fields and woods I can see Mjösa. There was a wedding in the kirk and procession passed me in a few minutes, but that was the only traffic.
Then I saw a sign for Skistua and I couldn't resist making a side trip up the gravel road to visit this old friend. This is a cafe and meeting hall run by the local ski and orienteering club. It started in the 1920's. There are some pictures of King Olav who had been here several times. Normally it is open on weekends but today it appeared to be reserved for a wedding reception.
This is on the main ski trail to town, the trail has "street lights" for about 10 km. Today the grass is about 100 cm high and it is probably boggy so I decide to take the road to town.
At Eiktunet there is a museum of old farm buildings but it was closing in a few minutes, and I wanted to get to town before the stores closed. It is still mostly cloudy but there's nice views across the green and yellow fields to town and lake Mjösa. The road has a few switchbacks down the hill to the edge of town. I found the store I was looking for and it was still open at 1700.
Then it is down to the pond of Hovdetun. It is a big swimming basin, with a high diving board. I had hoped to go swimming here, but it is very cool. Some people were diving off the tower, wearing wetsuits!
I also noticed a mountain bike race finish line. The race headquarters was at the hostel so I feared it would be full. No, after the race most of the racers were leaving. Some were in the living room watching the Tour de France. I had stayed here several times in the winter and they remembered me. I got a room to myself, even though later a big bus load of tourists from Poland came in.
I watched the final minutes of a Tour de France stage on TV, live via cable. I decided I'd better call the hostel in Oslo to make a reservation for my last night.
There was a standard buffet breakfast in the dining room. There is a nice view across the lake, Mjösa. It was a sunny morning although a bit cool.
I went through sentrum to the waterfront. I noticed Skibladner was not at the dock where I saw it in the winter. This is probably the oldest paddle steamer still running regular service. It has been running along Mjösa since 1856. There is a cycle path along the lake and then I'm on Rv 33 which has light traffic on Sunday morning.
There's a great view across Mjösa, I remember it well from the past winter, when I skied across it to Hamar. Now there's fields of green wheat and yellow canola along the shores. Then I spot Skibladner far out in the lake, heading for the narrows past Helgöya to Hamar. I can just barely see the Vikingskip arena in Hamar where I was 2 weeks ago. At Kapp I leave the shore and head across the rolling hills of Toten, mostly fields of grain and potatoes. I was on Rv 246 for a while but then near Kolbu I turned off on some pleasant back roads towards Eina.
I stopped at a big picnic area on Rv 4 just outside of Eina. From the Cappelin Map I saw a bomveg going towards Brandbu. I remembered there was a topo map posted outside a store in Eina. I passed the quaint railway station and noticed that there still a spark-sled (kick-sled, winter replacement for commuter bicycle) parked beside it! The map was still there. It showed the ski trails in the area. I had skied here from Gjövik last winter. This is on the Oslo-Gjövik trail. The map showed the bom veg I wanted. It goes parallel to the railline. It's a nice pleasant gravel road, with no traffic but a few sheep and cows. It is fairly hilly. The alternate road was over Höykorsveien, which the book says has a 30% grade hill! I'll have to come back for that one!
I come out of the woods and see Randsfjord again, far below me. Then it is downhill to Brandbu. I took a nice road along the west side of Jaren lake and stopped for a second lunch, watching the swans in the lake.
At Gran there were signs for a cycle route to Oslo. I followed them for a while on cycle paths and old roads but lost a turn and was on busy Rv 4 for a while. I stopped in at a tourist bureau in Roa and found out that Rv 4 had been rebuilt and the old Rv 4, which does not show up on the Cappelin map, is the one to take. There is almost no traffic on the old road to Harestua, where it goes on the east side of Harestuvatn. I stopped for supper at a picnic area where the late afternoon sun sparkled off the lake. Not far from here I had crossed the lake on a ski trip last winter. Then at about 1800 I go to Styrken at the south end of the lake.
The Stryken railway station is closed down, which is strange. In the winter 1000's of skiers get off here every weekend for a trip back to Oslo. There is also a special train in summer for cyclists. But at 1800 on Sunday evening there is hardly anyone around. I through the gate and start on the wonderful trail network in Nordmarka. There are bicycle signs at all the important intersections.
Nordmarka is the largest of the marka, areas of woods, hills and lakes that surround Oslo. It is about 30 km by 50 km. For over a hundred years it has been the outdoor playground of Oslo. There are several hundred km of good gravel roads that are closed to all motor traffic, except local landowners. Then there are the hiking trails, marked in blue and several thousands (yes, 1000s) of kms of ski trails marked in red.
I headed east to Nyseter then turned south on the road to Hakkloa. These roads are quite hilly. I have a rough map of Nordmarka (Idrett og Friluftsliv i Oslo) but my good topographic map was left at home. I turned off on a side road to lake Daltjuven, looking for a tenting spot. The lake was almost empty. Where did the water go? Since this would be my last night I wanted the perfect camp spot, with waves lapping etc. So I continued south past lake Sandungen. Near here I crossed the Oslo city limits! There was a small farm at Hakkloa bridge but other than that there were no other people.
I found a nice tent spot on the west shore of Hakkloa (370m). The sun was shining nicely at about 2130. My only complaint was that the lake is still very cold so I don't feel like swimming here! This was one of the most pleasant evenings ever. It is strange that it is within the city limits of Oslo. Only the sound of very distant jets from Fornebu remind me that I am in a city of 500000. So my night in Nordmarka was very pleasant.
The sun was shining off the waters of the lake and I had a leisurely breakfast. I seems a shame to leave this beautiful place. I wish I hadn't booked a room in the hostel, otherwise I could spend another night in Nordmarka. But I want to be close to the airport and I should get cleaned up. I don't have to be there until 1800 so I can do some exploring.
I saw almost nobody in the morning. I turned off on the road to Kikutstua. This is a very popular cafe during winter. In summer it is only open on weekends. The washrooms were open and I got some drinking water.
There was a notice board with the summer map displayed. It showed the bicycle routes. I noticed a dashed line (optional cycle route) from Studenthytta to Blankvannsbratan. It would be a rough track but only for 500 m . So I decided to take that. There is a stamp pad to mark people's hiking or skiing log books so I stamp my cycling book.
There was a small farm at Fyllingen where I turned south on the road to Finnerud. I met a few cyclists now. I turned off on the side road marked for Studenthytta. I wanted to check this place out for possible overnight stays in winter but it was closed today. But I got a another souvenir stamp in my cycling book. Then I headed up the steep road towards Blankvann. It became unrideable for my loaded touring bike with cracked rim. It looked like a short distance but it took a while. There were numerous hiking and ski trails. I explored a few of them until I found the right one, the one I was on in the first place. I did see a mountain biker.
I emerged from the woods and got on a good road again. I thought I recognized the area. I had skied past here in March, when there were a lot of people camping here to watch the Holmenkollen 50 km ski race.
Now it is a good road to Ullevålseter, another popular winter cafe. It is also closed today. But I get a stamp in my book! I see a few more cyclists and hikers.
There is a automatic weather station here that sends weather conditions on the internet: "http://www.aftenposten.no/vaer/ullevaal.htm" I think there is a camera sending pictures too so I look around for it hoping to send my picture to the world. I didn't see the camera but maybe I did get in the picture!
The road to Sognsvann is quite popular, summer and winter. The road is lighted for night-time use in winter. I see more people cycling and walking and a few families camping.
Then I'm at Sognsvann, a small lake at the edge of the woods. This is a moment of sadness, this is the end of my travels in the Norwegian woods. I had lunch in the park by the beach. Some people were going into the water but they didn't get very far! I still wanted to go swimming once on this trip. But I waded in it was COLD.
So I headed out of the woods into the city. There is a T-bane (subway) station right near the lake which is convenient for skiers and hikers.
There are bike paths down towards the Ringvei (Ring Road). I decided to head down along Akerselv, rather than straight to Fornebu. There is a bike lane along the Ringvei, then I head off along the river along a cycle path. The river banks is strange mixture of old industrial area and green belt parks. The cycle path is not continuous so I have to go on streets for sections.
The book mentioned the SLF (Norwegian Cycling Association) office at Maridalsveien 60, and I thought I would drop in. I was checking my map when a local cyclist asked me what I was looking for. When I told him, he said that the offices had moved to the Opera building in sentrum. I remember reading that somewhere now.
So I ended up right down town, but I decided to skip the visit to SLF, I can't really leave my loaded bike in the city. The trickiest part about cycling here are the streetcar tracks (Trikk). I found my way on cycle paths, walked through the gågate (pedestrian streets) and got to Akers Brygg where there is a cycle path along the water front to Fornebu.
But at Lysaker the road was torn up and I mean there was a BIG hole. (it hadn't changed in 5 weeks!) and it took me a while to find my way around to Holtekilen hostel. I had called a few days ago to book a bed. I had to take a private, more expensive room. I would rather be camping in Nordmarka but I wanted to get cleaned up for my flight home.
I cooked supper outside to finish off my camp stove gas.
I rode down to Fornebu in about 5 minutes. It was only 1000 and my plane didn't leave until 1400. So I rode around some side roads looking for a nice place on the shore to sit and have a snack. The best place I found was right back by the airport and the ferry dock. There are signs up describing fossils in the rocks. I watch the fjord scene for a while then go into the airport and pack my bike and bags.
After I have checked in my bike etc. I find that the plane will be delayed 4 hours! I wish I knew that before I gave up my bike.
But I don't have to hang out in the airport lobby. It is only a 5 minute walk to the beach. So I go down there and have lunch. By mid-afternoon it is very warm, much nicer that a lot of the weather I had on my trip. People are sunning themselves on the rocks and some children were splashing in the water. There are numerous boats including wind-surfers.
Then a ferry comes in and leaves for Nesodden. That's how I started this trip 5 weeks ago, on a sunny day like today. How I wish I could go on that boat today instead of the plane! This is farewell to Norway. In my mind I can hear Solvieg singing her song to Peer Gynt:
"Kanskje vil der gå både vinter og vår Og neste sommer med, og det hele år Men engang vil du komme, det ved jeg visst" (perhaps both winter and spring will go by and next summer and the whole year, but someday you will come back, of that I am sure)The plane didn't leave until 1800, I missed my connection in Iceland and spent an extra 2 days getting home, hopping around many airports. My bike survived a lot of plane transfers on the way back.
The total trip was 3417km with 28800 m of climbing. I took 300 slides.
It would have been better if my wheel rim hadn't been damaged at the start of the trip. It would have been more pleasant if I didn't have 2 weeks of cold, wet weather and I didn't have to cancel trips to Rondane, Trollstigvegen, etc. But the memory of those wet days has faded and I mostly remember the good times.
".. men engang vil du komme, det ved jeg visst"
Takk for sist.
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