Day 4 - Bergen to Ulvik


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Europe » Norway » Western Norway » Bergen
September 2nd 2008
Published: September 3rd 2008
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Tuesday 2nd September


Remind me not to be smug about the weather in future - it absolutely chucked it down today. Anyway loaded up the bike and set off for Ulvik via the old fjord road after nambying my way out of Bergen. Cobblestones may look nice but they are f*cking slippery when wet and the Norwegians seem to have found a super slippy white paint for them - which is nice.

Anyway once out of Bergen, what a stunning ride (called route 7 I recall). The road follows a river, which periodically erupted in magnificent waterfalls, for about 20-30 miles before settling in and following Hardanger fjord's shoreline. Check it out on Google Maps - but plot a route through Alvik not Voss. If you think, “hmm that looks like it would be a good ride”, you'd be well short - it was superb. Unfortunately because it was hosing it down I took FA pictures - well a couple with the crappy snappy, but it was too wet to stop to get out the SLR. I have decided the Ixus has to go - I will order another snappy that takes SD format. (Yes Ellie you can have my old one!)

The pics of the journey shown here were taken once the rain had stopped quite near the end of the day. You can also see what a faff it is to get the SLR out.

Weather forecasting is pointless here, it is so localised. I had a lunch stop (horrible burger and chips - which was great value at £15) after getting soaked for an hour and a half and hoped the rain would ease - but did it hell. So I was surprised an hour or more later on the road when it gradually started to dry out to the point where it was obvious there had been no rain there at all. The road was completely dry. You read the guide books and it talks about summary executions for breaking the pedestrian speed limit. Well maybe but I have yet to see a police car - so on a gorgeous stretch of snaking dry road I obviously risked life imprisonment and had a blast. Superb.

Tyre grip is of course largely a state of mind. Of course it is massively reduced in the wet and we have all spun up the rear wheel in the wet, but it is to a large degree psychological. That and having a block of flats hanging off each side of the bike meant I had been cautious in the wet. Oh I suppose the 18inch wall between you and the cliff edge doesn't help either. It would just about deflect a car wheel on a glancing blow - a biker would vault straight over it. But over cautious I would guess, because at speed the bike handles OK.

Thoroughly enjoyed this part of the ride - well actually and surprisingly all of today's ride, even when poodling in the teeming rain the scenery was jaw dropping. Surprisingly because by this stage I was pretty wet - my feet were slopping around in pools of water and the temperature was 10 degrees cooler than in Bergen. You could still see snow on the peaks- you may be able to see some on the pics.

The tunnels - the villains of yesterday were today welcome respite from the relentless rain and bizarrely their behaviour inverted from yesterday had them 2 degrees warmer than the outside. I guess it all depends what massif they're dug through. They also gave me a chance to check my headlight adjustment prowess - top-tip don't adjust your headlight unless it is actually dark. Mr BMW obviously didn't adhere to this simple rule either. Well that or he was a myopic cretin or someone that enjoyed counting the individual gravel stones in the road surface directly under the bike. It was ridiculous. However no less ridiculous than my overcompensating efforts at turning the bike into an aerial search light. I laughed out loud in the first tunnel when I flicked the beam on, straight into the ceiling - well useful!
Anyway I arrived a drowned rat in Ulvik which was dry (although it is raining with a vengeance now as I write this) at my chosen accommodation. There was no way I was going to camp on leaving Bergen in such heavy rain so I booked ahead at a hotel in Ulvik which according to the guide book was, and I quote “... another excellent choice, this well run guest house offers very comfortable rooms...” Comfortable? I'd like to see how comfortable the James Hunt who wrote that finds room 10. I was taken aback at the sparsity when I opened my room door. There are not many rooms where when you throw your stuff everywhere that they look more inviting - I may take a photo in the morning.

However they had the well run bit right. An ex-army lad from Coventry runs it with his missus who I presume he met whilst on service here. Such a nice bloke with one of those warming smiles that you can't help but like him (refreshingly he wasn't completely insane aka the fruitcakes I met on the boat.) And a mega bonus was that they did dinner. I took the offer of dinner which was “just soup and meatballs” gratefully and it was the best food I've had for days. Simple hearty fare - just what the doc ordered after 3-4 hours being soaked on a bike. To be fair there would have been excellent places to eat in Bergen I am sure and apparently there is a 2 Michelin star gaff in Oslo, although I presume you'd have to mortgage your house to eat there. The main parts of the hotel are fine and there is even a Fender guitar (surprisingly I had the lounge to myself...), but the guide book is way off on the rooms front. Maybe I am just in a sh*tty one? Still for me tonight it is just fine and the price is a very reasonable 60 notes and in the end decided I couldn't give a f*ck about the room. Oh it is £60 only if you have a Fjord pass. This is a no-brainer and ridiculous it isn't mentioned in the guide - you get brilliant discounts on hotels with it. Example my hotel in Bergen was £130, but with the fjord pass it was £85. And the cost of the pass? A tenner.

My current plan for tomorrow is to back track about 10 miles to get the ferry across Hardanger Fjord to Brimnes and then onto Eidfjord which is supposed to be magnificent. Its not far from here so I really am planning on camping, and then hiking in the locale but it is raining so hard we'll have to see.

This scenery in this part of the country is nothing short of spectacular - surely one of the most beautiful areas of the world, and apparently I haven't seen the best bits yet. I just hope I get another couple of dry days over the next week.

No helmet cam today - technical hitch. Maybe tomorrow. Mixed reaction to them from people reading the blog from Victoria who “...loved the helmet cam videos...” to Bruce who wrote “...your first helmet cam video was so f*cking boring that I ended up watching my on-screen cursor in preference...” Whatever I would agree that I should do better.

Trip Mileage to date 578 miles.

Toodle-oo...

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4th September 2008

I'm sure your hotel room surpassed the Birmingham travel lodge. A Pot Noodle machine in reception as the only form of catering is less inviting than soup and meatballs.
5th September 2008

Grey skies
Gary although the scenes look terrific the sky reminds me of a comment made by one one of the guys I worked with from Zimbabwe, who when I asked him his opinion of the UK said he called it "mud island" because the sky seemed to be permanently that shade.

Tot: 3.19s; Tpl: 0.094s; cc: 11; qc: 52; dbt: 0.1275s; 2; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 2; ; mem: 1.4mb