Cycling in Scandinavia 2008
Updated 11 February 2009
This year was an exceptionally good one because I managed to wangle three months off work as unpaid leave.
The solo expedition I planned had three goals:-
The postcard below from the noticeboard on my desk at home features a big white beach called Bunesstranda - I had often cycled along the road at the front of the picture, but never had the day required to get to the beach at the back. This time I planned to wake up in the morning on it.
Bunestranda beach behind Reine in Lofoten © Aune Forlag AS www.aune-forlag.no
I booked a cabin on a ferry to Bergen in early June to escape the weight limit and hassle of flying into Norway with my bike, and spent the last month before departure making lists and large piles of things to take, and then sitting back to study them, sucking my teeth.
The intelligence gathering side of things took the form of a large number of maps and guides (mostly Norwegian) spread across a wallpaper table and large magnetic whiteboard in the conservatory at home. My ultimate aim was to collect sufficient geomapping information with a data-logging GPS for me to be able to fill in the blanks that the Open Streetmap project has for the parts of Northern Norway and Sweden that I'dl be visiting - whilst at the same time I want to prove to myself that it's possible to become nomadic again for more than a couple of weeks in the really wild areas of the far north...
This is how everyone imagines the weather to be during the summertime in Northern Norway:-
No, seriously! Northern Norway could do with better publicity in the cycling press in the UK. The last useful touring account I could find in print was written by Roy Cromack who travelled from Bodø to Tromsø by bike - his travelogue appeared in the June/July edition of the CTC magazine - in 1992!
If your curiosity is piqued by the idea of cycling in the Midnight Sun, or walking in the glorious mountain scenery in the area, then here's a list of useful planning material I managed to scavenge for my own trip:
A lot of the things in the piles are old friends from previous trips, but their age was problematic.
One of my favourites is the bike itself, a Thorn expedition tourer from the early 1990's, which has got the big clearances needed for wide tires for gravel roads and all the brazed-on fittings I could ever wish for, with the 40-spoke wheels used for our round-the-world tour in 1992. They're seemingly bomb-proof, but the rear wheel needed a new set of sprockets and none of your fancy cassettes will do, it's now a screw-on freewheel fitted with a nice wide gear range, 13-32 teeth (for the hills). I'm very grateful for the assistance of Chris Bell at Highpath Engineering, who provided a rare 8-speed Suntour screw-on cluster by return of post, and for the staff at Spa Cycles, who sent an equally rare 41mm Campagnolo rear axle (the Suntour cluster is 5mm wider than the previous Shimano HG cluster) and a 20-tooth Stronglight chainring.
If you've been visiting this page prior to May 17th (National Day in Norway!) you'll know that I've been through several versions of it whilst fine-tuning my itinerary.
My early updates were hampered by a delay in getting mobile broadband access via a SIM card for my eee pc while I travelled, so as a temporary work-around, I moved the rest of the 2008 tour travelogue to http://blissonwheels.blogspot.com.
The blogspot website has a handy RSS feed - if you open the RSS feed link near the bottom of the blog page in a browser that supports XML/RSS (most recent ones do), you'll discover that you can keep track of the entries I made without having to keep re-visiting the site, just by dragging and dropping the link onto your browser's toolbar. Not that I'm encouraging you to drop this site from your favourites though - the blogger entries will be supplemented later this year with content on this part of the site and with some of the hundreds of photos I tool on the trip.
Feel free to use the comment feature on http://blissonwheels.blogspot.com to send a message or query about the tour on - the comments are moderated by me before they appear on the site, so there may be a delay between you posting one and it appearing. Or alternatively, send an email to jerry at blissonwheels.com if you don't want your comment to appear there.
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