Cycling the Kystriksveien - Day 14

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Updated 07 May 2007

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11/08/06 - Kjopstad to Saltstraumen

Blazing sunshine today and 26° during the morning. I am up about an hour before the others as usual but since we are all in one room I don't want to wake them to the sound of me stuffing clothes into panniers so I go to the empty bedroom next door to write up the diary. Fortunately for me there's a coffee percolator in the hall which I can use to boil some water for an early morning cup of tea.

Janet emerges from her sleeping bag at eight and gets P. up for a breakfast of meusli and smørbrod with me on the wooden deck. No sign of Helge or the kids yet, they must have gone to bed a couple of hours later than us.

Kjopstad Overnatting

Kjopstad Overnatting

We pack up quickly after breakfast and load the bikes carefully. P. has found his little friends and is playing with them on a three-wheeled scooter that kicks up a cloud of fine grey dust from the drive as he clatters down it towards the house. All too soon it is time to say our goodbyes to Helge and the others before pushing the bikes down the drive for a fast descent to the bottom of the valley beyond Kjopstad.

Today is going to be another tough ride but the alpine scenery certainly compensates for it - there are some very unusual peaks nearby, including a huge one that resembles a witch's hat or the horn of a unicorn, poking into the sky at a jaunty angle. One 800m tunnel soon after the guesthouse, and then the road climbs high up the side of Skånlandsfjellet after crossing a new concrete bridge near Skålsvika.

Unicorn horn peak

The "unicorn horn" range

I am startled out of my wilderness reverie a few minutes afterwards by the sound of a familiar Nokia ringtone, coming from the grass verge by the road on my right. I turn and cycle back towards it just before it stops, and find a very battered phone lying beside the road. Its screen is cracked and the front and rear covers were some distance away, but despite the battering it is still working, so I page down the list of names until I find "hjem", and give the number a try. Some unknown Norwegian picks up after a couple of rings. I explain in my fractured Norwegian that his mobile is in a bad way, but that I'd like to give it back to him. He's surprised and pleased - he suggests I should drop it off at the Besta station about 10 km from where I'd found it so that he could pick it up later, which we duly do when we pass it half an hour later.

One battered mobile phone

One battered phone!

We stop out of the sun on a small track beside the summit of the next pass near the turn off to Valnes, using the petrol stove for a mug of tea each (I am anxious to use as much of the petrol as possible before need to catch our flight home). Good views from here, and no passing traffic. The heat is a problem today though - our jerseys are stiff with salt and we are getting through our water very rapidly again.

Bodo county boundary

Into the last stretch of road towards Bodø

More alternating freewheeling and pushing sections after lunch until we reach the Saltstraumen at five in the evening. We stock up at the Co-Op before the bridge, everything for a huge picnic and big bottles of Ringnes beer, and then pedal the last few kilometres to the Knaupland campsite on the other side of the high bridge over the racing waters below.

This campsite is clean and well run with good showers (key card to get in, no tokens required) and an imaginative childrens' play area. The owner is very helpful and assigns us Cabin 18, a pleasant building but one with a list - it slants about 5° from the horizontal to the left!

We spend the evening watching the waters rushing through the maelstrom - quite spectacular - and carbo-loading on spaghetti bolognaise with all the trimmings. Tomorrow should see us back in Bodøsjoen camping if all goes well; the serious climbing should now be behind us.

Monument to RV17 engineer Peder Johnsen

The Saltstraumen as the whirlpools start to form

My little photograph here of the Saltstraumen really doesn't do it justice, I'd need a very wide angle lens on a video camera to capture its menace. We stay carefully away from the rocks at the edge because one slip here and you'd vanish forever - it's the world's strongest tidal current, and something like 400 million cubic meters of water rush through its 150 meter wide mouth when the tide turns. There's an annual coley fishing championship, due to start here tomorrow morning - a 22 kilo monster was hooked here several years ago, so I am guessing that the roads are going to be clogged with cars on their way here for the competition tomorrow morning!

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