Riding Rocinante VII: Fagernes (Kms 4382)

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September 15th 2008
Published: September 19th 2008
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Monday, September 8th
I'm back on my way to Norway. Due to incessant rain, is taking me ages to make a crossing of a few hundred kilometers. It would have taken me less to cross from Nepal to Tibet!
Temperature remains low, around 12°C, and today I was forced for the first time to wear my winter stuff, with thermal, full lenght suit and padded jacket.
Day of climbs, not harsh but numerous. Rocinante complains and cracks like an old port brothel bed. I grease it, check screws, gears and spokes, but my mechanical knowledges don't go further. I'm afraid this will be its last adventure.
After crossing the Norwegian border, I saw the post Rom (Rooms), and after several days of free camping I thought I could well afford the luxury of a soft bed and a shower. Then I remembered that I had no cash on me, and the innkeeper did not accept credit cards. Disillusioned, I was going to resume the journey, but the man, Ole Martin, proposed a kind of barter: free accommodation and dinner in return for a lesson in Italian culture, since the weekend following he was invited to a wedding in Tuscany. Somebody loves me up there.

Tuesday, September 9th
Ole Martin has included breakfast in the deal. A beautiful table with any kind of food on set in the original 1900 lunch hall. Norway has this peculiarity, I remember especially from my previous 2006 bike trip: many houses, coated with or entirely built of wood, have the power to bring to mind back to a past never lived by those of my generation. The European version of Little House on the Prairie.
My host told me something that impressed me greatly about the different attitude towards life between Italians and Norwegians: "The former, finding his wife in bed with someone else, kills the illicit lover; The latter, in a same situation, runs into the forest and kills himself".
Then back I was cycling up and down on the hilly central Norway. At a crossroads, in the middle of the forest, I found myself face to face with a moose. Close encounters with wild animals are not unusual in these regions, and I remember having already found myself face to face with this huge deer, something between a horse and a cow topped with majestic horns, two years ago. This time we were closer though, a mere twenty meters distance. I had a few seconds of fear, moose is not a predator but its size asks for respect, neverthless. We both keot still, observing each other, both somehow curious about the other. Finally, since he was neither attacking nor running away, I tried to take out the camera as gently as I could. The moose kept observing me, but just a few moments before I could focus him, he walked away. I thus only managed to take a very poor, unzoomed photo of the animal moving away from me.
Still, the meeting left a sweet taste in my mouth. The beauty of life, royal salary after a day of hard work.

Wednesday, September 10th
Last night I had camped in a cemetery. Here in Scandinavia cemeteries offer the best meadows to rest, regardless of the eternity of such a rest.
It has become a problem to leave the tent at a reasonable hour in the morning. I have to wait at least up to 10am when the sun -always hidden- brings the temperature over 10°. I don't think I will wear my summer suit again in this trip.
When I think back to the first stages, to those 35 and more degrees on the Adriatic coast last July, it seems almost to refer to another, remote travel, such is the environmental difference.
Tonight I wanted to stay at the youth hostel in Hamar, one of the 1994 Winter Olympics venues. The hostel is located right in frotn of the ice arena, a futuristic structure that recalls the spaceship of some science fiction movie from the 80s. The price: 695Nk, 80€, incredible! Norway is by far the most expensive country where I've ever been.
I kept cycling then, tired and miserable, and I've camped next to a sheep farm, in the open, uncomfortable and exposed to bad weather.

Thursday, September 11th
During the night the wrath of God came down from the sky. Once again. It rains so much that if I had sowed some veggies on my tent last week, I would now harvest free tomatoes and beans on it.
I had been forced to place Rocinante horizontally due to lack of trees, and this morning it looked like a submarine rather than a bicycle. The canvas that covered it must have flipped over during the night because of the wind and instead of keeping the water out, had collected and retained inside as if it were an amphora.
I started cycling at 10am and stopped at the first town I came across to buy winter gloves and warmer socks. I also wanted to get a woollen balaclava and thus complete my new Cycling Spider Man look, but they told me they were outlawed several years ago.
In Gyøvik, a mere 37 kms covered, I stopped by at a private B&B kept by an elderly lady called Østa. It was just 3pm, I took a long, steamy shower and soon crashed out, finally on a soft bed in a heated environment.

Friday, September 12th
Day of complete rest. And obliging to Murphy law, today hasn't rained not even for a second!

Saturday, September 13th
Østa accompanied me to the beginning of a shortcut for Dokka. While saying goodbye, she told me that I looked smart and handsome, and that reminded me of my grandmother who is no longer with us, and I gave her a hug.
Again, the day was rainy and cold. I made it to Dokka, the thermometer marked 10° and the sky didn't promise anything good for the afternoon. I asked to the gas station boy how was the way to Fagernes, he told me it was flat, so I decided to keep going in spite of the rain.
Fkat my ass! I climbed like a mountain goat for two solid hours, always under the rain and always keep insulting that bastard of a gas station boy who -with no empathy- had sent me to been slaughtered. Arrived to the top I sighted the sign Rom, immense albeit short-lived joy: it was already closed for winter. The temperature had dropped to 6°, I was drenched in water and I had two options left, none of which any inviting: camping on the top of the mountain exposed to the elements, with temperatures that would certainly dropped below zero during the night and -worst of all- been forced to wear the same wet clothes next morning, or deal in these conditions with the long (20 km) descent down to Aurdal, with the speed as added enemy but with the hope to find accommodation in the village. I decided to continue on and the descent proved to be a real torture. I tried to keep the bike at around 35 Kms/h speed, but as soon as I released the brakes the bike would go down at over 50 kms/h. And when you're so wet, at that temperature, it hurts. In addition, every now and then I had to pedal in order to keep my knees at reasonable temperature, and this furtherly increased the speed of the descent.
At Aurdal I found a room at 350Nk (40€), I was a relict by then and I don't think I could have camped in those conditions. Yet, I put together my latest energies and used them to bargain with the innkeeper. I managed to get down to 200Nk. I took a steamy shower, I regulated the heating to 17° and crashed out.

Sunday, September 14th
I opened the curtains of my room with the naive enthusiasm of a child who runs down to check what Santa Claus have brought him on the morning of December 25th. Rain. Umbeliavable, it rains every given day. I have no time enough to dry my clothes and gears that thay are again under the rain.
Today I've cycled very little, 15Kms only, negative, unbeatable record, I believe. When I've got to Fagernes I asked for information about possible cheap lodging, given the usual, miserable weather conditions. Nothing: 400Nk (45€), was the cheapest one, for an unheated cabin with outdoor bathroom!
I then had an interesting conversation with the clerk down at the tourism office, who explained to me that such prices are due to a new tax introduced by the Norwegian government. I asked whether the Government's goal is to eliminate tourism. She replied, embarrassed, that "No", which means "Yes". I really do not understand such a policy. On one hand this country hosts an incredibly high number of foreign refugees; on the other one, it demands that those travellers (foreigners and nationals alike) on a limited budget to pay for such disinterested services. I mean, a night in a luxury hotel costs here as much as it costs in Italy or Germany, while a night in a camping-ground or in a hostel costs 5 times its equivalent in those countries. If a policy moulded on some sort of socialist philosophy is what the country is aiming at, then wouldn't be more consistent to put on the wealthiest classes shoulders the burden of such a policy?
Finally, I once again camped -at 3pm- on a hill next to the lake. Cold and uncomfortable. It doesn't make sense anymore to go on like this. I haven't smiled for days. I took a decision: if tomorrow is not dry and clear I will then take the way to the south, Iceland will have to wait.

Monday, September 15th
I wanted sunshine and have received another day of cold greyness instead. Enough is enough: I take the way to the south. I'm a migratory bird and as such I follow the sun, don't hide from it!

September 8th: Lake Gröcken - Øyermoen (Norway).67 Kms, 4h01', 16.7 Kms/h
September 9th: Øyermoen - Vaaler............................78 Kms, 4h17', 18.2 Kms/h
September 10th: Vaaler - Brumundal......................... ..91 Kms, 5h24', 16.8 Kms/h
September 11th: Brumundal - Gyøvik...........................37 Kms, 2h13', 17.0 Kms/h
September 12th: Gyøvik.................................................0 Kms
September 13th: Gyøvik - Aurdal................................84 Kms, 5h16', 15.9 Kms/h
September 14th: Aurdal - Fagernes............................15 Kms, 53', 17.2 Kms/h

La versione italiana di questo blog è disponibile sul sito Vagabondo.net
Link: Cavalcando Ronzinante VII: Fagernes (Km 4382)


20th September 2008

So great
Ah,,,it took me much time reading your article.you know ,it's so hard for me to read it ,because i'm a chinese. lol....hum....but it's great i shared your experience there.
21st September 2008

Fingers crossed for Rocinante!
Hope you both make it to Iceland somehow...following your Scandanavian adventures with great interest...here in SW London. I am certainly much more comfortable, but having a much less interseting time! A presto! Dai! Su!
26th October 2008

still on your way south?
Are you still on the road? I've just found out about your blog and got to read it and you are already on your way back .... it's a piety I haven't managed to follow you through your journey! are you passing by Lampedusa on your way south?

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