Oh cruel cruel (but amazing too!) Norway, but I made it to Stavanger and a cycle race

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June 16th 2008
Published: June 16th 2008
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I made it to Stavanger! The cycling in Norway has been tough, to say the very least! Looking at the map I figured that the south would be the easy part seeing as the terrain wasn't even barely hitting the first contour at 300m. Well it turns out that the south of Norway is a huge mass of 299m mountains and I yo-yoed my way for 4 hard days to Stavanger when the direct motorway route is only 250km.

The scenery has been totally amazing of course. A million cute Norwegian villages buildings all in white or red wood, huge cliffs, beautiful lakes for swimming and I could go on on. You'll see from all the pictures. But the first two days especially were so hard. I think by the third day I'd got used to it (even though this was the day with the biggest climbs - but they were on tarmac at least, the previous day's had been on dirt) so I almost seemed to breeze up and raced down much to the amazement of the numerous dutch and german campervans passing. You know when you drive through the mountains and you see some crazy cyclist and think thank god I'm not doing that. Well I am now that person!!!

Anyway, I've camped three nights in the wild. One in particular I was lucky to be by a huge lake for swimming (there were lots of big animal prints, so I was hoping I might see something big, in the end I didn't, but I did hear lots of wild boar rummaging around - they are really noisy! and aggresive so i've heard so I stayed well inside my tent). Amazing!

On the hardest day I had some luck to meet some very friendly locals who invited me to eat fresh shrimps with them and then gave me the remainder as a packed dinner! That was next to Europes largest moveable rock (I just managed to get it rocking, though I heard it used to rock more before vandals ruined it). But judging by appearances I'd say it weight about 20 tonnes! On that day I also got chatting to some climber at the place where there are old fishermans houses under the huge overhang (allegedly the 2nd most photoed buildings in Norway after the royal palace). They told me they work as climbers on the oil rigs, 2 weeks on, 2 months off! Get that - and getting paid for a hobby, and no doubt they get paid a load as well.

This leads me on to the costs here in Norway. Initial impressions didn't really last. It's expensive. Yesterday I bought a packet of things that look like KitKats only they taste half as good and cost 4 times as much. Basically imagine doing all your shopping in a motorway service station in the UK - that's about the cost here in the supermarket!

The last day to Stavanger turned out to be the easy day. And I got involved in a random race (memories of a 5k funrun in Alaska with packs) which just happened to be on that day and going in the direction I wanted!! As I trundled into Egersund (having already done about 15k) I was greeted by the sight of 5200 cyclists waiting for the annual race to Sandnes (just south of Stavanger, my destination for the day). Well it appeared the route was pretty much following the north sea cycle route which I'd been following so I figured what the heck and tucked in behind one group (they had a staggered start with about 200 cycists leaving every 10 minutes). It was hard not to get into the spirit of the race, and I think I bemused a lot of people by overtaking them (up some brutal hills) with my full pannier rack on. hihihi. I also caused some great hilarity/bewilderment to the crowd that lined the route in places. Hiya hiya they shouted. In the end I did the whole 85k in a creditable 3h45mins (the winner took 2h20) which considering that there was quite a lot of offroad mountain bike trails (my bike held firm! I should ahve noted that everyone was using mountain bikes though) I was pretty chuffed at (though they didn't let me cross the finish line as it was kind of obvious I was an infiltrator). Whatsmore I got a free feast at the end (sure I shouldn't really have) - nice!

At the end I got chatting to a couple of guys that apparently I'd overtaken on route. They were pretty amazed that I'd done the whole thing faster than them. I let them try my bike. They were heading back to Stavanger too so they led me on a back route via the site where the king of norway was decided in a big battle a long time ago.

I'd already decided that night on a hostel, but bad luck, an old couple got the last beds literally just before I got there. So it was the city campsite for me. As luck would have it I just got my tent up before the heavens broke. My first rain since I entered germany about 3 weeks ago!

Day 19- Lønstrup to Søgne (NW) - 10/6
Dist (miles): 29.98
Ave speed (mph): 11.7
Max speed (mph): 30.0
Time on saddle: 2h33

Day 20- Søgne to Lyngdal/Farsund - 11/6
Dist (miles): 56.33
Ave speed (mph): 10.3
Max speed (mph): 30.5
Time on saddle: 5h26

Day 21- Lyngdal/Farsund to Flekkefjord - 12/6
Dist (miles): 55.12
Ave speed (mph): 10.3
Max speed (mph): 34.0
Time on saddle: 5h19

Day 22- Flekkefjord to Nesvåg - 13/6
Dist (miles): 45.49
Ave speed (mph): 9.5
Max speed (mph): 35.5
Time on saddle: 4h46

Day 23- Nesvåg to Stavanger - 14/6
Dist (miles): 74.00
Ave speed (mph): 12.9
Max speed (mph): 31.0
Time on saddle: 5h42

Additional photos below
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