Day 12. Repvåg – Nordkapp – Honningsvåg. 118 km

Posted: July 20, 2012 in Cycling, Norway
Tags: , , , ,

Wow! So much awesomeness packed into one day it makes my head spin! The strongest headwinds to date as I crawl up the windswept, barren coast from Repvåg to Honningsvåg to meet up with Chris for lunch. Beautiful and worthy of a final approach to the end of the earth.

Leaving Repvåg

Leaving Repvåg

Leaving Repvåg

Leaving Repvåg

Then, entrance to the final approach is only granted to those that can pass ‘the tunnel’. A 3 km dive to 212 m under the sea at 9% slope, followed by a 9% climb to materialize in the rocky, mountainous spectacular Magerøya island.

Entering the tunnel

Entering the tunnel

I stop at the entrance to gather myself and eat a chocolate bar or 5. The wind is howling at the entrance and a periodic electronic chime sounds from the mouth of the tunnel as if to warn those that dare to enter. A car emerges from the tunnel and a Swedish couple get out. ‘it’s long and steep,’ they warn, ‘and no room to walk your bike!’ They look concerned for me. I know what I am doing, I reassure them, and plunge in.

I pass the roll down gate 20 m inside the tunnel that opens and closes in the winter to let the individual cars pass, and then accelerate to the depths. Faster and faster, and I get colder and colder. I start to shake from the cold and my teeth start to chatter as I accelerate down and down into the dead straight tube.

In the tunnel

In the tunnel

When cars pass its like an enormous train passing by just over my head. Then, it’s silence once more. Just the whirring round of my wheels.

I am glad when I reach the bottom and start cycling out. I can warm up. It gets steeper and steeper as I slog forward in low gear. But, there is no headwind: a blessing.

Following the coast, now on Magerøya, I crawl along further into the wind before entering another long tunnel. This time it was must less strenuous. A gentle climb for 2 km and a gentle drop, again without wind. I start whistling, making an orchestra of sound echoing off the walls from all directions. A tribute to mum. All her favourites. She whistled all the time.

I arrive at Honningsvåg and enter the Nordkapp guesthouse (quite a common name in these parts). Chris is upstairs in the communal area reading a book in the warmth. We sit and a chat, comparing stories of this trip and others, and made plans for the day. Cycle the last 30km to Nordkapp and then a walk to Knivskjelodden for dinner. This is the true most northerly point of Europe: a low lying peninsula one bay across from the Nordkapp. A 9 km walk from the carpark. We go shopping, planning to cook up a feast on the most northerly point, watching the bus loads of tourists on the Nordkapp.

We talk and talk, and laugh, and before we know it, it is 15:00. We need to hurry. We still want to do a lot.

The final assault can only be completed by those that have made it this far. The wind is brutal, as are the long steep climbs: up and down and up again. During the whole trip from the Lofoten islands to here, I have had a head wind. The gods smile on us today and dish up a hurricane that is conveniently a tail wind on all up hill stretches and a ferocious head wind going down. On the flat bits it is often a side wind.

Wind

Wind

And, man, it is beautiful scenery. A winding road through rugged, barren, rocky land. Grass and moss. Rocks and stones. Lakes and fjords. Herds of reindeer. Sweeping views before dropping down along the road curving down to the bottom.

Towards Nordkapp

Towards Nordkapp

Towards Nordkapp

Towards Nordkapp

Towards Nordkapp

Towards Nordkapp

 

 

 

The last grunt to the Nordkapp is with a side wind and we freeze to death. We stop at the start of the walk to Knivskjelodden and hide under the shelter out of the wind for a snack. Then up and up. We get a discount entrance to the North Cape complex. Cyclists are classified as British students and get the reduced rate. We pass through the village of camper vans and buses and into the warmth.

From inside we look out the glass at the globe which everyone photos when they come here. That is for later. First a hot chocolate, a waffle, and soak up the warmth.

Well, dear readers. Here is the proof picture. Chris and I at the North Cape.

20120720-092220.jpg

It is too cold and too late to go to Knivskjelodden, and so we have dinner at the restaurant at the end of the universe and make our way back.

We remark over and over with glee how perfect the direction of this hurricane wind is. Perfect head wind to brake our steep descents and perfect tail wind on the climbs. We whiz on home in 2 hours. A snappy time for 30 km in Norway.

Content, I curl up into bed.

Comments
  1. judith says:

    Dear matthew, congratulations on reaching the nordkap. Ed is sitting next to me, grumbling, pretending not to care that he isn’t there with you….. We are now in Euskadi… In a little place called itxaspe… And that is one of the more pronouncable names…
    Hope you have a save trip home.
    Judith, edward, aletta and jonathan

    • Hi Judith, Ed, Aletta and Jonathan.
      Greetings from the north of Europe down to the south. I hope you have a great holiday down there!!

      This adventure I’ve had in getting to the North Cape is indeed one that Ed would have loved. I’ve often thought of the trip to Bodø with Ed. It has been a source of anecdotes that I share when telling yarns with other cyclists. All cyclists up here have come a long way, mostly much further than me. Chris, my current companion, has cycled from Chelmsford near London to here. He has done some amazing cycles including across the United States and a lot in Asia and Australia.

      Ed used to sing to keep spirits up in the rain. One song was ‘Suzanne, ik ben stapel gek op jou’. I started whistling in the long tunnels on Magerøya. The echoes gave the whistling a grandeur it otherwise doesn’t have.

      Yesterday was our rest day. It was blowing a gale and pouring with rain. Ed didn’t allow such days. I remember one day when we were cycling through the pouring rain and wind, and we passed some cosy looking huts. ‘Let’s stop for the day and dry off there,’ I suggested. Ed wouldn’t hear of it, and we slogged on and on until we had completed the required number of kilometres. That is the kind of mentality of the cyclists that make it here.

      I met a pair if Serbian guys that had just cycled to the North Cape. Of course I would cycle the last leg from Honningsvåg to the North Cape with luggage. Tent, sleeping bag, clothes, food, everything. Even though we were coming back in the evening to Honningsvåg. Even though the route is known to be the most strenuous, steep and windy of anything. You can’t cycle all this way with everything and leave your luggage just before the finish. The temptation was great. Ed would have held strong. ‘No,’ he would have said. ‘We are going with luggage!’ A true cycler to the North Cape.

      In Trondheim Ed and I met the young German cyclists that were cycling to the North Cape. We were jealous not going that far, and felt a bit inferior, stopping in just Bodø. We lived with it saying we had started in Oslo and they in Trondheim. Still, the attraction of the North Cape had remained.

      I dedicate the second leg of the Oslo – Nordkapp adventure to Ed. He has been here in spirit.

      Matthew

  2. Dina says:

    Congratulations! Well done, I’m impressed, indeed1

    Have a lovely weekend,

    Love
    Dina

  3. judith says:

    Dear Matthew, it sounds like he no longer with us…. Fortunately he’s sitting right next to me! But you are right. He would have cycled with luggage in the pouring rain and smiled all the way!
    Love from us all

  4. Hi Matthew, I opened the blog to see how is it going on Svalbard – but now I see these comments and if I understood well, it seems that you did the final stretch without luggage?!?!!! I cannot believe, shame!!!! You should repeat now everything from the beginning and this time without cheating 😀 😀

    • Well. I did the last leg with luggage. Just different luggage. Chris and I intended to cook up a feast at the true most northerly point. We brought lots of heavy food, but, indeed, the tent stayed in Honningsvåg. 🙂 I guess I am not a true hard core cyclist.. 🙂

  5. […] Highlight 4: Arriving at the North Cape (Nordkapp). It was windy. It was cold. It was barren. And it was spectacular. I had made it. What a feeling! […]

  6. […] in Norway last year on the boat to Senja island, and then repeatedly as we both headed north to the North Cape and beyond. This spring, as training for my 6000km cycling expedition, I met Chris on his own […]

  7. Hi Matthew. I’m a newcomer to your blog. Have loved reading it, so far! I’m hoping to include Norway, when I do my cycling travels. It all looks so fantastic!

    Btw, loved the Hitch Hiker’s reference. 🙂

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