7. Norway

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 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:

imageMap (1)“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.”imageMap

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…Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 20.56.27

 

Notes:

Here’s a site run by Paul Uijting which may be of use – Cycling in Norway.

Ralf in Norway has made the following comments (with some responses from me in bold):

“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 back country, just store any food outside the tent. Bears are hunted somewhat so they learn to shy away from people. Phew!

Do not underestimate the weather along the coast. It can be cold (10 deg C) and rainy for prolonged periods even during summer. Thanks for the warning. I will need to make sure I am prepared for this as it will be lurch back into winter after having cycled through western Europe during the earlier period of the 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” plateau. 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. Noted!

Be prepared for no cycling infrastructure whatsoever except close to population centers. This, alas, has been my experience throughout Europe on previous trips but I suppose what is more important is the level of traffic and I would imagine in remote places in Norway, cars and other vehicles will be relatively few and far between.

Camping is allowed in most places except agricultural land, gardens, conservation areas etc. Don’t be a nuisance, leave no traces and you are welcome. I have never wild camped before but I have a feeling that it may be required in Norway. Thanks for the advice.

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! You must be related to the Albanians!!

And don’t forget that Norway is a very hilly and mountainous place. Especially so the coastline. The coastline is unfortunately also the best part to see. I like my hills… 

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.” I shall be carrying the timetable just in case.

Advertisements

What do you think?