Cycling the Kystriksveien - Day 13

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Updated 14 Dec 2006.

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10/08/06 - Mevik to Kjopstad

Just when the gentle winding coast road has lulled you into thinking that it's going to be flat all the way back to Bodø, the road suddenly rears up again. It's a fine day today, sunny and warm at 24°C. A short distance from Storvika there's a hanging valley high up on the cliffs beside the seashore, pierced by a tunnel that will take us back into the mountainous interior after our ride along the coast from Ørnes. At the foot of the cliff there's a handy Co-Op store and a picnic area with a little rock garden and a bust (on a plinth) of the founding father of the RV17, its chief road engineer Peder Johnsen. After stocking up with food for two days, we sit beside the monument eating ice creams from the store, probably the last ones for fifty miles. We can see from the map that the next section is going to be tough, so we are dragging our feet a little bit. Eventually we start pushing our bikes up the steep slope to the tunnel entrance and ride into it.

Monument to RV17 engineer Peder Johnsen

It is 3.5 km long and not very pleasant, although we should be fairly visible in our full tunnel gear (P's trailer bike even has a mountain rescue strobe light flashing on it today!). After a steep descent out of the tunnel the road pivots sharply upwards again by the side of Sørfjorden, and we are back on the switchback RV17 of the previous week. Perhaps this stretch nearer Bodø gets more traffic - there's certainly more litter along the road, in stark contrast to the pristine verges we've cycled along previously.

There is a kiosk selling snacks by the turn-off to the 838 but it isn't very pleasant, no reason to linger here. So we climb up a long hill graced by a spectacular waterfall near Hamn for a picnic lunch in the sunshine, followed by a couple more hours of alternate pushing, pedalling, and wild freewheeling. P. and I stop every twenty minutes or so to duck our heads under the roadside waterfalls - this is hot work.

pushing again

Pushing again

The last climb of the day at 5pm takes us to the doorstep of Kjopstad Overnatting, the imposing white clapper-board building I'd spent a night in three years previously. Ostensibly the place is closed for refurbishment, but the owner's eldest son is quite happy to give us a large room in the annexe for 300 Kr, which is very welcome. Annike (who welcomed me last time I was here) is in Narvik today visiting friends. He's babysitting two adventurous kids of P's age who rapidly round him up and take him off to play. I really admire their freedom - they seemingly have the run of the woods and mountains around the hamlet, but appear quite responsible too; the older child is trying to knock together a house in the garden from the scrap wood left over from his father's latest round of building work.

The garden now boasts a large sandpit and a deck, and on enquiring it's no problem for us to use the petrol stove on the deck to cook our paella, which is supplemented by a large bowl of redcurrants picked by the boys, and a packet of Fruit Soup provided on the house and shared out carefully between everyone.

We sit and talk for an hour or so about life here, the ski and snowboarding opportunities in the spring, and of course about the fishing, which is popular here in the summer. It turns out that the building used to be the local school, which is now a twenty-minute drive away - and that this summer is the last year before school for P.'s new playmate now that he is six.

Dad (Helge) arrives home later and shows us around some of the other projects he has on the go. He looks like Rutger Hauger and speaks perfect English - and is genuinely pleased to have some guests to show around. There's a lot of painting and general upkeep involved with a wooden building this far North but fortunately his work in the oil industry means that he gets a good stint at DIY between weeks on the rigs - he works two weeks on, four weeks off (they have a good strong union here!). He has recently bought a second-hand galvanised steel staircase to replace the rotten wooden one on the outside of the annexe we are staying in and he's keen to fit it.

Afterwards we wash up carefully and turn in at 10 pm. As I doze off I can hear Helge gently hammering on the other side of the annexe - he's got as much daylight as he could possibly need to bolt the steps on to our building tonight.

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