(10) Our first week
Monday 4th June
Woke up early to very strong wind. Didn’t want to get out the tent as it was so cosy but remembered we’re starting our trip today! We battled the wind with our bikes to the visitors centre and the globe which marked our start. Sara took our photo in our ShelterBox and Okehampton CC jerseys and tried to smile despite the bitter wind. Off we went –S.Africa here we come.
Looking like we’d already completed an expedition not about to start one!
It felt great to be heading South, the views were awesome, the sky was blue but the winds were terrible. We got blown all over the place even slowing us down when going downhill which no cyclist appreciates. Tim managed to use his shark kite to aid him up the hill. We stopped by a stunning lake for a late breakfast of porridge, banana and chocolate spread ; )
Sharon enjoying the chocolate spread a little too much…
We headed down to Honningsvag, stocked up on supplies and ate our lunch in the supermarket car park. Tim nodded off once again, we really must employ a more effective method of security…
The wind was now behind us and after about 30 miles we started to look for somewhere to camp. For miles and miles there was nothing but cliff one side and sea the other. Tim saw an arctic wolf. Sara and I were keen to spot one too – we did see a dead one on the road – does that count? Finally arrived after riding 64 miles from the start to a cold but pretty bay where there was a long drop toilet and even bench to cook on.
Tuesday 5th June
We woke late and had a leisurely breakfast of porridge and banana. We finally left at midday. We had lunch in the car park of a tourist info in Olderfjord and found a plug to charge up our laptop and phones. Had noodles, sausages and cheese for lunch. Tim filled up his water bag in a restaurant and spilled it all over the counter much to the horror of the waitress.
Had a fantastic ride to Skaidi (about 20miles). There was little wind and not a cloud in the sky. The road was awesome, gently undulating with a fab downhill into Skaidi where Sara treated us to an icecream. We tried reindeer – very similar to pepperami. We left and looked for a place to camp – a few miles out of town we found an area of flat ground and set up camp in a rough field near a river. Tim persevered with putting up a tarp tied to our bikes for shelter. Had rice and tinned chicken and veg for tea. Thank goodness for Sara’s spices, as it was pretty tasteless on its own. Tim discovered the spokes on my bike were loose and spent an hour tightening them up , will need to keep an eye on that. Had a strip wash in the river and washed some clothes – v. cold. Covered 45 miles.
Wednesday 6th June
Set off about 10am after porridge for breakfast. Had lunch next to a frozen lake. On the road we met a German cycle tourist called Andre who was cycling to Nordkapp and back from Germany. Unlucky for him he had a head wind : ( Shortly afterwards Tim was chased by a small black fluffy husky dog – he squirted his water bottle at him but this didn’t deter him, these Norweigan dogs are tough. Tim nearly fell off from having the giggles.
The landscape was barren but stunning
Rode on to Alta and had a shower and ice cream – Tim was allowed to put his own topping on to his delight. £2 a shower, well worth it to feel clean, felt fab. We met another German cyclist called Thomas who commented that he’d seen us 3 times since Nordkapp and each time he passed us, we were in bed.
We went to do a food shop and whilst Tim was guarding the bikes, a man was commenting to him on how unrealiable the glass recycling machine was, whilst the automatic doors kept closing on him and nearly squashing his head several times until he had finished his rant this was much to tims amusement
We continued on, and stopped off to look at some rock art. The walk down to see it was partly north shore riding (timber walk way). Sharon wobbled her way along. Tim and Sara flew along. Campsite hard to find due to drop off on right and cliffs to the left. Eventually found somewhere in the woods next to the road – it was like putting a tent up in porridge as the ground was covered in leaves. Had chicken mince and rice for tea – v.yummy. Sat under tarp. Very tired and cold, went to bed at midnight. Did 55miles.
Thursday 7th June
Woke up at 9.30 feeling exhausted. It rained overnight. Had a long breakfast. Left at 11.30am. First 10 miles were really hard work. All of us were feeling tired. Undulating road, difficult to keep body temperature even as cold on down hills due to the icy wind and the sun always seemed to come out going uphill. Stopped after 20 miles for lunch in Talvik – bought bread, chocolate and crisps for a treat and cooked lunch on a bench on the green next to an old wooden church and fell asleep with the sun on our faces. Road for another couple of hours and stopped at the top of a hill to look in a shop that sold things that were made from reindeer hide. Views most stunning so far. Stopped to camp early, weather mild and a stunning spot by the river. Covered 35miles but a well needed rest.
Friday 8th June
Sara was woken by reindeer outside the tent and proceeded to take a few pictures while tim and sharon liked the look of the underside of their eyelids and woke an hour later to reindeer poop instead. We got going by 9.15 AM (we put AM as we do get up late sometimes) a record for us , we rode past a nesting bird guarding its chicks right on the side of the road which chased sara off with its big orange beak to our amusement.
We road on in some of the best scenery yet and caught up with two female Norwegian cyclist, tim sat behind them for a bit he said he was tired 🙂 As the day went on the road went north into a really strong cold north wind so we stopped at a garage where we met a young lad called jorgen who told us about free coffee inside – we piled in brought a bag of crisps and claimed our free coffee and grapes from a bowl. We headed off reluctantly into a freezing head wind and started a 4 mile climb where we stopped halfway up to camp, tims right knee was hurting by this point. Covered 53miles.
Saturday 9th June
Tim woke with a sore knee and we all continued to climb to a snowy landscape.
Tim and Sara heading into the cold wind
We descended the other side in rain ,stopped in Storeslet to pick up food to find a bread promotion was on. I think we cleared half the display before deciding which bread we liked the best. We set up camp outside the shop to cook dinner then rode on to our next camp spot a few hours later, pointed out by a kind local man. We set up camp and a German couple appeared over a large rock brandashing 10 cans calsberg and lots of glass shot bottles which we kindly obliged to help them drink. They spoke no English and we spoke no German, except ‘I have a dog’ and ‘I love you’ neither of which are a good for keeping a conversation going. Sara and Sharon went to bed hearing Tim ask if they’d seen Father Christmas – the reply was ‘no he’s in Finland’. Sara and I were in fits of giggles. Another great day for scenery. Rode 58 miles.
Our campsite that night
Sunday 10th June
Nice 5 mile ride down to the ferry where tim went to chat to some fishermen and had a go at casting off -they looked quite nervous with lead flailing around the air. We took the 40 minute ferry ride which increased our average speed to 8mph where we rode for 20miles to catch our 2nd ferry only to be broken by a cracker and chocolate spread break.
Tim cycling between ferry journeys, the scenery was stunning
We got off the ferry after being drawn in by the smell of hot dogs and rode for another 10 miles before finding a field in front of a fjord to cook lunch. We fell asleep for a couple hours reducing our average speed to 2 mph.
By this point sharon was getting a lot of pain in her left hand from blisters and swelling. Tim thought she was turning in to a wolf and was about to morph in to a claw not to sharon’s amusement. we road on and as the traffic got busy we found a farmers field about 12 miles from tromso to camp in. Rode 36 miles plus 2 ferry crossings.
Monday 11th June
We woke to find sharon still in a lot of pain but not fully transformed into a wolf. We road on to tromso to find a campsite and seek a doctor to either cure the claw or chop the hand off and convert it to a multitool so we don’t have to carry so much stuff.(Can I add at this point, some of you will understand Tim’s sense of humour – for those who don’t please bear with him, no hairy animal pun intended : ) )
Sharon’s poorly hand – aka the claw
We were directed into a very scenic back road into the city where we found a lovely campsite and hired a cabin which is actually a shed now a laundry house.
Can all this really fit onto 3 bikes?
We headed into town to find the hospital, tim armed with allen key and screwdriver bits to make sure they fitted sharons new hand. After speaking to the doctor he seemed to think it could be an reaction to a poisonous plant and prescribed antibiotics. We headed back into the centre to meet up with sara and went for a Burger King as a change from rice and noodles before heading back to the campsite where tim repacked his toolkit.
We’re off to the Polar museum tomorrow morning before heading south-west to the Lofoten Islands.
Will post again when we have internet access next : )