As we have mentioned over the past 3 days we’ve cracked a few monster hills and it has been a temperature regulation learning curve. By that I mean that at the bottom of the hill things are good, if a bit chilly, it is after all Norway in early May. We generally have our outer shell coat and a collection of layers on underneath, temperature dependent. By five minutes into the climb we’re definitely warm and starting to open jacket vents etc. Ten minutes in and there’s some sweat going on, and by fifteen minutes we’re what we now call boil-in-a-bag and have to stop to shed layers and cuss a bit at the pain it is to stop. This usually means a long-sleeve Tshirt, fleece and day-glow gilet. The next 15-30 minutes are spent sweating to the top of the hill, where on numerous occasions we have been able to see our breath and there has been piles of dirty snow at the sides of the road. We then start a long descent which at temperatures of 1-3 degrees can get chilly very quickly, especially with all the sweat from the way up. “Why don’t you just put all the layers back on?” I hear you ask. Do you know how many false summits there are? We’d be on and off our bikes more than we already are! And I haven’t yet added rain into the mix – there are occasions when we’ve put waterproofs on and got wetter from sweat than the rain. It is, as you can tell, a complex matter, that we’ve yet to crack …though we’re getting a load of practice!
On with the journey. We were in the tent by about 8pm the previous evening as it was pretty cold once the sun we behind the nearby trees. Most campsites have a communal area of some sort, even if it is just a kitchen, but not the one in Lyngdal, hence the retreat to the tent. We also needed to plan for the next day and it soon became apparent that the options were a choice between the very busy E39 (as already described) OR a monster (both in length and hills) alternative route to Kristiansand, which we’d decided should be our next stop. As we had pre-booked an AirBnB there for Friday night we decided to make a run for it on the busy road – 75km. Decision made, we went to sleep, but for me it wasn’t a good night’s sleep for whatever reason – even though I was knackered.
The morning was pretty miserable, cold and raining. As there was no one around at the half-finished campsite we commandeered the veranda area outside the reception to dry our tent etc. We had discovered that the floor in the tent is a bit porous especially at either end, probably where we’ve been kneeling and a few minute holes have been made (we now have a plastic sheet to put under the tent to stop this and to protect the bottom on the undersheet), so things were a bit damp as the ground we’d camped on was completely saturated. So having woken up cold, damp and been limited to cold rations for brekkie we were off onto the busy E39 and it soon became apparent that this wasn’t fun at all…cars whizzing past, juggernauts thundering by etc, we were not happy. We did pull in at once stage by a lovely lake to let some traffic overtake us as we could feel the truckers eyes boring into our heads willing us to disappear!
In a couple of hours, and one monster climb, which must have really impressed the motorists in that tailback behind us, we finally made it to Mandal about 40km from Lyngdal. Coming into town we did almost go through a tunnel not for cycles or pedestrians. Luckily a motorist told us in the nick of time as we hadn’t seen any signs, but unfortunately our detour was up a 2km hill! We sat by the river and ate lunch feeling decidedly pissed off at the prospect of another 3-4 hours on the road to hell. Plus we were both fairly knackered after 3 epic days of riding, starting to get cold and generally cheesed off. I’d noticed that we could join the longer route at Mandal so we discussed whether we should rethink the whole idea of getting to Kristiansand completely that day. It’s at times like this, when a bit of exhaustion is setting in that mistakes are made and accidents happen, so we emailed the Air BnB and asked if we could amend the booking to tomorrow, and the answer was yes! We looked up campsites in Mandal, found one, booked a cabin and were there within an hour. Refuge in the woods.
Settled in, we then had the chance to finish drying things out and actually cycled back to Mandal to have a quick look around once we were warm, and very nice it is too!
Camping gear dried out, maintenance issues with the stove sorted and processes learned and by then the day was done…So much for a relaxing afternoon…
We will take the longer, quieter, coastal route to Kristiansand tomorrow to an apartment with full facilities.