Trollstigen - Fjords and the Midnight Sun - CycleBlaze

June 20, 2009


I'm up at 8.30 and have the yogurt I bought last night for breakfast and set off under cloudy skies. 

There's not one inch of descent. It's all up.

The sun appears as I get close to the long waterfall, but there are lots of hairpins - 11 - and the high valley side casts me in shade on the way up them. 

Once I'm at the small bridge that crosses right in front of the thundering flow of Stigfossen Waterfall, I take a snap and continue on Trollstigen - the Troll's Ladder - a world famous route that has quite a few tourists on it, but no other cyclists. I'm surprised. Maybe it's still a bit early in the day - or year. 

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Snow isn't usually cleared from the top part before mid-May. Clouds roll over the ridge. They look threatening, but I couldn't be less nonplussed. The view down the U-valley I was in a while ago looks really fabulous.

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At the cafe-gift shop at the crest of the falls I have a bite to eat and swap my sweat-soaked shirt for a dry one. It's pretty chilly up here. Luckily those clouds have blown over and it's just four more uphill kilometres to the pass, riding on a supremely scenic stretch of Trollstigen that has peaks surrounding it, snow still clinging to the slopes. Snap, snap, snap.

Valldalen stretches out in front from the route's zenith and I zip on my jacket and start the drop, descending down and down the valley to fjord-hugging Fallval, eyes watering, feeling too much of a buzz to stop to snap photos, whizzing back to fjord-level again and to a warmer temperature.

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Fallval. I'm now back to the sea. It doesn't seem fair. 

I look around the tourism office right by the quay and notice a boat docked nearby. They say it's going where I am - Geiranger - the next one departing at 2.40pm. The fare is 187 krone. I ponder what to do for all of 0.0021 seconds and buy a ticket, instinctively unable to face another tough col today, not after cycling 50 kilometers, half of which were spent climbing.

Up and down, that's fjordland. 

Besides, this ferry ride is a legendary one that goes down a few scenic fjords not accessible by any road or track. The mountains plunge straight into the water and they say the scenic trip takes just over two hours. Anyway, it's a little cloudy now, so riding could be a bit dodgy. I use the tourism offices wi-fi to Skype my wife, showing her via the laptop's camera the surrounding views as I stand outside. She's envious. 

Once on board, there's a wicked wind kicking up off the vast waters, creating a swell and making sitting outside on the small deck a somewhat macho experience. 

I'm one of the last to go inside and find a seat. There's piped commentary giving details of the remote homes clinging to the almost vertical slopes of rockface. Most of the former inhabitants left decades ago; life was just too hard. There are massive waterfalls - some of the world's biggest. 

Just before we dock a huge cream cake is presented. I scoff two wedges.

Back on land at Geiranger, the helpful guy in the small town's tourism office tells me all local rooms are full. There's a Harley Davidson convention on. Right, I see leather clad dudes everywhere. After a phone call, he points to a spot through the windows, towards a red-roofed building a mile or so away, and tells me to ride over there. I can camp and use the showers and it'll only cost me three euros. What a bargain. I do as he suggests and pitch my tent on a grassy spot overlooking Geirangerfjorden. 

I sit outside, using the resturant's free wi-fi until it rains, which is shortly after having a yummy meatball dinner. 

It's only a short shower.

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