Tuesday July 3, 2018, 56 km (35 miles) - Total so far: 1,918 km (1,192 miles)
My alarm went off at 5 this morning. I was the only one sleeping in the hut so didn't worry about waking others.
Last night a man and his little girl showed up. I asked if they were staying. No, just getting food. (The hut has a pantry where people can grab stuff and leave $$) We talked a bit about my trip. I told him I was hoping to make it to Sandnes. I'm from Sandnes, he said.
He suggested I take the road to Lystbotn and then the ferry. I said I'd heard the switchbacks were crazy. (28 total) Not too steep, he answered, and I'd save a heap of KM. I would definitely make it to Sandnes. On the map the ferry goes through the fjord past Pulpit Rock. It sounded beautiful and a perfect way to end the trip.
He mentioned there was some ups. But he seemed certain I could handle it.
It took me 1.5 hours to relay my stuff out. Much better than the trip in, and cooler. It was 7:15 by the time I made it to the parking lot.
Some ups and downs, then a BIG down to a gas station in Sulakard, where I bought my standard sausage roll. And where I encountered the mocking lady.
Just before turning into the station I forgot to downshift and sort of Fred Flintstoned in. There was a fullly-loaded-and I mean fullly-loaded, cyclist. Like on the Harley of bikes, a real hog. We greeted one another with the standard stuff. I asked if she was going up or down, and I answered I'd just come from the top and planned to go to Lystbotn. She looked at me-not if you're already walking up this hill.
Wow, I thought. That's harsh, and we'd only just met.
Her husband pulled up, fullly-loaded. He asked where I'd started. I said, Amsterdam. Then she interjected, A half year trip.
Really? No, I answered, I started 19 days ago.
Then she kept challenging me. Saying stuff like the way to Lystbotn is super hard. It would take forever. I asked how often the ferry ran. Twice a day. So I said definitely after lunch. Since it was 9 a.m. I was thinking I could definitely make the second one. She seemed doubtful. She left me with little confidence. Maybe I should take the longer road and just plan on finishing my trip tomorrow.
..But, wait! Who is she to steal my moment, make me doubt myself. I asked the fully-loaded how they got to the top. They said, We took a shuttle. They were in for a reality check. We parted--me for Lystbotn.
And, that my friend, has made all the difference.
The road is called Lysevegen. Another narrow, windy, climb, perhaps even more dramatic than the Suleskarvegen. Coming from Sulakard I found that it starts slowly. Not gut-wrenching. You climb high and higher by degrees and lakes. You eventually leave pines, there's these scraggly trees, then you are above tree level. Around you is only rock. I'd climb, turn a corner, below a lake...keep climbing, turn a corner, another lake.
The weather has been so dry that many of the lakes and definitely the waterfalls were reduced. I was riding by small pockets of snow--the source of where all the lakes came from. The road seemed like a motorcyclist destination, many passed me. I kept wondering where the top was. The road was too narrow at places for passing. If, say, I was in a low gear and struggling to get up and a camper was either passing or coming down to pass, I'd slow, stop, and then have to get off and push it up. The edge of the Lysevegen was built up asphalt, what I think in the U.S. is called soft shoulders. Very little berm. So if my tire slipped off the edge I couldn't quickly yank it back onto the road. In fact, I'd fall down the ravine. After awhile I chose to ride close to a guardrail (if there was one) no matter if it was on the left or right.
There were very few chances to take breaks. No where to lean the bike, or safe. At 12 noon I was by a hydro station. An actual building, the size of a shed, and parked the bike and had a tea and looked out. The world down below me. About 30 minutes later, I was getting hungry. I can tell because I made a shifting error and had to walk the bike. This was constant, walking, getting back on, then hopping off again to walk it. So I came to a shady spot and pulled out food. Cheese and crackers.
I continued on up. There was a holiday atmosphere the "closer" I got to the top. Motorcyclists would beep-beep at me. People were giving me the thumbs up out their windows. A German couple on motorcycles ahead of me stopped. Photo time, he said. He insisted I take their picture in the snow and he snapped one of me. At a kind of plateau there were many rock cairns, man's monument to man.
So at one point I saw in the distance a fjord, and suddenly in the distance down below, so far that it looked hazy, was the bottom.
This is going to be crazy.
I just prayed. Hung on. Made frequent brake cool down stops. It was the kind of thing that if you thought about it, you'd lose your nerve. I got to Kjerag, which I'm still not sure what it is, but a big parking lot. And a rock formation, someone said. A rock between two rocks. I'll have to research this later. I had 7.5 KM to go to the bottom.
Down. Down. Down. Until I came to where a guy was holding up traffic. I asked a motorcyclist what was happening. She said, We wait to go through tunnel.
As if I hadn't been scared enough. The tunnel was 1.5 KM and very poorly lit. I stopped before entering to take off my sunglasses. It didn't help. Also from what I could tell, the attendant didn't have a walkie talkie. So when would the attendant at the other end know a cyclist was coming through last and when to release traffic on the other side???
The tunnel wasn't like a real tunnel, like the Lincoln tunnel going into New York city. It was more like a cave. You could see rough stone walls and ceiling. There was a curve and so NO light at the end of the tunnel. And it was DOWNHILL. I kept up a constant audible honking noise. I saw a twinkle of light. Walkers!! I shouted I'm freaked out and they shouted back, so are we!
Finally I emerged. Put back on sunglasses, and continued down. By the time I reached the ferry my legs were shaking. My whole body felt rubbery. It was 2:30. The ferry came @3:30. Time for a sandwich.
At 3:30 I found that the ferry was booked, so had to wait for 6 pm ferry. The trip through the fjord to Lauvik would take 2.5 hours. My friend Camilla in Sandnes volunteered to pick me up. Yes! I was glad becaue getting off the ferry, even though still light out, at 8:30 and have to navigate to Sandnes I knew would take me hours. I'd actually be done riding.
Then it hit me: I'd done it. This crazy, solo woman bike ride. Thank God.
I will likely have a few follow up thoughts, corrections, and add more photos once home. But for now, the journey ends.
UP 1,020 m · DOWN 1,806 m
|almost at the top of Lysevegen (notice the snow)|
|meeting French cyclists on the way up|
|at the top|
|on the way down|
|at the ferry|
|Kjerag from ferry|