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…