As each day passes the unfamiliar is becoming familiar. A routine of a different kind is asserting itself. The faffing in pannier bags is becoming a little less arduous as I remember what goes where. Stove, tools and water – front pannier left, food and waterproofs – front pannier right, sleeping bag and mat – back pannier left, clothes – back pannier right. Tent on top. My current worldly possessions in 45 kilos on 2 wheels.
Whereas before the road ahead seemed impossibly long , it was when I got to Tromso that I was able to see a small dint in the tarmac down to Spain and I could feel myself relaxing into this new life on the road.
The Lofoten islands are heralded as one of the jewels in Norway’s crown. A string of islands off the West coast that provide dramatic unrivalled Tolkeinesque style landscape. Huge towering mountains drop straight into the sea, like a mouth of jagged teeth with the last few vestiges of snow clinging on like plaque in the losing battle against Summer sun.
The weather has been somewhat erratic. I can start a day with full waterproofs and head down into the rain but finish in glorious sunlight. The wind can feel like an invisible hand against my helmet so that even going downhill I feel cheated. But when the sun shines Norway sparkles – it is like everything is in glorious high definition technicolour .. On steroids.
After the undulating Lofoten islands, I am now on the mainland again following the Kystriksveien – a winding, hilly coastal road which is interspersed with ferries, bridges and tunnels. I take my hat off to Norwegian engineering – today I went through 4 tunnels – all of which were over 3km long.
Having spent most of my time here cycling on my own I have been joined by a couple of Germans for a few days – Roland and Lother. I’m in good company – Roland has written books on how to pack light for cycle touring and Lother is 75, has cycled most of Europe and speeds ahead of both of us. There’s hope for me yet!