Today is the day where I will reach North Cape. That's what I though as I woke up 180 kilometers from my target not knowing what would strike me.
Early in the afternoon I reached the gorgeous waterfront where the Barents Sea barge on Europe, east of North Cape. The trip north from there was magnificent. The shapes of the rocks emerging from the sea were breathtaking all the 60 kilometers up to the final stretch.
And reindeer were everywhere, ready to be run over or getting caught on some plateau not able to come down from there. Indeed, reindeer are the stupidest animal alive. When approached by a bicycle, the animal will wait until the very last moment to move its carcass and then start to race in front of the bike for a good 100 meters until it realizes that this is not a good idea. Every frigging time. At one point I had like eight of them in front of me, solving the mystery of the Santa sledge myth.
I passed a couple of tunnels on the way up there, and the first one got me quite excited with the darkness, coolness and nerve breaking
acoustics. After I had my fun and my easy ride, I met the mother of all tunnels, the North Cape Tunnel. 4 kilometers 9 percent descend and 4 kilometers 9 percent climb.
The first four kilometers were not even funny. I love my descends, but this one disturbed me. It was too fast, the atmosphere extremely intense, and it just never seemed to end. But it did after a few kilometers. And when it did, the experience turned to the worse. The next four kilometers probably took me 20 minutes in some very low gears, wishing that I was home on my mothers couch sipping coffee, eating cake. But the cars roared with massive volume behind me and the tube I was in continued without any light at the end.
When I came out in the end I started crying. I couldn't hold it back. Never ever tried anything as intense as this.
"Looks like that tunnel sucked your soul out." That is the words of Mike from California, whom I met just after the tunnel trip. He and his girlfriend Cari are traveling all over the world on bikes. They had traveled to North Cape with
Ben from France and so we all four went down the final stretch together.
After getting supplies we had to decide whether to go all the way or camp somewhere before the massive climbs. I will never forget Mike's question to the rest of us. "We camp or we ride?" I was going to use that expression for my own travel indeed. We did the riding thing, which I never will regret even though I had been on the road already for 12 hours that day. But after all, it was light all through the night up there.
What a ride for Vikings. 5 kilometers up a very steep climb in a fog, where you couldn't see 5 meters ahead of you. Suddenly huge tour buses would emerge in front of you on the street and there was no seeing what was at the side of the road.
My body ached going up like that. I needed to find my deepest reservoir of stamina to pull this one. The guys felt the same I could see. This was not easy by any means, but the thought of midnight sun at the end of the mountain cheered us
Suddenly my right shin shrieks from pain and I am afraid I will never make it. But a thick layer of tiger balm and a few painkillers was going to do the trick. I was going all the way to North Cape!
The pain slowly vanishes, but this next climb is crueler than the last and I am going under 7 km/h which is as close as you can almost get to not falling from the bike. I am in front and decides to wait for the others. I see Cari coming (such a fit biker) and next Mike, but Ben is gone. We wait in the freezing fog for five and ten minutes, but where is he? There he was suddenly, giving the very last of what he had to give. Now that is the way to climb North Cape!
From here we were close. I was freezing so gathering my last effort seemed natural and suddenly she was standing there. The North Cape sign. I stop turn around and awaited the others. One two three and we were all here. Relieved and exhausted.
It costs 35 euro to get in to the North
Cape statue, so I sneak in without paying while the others camp outside. I was determined to go ALL the way. So I went in to take my picture and then I realized that I was not feeling quite well. The effort I had made was enormous and I could not find ease in the tourist compound, which is the North Cape Center. There I could buy a cup of tea for more than 3 euro. That made me feel warm, and it was possible for me to join the camp outside in the cold. No midnight sun this night.
Next day we sneaked past the toll as the fog was still lying densely over North Cape. At the North Cape Statue I popped open a bottle of champagne I bought in Alta, poured it in plastic champagne glasses and made the most anticipated toast of all my life. That Martini Asti tasted gooood.
After some time I parted with my new friends and rolled easily down from the North Cape cliff...
Thank you for the support that I have gotten from all over the world. It helped a BIG lot!!!
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