I was woken this morning by the sound of raindrops on the tent. As I pondered whether to get up immediately or wait for a while I reflected upon how I only ever used to pack everything up while sitting in the tent when it was raining. I now try and do the packing while sitting in the tent whether it’s raining or not. It just seems easier that way. I found my phone and looked at the time. It was 3 a.m. Three a.m.! Outside it was light. Not just a bit light or slightly light or not particularly dark. Light. It was light! At 3 a.m. I shut my eyes… and, thankfully, woke again at 8 a.m. It was still light.
I went to the local supermarket for breakfast. Sitting outside I looked at the map. I had three possible routes that would take me in the direction of Lillehammer at the northern end of the Mjøsa lake. Firstly, I could follow the road on the eastern side. This was the official route of the Eurovelo 3 and on Open Street Map it was marked as such. There were a few gaps in the OSM route however. Should I be worried about these? The second option was to follow the Norwegian route 7 signs upon which the Eurovelo 3 is supposed to piggyback. It took an inland route however, first heading south and then north but not along the eastern shore of the lake until the town of Hamar. I assumed it would be hilly. The third option was to take the road – route 33 – along the western shore of the lake. This looked fairly flat on the map (but then again most things on maps look flat…), was direct, was well away from the railway and motorway on the eastern shore and, crucially, had been the route taken by the two German cyclists that I had briefly chatted with yesterday. Option three it was and what a good decision!
Almost immediately the drama of the entire cycle from Tarifa to Nordkapp went up a couple of notches. The road had been carved into the steep sides of the lake and afforded fantastic views across the water and towards the hills and mountains beyond. Fantastic! As I had predicted, the route was not particularly vertically challenging; just enough to keep the heart beat up. The quality of the road was excellent and along many stretches I was able to follow a dedicated cycle path away from the traffic but then again the traffic in the first half of the day was minimal to say the least. I couldn’t fault it. Even the navigation was simple as I was following just one long road.
My heart did sink a little when I noticed along tunnel but even here I needn’t have worried. Cycling was not, of course, permitted through the tunnel – very new by the looks of it – but the old road that curved around the shore clinging to the rocks had been left open, albeit with rock debris a little alarmingly strewn across the Tarmac. It was clear why the tunnel was required.
I paused for lunch in Skreia after which the road did get busier and then in Grøvik where the traffic increased once again but by that point I was nearly at my destination, the excellent Sveastranda campsite. It ticks almost every box:
- Very friendly welcome from the woman on reception (how I would have loved the man from the youth hostel in Jerez to be standing next to me taking notes)
- Not expensive for cycling tourists – a ‘special price’ of just 130 NOK (that’s only a fraction over £10)
- A camping area next to the lake, not tucked away at the back behind the mobile homes and caravans
- Brilliant views across the lake
- Good quality wash block (although my experience would have been enhanced if is remembered to take my towel with me…)
- Minimal riff raff. 5 minutes ago I would have said ‘no riff raff’ but then a car pulled up and a man got out and immediately laughed inanely at something. Then came the opening of a can of lager it that ostentatious out-loud way that only riff raff can manage. I shall ignore them but if there’s noise after 11 p.m. I’ll be round at their tent clip board in hand taking down names… Perhaps. (Did I mention the tattoos?)
Tomorrow Lillehammer and into the mountains beyond! I really must invest in a clip board.