Birthday ride via Vik - Fjords and the Midnight Sun - CycleBlaze

June 26, 2009

Birthday ride via Vik

A great day.. sunny and hot. My 54th birthday. 

I get up at 8 and check my email before leaving the hotel, then continue riding along the quiet road beside the massive fjord: Songndalsfjorden. Number two in the world. It's Norway's biggest at over 200 kilometres long. The depth plummets to 1,308 metres below its calm surface. 

Still waters run deep, alright.

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It's a nice easy ride, flat, with more superb views of peaks and I pass a waterfall that's making a row as it crashes beside the tarmac and get to Hella - just a kiosk and a slipway - and take the ferry across the water and then ride on the opposite bank to Vikøyri.

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Vik, as I think they call it here, is a nice spot. I have 'English breakfast' even though it's a bit late for that sort of thing because you don't see these very often. The cafe is owned by a 30-something Dutch guy who left Holland in search of a place better. Safe, without graffiti and inner-city problems and he found it all and more in Vik. We chat as we sit outside in the warmth, me enjoying a second cup of coffee.

Viking church in Vik
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The scenery is splendid and the tourism officer is helpful and tells me about the nearby wooden church and various campsite possibilities and I wonder what to do and spend some time looking around and buy some food in the supermarket ready to go further. 

It's uphill from here. Of course. 

I ride to the local campsite but can't find the owner.

I decide to take a look at the wooden church, one of Norway's oldest. It's a Stave church, dating back to around 1140. 

I find it along a small winding lane, its black shape sticking above the farmland. After paying the Kr.50 fee, the guide chats to me and tells me about its features. There are only a few left in Norway - 28 - out of around 1,000 nearly 900 years ago. No other country has any. Made of wood, most burned or were destroyed. The Black Death stopped construction across Europe. I take some photos.

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It's 3.30pm when I leave the Viking church and head back to Vikøyri, where I hang around and use the wifi in a smart hotel and Skype my wife. I decide it's time to leave at 6pm and ride over what the tourism guy said would be a "12km climb" that turns out to be 30km to the very top. That's some error. 

Looking back down
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After 14km I disappear into a long tunnel that is inclined a little but which is quiet. There are few cars on this route. I then pedal by semi-frozen lakes and bask in the serenity of the landscape and ice-blue sky before the road zooms me down past a humongous waterfall that sprays the road and along a wide, wide U valley that dwarfs me and makes me feel great to me alive. 

There's a hotel around here somewhere and I need to get there.

I do. It's after 10pm, though. After riding 72km. I need a beer. It's my birthday. The receptionist gets me a hot meal of meatballs, but says they don't serve alcohol. She's serious. 

It's one of just two places in the whole, elongated country. My luck deserts me. 

NO BEER! Jesus wept.

Today's ride: 60 km (37 miles)
Total: 972 km (604 miles)

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