This post - 11 to 13 June
~ 35 km, 1150 m - biked with the whole family
~ 20 km biking, ~ 12 km hiking, ~ 2200 m elevation - extra-curricular
(and a long ferry ride)
See also: our-european-bike-tour-people-and-equipment.
On arriving in Bergen we picked the large outdoor (but covered) public area just outside the airport front doors for bicycle unpacking and re-assembly. We'd taken four hours to pack all four (Line's sister Laerke would be joining us) bikes in Copenhagen, but didn't have very much time for re-assembly as we had a ferry to catch. We needed to be efficient. F's bike was assembled first; this turned out to be a key strategic decision because it meant she could ride around in circles (entertaining herself) while the adults re-assembled the rest of the bikes, changed diapers, re-packed the luggage for biking, and kept the kids fed. Second bike was my cargo bike, which Line immediately took to drop the bike boxes off with the hotel we'd stay at the night preceding our return flight (we hadn't yet figured out we could easily carry them in addition to all our stuff). I had her bike assembled just before she returned, so she could take off to buy fuel and other supplies we'd need for the rest of our trip, and then sort out the ferry. One I'd finished up Laerke's bike (noticing it was in pretty pour repair) we packed all the kids and stuff onto them and headed off. Two hours - we were efficient.
We caught up to Line when she called Laerke's cell... "Hey, there is a bike store attached to the camping store - maybe we should buy enough parts to fix Laerke's bike? What size are her tires again?" "Wait a second - we're also standing outside a bike/outdoors store". Turns out we were meters apart. We stocked up on bike parts too (all the consumables on Laerke's borrowed bike were in poor shape - tires, brakes, cables) and hurried to the ferry. The ride through town was really nice, with lots of bike infrastructure.
The "ferry" was essentially a cruise ship. Most of the patrons had meal privileges, guided excursions, and private rooms. Line managed to get some sort of dirtbag-class tickets at a fraction of the price which included none of those luxuries, but did get us onto the boat. They were only advertised in Norwegian, which Line can understand since she's Danish and the languages are not that different. It was unclear whether or not our use of the hut tub was legitimate... but they checked for dirtbags at mealtime, but not at the hot tub, which we took to mean it was OK. The trip was beautiful, with amazing scenery throughout the fjords. In a lot of ways it reminded me of our kayak-accessed ski/mountaineering expeditions up Knight and Bute Inlets back in British Columbia. Except I didn't need to worry about where we could possibly escape the water if the winds kicked up (again) due to kilometres of cliffs rising up out of the ocean. Instead I was relaxing in a hot tub. It does change one's perspective somewhat, and lets one focus on the beauty of the area. We slept on a pile of our gear in the corner of the cafe and mowed down on the cheap fish cakes we'd brought with us (these would become a staple food on the trip). Another success.
Our arrival in Geiranger was a bit of a spectacle. The boat didn't dock, instead a smaller vessel took us ashore. Mostly it was filled with the cruise-ship class passengers (as was most of the rest of the town). They all got good entertainment value both watching us offload, and thinking about how we were going to leave town. There are only two ways out of town, and both involve immediately going over a steep mountain pass. We spent the night at a campground in town to head off the next morning. Since it doesn't actually get dark at night I started a tradition off heading to climb a nearby peak as soon as the kids were asleep... I biked up to the pass North of town and hiked/scrambled to the top of Eidshornet (~1650m). A bit of a whiteout set in while I was up there, so I needed to actually use the compass bearings and landmarks I'd noted on the hike up in order to find the correct way back down, but I still returned to camp in 4.5 hours - leaving plenty (well, some) time for sleeping. I was feeling pretty good about my time, and my body was feeling great, but I did worry somewhat that I might have blown my legs for the long haul (with all our stuff/kids) out of town the next day...
The next day was our first real test for how the trip would go. We would exit town via the pass to the SouthEast, and planned to take 2 days to haul ourselves and all our kit up the ~1000 m of elevation gain to get there. On the first uphill Line had her doubts. Standing on her pedals she could barely make forwards progress. "Guys - I don't know if I can do it!". I was worried - I didn't have too much more capacity, and we were barely out of town. Would we need to revisit our whole trip concept? Double-carry? And how would that even work given that a lot of the weight was our kids? But, as it turned out, Line just had a mechanical problem - her shift cable had gotten snagged on something and her "lowest" gear was actually still a pretty high gear. With that fixed we could easily climb the switchbacks (well, maybe not easily, but it was at least possible) up and out of town. A lot of tourists took pictures with / of us, and by evening we'd actually made it all the way to the top and set up camp on an absolutely gorgeous exposed sub-ridge just off the road.
Line carried on the evening tradition and climbed ~550m of extra-curricular elevation up to a ridge West of camp to soak in the views of an alpine lake with a bit of ice left on it while I washed up and put the kids to bed. I congratulated myself on even getting a tarp up, using our tent and bicycles due to the lack of trees, as there was rain in the forecast for the next day and it would make getting assembled substantially easier. Everybody was pretty optimistic about the days to come.
However a key detail was overlooked when looking at the forecast - there was actually a lot of wind in the forecast along with that rain... and we were kind of camped in a funnel, right there in the pass...
Next: Bike Touring in Norway II: Evacuation from the windy funnel and on to Strynefjellet.
Say Nuth Khaw Yum
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Tweaking our haul-a-day
Making kids crampons
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Make a kid towing harness