There was a massive storm front threatening as I left camp but the first thing I saw wasn’t rain. A solitary statue of a moose striking an impressive pose on the ridge line as I passed through Sandnesjossen.
Next up was the Helgeland Bridge. Still the rain threatened. Perhaps it was because I had donned every piece of wet weather gear in anticipation that had caused it to stay away. At least the force 5 wind was a warm one. 1.1 km long and rising to a height of just over 132 metres (433 feet) having taken 2 years to build its an impressive structure and takes some energy to summit in that wind.
My route followed road no.17 and took me through a narrow gorge where the views were spectacular and on towards my only ferry of the day some 45 km from where I had set off. The rain deluge arrived albeit briefly and the strangely warm wind persisted.
Whilst waiting for this ferry I got chatting to a couple from Yorkshire who were riding his and her motorbikes to Tromsø to run the midnight sun marathon this Saturday. Good things come in 3 they say. Well whilst we waited, a dolphin appeared alongside the quay and frolicked merrily in the water in front of us. A live moose yesterday , dolphin today. Tomorrow could be interesting.
Leaving the ferry in Nesna I faced one of the more challenging rides of Norway thus far. A 12 km climb up a 9% gradient to a plateau that was above the tree line and most definitely in the snow line. Here, totally exposed the wind was the strongest I have ever encountered on a bicycle. At one point a single gust swept me from the road and into the deep culvert roadside. Snapping a front pannier clip thankfully was the only damage . Interestingly as the bike lay on its side and I stood in the deep ditch and panneir bags were strewn over the road a car went past in the opposite direction. Not even sure he lifted his foot of the accelerator. If you want to feel insignificant then transeverse some of these Norwegian fjords. This one was enormous. I felt as big as an ant.
The third good thing to happen were these lovely people. On the left is Fred the solar technician I had met yesterday. Coming off my bashing from the plateau and now on the other side of the fjord feeling somewhat bruised with 30 km still to run he passed me in his campervan with another van closely behind. Recognising me he gave a hoot and wave and 3 km along the road pulled over with his new mates who invited me in for a coffee and German biscuit. As it started to lash down with rain I have to say I felt most fortunate. There are good people out there for sure.
Meet Erica. Their ex police dog who disliked any strangers standing in their campervan. She was however impartial to a stroke behind the ear. From Eastern Germany the coffee they made was the second best I have had in Norway and easily the best I have had since Oslo. They’re on a 4 week retirement celebration trip of Norway.
Leaving the campervan coffee stop somewhat reluctantly and turning down their offer to take me and my bike to camp some 30 on away I set off with thankfully a tailwind roaring behind me . The same wind that had smashed me in the face up on the plateau on the other side. That being the plateau to the right of the picture below.
Buoyed by the caffeine hit and the wind the last 30 km literally whizzed by. The secnery helped too.
As I said the scenery helped.
121 km after setting off I reached camp. Just as I did Fred reappeared with a fellow Austrian in tow and invited me in for my final coffee for the day. Meet Ali. Of Iraqi father and German mother. He is walking from Nordkapp to Cape Town to raise money for an Austrian Cancer Foundation having almost lost his sister to the disease a few years back. Yes you read right. Walking. He projects it will take 3 years. He is into day 49 and when walking averages 36 km a day. It’s his 3rd long walk. 5 years ago he walked from Graz to Compella Santiago a mere 3,500 km and then followed that with a walk last year from Austria to Mecca. I felt humbled .