NPL: Nordkapp to Vardø

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The final leg has come, 382 km to Vardø, the most eastern town in Norway. The first part of the journey, so remote that I have to dig deep into my luggage to find a package of emergency meal. The last part of it, so windy that I'm hardly able to keep more than 10-12 km/h on flat roads.

Day 42 - Nordkapp to Honningsvåg
Distance/accumulated: 32.5 / 3968.0
Avg/max speed: 17.4 / 53.5
Elevation gain: 450 m

Endless raining in the morning and everybody are trapped inside the tent until noon. By now the chances are slim to get to Honningsvåg and reach the Hurtigruten boat in time, so I decide to postpone it by one day. Instead I spend a lazy afternoon in the Nordkapp facilities, during which time there is a remarkably improvement in the weather. In the evening I'm off to Honningsvåg under a blue sunny sky, but the headwind/sidewind slows me down. I'm still able to get to Honningsvåg well in time before the food stores close, so I stock up on supplies and start to search for a nice place to camp in the hills above the town. The evening views from my campsite is well worth the immense struggle to drag my bicycle roadless up to an elevation of 100 meters.

Day 43 - Honningsvåg to Hopseidet
Distance/accumulated: 40.7 / 4008.7
Avg/max speed: 17.1 / 53.0
Elevation gain: 535 m

The night and morning bring some light showers in Honningsvåg. I have plenty of time to wait out the rain as my boat is not departing before 15:15. Everything is dry when I leave my camp and board Hurtigruten in the afternoon. The short journey to Kjøllefjord is kind of boring. The only interesting sights along the coastline are some rock formations, one of them named "the church". We arrive Kjøllefjord shortly after and the roads are wet from recent showers. I start the uphills beyond Kjøllefjord, now easy going because of the strong western winds. In the Mehamn-Ifjord junction, I turn south and immediately get a strong sidewind. The barren plateau at almost 300 meters elevation gets very cold as the ocean fog and windspeed increase even further. Keeping balance and speed in the furious sidewind is difficult and I'm glad I have the entire road almost for myself. Taking a rest is out of the question, cold as I am, so I continue to cycle. The raining picks up in the downhills to Hopseidet, and I start to shiver. I'm in an urgent need to find a suitable place for my tent, and Hopseidet seems to be the perfect place to spend a night. I pitch my tent and escape into the sleeping bag. It takes me almost 1 hour to get warm again.

Day 44 - Hopseidet to Torhop
Distance/accumulated: 120.1 / 4128.8
Avg/max speed: 18.0 / 53.0
Elevation gain: 1535 m

Cloudy but not raining, a perfect day for bicycling. Immediately after Hopseidet I start on the uphills to a pass reaching 350 meters in elevation. It's a quite long way across this barren plateau, but eventually the downhill to Bekkarfjord starts. There are no shops in Bekkarfjord, so I decide to continue to Lebesby almost immediately. Fortunately I find a well stocked food store in Lebesby, but since I expect one in Ifjord as well, I buy a minimum of food supplies. That was a big mistake, because when I arrive Ifjord there is nothing but a small eatery. The guy behind the counter tells me it's almost 70 km to the next shop (a gas station in Rustfjelbma). I won't be able to reach that in time before closure, so I decide to sit down and buy a big meal in Ifjord. After the meal, I buy some chocolates etc, and continue across Ifjordfjellet, a mountain pass east of Ifjord at approx 370 meters elevation. The last couple of days with winds from west, has unfortunately switched 180 degrees during the day. According to the last weather forecast in Ifjord, I will have headwinds all the way to Vardø, more or less. Just my bad luck again...

Ifjordfjellet is a nice scenic crossing, and not too windy. Well down I decide to pitch my tent in Torhop next to Tanafjorden. My dinner consists of Real Turmat, a package of dried dinner, which I've had in my luggage for the last 40 days in case of emergency. This is the first case of "emergency", so I'm happy I've brought it all along for more than 4000 km.

Day 45 - Torhop to Kiby (Vadsø)
Distance/accumulated: 118.5 / 4247.3
Avg/max speed: 18.3 / 46.5
Elevation gain: 630 m

I have nothing to eat for breakfast, so I break up camp in a hurry and cycle the remaining 20 km or so to Rustfjelbma, where I get a yogurt/muesli and icecream for dessert. Shortly after I continue to Tana Bru, where I enjoy the abundance of supermarkets again. I'm spending almost 1 hour in a mall, and when I'm out in the fresh air again I also discover that the wind has picked up. So rest of the day I cycle in headwind, first to Varangerbotn and then further to Vadsø. The headwind are slowing me so much down, that I cancel my original plan to cycle to Vardø. Instead I find a nice place to pitch my tent some few kilometers after Vadsø.

Day 46 - Kiby to Vardø
Distance/accumulated: 70.1 / 4317.4
Avg/max speed: 15.4 / 41.0
Elevation gain: 375

The last day on the bicycle is here. I have only 70 kilometers left to Vardø. Despite the flat terrain, the progress is very slow because of furious headwinds. Much of the time I'm hardly able to push my speed above 12-13 km/h in the dense and windy fog. If I had been cycling in the opposite direction I would easily keep a speed of 30-35 km/h. This is not fair. I've had my share of headwinds since Lofoten, but this last day is worse than ever. Many hours later, I arrive Kiby and turn north, which give me some rest from the headwind, but instead a 120 meters hill to pass. The last 3 kilometers to Vardø is through an undersea tunnel. Reaching it's maximum depth of 88 meters, I get nauseous of the polluted air. As soon as I'm out of the tunnel, I'm in the town center of Vardø. Still it takes a while for me to realize I've reached my final destination. That there will be no more cycling, and that this is the end of the wonderful bicycle adventure in Norway.

Day 47
Arrives Hammerfest by Hurtigruten MS Trollfjord, and continue by bus to Alta.

Day 48
Roaming around in Alta, also visiting the 6000 years old rock carvings in Hjemmeluft, an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 49
Flight from Alta to Ålesund, and then back home to Stryn

Previous leg: Tromsø to Nordkapp

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Posted by gfg on Wednesday, August 05, 2009. Filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

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