Well. Norway kept on throwing the proverbial sink at me right to the very end. Just prior to leaving the cosy and warm apartment this morning , KSR turned to me and said “ erm, looking at the weather forecast the wind will be at its worse between 9 and 11 am “. Given it was 8 am and I “only” had 39 km to ride I thought to myself “how bad can it be?”. Especially in light of the catastrophic conditions yesterday.
Very very bad is the answer you’re looking for. Today was yesterday on steroids. Not just cyclonic winds but 2 hills which at 9 % gradient for more than 3 km made for a not pleasant riding experience . Oh, it was raining and being we are 400+ km inside the arctic circle it was cold. Very very cold.
I momentarily thought about delaying my departure . However that would mean doing something I haven’t done the entire trip.
I have ridden this far on the 5 P’s. Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. That is, gear up for the weather and just get on with it. No one else is going to cycle the km for you.
I had ridden 7 km when I bumped into Simon from Stockport who yesterday was huddled in a bus shelter and at various stages was waking his bike due to the winds. I asked where he had spent the night . “ In that disabled toilet just after the main tunnel “ (15 km out of Honningsvåg ) came the response . “ It was clean , I turned up the heating , locked the door, and slept well” he added.
I knew the toilet he was talking about . I had taken my lunch in there yesterday .
But for the cyclonic winds , freezing temperature and arctic waters this would be an ideal summer vacation spot.
What the sign doesn’t also warn you about is the wind, and rain that morphs into hail stones the size of small snails. At least climbing a hill keeps you warm. Just.
It took me an hour and 22 mins to cycle 14km to this sign. It was going to be a very long 39 km.
The road to Nordkapp is not a leisurely roll down to the seafront. Nordkapp itself is almost a thousand feet above sea level. That involves some climbing. Into wind . And cold. And the wet.
Not a lot of protection from the elements once you get to the plateau. A bit of undulating hills into a fierce headwind and then you lose all that elevation you’ve just climbed only to do it all again up a second Hill of equal length and gradient. Seriously ????? On my last day ?????? At this point KSR was driving by and giving moral support from the warmth of the hire car which counted for a lot and made a difference..
Aside from a herd of reindeer these bunches of pink lichen were a highlight of colour in an otherwise drab landscape. Sara.S - any idea?
The road didn’t get any easier. Nor did the wind relent. Nor did the hail.
Eventually Nordkapp came into view and of course the last 500 metres was going to be allllll up hill. SERIOUSLY ???!!??? Things all got a bit emotional at this stage as I realised the enormity of what was about to occur. The end of a 6,988 km, 84 Day cycling odyssey.
There !!!! Almost .
Someone making a forced smile of glee in biting cold wind and rain.
It had taken me 3 hours and 44 mins to cycle just 39 km at an average speed of just 10.4 km per hour. That tells you something about the terrain and weather. Harsh.
Made it !!!!!!! Having left Tarifa 6,988 km and 84 days ago at a latitude of 36 degrees north, I was now well inside the arctic circle at a latitude of 71 degrees north. Pull out a map for perspective . Yup I cycled alllllllll that way. From Europe’s southern most point to its most northern. Just me , my legs , my heart and my bike.
Tomorrow and the following days I will publish much more. Amongst that to come is my long list of statistics of the trip , thanks to people , memories , thoughts and more. Stay tuned. In the mean time there’s a bottle of champagne with my name on it and a lovely evening to be had with KSR who was literally there every step of the way today.
See you tomorrow .