Oslo Revisited: Riding north from the capital, then east to the Swedish border. - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

August 25, 2013

Oslo Revisited: Riding north from the capital, then east to the Swedish border.

Nothing much has changed since I moved away from Oslo in 2009. I lived then just around the corner from the campsite in Sokedalen and the seven kilometre ride into the city was along the same cycle-path of my daily routine back then. My first stop was at the bookshop Nordby in Universitets gaten, to buy a map. I settled for the Michelin of the whole of Scandinavia and Finland; which at, fifteen kilometres per centimetre isn't exactly ideal for cycling, but outside of cities there are few roads, so it's sufficient.

The streets were pretty packed with people in the nice Summer weather, so I pushed the bike further, around the corner and continued along the central street Karljohansgata. My next stop was a large outdoor store, window shopping. There was no decent touring-tyres in the cycle-department. And I saw the current model Helsport stetind (tent), now 4.500 kroners; which isn't too bad as I paid 3.500 for mine in 2004.

I had to change some Icelandic Kroners I'd left, then had a coffee, followed by more window shopping, a visit to Oslosportslager; where in the bikeshop part, there was an Italian Colnagno racing-bike with hydraulic disc-brakes and electric gear-control; cost, 97.000 kroners, or the equivalent of ten-thousand sterling. A bike for someone with more money than sense and will lean against the living-room wall to be admired as a work of art.

I continued on along and over the bridge across Akerelv (the river). I was now riding and it was four o'clock so the the cycle-path marked off at the side of the street was full of other cyclists on the commute home or to met a friend in the many cafes in the fashionable Gronalokka district which I was now entering. A cosmopolitan breath of fresh air from the postcards and flags and all things national. Its full of secondhand bookshops and vinyl record shops and lots of immigrant shops, the best place to buy fruit and veg and food generally. I didn't linger, and once I'd taken some photos, none of which were any good, I made for the path along Akerelv, and the way back to the campsite.

The following day was departure-day. Busy morning updating the journal. Had it all ready to save, but before I could get the arrow to press finish, Windows suddenly decided to close down. So, when the Windows came back on, I'd to start from the beginning and write the whole boring thing out again. That took me around to midday, then had a panic to have everything ready for leaving at four o'clock. Four was the check-out time and I didn't want to be charged an extra day. Today there was an Asian woman at reception that spent an awfull long time scrutinizing the computer screen when dealing with the customer before me, while I just wanted to get going. Then it was my turn and she acted, it was an act, as if she'd met me before and was glad to see me again and as I left said "have a nice day!".

Another warm Summer's day. My road took me about seven kilometres further up the valley on tarmac road, then I turned into the Nordmarka and continued north on gravel forest roads to finish the day camped by a lake, Gerdingendam.

The next day started with more forest road then a long descent to Jeymaker, where I stopped at a Coop supermarket to stock-up for the day. Leaving town, I took road 245 toward Dokka. On the map, it went along a long strip of light blue, and the day can be summed up as riding along a deep valley lake, a landlocked fjord called Randefjorden. All day fluffy clouds were mirrored in the lake with the opposite side reffecting, upside-down wooded hills interwoven with squares of yellow grain-crops.

I lunched at a picnic outside a village shop, read my book and wrote notes, then opened the map. I'd to make a decision on where Is cycling to. I wasn't going to cycle west where its all mountains and fjords. And the season is getting late so I cannot cycle far north, so the only real option is to veer east and eventually south.

Saturday lunchtime, I reached Lillehammer which hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics. All the political parties had people on the main shopping drag recruiting voters. In two days on the road I hadn't spoken with anyone, not even a hello or friendly wave. Norway is the opposite of Holland where people are constantly helpful. Norwegians tend to look at strangers through gritted teeth and are generally cold and individual. Having lived in Oslo, I've never quite got to the bottom of the Norwegian character. Though work colleages I'd at the time were fine and always from Bergen, Tromso and other parts of the country, so I think it could be a proud capital-city-thing.

I sat on a bench in the main square eating lunch. On the next bench along there sat two men and a woman, red faced and with cans of beer, talking with gravely load voices. Then a man got out of a Volvo coupe with a mobil to the side of his face. "Heisan. Jeg sto pa Lillehammer" hello I'm in Lillehammer he announced three times, to three difference people. Then a petit woman comes along, shoes clattering as she meets and greets the man with the phone but no embrace, until a few seconds passed when she stood on tiptoes and kissed him on the lips.

It was a long winding steep climb away from Lillehammer in the warm afternoon sun towards a place called Nordseter. I was concerned because the map didn't show clearly whether the road continued after Nordseter across the mountain, so I stopped a couple in the shared cycle-pedestrian-path and asked. The man assured me the road continued winding up, waving his forearm back and forth to demonstrate; which I found not long after to be bull, as a few switch-backs more, the road turned straight at the mountain with the gradient going from a modest seven per cent to between twelve and fifteen. Though after all the climbing, I found a village, well more a service centre for all the weekend houses shattered over the hillside, with a supermarket where I got rid of the growing weight of Norwegian coins in the wallet buying a cold bottle of Sprite and a cocanut and vanilla bun. The way onwards was what I'd been looking for, the Birkebeiner road, a dirt road across the mountain, and also a famous, well in Norway anyway, mountainbike race which had notices in black-marker on pink and orange card informing of the race next weekend.

The Nordmarka: to the north of Oslo, there's a large area of forested hills with many lakes at the bottom of valleys. The area is criss-crossed by forest roads and marked trails which is a great amenity to the city inhabitants, in Summer for walking and cycling, and in Winter, cross-country-skiing.
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Outside the shop where I stopped for lunch looking across the road at the Randefjorden.
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Campside hidden behind large pile of timber.
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Cycle-route to Lillehammer.
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Lillehammer across the lake.
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An old barn.
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A hytter, a free time house in the mountains
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A wedding/
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Park in at the railway station where I stopped to lunch on Sunday.
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The road onward into the silences of the forest.
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Today's ride: 336 km (209 miles)
Total: 4,911 km (3,050 miles)

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