Published: June 21st 2008June 21st 2008
Yesterday disaster struck. I'd just descended off my first big pass (650m up to the snow line just) in the freezing rain and wind - no probs. I didn't even take a break going up. On the way down my hands got so numb I could barely brake but I got down to the comparatively flat lake at the bottom just a few km from Voss when I somehow managed to crash in most bizarre fashion.
I remember a car coming by me on the single lane road, and after that I looked around to see if there was anything else. There wasn't. I turned back around to face the road to find myself not in the centre but hurtling unavoidably towards a ditch. The bike flew, time froze. My face mashed into a spongy mossy bank, narrowly avoiding a rock and then I skidded down the road a few metres. My glasses were ok, my helmet vizor was cracked in two, but the helmet was intact. The bike - well panniers were lying about the road and the brake levers were bent, but I bent them back no probs. It was only when I collected up the panniers that
I realised the rear right one (sleeping bag, and my spare shoes) was gone. I thought i must be going crazy, i was a bit shaken by the crash, but there was nowhere for it to be. It couldn't have catapulted that far. So then I figured it must have fallen off on the descent. I back traced in the rain to the bottom of the climb and flagged down a car. It turned out to be a very kind Norwegian girl. She hadn't seen my pannier on the road coming down, but offered to drive me up to have another look. We did that ; I scoured the ditch for a flash of red but nothing.
The mystery of the missing pannier, an Alfred Hitchcock movie in the making. Well after we headed down, I thought I may as well cycle up again and recheck. That I did. I was feeling low, like quitting the whole mission as I eventually trundled into Voss at 8pm a wet, dirty, mess still without my pannier. I can only assume that either it went off the road down a ditch too far to see or that someone picked it off the
road and kept it.
So last night having showered I wandered down to the common area and ended up chatting to a New York gal, Emily, who perked me up. After all I hadn't broken any bones and everything was replaceable. We ended up in a bar in town with another guy Dan and soon were attracting a number of strange Norwegians, including Knutt who declared his undying love to both Emily and me, and also seemed to have a thing for cottages (was there something lost in translation there?) and the pub cook who sounded like the chef from the Muppets. Knutt thankfully was kicked out shortly before we turned in at 2am.
So today a huge lie-in to nurse my cycling-psyche which had been severely dented. I noticed a few bruises had come up overnight, so obviously I had hit myself a bit harder than I'd thought. And then a 2 hour shopping blitz with Emily. It turns out that if you're going to lose all your outdoor gear in Norway, you're best to do it in Voss. It's the outdoor adventure capital and stuffed to the rafters with discount outdoor sports, discount in the norwegian
sense, but still cheap by UK standards. I got a nice sleeping bag for 60 quid (the old one was crap anyway), new Merrell shoes for 50 quid (i had to wear sodden cycling shoes without socks all day and the previous evening), a new rain jacket for 20 quid to replace my current one which works only keeps you warm via wetsuit principles, a new lock (20 quid) and finally a new pannier bag (30 quid) to replace my lovely ortlieb. So the trip is still on! My bike may look a bit odd with mismatched panniers and a bit more 'worn in' but i am back mobile and ready for an early start tomorrow!
Back to Bergen the previous evening, I should mention a few other nice guys I met - Olly from Canterbury who I had a lot of fun hiking up the mountain at the back of Bergen - we got an amazing evening vista with rainclouds swirling around and a bit of sun, and Joel a french canadian who had just ridden down from Tromso (where I'm heading) in 2.5 weeks, plus a couple of friendly Dutch guys, Spanish girls and an old man
doing the North Sea cycle route - an impressive feat. Joel inspired me that I can still make it north to Lofoten at least in the time I have remaining, though now I've lost another day. It may well be that end up flying back, and I'm looking at options to come back via train from Narvik to Stockholm. But we'll see if I make it that far first!!
Day 28- Bergen to Voss - 20/6
Dist (miles): 48.47
Ave speed (mph): 10.1
Max speed (mph): 30.5
Time on saddle: 4h45