The patchy rain forecasted for today was ‘patchless’, seamless as it hammered down on my tent during the early hours. This did not bode well for the ride up to Honningsvag. However after a coffee in the restaurant attached to the campsite, the skies had cleared and the signs were good.
The route from Olderfjord to Honningsvag consisted of far reaching sea views, open windswept country, sea cliffs, tunnels and reindeer.
Cod drying racks.
With the calm sea to my right the E69 hugged the coast, weaving in and out of numerous coves. With a brisk wind coming in from the west, there were times when it was blowing directly at you and others when it was pushing you at 40km/h depending whether you were cycling the southside of the deep cutting coves or the north. Around Repvag it is necessary to climb up over the north east peninsula and head west into the wind before entering the Nordkapp sea tunnel. This was hard work and I was willing the tunnel to arrive to give restbite from the wind.
At 6,870m and 212m below sea level, with a 9% ‘hill’ down into it and a longer 9% ‘hill’ out of it, the tunnel holds a certain respect by cyclists. Some write having had frightening experiences and loathed every minute in it. This instills trepidation in all about to enter it, including me. Having put both my rear lights on and front light and layered up, in I cycled.
On reaching this far north in Norway every cyclist would have now been through many tunnels. What made this one so different was the immediate massive temperature drop, enhanced by the speed that you descend under the sea. Lighting provided in the tunnel is minimal and the noise of the extractor fans trying to remove the fog is loud. It is also true that sound is distorted particularly with motorcycles sounding like trains. The ascent back out was long and with vehicles passing, care was needed. My main concern, as it has been for many days, is the incompetence of some RV drivers. The problem being it is impossible to identify those excellent drivers and those who should not be in charge of a RV. However the overall experience was enjoyable and the warmth that greets you ad you emerge is welcoming.
A further two tunnels, the final one, The Honningsvag tunnel, at 4,440m cutting through a 400m high mountain brings you a less than auspicious area consisting of a desensitization plant and derelict concrete silos before Remi1000 welcomes you into Honningsvag town. A town completely rebuilt after the Nazi’s burnt it to the ground as they retreated in 1945.
During the ride I saw numerous reindeer. I took some time to get reasonably close to this cow and calf.
Brian, the recently retired GP from Glasgow, who was great company for a few days, way back sometime somewhere, mailed to say he had been to Nordkapp and was now in Honningsvag and suggested having a meal and drink together before he headed home early on 26th on one of the Hurtigruten ships. We enjoyed a pizza and some beer together whilst our bikes got soaked outside. Not able to delay out departure any longer we headed off to try and find a derelict building to save putting the tents up, as he had to be on the ship by 5am. Unsuccessful, we pitched the tents overlooking the sea, said farewell to each other and slept though a wet night. I heard Brian’s alarm, but was back to sleep immediately.
I how have four days until I board the MS Nordkapp for Tromso to meet Anne for our trip south to Bergen. I think I’m going to get to know the island of Mageroya very well.