Litledalen and around - Fjords and the Midnight Sun - CycleBlaze

June 17, 2009

Litledalen and around

Looking from the Youth Hostel
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The forecast was absolutely spot on. It is sunny and calm, incredibly so. After waking up at after eight, I rush over to the hostel dining room and scoff my breakfast and pocket some fruit. The cloudless sky is interrupted by a vast snowy summit and the air is clear and fresh and I'm raring to get going on the "ride you will never forget". 

I don my winter hat, fleece top, leg-warmers, arm-warmers, socks and over-shoes and set off up the lane nestled in the steep-sided valley.

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The sun is still quite low and the resultant shade feels chilly: probably around 5 degrees C. Riding is gently up for 15km during which I pass through an unattended toll-gate. In fact there's nobody around, period.

Pedalling beside a large expanse of water - a lake called Dalavatnet - craggy rock faces reflect on the calm surface and soon after the singletrack kicks up steeply, then the tarmaced surface ends and the incline rises on gravel for 10 or so more kilometers. It's warmer here.

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Litledalen's U-valley gives way to a barren plateau that opens out ahead. There's snow by the side of the track and I pass a big dam and explore the road along its level top. It goes nowhere. I double back. 

The stony route is undulating and I pass lakes where I stop to take photos... snap, snap, snap. I see nobody for ages; one or two cars pass me by. Dotted around are wooden cabins that look vacant, the owners waiting for summer proper to arrive I'd wager. 

This is out there.

I'm out there
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Finally. What appears to be the highest point comes after something like 55km. Aursjoen reservoir is to my left and there are quite a few cabins overlooking it on my right. A man appears outside one and so I ask him whether the cafe around here is open (the hostel manager said it would be) but he answers negatively and so pressing on seems all that can be done until eventually I stop when a viewpoint lures me with its vista of the valley that I'll soon descend down. 

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Some foodstuff is retrieved from my panniers - fruit and rye bread and a tin of sardines - and I sit and eat and admire the remoteness and the silence before starting along the drop that curves around the valley's tight contours. 

The mouth of a rocky tunnel soon appears and swallows me whole and its cold, total blackness quickly forces me to brake to a halt. My white-light LED is hopelessly out-matched. Water drips on me. It twists. My feet are stepping on invisible stones. There's the hallmark spooky echo.

The tunnel spits me back out into brightness, looking out down the large U of Eikesdalen, its vivid greenness flanked higher with brutal rock. 

Dropping down Eikesdalen
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It doesn't take long to get down to the floor, past a huge waterfall (snap) and onto a flat gravel route that has just been sprayed with what looks like a thin tar that flicks up on to me and the bike. Ugh! My overshoes get put back on to save my feet getting blackened and I carry on. And on. It lasts for about 5 km, by which time everything is a sticky, grungy mess. My gears don't work. There are small stones wedged into my chain. All panniers are pebble-dashed and tacky. I'm pissed off.

A sign for rooms appears but the lady who answers the door feels sorry to inform me that she has no vacancies. She telephones ahead and finds me a cabin run by a storekeeper who will wait for me to arrive so that I can buy something edible. I'm famished and soon get to her shop - it's now six-thirty-ish, feeling like a navvy in my tarred-up clothes. She says there's a hose at the 180-krone-a-night, fjord-side cabin and after I've bought some food and beer, ride to it and scrub everything down: panniers, wheels, brakes, derailleur, chain, the lot. Then I shower. 

It's been a 75km day, but it feels much more than that. 

It feels like a ride I'll never forget.

Today's ride: 100 km (62 miles)
Total: 492 km (306 miles)

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