Published: June 28th 2008June 29th 2008
Jotunheimen is the national park that contains all of Norway's high mountains over 2400m and highway 5 runs right by to 1434m over 20km from sea level, an obvious attraction for me on my panniered up bike.
I was lucky. I started the climb late in the day (queue 3rd spoke breakage!!), so there was no way I was going to make the top. It wouldn't have been practical to camp up there in any case. After chatting with a friendly guy at the tourist info at the base town, I decided to try for Turtagrø 1000m up the pass. The first 400m vertical of the climb passed easily and I was actually getting a bit over-confident as I rounded the first false summit. There the switchbacks stopped for a while, but as I found is almost always the case, this is where it gets tough as the switchbacks tend to lessen the gradients (except the corners). What followed was a gruesome climb straight up the valley for the remaining 5km very reminiscent of Glenshee with Mike way back at the start of the trip. Strangely for me the most painful thing is the sweat pouring into your eyes and
stinging like hell. Juggling glasses and bike whilst wiping your brow with cars coming by is a tricky business, but stopping is not an option.
Anyway the memory of the last 200m up to the Turtagrø hotel haunts me still, but I made it in a little over 2 hours from 0m. And there I paid my 35 kroner for a hot shower (the shower is in an outhouse so really you could just sneak in for free) and pitched tent around the back in very scottish looking mountain scenery. My new sleeping bag handled the cold pretty well I'm glad to say!
In the morning it was snowing ever so slightly. I opted for shorts as I still had another set of switchbacks up to the top. That wasn't too bad -obviously the nights rest had helped and before long I was on a pretty much flat pass with snow banked up on either side. Alas the clouds had really come in, and although the sun was trying to break through it never quite did and there wasn't a whole lot to see except whiteness in all directions. At the top of the pass is another hotel
where I stopped for an hour or so and supped on free (was it supposed to be?) coffee and warmed up a little.
Eventually I made a break for the descent despite the snow. Quickly realising going down was going to be a lot colder, I put on all my rain gear and raced down (rehooking up my rear brakes which I'd slackened for the climb due to the spoke breaking). The descent was a bit of dream - about 40km almost all downhill and the sun did come out for a bit. It was only down the other side that you could really appreciate the size of the mountains towering almost 2000m above you.
Down in Lom I made a left turn away from the natural route to Trondheim to take in Geiranger (a UNESCO protected fjord) and the Trollstigen pass.
Day 31- Turtagrø to Polfoss - 24/6
Dist (miles): 66.17
Ave speed (mph): 11.9
Max speed (mph): 35.0
Time on saddle: 5h32
There are more photos below