Posts Tagged ‘Alta’


My mind was turning over in my sleep. How could I fix the broken spoke? I knew all the options, but still I went through them all again. I was up early as usual (6:00) and had to wait till 10 when the bike shop opened. I started playing with the spokes but just made it all worse. I was given moral support from several different cyclists. One gave me some spokes. Also thanks to Marco Janssen who gave me tips via this blog. My wheel was beyond any sort of repair now, though.

Chris, from the group of 4 passed by on his way onward. Seeing him go was hard. I wanted to be on my way too..

The mechanic at the last remaining bike shop in Alta was on holidays. I then started ringing around, and found a bike shop in Hammerfest (140 km to the north) where the mechanic was not on holidays. A ray of hope opened out, and for the first time since my arrival in Alta I saw this spoke ordeal as an adventure to be lived ‘in the now’. I won’t have to see the north cape in a tourist bus or a car, and today will just be an obstacle to cross.

I went to the Alta airport and rented a very expensive car.

Renting a car

Renting a car

 

I then drove the route I will be cycling tomorrow. The road climbed and climbed to a big open plain. It reminded me of some of the landscape of the Flinders Ranges back home in Australia. Wide open spaces and little vegetation. It was beautiful.

The kilometers in a car went slower than on the bike. I hate driving, and seeing the scenery is like watching a movie. You don’t feel it, like on a bike. Tomorrow that will be different.

Hammerfest is a little town perched on the side of a bare mountain with a bike mechanic – my kind of place!! 😉

I bought a new wheel and had it fitted. Many thanks to the great help from the people at InterSport Hammerfest!!

Bike repairs in Hammerfest

Bike repairs in Hammerfest

 

Then it was time to return back home. Chris had just arrived in Skaidi – where the roads to the north cape and Hammerfest part when I was eating my mid afternoon lunch 20 km away. We arranged for a coffee in Skaidi via Facebook.

Me and Chris in Skaidi

Me and Chris in Skaidi

 

We will be meeting up again in the north cape. The group of 4 meet up (partly) once again.

I’m now back in Alta, have eaten, and am going to bed. I need sleep for my first kms after 2 days of nothing.

Day 9. Alta. 40 km

Posted: July 16, 2012 in Cycling, Norway
Tags: , ,

Today was a day of frustration. Cycling from one bike shop to the next in the glorious, sunny weather, finding someone to fix my spoke. I was in my civilian clothing, passing cyclists kitted out with their cycling clothes and luggage clearly heading for the north cape. I couldn’t help but tell them I was just getting a spoke fixed. I was one of them..

The first bike shop only sold bikes, but pointed me to a second, some 8 km away at the other end of the town (with a minor hill in between). They couldn’t help, but perhaps a third. Back over the hill. The third does repairs, but the mechanic is on holidays. I took to their workshop, and changed the spoke.

I only had spokes that were the wrong size, collected on the way. After some time I had the spoke replaced (after getting frustrated several times at my failure at being able to carry out particular actions and seeing my cycling time ticking away).

I went to an all you can eat pizza place to fill up with the fuel that would take me over the tundra wasteland to the next camping ground some 80 km away.

3 km further another spoke broke. I fixed it and continued. At last on my way. The north cape is in sight!

The North Cape in sight.

The North Cape in sight.

 

I passed a sign: the climb to the tundra plains.

Up to the tundra plains

Up to the tundra plains

 

And up I went. At the very top, just before the descent down, another spoke broke.

Yet again: *sigh*

Yet again: *sigh*

 

Unlike the others, it was a spoke on the side of the gear wheel. I couldn’t change this one even if I had tried. It was cold and windy and the clouds were looking threatening. I was 20 km out of Alta and 60 km from my planned camping ground: a tiny village with no facilities. In fact, the next bike shop is at Honningsvåg near the north cape or at Hammerfest, some 130 km away. What was I doing here at the start of the arctic tundra? Alone, with my (non-existant) technical prowess and with a wheel clearly past it’s prime. If another spoke broke and the wheel was unusable, what then? I tried to straighten the wheel with one broken spoke by tightening and loosening other spokes. The wheel got worse.

Time to quit while the wheel was still rideable. Dejected, I turned and cycled back to Alta.

Having dinner at the camping ground, I was speaking to two Serbians who have just returned from the north cape. They were early and are now killing four days of time. They had a lot of stories to tell. Some were hilarious: particularly about mosquitos.

But, dear readers, I have a question. Can you help? What should I do?
1. Call around and find a nearby cycle shop with a mechanic. The nearest one may be 100s of kms away. Then rent a car and take the bike to it.
2. Try to rent a bike. I doubt this would be possible.
3. Try to readjust the spokes and cycle the last 250 kms.
4. Buy a new bike. (this is not a really serious option)
5. Something else..

As you can see, I don’t have any options I like. The Serbians told me of another bike shop in Alta that sounds promising. I will try that. Other than that, please help me with your ideas. I could think of nothing worse than cycling all this way and joining a tourist bus trip to go to the north cape from here.

By the way, I asked the last bike shop if they had a replacement wheel. They didn’t but could have one in by Thursday. I guess that would be Friday now. Maybe another one of the shops has a wheel. The gears will need to be mounted which may not be possible without a mechanic..


Take on more than you can handle and it comes back to bite you – it bites you just like thirsty mosquitos during a long slow climb up the mountain. Yesterday I felt the growing strength surging through my muscles. Today I feel exhausted and those gods (is it Thor or some female god?) have added insult to injury by delivering me a broken spoke 5 km before the finish line.

But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

I feel proud of myself. I recognized the symptoms of lack of blood sugar: being angry at everything and the hard headedness to push on to not be late. I deliberately stopped and slowly ate my extra lunch reserve of cheese and salami sandwiches. It was to a beautiful backdrop of a wide fjord and beautiful mountains, by the way, although I only noticed that after the first sandwich.

I feel proud of my myself that I am not a complete klutz technically with the bike. When my spoke broke 5 km before Alta, I assessed the situation, readjusted the remaining spokes, and loosened the brakes to allow of a slightly wobbly wheel. And all this while being eaten alive by a swarm of ravenous mosquitos.

But, all this was at the end of the day. Here is a quick summary of the whole day. Early departure. Hug the coast. Big climb traversing a peninsula. Spectacular view over fjord, islands and imposing mountains.

At the top of the pass

At the top of the pass

View from the top of the pass

View from the top of the pass

At the top of the pass

At the top of the pass

 

Hug the coast through small fishing villages.

On the way to Alta

On the way to Alta

 

Big climb. Descent into Burfjord. Big lunch with vast quantities of steak and chips. Disappointed at lack of climb crossing a peninsula into the state of Finnmark.

Entering Finnmark

Entering Finnmark

 

Long, straight busy road along a narrow fjord that looked somewhat like the Rhein River. Non flat up and down and up and down. Big trucks. Fast cars. Counting down the kilometers to Alta. Alta in sight. 40 km to go but Alta 10 km as the crow flies.

Rain over Alta

Rain over Alta

 

Up and down. Skirt around side fjord. Up and down. Cross small side peninsula of side fjord. Pass Alta about 500 m on other side of fjord. Still 20 km to go. Big side fjord. Pass new road construction and see future road crossing half finished bridge to half finished tunnel. Wonder how the road will pass that big slab of rock in the way. Pass sign 9% steep climb. Question answered. Ping! Broken spoke.

*Sigh*

*Sigh*

 

Wobbly wheel. Wheel doesn’t turn. Hungry mosquitos. Temporary fix. Crawl into Alta.

Beautiful light near Alta

Beautiful light near Alta

 

Check into hotel.

Arrival in Alta

Arrival in Alta

 

Sleep.