This section is divided into three parts:
a) The reason why
b) The route – planned and done
d) The technical details
a) The reason why
I love cycling ever since I was a schoolboy. As a teenager, I cycled once for several weeks in Sweden and Norway. The beauty of these countries blew me away and I decided: “One day I’ll be back in Scandinavian summer.”
Well, that was a couple of years ago but now it is “one day”. For whatever reason I decided to start my bike trip in Berne/Switzerland and go all the way up to the North Cape. Most probably I will take in parts a ferry or even a bus. It is not about getting there as quickly as possible. To me, cycling is freedom. It is about exploring at a slow pace, feeling a fresh breeze in my face, meeting people and getting a suntan while sweating like a pig. I’m only hoping that my knees can make it. They hurt heavily when I cycle some hours in a row.
b) The route…
Berne, Balsthal, Basel, Strasbourg (F), Saarbrücken (D), Luxembourg City, Liège/Lüttich (B), Antwerp, Rotterdam – OR optional “the easy route”: I drive along the river Rhine from Basel to Rotterdam, passing Karlsruhe, Mainz and Cologne – Den Haag, Amsterdam, Bremerhaven (D), Hamburg, Flensburg, Kolding (DK), Roskilde, Copenhagen, Helingborg (S), Göteborg, Ambjörnarp, Öland (the island), Västervik, Norrköping, Stockholm. As of Stockholm it is just about 2000 kilometer further up north – keep on cycling, Mark if you call yourself cycling Mark!
This is just a rough plan. I will make between 50 and 100 kilometers a day. The distance and route may alter due to wheater and friends from previous travels I meet on the road.
I take a tent, a sleeping bag, cooking gear and the legendary “Bialetti” coffee machine along. If you have got a little backyard available I would put up my tent there. You get the beer, I’ll provide the stories.
… and done:
– Day 1 (Friday, June 3, 2016)
Berne – Laupersdorf, 69 km, pouring rain in the morning but I kept on singing (and I kept surprisingly dry, too), lunch in Utzenstorf with Regi (UWP alumni Cast E 1993), then mostly dry, right knee hurt partly; met a young fox on the road.
– I said: “Hi, little fox!”
He looked at me, did not respond and took off.
Hosted by Linne (Couchsurfing).
– 2 (Saturday, June 4)
Laupersdorf – Binningen, 60 km, cloudy but dry, right knew hurt partly, did the Passwang (a pass…), 946 metres above sea level, ascent of 13%, you made me sweat, bitch!
Hosted by my little sista & her husband Walter.
– 3 (Sunday, June 5)
Binningen – Colmar (France), 82 km, cloudy, sometimes sunny. Enourmous Brunch with Anita and Rolf at their flat in Basel. They acompanied me for an hour and “The flow” came the first time and it was awesome. The knees did not hurt but the butt does. Kind of a pain in the ass. (Forgot the “Füdle crème” at home, stupid.)
– 4 (Monday, June 6)
Colmar – Breuschwickersheim (near Strassbourg), 108 km, sunny, great cycling along the canals.
Hosting: at a farm.
– 5 (Tuesday, June 7)
Breuschwickersheim – Adamswiller, 81 km, a hot summer day, rounded up by a thundershower for the last 45 minutes.
This place is soooo small you won’t even find it on the map. Was the only guest at the “Relais du Moulin” for dinner, where the lady waiting the tables ironed cloths in the restaurant. First class spaghetti Carbonara – and they played Frank Sinatra = top rating on Tripadviser!
Hosting: Bed & petit déjeuner.
– 6 (Wednesday, June 8)
Adamswiller – Saarbrücken (Germany), 58 km, loads of rain, but I found a sauna and took a loooong nap there (read the blog posting in German).
Hosted by Torsten & Kerstin (Couchsurfing).
– 7 (Thursday, June 9)
Saarbrücken – Trier, 153 km (due to a heavy detour), sunny and mild, exhausted but happy.
– 8 (Friday, June 10)
Trier – Mehring, 40 km, heavy legs, no rhythm.
Hosting: guestroom (Seventies style).
– 9 (Saturday, June 11)
Mehring – Zell (Mosel), 83 km, lots of rain.
I slept while the Swiss National Football team played. Shame on me.
Hosting: guestroom (70s groove again and the German word “muffig” describes perfectly how it smelled there.)
– Day 10 (Sunday, June 12)
Zell/Mosel – Andernach, 106 km, some rain, the right knee hurts partly (but on another position). I met Heiner, a retired teacher from the north of Germany on the way. We kept on cycling and dining together for two days. A wonderful person to talk to.
– 11 (Monday, June 13)
Andernach – Cologne/Köln, 89 km, right knee hurts mostly (position B), stayed in a nice little hotel right besides the… hmm, I’ll tell you later. The river Rhine flooded partly over the banks.
– 12 (Tuesday, June 14)
Cologne – Büttgen (close to Düsseldorf), 66 km, cloudy, easy cycling. No “Düsco Inferno” this time – an UWP insider -, but a great host family.
Hosted by Britta (Alumni).
– 13 (Wednesday, June 15)
Büttgen – Duisburg, 57 km, I had to put on the rain equipment four times and found out that the address I was looking for exists twice. Bummer young man, go for another 18 km across the city!
Hosted two nights by Markus, a friend I travelled with in Cuba.
– 14 (Thursday, June 16)
Recreation which meant: the bike went to the mechanic shop, the cyclist to the medical doctor for a check up. Both are fine and newly fixed. My right hand has been constantly numb ever since the second day on the road. The doctor said: “The best medicine is patience.” Wise guy. Lavish Dinner with Petra and Kathi, salsa friends from Malaga and Rovinj, lovely to see them after a year.
– 15 (Friday, June 17)
Duisburg – Nijmegen (Netherlands), 108 km, cloudy and sometimes pretty chilly, but awesome cycling across the cornfields as well as the endlessly long alley of lime trees. Inhaling their flavour for hours flashed me.
Hosted by Eline & Allard (Couchsurfing).
– 16 (Saturday, June 18)
Nijmegen – Utecht, 103 km, I was escorted by dark clouds all day and some rain, but nevertheless: What a difference to Germany, what a joy: The bike trails here are outstanding! I was told that the Dutch have severe problems playing football but they are European Champions constructing bike trails. They are perfectly paved and often separated from the car traces, one can fly. So I did – somehow The Flying Dutchman.
– 17 (Sunday, June 19)
Utrecht is such a charming and cozy city. I just had to stay, stroll around and rest. (I lived and studied there once so I a vast number of memories came back. Good ones.)
Hosting both nights: Airbnb.
– 18 (Monday, June 20)
Utrecht – Almere, 62 km, dry and cloudy in the morning, heavy rain in the afternoon.
I started late due to the rain showers and had lunch and a long talk with Eva (alumni) in Hilversum. My Gortex rain coat reached its limits. In other words: I was soaked.
Hosted by Mayke (alumni).
– 19 (Tuesday, June 21)
Almere – Leeuwarden, 143 km, perfectly paved trails whitch led into the flow.
Perfect conditions: mild and often sunny, 22 degrees and tail wind. (I Did not know it exists in The Netherlands. I recall a two weeks bike tour in this country fighting against the wind every single day.)
Hosted by Marjan (alumni) & family.
– Day 20 (Wednesday, June 22)
Leeuwarden – Winschoten, 116 km, mild, some heavy head wind, I did a lot of “zig-zagging” which means: I know this region now like the palm of my hand, ha.
Hosting: hotel at central square but this town is deserted. Sad.
– 21 (Thursday, June 23)
Winschoten – Oldenburg (Germany), 114 km, hot and mostly sunny, some ruminant cycling in The Netherlands before I crossed the border into Germany. Short and refreshing showers in the afternoon – and a strawberry pie as the sugar lever dropped all of a sudden.
Hosting for three nights: Youth hostel (don’t go there, it’s unpleasant).
– 22 (Friday, June 24)
Oldenburg has got some pretty places so I decided to stay. Equipment fixing and recreation day (I spent four hours in the sauna and this time I did not fall asleep).
– 23 (Saturday, June 25)
It kept on raining all day and I had to watch the Swiss national football team at 3 p.m. playing against Poland. What a second half, what an overtime, what a goal by Xherdan Shaqiri. Fantastic!
– 24 (Sunday, June 26)
Oldenburg – Bremen, 58 km, cloudy but nice. An easy and short Sunday morning ride.
I tried for the first time another cycling app – the one for/from “Lower Saxony”. Well done, the best so far.
Hosted by Aleksandra (Couchsurfing).
– 25 (Monday, June 27)
Bremen – Cuxhaven, 134 km, cloudy and sometimes rather cold due to heavy winds.
The first part parallel to mainroads and uncountable lorries was tiring, but the last outstanding. I was cycling in gentle rain all alone on a bike paths as smooth as glass. It was an invitation to race and I did!
– 26 (Tuesday, June 28)
Cuxhaven (by ferry to) Brunsbüttel – Schleswig, 104 km, perfect conditions besides the bumpy trails. 50 kilometers along the North-Ostsea-Canal, the clouds in the sky looked like painted. Wow-moments over and over again.
Hosted two nights by Yvonne (Alumi).
– 27 (Wednesday, June 29)
A day off to explore the old part of Schleswig, fix the bike trailer (I call it Yellow Bob) that was sent up here. Tasty BBQ with Marie-Luise and Josef.
– 28 (Thursday, June 30)
Schleswig – Haderslev (Denmark), 101 km, rain at the beginning, but the further I moved into Denmark (passing Flensburg) the sunnier it got. The landscape is gradually changing. There are huge corn fields, divided by lines of bushes. While the Northern part of Germany is flat like a pancake, Denmark is hilly. I can feel it since “Yellow Bob”, the bike trailer and my camping equimpent (approximately 14 kilos) is with my again. My first attempt to buy something in a supermarked was hilarious – for the ones observing me. (Read the blog post in German.)
– 29 (Friday, July 1)
Haderslev – Strib/Middelfart, 70 km.
I slowed down the pace since it was just a short stage which I cut into pieces: Whenever it rained I paused drinking tea. The Danes are so friendly, they smile, greet and some of them even approach me.
Hosted by Marlie (alumni).
– Day 30 (Saturday, July 2)
Strib – Horsens, 70 km.
Today, I got a new companion: the Danish wind. He made me fight hard but after I passed Vejle he turned into tailwind and then – phoa – I flew!
Hosting: Airbnb (Ulla & Willy), wonderful hosts.
– 31 (Sunday, July 3)
Horsens – Stjaer (near Skanderborg), 39 km.
Danish weather which means: it changed every 20 minutes. So I rehearsed putting on and off my rain coat five times. Never found a rhythm while cycling.
Hosted by Hanne (alumni) & family.
– 32 (Monday, July 4)
Roundtrip Arhus, a city I lived in 15 years ago. Memories came back and I went to the “Den-Gamle-By” museum. 45 km without luggage.
– 33 (Tuesday, July 5)
Stjaer – Vig, 53 km, mostly rainy. Took the ferry in Arhus to Sjaelland Odde (75 min).
About 30 minutes after I had started pedalling in the pouring rain I heard a noise: “Pffffff!” 20 meters further on the back tire was flat. So here I was standing on a random road, cars were driving by, 30 kilometres ahead of me a warm dinner and a friend were waiting for me. I yelled “Stuzzi Cadenti!” – then I put my self together. In fact I was lucky: There was a farm nearby and the farmer’s wife gave me the permission to use their barn. I fixed the flat tire, said thanks and was on the road again.
Hosted two nights by Allan (alumni) in his small but very, very cozy summer cottage.
– 34 (Wednesday, July 6)
We explored the region and its heritage, Allan has got a huge knowledge and later on we went for a swim in the ocean (pretty mild, at least not colder than the river Aare in Berne). Allan is a talented cook, he even used sea weed – delicious.
– 35 (Thursday, July 7)
Vig – Roskilde, 72 km, mild and sunny, lovely rides through the woods and sometimes along the mainroad.
Hosted eight nights by Lene, a good friend I got to know in Havana (Cuba).
– Day 36 to Day 38 (Friday – Sunday, July 8 – 10)
Pause, bike fixing (new tire), another flat tire while cycling in the neighborhood. Friday night, I went dancing with Susanne in Copenhagen, a cumbia band was playing, we were using salsa steps and guess what: it worked.
– 39 (Monday, July 11)
Roundtrip to and around Copenhagen, 70 km. Brunch with Ursula and Thomas, a Swiss couple that is on vacation in the Danish capital. This city is amazing and in many ways inspiring.
– Day 40 to Day 42 (Tuesday – Thursday, July 12 – 14)
Still in Roskilde due to Danish bureaucracy. At the customs they kept a package which my sister sent. It contains my tent as well as a tiny little bottle with homeopathic medecine.
– 43 (Friday, July 15)
Roskilde – Helsingborg (Sweden), 79 km, cloudy and windy.
On the road again after a week pausing. That costs its price: It’s hard for me to find the rhythm again and the right knee hurts badly (old position).
– 44 (Saturday, July 16)
Helsingborg – Malmö, 90 km, cloudy and a heavy head wind made me suffer.
– 45 (Sunday, July 17)
Malmö – Abbekås, 72 km, mild and partly sunny.
It took a while until I found my way out of the city. Then I cycled along cornfields, dunes and wild cherry trees, literally trough hundreds of summerhouse gardens and I could smell the ocean. That’s freedom just like cycling. For the first time the typical birch tree appeared.
Accidently I found the “Hotel Vagabond” which turns out to be an oasis of pure luck (read my blog post about it – in German). Had dinner with a Swedish couple and later on, the owners sat down at our table, we talked and eventually Janna and Mladen gave a concert.
Hosting: gypsy wagon – my favourite hotel.
– 46 (Monday, July 18)
Abbekås – Kivik (pronounced: Schivik), 97 km, the summer has finally arrived and it is just beautiful.
Within only a few hours I was so attached to “Hotel Vagabond” that I had a hard time leaving. Today, the flow came back and the pain in the right knee has reduced again. I stopped at the traditional Kivik market which goes on for three days and is on once a year. I met Sandra, in Switzerland known as the singer Lova. Once you heard her singing you will never forget. We got to know each other six years ago after a concert of her and the outstanding guitar player Marc Rossier who lives in my neighbourhood. She follows the markets in Sweden in fifth generation of her family and guess what she sells: Sugared almonds that are prepared after a Swiss recipe – delicious. For fun I put on the original Swiss mountain shirt and tried to sell the nuts with the few words I know in Swedish.
Overnight in my tent at the market.
– 47 (Tuesday, July 19)
Kivik – Brösarp, 11 km, sunny and hot.
It was a short night but nevertheless, early in the morning I went for a swim in the ocean – priceless and the best way to wake up. Together with Sandra I went to see the Kivik Art Centre – but there was nothing to see but great scenery. The afternoon I spent working for my company while a huge crowd floded the market. Started my bike “stage” at 6 p.m. and was there before 7 p.m. – after fighting a nasty hill.
Hosted by Pernilla (alumni) at the summerhouse of her parents. It has got a precious garden and I loved how calm it was in the woods while the previous 24 hours were loud and roudy.
– 48 (Wednesday, July 20)
Brösarp – Åhus, 35 km, sunny, lovely, great – please stay, Swedish summer! The trip was short but awesome. As I arrived in Åhus Lotta expected me already at the town square where we ate the biggest ice cream I have ever seen. (Ice cream in Swedish means “glass” by the way.) In the afternoon we went to the beach, I crashed down and slept… At night, we went for dinner at a popular place down at the water where later on, a band was playing. About half of all men in the crowd (many of them my age) were drunk, loud and obnoxious. If drunken men only knew how embarrassing they are.
Hosted by Lotta (alumni).
– 49 (Thursday, July 21)
Åhus – Köpegårda/Trensum, 98 km, warm and nice, beautiful sceneries over and over again.
While having lunch on the road I met Rudolf, another cyclist who started his trip in Tübingen (Germany) and went across Poland, the Baltic States and Finland. He said that he was rather tired and he needed to hurry up in order to get home. Otherwise his wife would be very, very angry. There are surely benefits to be married.
In the early evening, I found a blue lagoon, a quiet place with impressive oak trees and huge rocks. I fell in love immediately.
Two overnight in my tent somewhere hidden in the woods.
– Day 50 (Friday, July 22)
Since I love this place I decided to stay. Spend the day reading, swimming and watching the birds.
– 51 (Saturday, July 23)
Köpegårda – Karlskrona, 66 km, sunny, partly hilly which makes me suffer. I truly need to reduce my luggage!
Since I spent 36 hours in the wilderness I thought I should rather take a main road (Marks logic!!!) which turned oout to be a bad idea. The Swedes as well as the tourists seemed to love cruising on the same road with their cars. Finally I found a narow bike trail through the woods. But all of a sudden the silence was gone: In a forest glade ten sport cars were allocated, all with open doors and the same music blared from their loudspeakers. Surely more than 100 decibel and a few people kind of danced around their cars. Some sort of a mini rave – pretty bizarre and their dancing did NOT look good!
Hosted by Ingrid (alumni) & family.
What a joy to meet Ingrid after 23 years! She lives with her husband and their two lovely daugthers right at the beach. They took me for a ride in their motorboat. Karlskrona is a splendid city.
– 52 (Sunday, July 24)
Karlskrona – Kalmar, 81 km, sunny and hot, a perfect day from A to Z, I’m just happy.
The flow came right from the start and stayed with me all day. Little traffic, just two hills (piece of cake) In the middle of a forest a small lake appeared. I stopped and went for a swim. Cycling after swimming is even better. The “City Garden” in Kalmar beside the castle is beautiful. Observed that all other pedestrians and guests stared into their mobiles – “Pokémon Go”? Where does this lead to?
– 53 (Monday, July 25)
Kalmar – Byxelkrok, 105 km, sunny and hot.
At lunch time, I took the ferry from Kalmar to Färjestaden (the island which is called Öland) and headed to the east side of the island. I had the road almost for myself, passed pittoresque sceneries and cute little villages and I raced with a huge smile in my face towards north. Another “It-could-not-have-been-better-day”.
– 54 (Tuesday, July 26)
Byxelkrok – Västervik, 83 km, cloudy but mild.
First of all: What a name – Byxelkrok?! What substances must have taken the founders to come up with a name like this?! Anyhow, I took the ferry there to Oskarshamn on the mainland which lasted some 2,5 hours – another late start of the real stage. The first 15 kilometers I cycled on the mainroad “E22”, tons of vehicules overtook me and I had to pay attention that I kept my line steadily. Just a little shift to the left and a car would have touched or hit me. Luckily I found a cycle path, narrow and mostly gravel. I was in pure nature, all by myself, no more noise and the vegetation changed: huge rocks, impressive woods with pine (Deutsch: Föhre), birch and oak trees are now dominating. It was breath taking but had its price: the path went up and down and up and down – just like a rollercoaster. Sometimes I had to climb with the lowest gear – tough work and I sweated like a pig. At 8 p.m. I finally arrived pretty exhausted in Västervik. A wonderful day tour but heavy, too.
Hosted by Anna & Tobias, a Swiss couple that moved to Sweden two years ago.
– 55 (Wednesday, July 27)
In the morning, Tobias took me to a tour through the region and we surely went for a swim in the ocean. As so as we were hoe again a long term client of my company called with a serious issue (crisis management.) So I supported him for a couple of hours.
– 56 (Thursday, July 28)
Västervik – Åtvidaberg, 75km, sunny and hot, up and down so the my muscles of my thighs keep on getting trained.
As I approached the town of Åtvidaberg in the early evening I loved the lake immediately and decided to stay, however, I pushed the lucky button.
Hosted by Mia & Peter, a Swedish couple who invited me after having a chat for about an hour. Wonderful people! Read the blog post about it – in German.
– 57 (Friday, July 29)
Åtvidaberg – Karlström (near Motala), 98 km, mild and sunny.
Today, I am going to meet Beatrice and her family. She was an intern in my company back in 2005. We kept in touch all these years and I was eager to find a good spot for our get together. I did (see the picture below) and we spent a marvellous evening, but read the blog posting here – in German.
Overnight: in my tent at this lovely lake.
– 58 (Saturday, July 30)
Karlström – Christinehamn, 152 km, warm, some rain.
Knowing that I’ve got an appointment with two Swiss friends august 1th, the Swiss national day, and roughly 300 kilometres in three days ahead of me I speeded up. Somewhere on the road: all of a sudden a huge “black thing” runs across the street, maybe about 80 metres ahead of me. It is a wild pig (a boar, in German: ein Eber). At the other side of the road are fences and the boar can’t jump over them. So he returns the same way he came from – just in time. One second later and a car woud have hit the pig.
Overnight: in my tent at a stupidly chosen place. On the left a heavily used road even at night, on the right a railway line, and somewhere in the back a colony of goose who pretended to be 14 year old teenagers going out for the first time.
– 59 (Sunday, July 31)
Christinehamn – Hagfors, 131 km, sunny and mostly hot.
The good thing about sleeping in a tent: The day starts much earlier. For two hours I fought against the strong head wind – tough work I tell you. In the outskirts of Karlstad I spotted a small public pool. Great! After two days in the wilderness I felt rather smelly… I took a looong shower, used the sauna, shaved and dosed in the mild sun. This place is run by two brothers from Kurdistan. One was curious and he took the lead:
> “Where are you going next?”
Today, I want to go to Hagfors.
> “Hagfors?! That’s more than 80 kilometers!”
I know. See, yesterday I made some 150 kilometers.
> “150 kilometres! Are you crazy?”
No, I’m from Switzerland. In fact, I started my bike trip in my country which means I have made about 3500 kilometers so far.
Both brothers simultaneously made a step backwards and looked at me as I have just landed from the moon.
> “Strong man!”
Later on, I hit the old railtrack from Karlstad to Hagfors which turns out to be an exclusive bike trail now. They remodelled it into a nicely paved small road which is used by cyclists, inline skaters and joggers. I feel like being a train and the flow comes and stays for hours. Sometimes, both sides of the line are covered by young burchs, sometimes by wild flowers – it’s an ocean in yellow and white. The last 30 kilometers my legs are heavy and I loose the rhythm.
Overnight: in my tent at the edge of a small industrial zone.
– Day 60 (Monday, August 1)
Hagfors – “Holzhausen” (south of Malung), 40 km, sunny and mild.
It’s a short trip I’ve got ahead of me and I’m glad. I take a cup of coffee, sit on my lovely yellow bike, whistle a song – and allez hopp. Nice ride and what a hello as I get there!
Hosted: two nights by Barbora & Claude, two Swiss friends I’ve known for half of my life.
– 61 (Tuesday, August 2)
Pause. The three of us enjoy the day eating, discussing and sharing many laughts. In the afternoon, they take me to a trip in the region and I start to realize that this country is even BIGGER than I thought. I get a couple of history lessons from Claude and Barbora prepares a lavish dinner: reindeer with the mushrooms we had picked during the day. The lake in front of their cottage is a miracle: it changes its colours all the time – precious. A wonderfully relaxing day.
– 62 (Wednesday, August 3)
Holzhausen – Ambjörby, 74 km, cloudy, partly sunny, some gentle rain.
I had to hit the road again and after a huge brunch with porridge I was ready to do so. I found an old road which is not used much anymore and leads steadily up in direction to Norway. The valley is called Klarälvtal, the river Klaräven. In fact, this is an old trail Catholics went on a pilgrimage (in German: Pilgerweg) to Nidaros, as the Norwegian city Trondheim was called centuries ago. The full length of the trail: 536 kilometers. This is the new route I’m taking.
Overnight: in my tent and it looks like rain…
– 63 (Thursday, August 4)
Ambjörby – Längflon, 95 km, cloudy, some rain.The temperature has dropped, it is quite chilly now and feels like autumn.
Early in the morning, I almost drove into two adult mousse. Cycling silently on a narrow gravel road surely was the key. They just stood there, some 20 meters ahead of me and looked at me. Impressive animals. Before they ran away they had the look in their faces saying:
“You funky creature, where do you come from?” True, I was wearing a bright yellow rain jacket and equally bright green rain trouwsers, plus the helmet, of course. It looks goofy, I know. But seriously, mousse look goofy, too.
Overnight: in my tent; in the woods behind a run down wodden hut.
– 64 (Friday, August 5)
Längflon – Elvdal (Norway), 100 km, some sun, mostly rain.
In the morning I’m terribly slow. In need of food, cash and coffee I drive back to the Swedish side where they had built a big mall. Imagine, in the middle of the woods, no village nearby, but they built a mall. Anyhow, at 10 a.m. as the mall opens I am the only client there and I feel lost. After a cup of coffee and a chat with a charming employee I can finally kick off the day. It rains and rains and I fight against frustrations: I sing “Rosmarie und i” (Rumpelstilz, by Polo Hofer & Hanery Amman) about 30 times and I create fancy names for the dinner I want to cock at night. An example: “Fusilli con tomate y cebolla al sabor aromático del bosque.” In Spanish pretty much everything sounds better, don’t you agree?
Overnight: in my tent, at the edge of a football pitch.
– 65 (Saturday, August 6)
Elvdal – Sømadålen, 56 km, dry, windy and cloudy.
It rains again in the morning so I keep on waiting in my wet tent… unpleasant. Finally, I get myself going – not in the best mood though. Norwegian shops are closed on Sunday so I need to buy sufficient food for two days. I climb up a pass, my cloths are wet and so are my shoes and socks (still from the day before). On the other side of the mountain a restaurant appears – just like a present at the right time. I order a Stroganoff and rice and certainly a desert – on days like this it is a must. There’s a strong head wind and I’ve got a lack of motivation. So I stop at a small camping site which looks inviting. There are only a few guests: A retired Swede who wants to go fly fishing, a guy from Oslo who training his dogs for the hunt and six biologists from the Czech Republic running a mission. As as set up my tent another cyclist arrives: Björn from Leipzip/Germany. Together we fix dinner and Björn is great to talk to.
Overnight: in my tent at the camping ground. The temperature at night dropped down to 3 degrees Celsius. Hmm.
– 66 (Sunday, August 7)
Sømadålen – Os im Østerdalen, 65 km, first cold and windy, later on sunny and mild.
It’s Sunday before 8 o’clock and we are discussing Trump and Germany’s development since the reunion while drinking coffee. Björn eventually takes off south-east, myself north-west. After an hour kind of warming up on a nicely paved road I cut into “the adventurous trail”. It’s a very small track and I leave civilisation behind. Steadily I climb up, sometimes I have to walk because it’s too steep. Finally I reach a plateau that stretches for some 10 kilometers. The wind blows and it’s cold, the threes are not larger than three meters, there are stones, rocks and ponds on my way. It’s totally quiet – mysterious. The only thing I hear is my own breath. The views are splendid. Nature is so pure and wild and rough. I’m deeply touched, tears run down my cheek. What a region, what a ride!
– 67 (Monday, August 8)
Øs i Ostendalen – Hognabua Hytte (near the mountain Forollhogna) 40 km, heavy rain, cold.
That’s the start of my “thriller” – read the blog post in German.
Overnight: in the hut up there.
– 68 (Tuesday, August 9)
Hognabua Hytte – Budalen Alp, 7 km (pushing and sometimes carrying my bike).
Hosted: three nights at Björns farm.
– 69 (Wednesday, August 10)
Mission “Rescue Yellow Bob” from the Hognabua Hytte. Hiking, no cycling.
– Day 70 (Thursday, August 11)
Budal – Støren – Budal, 44 km (one way I hitchhiked partly…)
Trip in order to get the bike fixed in Støren.
– 71 (Friday, August 12)
Budal – Trondheim, 85 km, cloudy, rather cold, but for the first time in Norway: no rain.
This stage was nothing spectacular but I’m glad to use a paved road again. The Airnb host invited a couple of friends for dinner and I can join in. Generous.
Hosted: two nights by Ove-Joakim (Airbnb), a host that treated me like a friend.
– 72 (Saturday, August 13)
Break. A stroll through Trondheim, replacing equipement, drinking coffee, getting an ever better sun tain.
– 73 (Sunday, August 14),
Trondheim – Bodø by the Hurtigruten ferry which took 24 hours. Pretty nice to be driven for a change. But after a day I was restless.
– 74 (Monday, August 15)
The Hurtigruten ferry arrived in Bodø at lunchtime. I got off and – it rained. So pedalled quickly to the city, found a nice restaurant, ate, drank coffee and started to read a new book: Isabelle Allende. She’s with me on most vacations, I just love the way she describes people. Five hours later, the ferry to the Lofoten islands took off. The sea was sometimes rough so I decided to lay down since I easily get seasick. At 9 p.m. we arrived at Moskenes from where I had to cycle a couple of kilometres west to Å where I booked a bed & breakfast place in advance.
– 75 (Tuesday, August 16)
Å – Valberg (in fact between Leknes and Valberg), 84 km, partly sunny, party cloudy, the right knee hurts at the old position.
Imagine you are north of the polar circle, the bright sun wakes you up in the morning and it is 20 degrees Celsius. That’s what happened to me this morning. So I put on t-shirt and shorts, walked to the ocean an had breakfast there – the perfect start into a new day. The Lofoten are splendid, I had to stop frequently to watch the scenery, the mountains and lakes. While cycling I bumped into Nathalie, a salsa dancer from Berne and her boyfriend Jürg. Great! The only thing I knew was that they go on vacation in Scandinavia, that’s is. But we met! So we had a lovely chat and then they had to move on in order to take the ferry to Bodø. As a present they handed over real Swiss chocolate – yesss! There’s nothing better than Swiss chocolate – period!
Overnight: at the camping site “Brustranda Sjøcamping”, but in a “hytte”.
– 76 (Wednesday, August 17)
Valberg – Melbu, 99 km, mild and sunny, the knee hurts.
Splendid sceneries over and over again. There is quite some traffic but the peak season is history – luckily.
– 77 (Thursday, August 18)
Melbu – Dverberg, 119 km, sunny, 20 degrees Celsius, blue sky – and the knee hurts…
What a day: The sun keeps me warm, only a few hills “to kill” and little traffic. The nicely paved road leads me along fjords, mountains, forests with young burch and swampy areas. I’m astonished about the beauty of the islands with their thousands of archipelagos. After some 100 kilometers my legs were heavy but I had to go on until I fould I place to stay. To a quick swim in the ocean – pretty cold but sooo refreshing. I met a cycling couple on the road. As we started to talk in English we found out after some phrases that we are all Swiss… Vera and Patric actually live in Thun, a city which is very close to my hometown Berne. They started their bike trip in Tromsø and are heading down south the Lofoten islands and then on the mainland towards Trondheim. Check out their blog “ride2move.ch”.
Overnight: at a farm.
– 78 (Friday, August 19)
Dverberg – Andenes – (ferry to Gryllefjord (island Senja) – Skaland, 71 km, mostly sunny, but also some clouds.
Well, I ran out of coffee, stupidly! So what am I supposed to to in order to wake up in the morning? Right, I go for a swim. The wather is just about 10 degrees Celsius, the farmer said, and some 300 wild goose are protesting nervously as I step on the beach where they gattered. Two minutes later they are all gone and I am awake, in fact my chest looks somehow like the one from football star Ronaldo – at least for three minutes.
Taking the east side of the island Andøya was not a good choice, it is just boring. Well, 30 kilometers later I am in Andenes where they promote “whale safari” and other attractions… The ferry takes almost two hours and for whatever reason an Viking type of Norwegian feels like talking in the lounge with a loud voice and without full stop and comma – and he’s the only one laughing about his own jokes.
Today, my legs are heavy but I can’t take a short stage. The place I wanted to to take an overnight is fully booked so I need to go on for another two hours. This includes a pass: four kilometer steeply uphill so I need to dismount and push the bike. Heavy work.
Overnight: two nights at a motel.
– 79 (Saturday, August 20)
As I wake up at 8 0’clock my body’s saying: “No, no, no.” True, my legs hurt, so I take a day off, go hiking and start to read a new book by Isabelle Allende.
– Day 80 (Sunday, August 21)
Skaland – Sjøtun Brygge, 73 km, foggy but dry.
Today, my road movie became a different title: “Cyclist in the mist”. But the ride was a nice one, I even enjoyed using the numerous small tunnels (due to the fact that on Sundays, the trucks are not around). In a tiny village two little girls were very eager to practise their few English words with me – adoarble. Landlord Per is a good guy and a talented cook. He fixed fish, potatoes and vegetables as well as a jummy sauce. I had dinner with three Germans who came over to go fishing for a week. The first day, they did not put on sun lotion, so they looked like lobsters. They obviously forgot the basic rule: put on sun lotion even if you don’t see the sun.
Hosting: Bed & breakfast place (a very nice one).
– 81 (Monday, August 22)
Sjøtun Brygge – Tromsø, 49 km, cloudy, windy, pretty cold.
There was a pass “to kill” and I did. Out in the nature there’s very little traffic which makes riding even more enjoyable but as I entered the outskirts of Tromsø it changed to the other extreme. Ever since I was a schoolboy I wanted to visit Tromsø, in fact I “took over” this wish from my sister Elisabeth. At first place I had to find a bike mechanic in order to check chain, breaks ans other parts of my vehicle. Then I went exploring the city by bike. At night, I went for dinner at “Pastafabrikken”. Delicious food, ten Swiss francs for the beer, holly molly. At this restaurant, they played Pink Floyd’s “Wish you were here” – the complete album which was release in 1975. I bought the record – the record, folks! – in 1981. Memories…
– 82 (Tuesday, August 23)
Tromsø – Lyngen, 81 km, cloudy and cold, but still dry.
In the morning, I reduced my luggage by a third. Everything that is not absolutely needed in order to reach the North Cape remains in Tromsø (thanks to the flexible Airbnb host). I also left “Yellow Bob” behind. Rather “light” and I can feel the difference, the flow is with me as soon as I have left the city. Since the road ist partly bumpy one of the pannier (the bike bag) unhooks from the carrier and smashes on the asphalt – boom! I’m worried about the MacBook but it still works. Further on I met the German couple Anja and Franz (from Allgäu) who wants to bike to the North Cape, too. We move on in different rhythms but meet a couple of times during the day.
Overnight: at a lodge.
– 83 (Wednesday, August 24)
Lyngen – Gildetun, 98 km, sunny, blue sky, but cold.
What a name for a place to stay: “Magic Mountain Lodge”. But after having had breakfast with a great view into the “Lyngen Alps” and the fjords I must admit: magic. The ferry took me to Olderdalen where I was heading north and later east. Today, it somehow felt like being in the Swiss Alpes in late October, some 2500 meters above sea level. Many peaks of the mountains and some of the small valleys are covered with snow, the leaves of certain threes have changed their colour to yellow and red. As I arrive in Gildetun the German couple Anja and Franz are already there preparing an outdoor dinner. I sit down with them and have a mug of coffee. A little later, a young French couple appeares. They’ve been cycling for eleven months in a row all over Europe (and Morocco) and have done some 20’000 kilometers – and they travel light. Impressive. The lady who runs the moutain hotel says that they close down next week and will reopen at the beginning of June – a short season indeed.
– 84 (Thursday, August 25)
Gildetun – Talvik, 102 km, cloudy, some drizzle, ice cold, some pain in the right knee.
Well, todays ride began with a long downhill, some 12 kilometers which made me feel like a refrigerator. Unpleasant. But being Swiss I know: After a descent an ascent will certainly follow. So I had to climb another Norwegian pass which warmed me up sufficently, ha! I also observed the first reindeer on this trip.
The tricky thing about this stage: Lately, my body indicated that he’s able to take about 80 kilometers per day, but it’s about 140 kilometers from Gildetun to Alta. There’s a few camping sites up until km 50 which are still open eventhough they look deserted, but then… three small villages with no infrastructure. Empty! Wild camping is not an attractive solution because it’s too cold and it will most probably rain at night. So I did not make a reservation (Airbnb or Booking) in advance. I took the risk and headed on: fighting hard in order to make it to Alta or camping – that was the question in the early evening. In Talvik, I stopped in front of a supermarked where some Norwegian cyclers took a break. They knew that there’s a “rorbu”, another Norwegian word for cabin, for rent one the fjords shore. I fould it straight away and Arne, the owner, an elderly fisherman, turned out to be a talkative and attentive person. He eaven heated up the sauna. There’s nothing better than a sauna after a cold day in the Arctic! But I surely jumped into the fjord, too. Butt naked. 12 degrees Celsisus.
– 85 (Friday, August 26)
Talvik – Alta, 36 km, partly sunny, cold, but less windy than the last few days.
All day I’ve been preparing myself mentally for tomorrows stage from Alta to Skaidi. It stretches for 90 kilometers, there are two passes to kill, there is no infrastructure in between these two towns (not even a petrol station) and it is said that the wind can be pretty rough. Sounds somehow like the “Alpe d’Huez” stage for the “Tour de France” professionals. I will do it – I don’t have a choice.
– 86 (Saturday, August 27)
Alta – Skaidi, 88 km, head wind all day long, first sunny, then rain, cold, sometimes drizzle and even snow – the full program.
As I left the house the wind was already waiting for me. “I know that you’re strong, my friend”, I told him, “but today, I will defeat you”. As I was on my way through the outskirts of Alta the sun came out – what a nice surprise. I climbed three passes, it was mild and I was in a good spirit. But then the weather changed within five minutes: It started to rain and the head wind was blowing even stronger and more than once snow flakes were dancing all over the plateau. The wind made me feel cold and I was terribly slow. Honestly, if a van had stopped I would have taken the offer for a ride. But no one did, so I kept on pedalling and fighting. Luckily the rain stopped after a while again. The landscape was a disappointment: I expected 60 kilometers of “no man’s land”, stones, bushes, moss and rendeer. But in fact there were a quite a lot of houses and even more traffic. The Norwegians probably went hunting or fishing – or they were bored and decided to go for a ride.
I expected the hardest day of my trip and it turned out to be the hardest one. A third of the day was fun the rest a fight. As I arrived at the hotel the German couple Anja and Franz was about to check in. We had a lavish dinner together.
– 87 (Sunday, August 28)x
Skaidi – Olderfjord, 25 km, heavy dark clouds are hanging over the hills, but: no rain.
As I get up in the morning, some muscles hurt badly. My body wants to rela so I decided to take a short stage. It felt like going for a little walk with a dog… and at lunchtime I already arrived at the new stop. Olderfjord is a rather important connection point for busses and right there I had booked my motel. Unpleasant, too many tourists wanting this and that, hectic and I had the blues.
– 88 (Monday, August 29)
Olderfjord – Repvåg, 48 km, periods with sun and clouds, dry.
The road E 69 leads mostly along the never ending fjord, and in the morning there was no traffic. I cycled slowly in order to enjoy every meter left on this journey. I stopped many times because the landscapes were so spectacular that I had to take pictures. It is a great pity that I did not take a good camera with me, an iPhone is not enough (or I do not know how to handle it propperly). The hotel in Repvåg was pretty spooky, the Russian staff there was not used to comfort clients or they did not care (or it was a spot for spies…) The temperature in the restaurant was 12 degrees Celsius, so I decided to move into my room and read.
I am glad I made short stages lately so I did not push my body and enjoyed the few hours riding to the max. In terms of weather I was very fortunate I must say. Imagine every day just rain and heavy wind – that would have killed my enthusiasm.
– 89 (Tuesday, August 30)
Repvåg – Honningsvåg, 56 km, cloudy, sometimes sunny, dry.
I felt releaved as I left the spooky hotel behind me. Todays challenge was the “Nordkap tunnel” which stretches about 7 kilometers and “dives” 250 meters below sea level. I dislike Norwegian tunnels in general, because they are ice cold and often not well illuminated. So I had a lot of respect taking this largest one now. At lunchtime there was almost no traffic which was surely helpful as I entered the dark. The first three kilometers it went steeply downhill and the lights in the tunnel did nod work propperly – scary. Finally, I was at the bottom I tried to push away my fantasy what could happen on a place like this. Uphill was hell: I climbed and climbed and had the feeling that I did not move forward. At the same time I heard myself breathing heavily – and it was freaking cold. Somehow I made it and as I saw daylight a text message came in saying that one of my compagnys clients, a large school, had succeeded with their task. I had invested 15 months to support them (strategy, media relations and lobbying) and the coincidence of their success and my “appearance” in daylight made my day.
Overnight: two nights at a sad looking hostel.
– Day 90 (Wednesday, August 31)
Honningsvåg – Nordkap – Honningsvåg, 66 km, quite sunny and mild in the morning, storm in the afternoon.
The last stage includes a lot of climbing and descending. With light luggage I started quite early in the morning, was astonished by the scenery and could ride solely – it was just the nature and myself. As I arrived there were not more than six other tourists at the site and some young cyclists who camped besides the main building – crazy guys, but fun talking too. I drank a coffee sitting in a corner and reviewing my journey. I could not believe that I have made it – 5500 kilometers from Berne to Nordkap. I became emotional.
c) The technical details
– Bicycle frame: Velotraum (Germany), steel
– gear: Rohloff, 14 gears
– wheel disc brakes
– click pedals
– weight: approximately 17 kilos
– bicycle pockets: Ortlieb.