“Utrolig”: that’s probably how a Norwegian would describe this week. No, this has nothing to do with trolls, those illintentioned mythical creatures associated with northern Scandinavia. It simply means “unbelievable”. No more, no less. That’s how this week in Romsdalen left us, nothing short of incredulous.
Weather on the move
Think of Scandinavia in the autumn, and what comes to mind is probably gloomy overcast skies, sodden footpaths and determined hikers squelching along while tightly wrapped in GoreTex. And yes, that’s how it can be, in this stunningly beautiful region of vast open spaces. But not this time. After a once-a-century summer in central Europe and some rather rainier months in Scandinavia, the fine weather back home seems to have stowed away in one of our bikebags. But fair enough, why deny it the the chance to enjoy some free time between the mountains and the fjords.
In Isfjorden, some distance north of the famous Trollstigen mountain road, we locate our home for the coming days. As soon as we step through the door into Villa Vengetind, home to Renate and Tommy Soleim, we have a feeling of “coming home”. And certainly by dinner it’s clear: this trip is going to be a stunner. After a long flight and a longer train journey across half of Norway, one could easily subscribe to the maxim that “hunger is the best sauce”. But anyone who tries Renate’s specialities, drawn from all over the world, learn that this is most certainly not the case. And despite thousands of metres of altitude gain while out riding, our net calorie balance will finish very much in positive. Another cinnamon roll, while melting deep into the sofa? Oh I think so!
For the more active element of the trip, Tommy takes over. Somehow, we need to make some space for the next meal. “Space” is also the word that comes to mind when describing the character of our rides during the week. For that’s something that Norway has plenty of. Wherever you look, you see nothing. On bonedry trails, surrounded by stunning views of fjords or mountain, reaching the summits generally means getting off and pushing: there’s minimal forestry work carried out here so you won’t usually find the associated forestry roads. So we follow narrow paths to reach the summits; anyone who likes to push the boundaries on an ascent would do well to pull on their knee protectors right at the beginning of the day.
As if our rides in Fjørå, along the Atlantic Road and to a 400 year old shepherd’s hut above Isfjorden weren’t enough, on our last evening we were accompanied by the northern lights. It was almost kitsch! And punctually to our departure, the fabulous sunshine crept back into one of our bags in order to be able to delight us upon our arrival back home.
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