NPL: Tromsø to Nordkapp

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The road continues with great mountain scenery around Lyngen, then further to the green city of Alta, before heading into a weather battered no-mans-land, where rein deer is a more common sight than human beings.

Day 37 - Tromsø to Tretten (Storslett)
Distance/accumulated: 125.5 / 3527.7
Avg/max speed: 20.0 / 52.6
Elevation gain: 1030 m

After a hearty breakfast, my uncle drives me into downtown where the Intersport store allows me to use the mechanic room and tools for free. One hour later I'm ready to leave Tromsø, heading for Breivikeidet where there is a ferry to Lyngen. The warm weather from east brings massive headwind for an eastbound cyclist like me. Nice weather from east is, however, much preferable to rain from west or south. The Lyngen mountains, rising up to almost 2000 meters, are an impressing sight on the ferry from Breivikeidet to Svensby. From Svensby it's almost flat cycling (but still headwind) for the next 22 km to Lyngseidet, where the second ferry is. I meet a familiar guy on the ferry, a French cyclist who I also met in Lofoten some few days ago. In fact I'm a little bit surprised, because I assumed he was still behind me. The reason is rather obvious though. While I had a day off in Tromsø, he has been cycling all days. But it's interesting to meet this "hippie" again, because he has a rather interesting route in front of him, first Finland then Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, France and finally Portugal.

I cancel my original plan to take a side trip from Oldereid to Birtavarre and Kåfjorddalen to climb Halti (the highest peak in Finland). I have no motivation left to waste another two days on a sub peak like Halti. My aunt also told me that bears has recently been spotted in Kåfjorddalen preventing tourists from hiking up this valley. Two good reasons not to do it. Instead I continue to Storslett and some few kilometers beyond, to a rest stop where other campers also have pitched their tents. So far north the risk for camping at rest stops is almost nonexistent, in contrary to Oslo and around, where East-European bandits are roaming around.

Day 38 - Tretten (Storslett) to Kåfjordbotn
Distance/accumulated: 155.7 / 3683.4
Avg/max speed: 19.8 / 56.5
Elevation gain: 1550 m

The day starts with nice tailwind, but only for a short while. Just after I reach the highest point on Kvænangsfjellet mountain (400 meters), a strong headwind from east makes the downhills feel like another uphill. After Badderen the road turns north again, giving me a nice break from the awful headwind, but instead a minor pass to ascend (270 meters). Then the road turns east again along Langfjorden, which seems endless because of the headwind. It's already evening when I round Isnestoften not far from Talvik. The wind drops to almost zero in the evening, so I decide to continue beyond Talvik and maybe even to Alta. The food stop in Talvik did me surprisingly well and almost transforms me into a new version of Lance Armstrong. Thus I'm a little bit upset when I see a perfect spot for camping in Kåfjordbotn about 15 km before Alta. I'm eager to continue to Alta, but I assume the camping-for-free possibilities there are close to zero. So I settle down in Kåfjordbotn, and not long after, so do all the blood thirsty mosquitoes....

Day 39 - Kåfjordbotn to Olderfjord
Distance/accumulated: 127.2 / 3810.6
Avg/max speed: 18.1 / 53.0
Elevation gain: 1130 m

A nice morning in Kåfjordbotn and pretty easy cycling to Alta. For a while I consider to visit the museum with the famous rock carvings, which also is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, but decide against because of the many kilometers ahead of me. Shortly after Alta starts the uphill to Sennalandet, but at an elevation of barely 370 meters, not too demanding. But as soon as I reach the highest point I can feel the strong headwinds again, which consumes a lot of time and energy all the way to Skaidi. If it wasn't for the big expensive meal I had in a restaurant there, I would not have been able to continue the remaining 25 kilometers to Olderfjord, crossing another mountain pass in strong headwinds. I'm still feeling fresh when I'm arriving Olderfjord, but it's already late, so I pitch my tent there.

Day 40 - Olderfjord to Havøysund
Distance/accumulated: 90.1 / 3900.7
Avg/max speed: 18.8 / 47.5
Elevation gain: 750 m

Last night I was considering whether to take the Nordkapp tunnel or not. If I do, I will manage to reach Nordkapp in one day. If not, I have to cycle to Havøysund and catch Hurtigruten the next morning. Many people have already recommended the scenic (and future national tourist road) to Havøysund, so I eventually decide to try this option. I'm dead tired in the morning, and not ready to leave before 11am. But just as I'm about to start, I meet a French guy on a sitting type of bicycle, who "delays" me another hour or so. But I've got plenty of time to reach Havøysund, so we chat for ages about cycling, mountaineering and travel in general. We cycle together for a few kilometers before our roads divide at Russenes, he aiming for the Nordkapp tunnel and me for Havøysund. The mountain pass before Revsbotn is just slightly more than 100 meters, and mainly in tailwind it is very easy going indeed. But after Revsbotn when the road turns to a northern or eastern direction, the headwinds are furious. More or less all the way after Slotten I'm struggling in headwind or side wind, including crossing two passes above 200 meters, so this was not as easy going as I first expected. When I reach Havøysund, I try to find some food, which is not an easy thing to do on a Sunday evening in Norway, especially in such a remote place as Havøysund. Virtually everything are closed except a fast food restaurant, where I buy myself yet another burger and french fries. I plan to camp in the heights above the village, but when I visit the pier where Hurtigruten departs from, one of the workers offer me to sleep in the waiting room. That offer is too tempting to reject, so I settle in there, with a radio, electricity for charging my laptop, a restroom and even a coffee- and coke vending machine.

Day 41 - Havøysund to Nordkapp
Distance/accumulated: 34.8 / 3935.5
Avg/max speed: 16.6 / 57.5
Elevation gain: 755

It's just barely after 6am, when other travellers start to pop into the waiting room. I organize a fast breakfast with the remaining food I have left in my luggage. Shortly after 9am I'm boarding Hurtigruten and pay about 210 NOK for the journey to Honningsvåg. Hurtigruten is more like a cruise ship than an ordinary ferry, and this mode of travelling is very popular both among Norwegians and foreign tourist. Some even spend five nights on board, cruising all the way from Bergen to Kirkenes. My trip however, is just lasting a couple of hours, but I enjoy every minute of it. In Honningsvåg I stock up with food again, expecting to spend a night or two at Nordkapp, where there are no food stores, and only expensive eateries. The road from Honningsvåg to Nordkapp is very hilly and exposed to winds. These winds are prone to hit you at every possible angle, but mainly from north or east, which is not to my benefit at all, except from the first few kilometers after Honningsvåg.

After 35 km I reach Nordkapp and has to pay a discounted rate (NOK 140) to enter this tourist trap. All my efforts to explain them that I've been cycling all the way from Lindesnes and should get a free ticket (which has been common for NPL cyclists previous years) are in vain. My frustration don't last long however, as I'm greeted welcome by some familiar faces. I'm especially surprised to see one of the German guys I met at Kjellingstraumen. They had taken a shorter route after Lofoten, mainly sticking to E6. At Nordkjosbotn he parted with his buddy, who wanted to see Tromsø before continuing to Alta. Together with the German guy, were now the French guy from yesterday. He tells me he arrived Nordkapp yesterday near midnight exhausted after a long day. The Nordkapp tunnel was a nightmare according to him.

Me and the two guys shoot the mandatory photos in front of the famous monument. Then I visit the exhibition at Nordkapp. The 4 season movie from Nordkapp is awesome both visually and music wise. After that I pitch my tent close to the other cyclists at a grassy spot, which is a rare sight at this weather battered outpost of Norway. Unlike many other cyclists, this is not my ultimate destination, so I'm not in a party mood like them. It's just another ordinary evening in camp, but I have to admit, a little bit more than ordinary given the circumstances of being on the most northern place in Norway. Sitting outside of my tent and watching the endless ocean and horizon eventually leading to the Arctics and Northpole is nothing less than magic. Unfortunately the sun disappears behind clouds well before midnight, a signal of rain during the night and next day....

Previous leg: Moskenes to Tromsø
Next leg: Nordkapp to Vardø

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Posted by gfg on Tuesday, July 28, 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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