The Bergen Tour
The Sunnmore tour was a big success for me and I spent the winter of 1992 planning a new tour. Due to loosing my part-time job, I was under a restricted budget and I could not do much more with that than this tour (my first choice being the 2650 km long North Cape – Lindesnes tour).
I have always been wanted to do the Hallingsdalen to Hardangervidda and Bergen tour.
This tour seems like an obvious choice on the map and I was keen to do it.
Please note that the bad quality of the pictures is both due to my incompetence as a photograph and the bad quality of the camera.
My setup on this tour was the same as the Sunnmore tour. In other words; far too much luggage.
I added a cycle-helmet and shorts to the setup. I set off far too late in the morning... at around 0900.
Myself and the bike at the start of the tour.
I set off up the flat Lierdalen valley to Sylling where I took the moderate undulating road overlooking the Tyrifjorden lake to Vikersund. The sun was blazing hot and I was soon in deep trouble. I was dehydrating and sweating like an Icelandic geyser. I love the 45 km road between Sylling and Vikersund. But the sun was a bit of a killjoy that day. It took me far too long to get to Vikersund and I had to stock up with more water at this village. I set off in the direction of Kroderen and the lake. The road first climbed up from Vikersund before it went into a pretty undulating stroll along farmlands and through a forest. Thankfully with plenty of shade and cover from the baking hot sun.
The forest between Vikersund and Kroderen
I reached the small village at Kroderen and got some water there. I now followed the big lake with the same name. The cycling was slow and painful due to the sun. It was not a good idea to cycle in shorts that day and I was both saddle sore and sunburnt. The t-shirt I had was also denying my skin to proper get rid of the heat. This is why a proper cycle short and top is so vital and potential life saving. These materials breathes and let the body get rid of all surplus heat. I was cycling along the lake and my body got critically overheated. Add the heavy traffic and the potential for a disaster was very real. I remember the forty kilometres along this lake as a nightmare. I had run out of water. I could not get water. I was critically overheated and it took me until the end of this flat road along the lake before I found a place where I could get water and a cool down of my body. I jumped into the lake. That probably saved me from more problems.
At the northern end of Kroderen
I got back to my bike and continued through a small tunnel which makes the end of this lake and the beginning of Hallingdalen valley. The valley up to Gol is approx. 60 km long and can be divided into three equally long parts (20 km x 3): The valley before the gully, the gully and the valley after the gully. I was very tired now, but I had to press up the flat road in this valley as far as I could. I went into the gully and finally found a place to pitch up the tent next to the road. It was not a perfect place to put up a tent, but I was exhausted. I had probably done 150 km that day.
My tent in Hallingdalen.
The following morning was as sunny as the day before. I was pretty tired when I started to cycle again. A short stop at Bromma followed. The road was still flat past Nesbyen and the traffic was very heavy too. I reached Gol at midday and in a blazing sunshine.
Gol in Hallingdalen.
The valley was like a oven and I was the meat. Gol has a mythological status in my life. Me and my family always drove up Kroderen, Hallingdalen to Gol before we turned off over Hemsedal to Sogndal. We did this twice a year. Sometimes, more often than that. I knew Gol pretty well and it was satisfactory to reach it by bike.
I had never done the upper Hallingdalen from Gol to Geilo though. The climbs started immediate after Gol and continued for pretty much the whole way. The cycling was what I refer to as “grind”. That means relentless climbs where the only thing you have to do is to turn the pedals around. In a baking hot oven like this, that was a big problem and dehydration became a big problem.
One of the products of dehydration is cramps in legs and arms. O boy did I get cramps !! Very painful cramps indeed and my tempo slowed down past Torpo and Al to Strandefjorden.
The road along this lake was flat for some kilometres. I then hit the foot of the hills to Hol and Geilo. The first climb was both very steep and long. My legs was giving me endless cramps and I had to stop for half an hour. It was also very exposed to the sun. I finally reached Hagafoss and a small descent down to a crossroad. I took the road up towards Geilo. This climb was vertical and long.
On the climbs up to Geilo, looking back down the valley.
I got some very nasty cramps. A new long break followed. These cramps was very painful too.
But I was in good spirit. I was pretty much finished when reaching Geilo after these long climbs. I stopped for a lot of water. After drinking Geily dry, I continued up the valley towards Ustaoset.
On the climbs up from Geilo, looking down towards Geilo.
These climbs was not too bad and the cramps gave way to a good feeling. I felt that I had achieved something. Maybe the heat had made me deluded, but I was feeling great. I enjoyed the climbs up to Ustaoset.
The final climbs up to Ustaoset.
I reached the 985 meters above sea level Ustaoset after a climb from 70 meters above sea level in a matter of 14 hours and 80 kilometres. Which is not to bad being the piece of meat in this oven.
The final climbs up to Ustaoset.
The fresh mountain air made my life easier. The very undulating road along the lake made my life more difficult again. Some of the climbs was vertical and I could only watch the lake deep below with envy. The road finally descended down to the lake again just before Haugastol. I pitched up my tent at the shore of this lake and fell into a deep sleep.
Morning at Haugastol.
I packed up again the next morning and continued to Haugastol. I bought a litre of milk at the hotel. This was a very wise decision indeed. I now got more strength for the final climb up to the top of the Hardangervidda moor. I was feeling great.
Looking down at Haugastol from the final climb up to Hardangervidda moor.
I finally reached the Orteren lake and the moor. The Hardangervidda moor is massive and the road over it is 50 km long. It is very exposed to the weather. I had sun, but the fresh mountain air made the ride over these 50 kilometres a fantastic experience. The road is pretty undulating, but the climbs were pretty easy. The snow, the views and everything up here was a pure joy. The trials from yesterday was forgotten. I reached the top of the moor at 1246 meters above sea level at the western end of the moor.
The top of the Hardangervidda moor.
This is the highest point I have ever reached with a bike and well worth celebrating. The descent down to Maurset at the top of Mabodalen and the Voringsfossen waterfall was gentle.
The descent to Maurset.
I stopped at the top of the Voringsfossen and Mabodalen for the views. The waterfall had dried up due to the hot weather and being the main subject of a hydro power development (which supplies Oslo with all it's hydro power needs). I took some photos again.
My bike at the kiosk at Mabodalen.
The sad remnnants of the Voringsfossen water fall.
I got some water and thoroughly checked my bike and the brakes before I entered the tunnels down the Mabodalen. These tunnels was scary, scary and vertical. I hated it. But I had no other choice.
The road down Mabodalen.
At the bottom of Mabodalen.
I finally reached the bottom of the valley and I was very relieved with that. Mabodalen is a spectacular valley and one of the biggest natural wonders in Norway. But I will never ever do it with a bike again. I reached the lake below the valley and followed the old road on the outside of the long tunnels bypassing some scary avalanche prone mountains. The sun was blazing again and I felt the effects of it.
The lake just before Eidsfjord.
I was therefore happy to reach Eidfjord at the shore of the famous Hardangerfjorden.
I had a short break there before I continued out the fjord towards Brimnes. The road was dead flat along the shore here. Some remnants of a avalanches made me cycle a bit faster to Brimnes. This is a major ferry crossing over to the north side of the fjord. A bridge is planned here now. I too was heading towards the north side, but this ferry crossing would had been a major detour over a major hill and I therefore continued towards Kinsarvik. The climb up from Brimnes was hellish in the heat. It was also very steep and hot. It was a test of my will and I had to reach a ferry in Kinsarvik.
It was a test of my endurance. I was very happy when I reached the top of this hill.
From the top of Brimneset towards Ulvikfjorden and the Brimnes ferry.
The descent along the fjord towards Kinsarvik was quite gentle. I had to stop for some water in a shop on the descent due to being very thirsty. I finally reached Kinsarvik....only to find out that the ferry was delayed with one hour. I had two hours long break in Kinsarvik in the sun. The ferry finally arrived and I took this 50 minutes long ferry journey over the fjord.
Leaving Kinsarvik on the ferry.
I now did a big mistake. I should had jumped off at Utne instead of taking the ferry to Kvanndal. The reason is that the road from Utne to the next ferry is at least 10 km shorter than the route I chose. It was also in the shadow and not exposed to the sun as the road between Kvanndal and Norheimssund.
Kvanndal on the north side of Hardangerfjorden.
I disembarked in Kvanndal and took the 40 km long road towards Norheimssund. The sun was blazing and I was kicking myself when looking over to the road on the other side of the fjord.
The road past Alvik was only moderate undulating in the beginning.
Looking back towards Alvik at Hardangerfjorden.
The road soon turned into a climb-fest along the fjord. It went up and down along the fjord. In blazing sunshine, that was forty very hard kilometres. The worst of the hills was during the last ten kilometres before the campsite in Oystese. The climbs to the Fykse bridge and past it was hellish in the heat. The descent down to Oystese was vertical and pretty hairy on some bad tarmac. I was glad when I finally reached the campsite in Oystese. I pitched up the tent and slept like a log.
The weather forecast had predicted some rain showers during the day and I was not too happy to wake up to the blazing sun again. But I was feeling a lot better than yesterday morning so I packed up and cycled in to Norheimssund. This is a major village on the shores of Hardangerfjorden. I broke of from the main road (which was heading for a major hill climb) and followed a small road along the shores of Hardangerfjorden towards Mundheim. This road was pretty narrow and undulating. There was no traffic on the road too so I had a great time on this road. The scenery was brilliant too. The skies was closing in now and I was hoping for some cooling rain. I reached Torvikbygd and the ferry I should had chosen if I had jumped off at Utne.
Looking back over Torvikbygd and the Hardangerfjorden back towards Eidsfjord.
I stopped for some water and then continued the road over some hills along the fjord towards Strandebarm. This part of the road is very scenic. The road continued along the shoreline to Mundheim.
Mundheim and the steep valley I was following up from the fjord.
I left the Hardangerfjord at Mundheim and headed up a steep valley towards a small lake. The climb was unrelenting but I was very happy. I got some cooling rain at the top of the climb and along the lake. The climb up from the lake was very steep in the now tropical rainstorm. I got soaked with rain and I loved it.
The descent down to Fusa was a bit hairy due to this rainstorm. But I survived this too and headed out the fjord to Venjaneset and the ferry over to Hatvik at Os.
The road was reasonable flat, with the exception of the last bit which bypassed a village in the hillside above it. Not nice when you are a cyclist. But I finally reached the ferry over to Hatvik.
On the ferry to Hatvik.
I disembarked and went over a small hill to Os and the main road to Bergen. I was now only 20 km from Bergen. I rang my mother from a payphone and assured her that I had survived Hardangervidda. She was happy about that. I cycled up the valley and over a hill to Bergen. I stopped at this camp-site ten kilometres before Bergen.
The camp-site in Bergen (yes, I too was laughing).
This owner of this establishment describe his business as a camp-site. But in reality, it was a patch of some green stuff between a residential area and some industrial area. Bergen is a town with only two camp-sites. Both of them are substandard. This is the official policy of this town. Well, I cannot change that. The price charged was reasonable so I cannot complain. I slept well and that is the main thing for me.
I packed down the bike and then deposited it at the owner of the camp-site for safekeeping while I went into Bergen for some sightseeing.
I had not been there for 15 years and I was then too young to understand anything (it is being argued that I still does not understand a thing). So I took the bus and visited Akvariet, Fløibanen and the fish market. I loved all these attractions and I cannot recommend them highly enough. I also took a stroll in this city which is the second biggest city in Norway. Bergen is the prettiest city in Norway and probably the city which can best be described as a nutshell of Norway. I prefer Bergen to Oslo.
All good things has to end and I was soon on the bus back to the camp-site where I got my bike back. I returned back to Bergen again and through it on my way to the next ferry at Breistein.
The road out of Bergen towards Breistein.
The road was very busy over the hill to Breistein. I finally got this ferry over to Valestrandsfossen and Osterøy. Back in 1992, this was the best road for us cyclists between Bergen and Voss. The main road in the south had too many long, dark tunnels. The road to the north had one very long and dark tunnel. The road over Osterøy was the “middle road” and the most viable solution. Unfortunate, the ferry service from Tysse closed down and we are now left with some long tunnels.
I took the ten minutes ferry over to Valestrandsfossen and cycled up the valley. The road over Osterøy was very hilly. Even desperate hilly at places and the descents very hairy on some gravel and bad tarmac. A pitch black tunnel just before Lonevag did not lighten my mood. I was very glad when I reached Tysse. I went past Tysse and up a steep hill. I pitched my tent up on at flat piece of grass.
I spent the night and early next morning being eaten alive by the midges. It was pure hell and something I do not want to experience again. I was therefore very tired when I evacuated the area and went down to the ferry. The nice people on the ferry took pity on me and invited me on board.
My ferry was not leaving before two hours later, but I was invited in to stay on the ferry while they were going to another port. So I got a two hours long ferry journey for free, away from the murdering midges.
The ferry took me north along the scenic fjord to Vikanes before it turned south into another fjord and to Stamneshella.
The fjord from Tysse towards Vikanes.
I disembarked and thanked the nice people in the ferry for saving me from the midges. I then turned my attention to the road to Dale. The road was gentle in the beginning before it crossed a small bridge and then climbed up to a ledge high above the fjord. The terrain was very strange with the salt-water fjord surrounded by some very typical inland landscapes.
The road between Stamneshella and Dale with the bridge in the background.
The road finally descended down to a valley and the new road between Bergen and Voss. This road is littered with tunnels and I therefore did not choose that road. I went for the road over the 625 meters above sea level Hamlagrø hill. But first I went to the nice village of Dale and stocked up on drink. This village was nice, but I wanted to continue the tour. The first three kilometres of the climb was pretty steep. The following two pictures is from this climb.
The road overlooking Dale.
Further up the climb from Dale.
The climb ended at a small dam. The road then flattened out for the next ten kilometres. This is the easiest climb of this size I have ever done and I can only recommend it. The scenery was nice too.
Close to the top of the climb.
The road over the Hamlagrø lake was good and pretty flat. The road then descended down the mountainside down to the valley at Bulken. The road alongside the lake was good with some hills thrown in for good measure. I was soon in Voss. This village is very scenic and lovely. It is probably one of the prettiest villages in Norway.
I bought a big bottle of water and continued up the valley towards Vinje. I really got the bit between my teeth now and speeded up the almost thirty kilometres long valley. The road was flat with only a small climb. I reached the crossroad at Vinje. I took the road up the gully towards Gudvangen.
The road climbed up the gully and I gave it everything I got. The gully ended at a small lake and the road was flat as a pancake along the lake.
I was met with the frightening vertical descent called
Stalheims kleivene. Given the choice between cholera and pest, I preferred the tunnels instead and descended down these. Although very uncomfortable, the tunnels got me down the the valley pretty quickly. The descent down the valley to Gudvangen was undramatic. I found the camp-site down at the fjord, next to the ferry. I turned in for the night after a sleepless last night and a hard day.
I embarked on the ferry to Kaupanger the next morning. This ferry took me out Nærøyfjorden. This fjord is world famous and with good reasons.
It is an absolute spectacular boat trip and I seriously doubt there is anything like it in this world. That is why it is on the United Nation's top ten list over this planet's natural wonders.
Halfway out the fjord, the ferry stopped and linked up with another ferry to transfer some passengers. Pretty amazing stuff !
Transferring passengers in the middle of the fjord.
The ferry continued to Revsnes and then over the fjord to Kaupanger. I disembarked at Kaupanger and went up the very steep climb to the top of the hill between Kaupanger and Sogndal. The descent down to Sogndal was nice.
From Sogndal, I climbed up the Sogndalsdalen valley to a lake called Dalavatnet at 400 meters above sea level. The climb was hard along the old road. I finally reached my destination after a long tour.
I think this tour is great. In particular, the part from Vikersund to Bergen. I believe this is one of the best tours in Norway. The rest of the tour was OK, but sadly now history due to the closure of the ferry around Osterøy. I had a good time on this tour, despite of cramps and dehydration.
I would recommend this tour.