When I cycled from Greece to Portugal in 2013, I spent most of my time pre-trip thinking about Greece, Albania and, to a certain extent, Croatia. I didn’t spend too much time considering the western European countries through which I would be cycling. In France, a country I know very well, this wasn’t an issue, but I do wish I had spent a little more time pondering over what it would be like to cycle through Spain and Portugal. It was only a chance conversation with my Warm Showers’ host in the Pyrenees that brought the Vias Verdes to my attention and in Portugal although time was short, it would have been nice to have know more about the Algarve cycle route (rather than simply that it existed). So, for 2015’s cycle from Tarifa in Spain to Nordkapp in Norway, I shall focus my thoughts on Norway first leaving Spain (ironically) to think about last.
Another novelty for 2015 (apart from my priorities in planning) is that I have ditched the paper guide books and I have gone digital! Yesterday I downloaded the Rough Guide To Norway on iBooks and went down to the pub to read it! Why did I stick to dead trees for so long? Not only is the guidebook identical to the paper version (I had a sneaking suspicion that it might not be so I downloaded the sample and wandered off to Waterstone’s to compare the two – they were indeed exactly the same…) but it has lots of useful hyperlinks not just between places in the book but also to the wider Internet. My only remaining concern with the iBook version of the Rough Guide is that I run out of power for my iPad but as it’s also on my iPhone and that I will be carrying my solar powered Power Monkey, even in the midst of nowhere in Norway (that would make a good book title, no?), I should be OK. Especially with the midnight sun… Back to the planning.
The Rough Guide tells me the following (I’ve summarised): ” Despite the difficulty of the terrain, cycling is popular in Norway… cycle lanes are few and far between… but there’s little traffic on the roads anyway… check your itinerary throughly, especially in the more mountainous areas… cyclists aren’t allowed through longer tunnels… your first port of call should be VisitNorway.com…” That site – run by the Norwegian Tourist Board – has a dedicated cycling section which is very reminiscent of the fabulous Swiss cycling website.
The cycling contacts that are listed are Syklistenes Landsforening (which doesn’t seem to have an English version although it is worth pointing out that the CTC website – its British equivalent – doesn’t have a Norwegian version…) and Syklist Velkommen which is actually an off shoot of the tourist board website. So there’s no shortage of information available about cycling in Norway. Or should I say ‘sykling‘. It has not escaped my attention that the Norwegian words for cycling, cyclist (syklist) and bicycle (sykkel) are all pretty close to my own surname ‘Sykes’. Some wit on Twitter did point out that the Norwegians spent an extended period of time in northern England following their arrival in the 8th century. Is there a connection? The ‘sykkel‘ wasn’t invented until 1817 so it seems unlikely. It is, however, rather fitting that I should be completing my third and final European crossing by bicycle in a country where some might consider that I am descended from the inventor of the machine. I digress…
My route in Norway will be from the border with Sweden near to a town called Halden to Nordkapp via Oslo, Lillehammer, Trondheim (where the Eurovelo 3 finishes and I pick up once again the Eurovelo 1), Bodo, Tromso before finally arriving at my destination. It’s a long way. Trondheim to Nordkapp alone is over 1600km.
The European Cyclists Federation say the following about the Eurovelo 3 portion of the route:
“Eurovelo 3 in Norway connects to Eurovelo 1 and runs from Svinesund [near Halden] through Oslo to Trondheim. The Pilgrims’ Way from Oslo to Nidaros is 640 km long. After his death at the battle at Stiklestad (1030), Olav Haraldsson was made patron saint of Norway. Soon after his death one experienced signs and miracles linked to Olav’s remains. He became a figure of reverence, and pilgrims from all over Europe travelled to Nidaros (Trondheim), the main destination in Scandinavia for pilgrims. The pilgrimage goes through built-up areas, stunning cultural landscape, narrow valleys, peaceful forests and open mountain terrain. Along the Way you will experience historical places and cultural heritage sites of national importance. The section is not fully realised so it’s a good idea to contact local tourist office or Cycling Norway for more information.”
As for the section from Trondheim north along the Eurovelo 1 it has the following:
“The route takes you along Norway’s beautiful long coastline with fjords, the view of high mountains and many islands that is often accessible by ferries. The section is not fully realised so it’s a good idea to contact local tourist office or Cycling Norway for more information.”
The ‘not fully realised‘ theme is a common one of the Eurovelo network.
As far as accommodation goes, many options are available but bearing in mind that in 2015 I would like to stick to campsites and hostels (as I will be unemployed!), membership of the YHA here in the UK before I leave will be a good idea giving me slightly reduced rates in the Hostelling International network. It’s good to know that you don’t have to be a ‘youth’ on an international level…
My final point is regarding bears. I laughingly mentioned this to a colleague at work this week but was a little horrified to discover that actually, yes, Norway does have bears albeit only 148 of them and mainly towards the border with Sweden. Top tip: stay away from the border with Sweden.
I will leave you with thoughts of the Juvet Landscape Hotel. It’s not that far from the route of the Eurovelo 3 although I do fear it may be a little out of my budget…
Hi! I’m planning a bike tour in Norway for next summer. I hope to begin at Haugastøl and on to Flåm and then northward. My question, to any knowledgable person who might read this: can I depend on bus transport to get past the the tunnels?
Regarding solar power, I think it deserves to be mentioned that the number of sun hours will increase as you travel north during summer. Above the arctic circle you will even get to experience the midnight sun (if you luck out and escape the rain).
Bears are no problem for people. If you get into the backcountry, just store any food outside the tent. Bears are hunted somewhat so they learn to shy away from people.
Do not underestimate the weather along the coast. It can be cold (10 deg C) and rainy for prolonged periods even during summer.
Norway is hilly and mountainous. If you pass by the “Juvet” hotel you will have to do some serious climbing up to the “Trollstien” plateu. Check your brakes before descending..
(if you do choose to travel that route instead of the inland route, a much cheaper alternative would be my place, with an ocean view, shower, laundry machine, bed etc.)
.Be prepared for no cycling infrastructure whatsoever except close to population centers.
Camping is allowed in most places except agricultural land, gardens, conservation areas etc. Dont be a nuisance, leave no traces and you are welcome.
Crime is relatively rare, and theft would be the obvious crime. Except for one thing.. Norwegians do tend to show their heritage as ruthless barbarians when driving cars. Take care!
And dont forget that Norway is a very hilly and mountainous place. Especially so the coastline. The coastline is unfortunately also the best part to see..
PS: If electing to go along the coastline, there is always the coastal express ships running from Bergen to Kirkenes with stopovers in all major harbours along the coast.
Thanks for the extended notes – they are very useful indeed! So much so that I have copied them onto the ‘Norway’ page of the Eurovelo 1/3 section of the site: http://cyclingeurope.org/eurovelo3/my-route/7-norway/
I’ll certainly be adding my own comments / responses to what you have written later today. It would be wonderful to see you en route: what’s your nearest town?
my nearest town would be Molde.
Thanks. My cycle will be from Oslo to Trondheim. It would probably be a little too much out of the way to visit Molde (which is a pity). The idea of staying at the Juvet Hotel was only a remote possibility (for financial reasons just as much as geographical ones…)
On a more positive note, wild camping should be no problem, particularly further North.
Wild camping is ‘enshrined in law’ in Norway although you should do it at least 150 metres away from houses or other settlements.
A point here about solar power. The further North you go the lower the sun is in the sky and consequently the greater thickness of atmosphere the light passes through and the less energy will reach the solar panels.
Thanks but it’s not so much the thickness of the atmosphere which is the issue but rather the significantly increased area over which the sun’s rays are spread when the position of the sun in the sky is close to the horizon…
Very envious. Definitely one to go on the growing cycling bucket list. Perhaps I should retire……..