The Sunnmøre Tour
I ended my year in the army in January 1990 and started studying at the University Of Oslo, Norway. I also got myself a part time job and moved to Oslo.
I had a great time on the North Cape tour and I was ravenous hungry for more tours like that. As I wrote in the North Cape tour report; I did a lot of fundamental errors on that tour. Both in planning and during the tour. My first task was to correct these errors.
I kept the same bike as I did on the North Cape tour, but I added a front rack and two big luggage car on the front wheel together with a handlebar bag. The fishing rod was ditched and so was the big rucksack. The end result was both a more balanced and reliable bike. I only had two punctures during this 1000 km long tour and no other problems ! That's a personal best.
I was starting to look around for a 14 days tour, ending in my uncle's & grandparents farm in Sogndal. I also wanted to include a visit to my other aunt & uncle in Fosnavåg. This was going to be my halfway point and I have therefore split this report in before and after Fosnavåg. Part one and part two, in other words.
I also wanted to include the new Atlanterhavsveien due to the raving reports it had got. The much feared Trollstigen was also on my list. The first part of the tour therefore fell into place very quickly. For the second part after Fosnavåg, I wanted to do the coastline due to the fine nature out there (and to avoid some big mountains). I therefore got the route together quite quickly and started to do the basic training for this tour. The test runs around Nordmarka (see own report) was very encouraging. I was therefore ready for this tour.
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. Some of the photos is also bought and has been stored in a dusty bookshelf for 20 years.
550 km (approx)
6 days (5 days cycling)
The tour started early in the morning from my flat in Oslo with the bus down the hill to the main train station in Oslo. If my memory serves me right, I had already sent the bike on the train some days before. This was in the dark ages before cyclists are wished welcome by the railway companies.
The six hours long train journey took me over Dovrefjellet and down to Trondheim where I was relieved to collect my bike and the luggage. The clock was around 1600. I walked the bike from the train station to the big Nidarosdomen Cathedral.
My bike at the Nidarosdomen Cathedral.
I started to cycle through the city centre and soon learned that the bike was very heavy and unresponsive. That piece of news gave me a big fright !! But I soon learned how to ride the bike properly and this gave me no problems........ despite of the “small matter” of carrying 27 kilo of luggage on the bike. A big overkill over these big mountains.
Anyway, you sleep in the bed you have made yourself. I was heading up the hill from Trondheim towards Heimdal and the fjord on the other side.
Heading up the hill with Trondheim in the background.
This hill was OK and I soon cycled through Heimdal and down the hill again to the fjord at Gaula River. I crossed the plains at the head of the fjord and followed the moderate undulating road along the fjord towards Orkanger. The cycling was OK and I got used to the rather heavy and “truck-like” bike. I made very good progress in the evening sun towards the big village Orkanger at the head of the fjord.
I cycled through the plains at Orkanger and up the Orkla valley towards the big climbs of the night.
My plans was to stop for the night halfway or just after these climbs. But I was feeling fine when I started this rather narrow road up the hill. The climb was pretty long, but not particular steep.
Heading up the hill from the Orkla valley floor.
I was looking for a place to pitch up my tent although I was feeling fine. I therefore decided to continue until I reached the top. Which I did one hour later. I still cracked on. The road now went into a descent through some rather nasty corners. I found out that the bike was very stable during descents. What a big relief ! The road now climbed up a big hill again overlooking some small lakes. I finally pitched up my tent just after these small lakes on the way down to Vinjeora.
Big mistake ! I spent the night being eaten alive by the local midges. I packed down my tent and evacuated the area early next morning after a nasty morning. I rolled down the hill to Vinjeora and the fjord again.
This small village was nothing and I took the road out this very narrow road towards Rendal. There was a pretty big climb on the road just after Vinjeora and the following descent to the fjord woke me up. The landscape was OK, but nothing more.
The fjord from Vinjeora to Rendal (looking back towards Vinjeora).
The landscape opened up after 20 kilometres. So did the skies and I got some nasty rain on me. I passed Rendal on the way out the fjord towards Valsøyfjord.
A small ferry at Rendal, looking towards the sound of Aursundet.
The road climbed up a hill from Rendal and over towards Valsøyfjord. Back in 1990, there was no road crossing this fjord. My only option was to take the winding road along this fjord to Valsøyfjord. A detour of 30 kilometres. It also included a nasty climb and a pitch dark tunnel (where I got lost....) just before the Valsøyfjord village. I am sure this place is pretty by car, but I was not happy about this detour. With the new road bypassing this village, I am sure this is now a very remote village. The road out of Valsøyfjord was flat and I got my speed up past Hengset and climbed up the hill towards the end of this fjord at Liabø. According to my plans, I should now look for a place to pitch up my tent. But it was midday, I was feeling fine and the oncoming rain did not tempt me into a night in the tent. So I decided to try for the town of Kristiandsund that day, 50 kilometres ahead of my original plan.
The road from Liabø to the first ferry of the day and indeed the tour was pretty flat. The light rain was now turning into a tropical rainstorm. I hurried down to the ferry at Halsa.
The ferry at Halsa.
I managed to just get the ferry without having to wait. A rarity ! The half an hour ferry took me over the fjord for a nice little climb up to a crossroad. The rain was very bad and I looked like a drowned cat. The climb from the crossroad was very steep to the top of the hill at Kvisvik. The descent down to the ferry at Kvisvika was pretty hairy in the rain. I was glad that my bike was very well balanced.
I had to wait for ten minutes on the ferry to the other side of the fjord and I then took the road past the airport to Kristiandsund. I found a small campsite called Atlanten Camping. A night in a tent during this rainstorm did not appeal to me. I therefore hired a small camping hut for the night.
The very nice Kristiandsund town.
The storm raged through the night while I was sleeping like a log. I woke up the following morning and found a blazing sun waiting for me. I went through Kristiandsund to the ferry over to Bremsnes.
I liked Kristiandsund. It has a lot of soul...... I concluded after only ten minutes in the town.
I took the ferry over the fjord to Bremsnes.
The ferry at Bremsnes, Kristiandsund to the left and my bike half hidden.
Bremsnes is the beginning of the magic tour down the Atlanterhavsveien road; one of the reasons I did this tour. But first of all, I had to cross Averøya. The landscape was like the east coast of Norway (the Oslo area). Strange, but still beautiful.
I soon arrived at a hill overlooking the much hyped Atlanterhavsveien..... and my jaw dropped to the floor. This road is just incredible and it fully deserve it's good reputation.
This road is placed on some small islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Well, it certainly felt like it. It was very exposed and the cycling was very interesting. The following two photos is from this road.
My bike at the Atlanterhavsveien.
The Atlanterhavsveien again, taken towards east, the mainland.
I crossed this amazing road over to the mainland again and visited a shop. My original plan was to cycle in the fjord from here. But the shop keeper told me that this road was narrow and very undulated. I was advised to follow the coastal road for ten kilometres and then take a big valley to Elnesvågen. He said the road was flat throughout. When I considered this road at home when making this route, I rejected this road as a mountain road. I could not have been more wrong. This road was flat and very scenic at places. Neither did it have any traffic. I reached the other side of this peninsula at Elnesvågen in good form and probably a lot faster than my original plan. Thank you, shopkeeper !
Elnesvågen and the valley I followed in the background.
I followed the fjord to the end of it and then the road started to climb past another fjord. I was now heading for the small hill over to the town called Molde.
Overlooking Malmefjorden at the road between Elnesvågen and Molde.
The climb up to this hill was mostly flat. Only the last bit was steep. I was trying to reach a ferry so I hurried down the road to Molde and the ferry. I now found out that the ferry to Vikebukt was cancelled. I had a couple of hours to kill and I spent them sightseeing in Molde.
This is a nice city, but nothing else. I reached the small ferry over to Vikebukt. A 45 minutes journey avoiding small islands followed before I was in Vikebukt. I climbed the small hill from the jetty and found myself a very scenic and idyllic site for my tent. The views back towards Molde was fantastic.
The next morning was nice and sunny. I was well awake for the hardest day of the tour: the Trollstigen climb. But I firstly had to navigate the 50 kilometres along the fjord to Andalsnes.
On the road from Vikebukt to Andalsnes.
This moderate undulating road alongside the fjord and vertical mountains was pretty scenic. I also got some tunnels along the route. There was a couple of climbs along the route just to wake me up and prepare myself for Trollstigen. I was soon in Innfjorden.
Innfjorden on the road from Vikebukt to Andalsnes.
Due to a fatal stone fall and the closure of a road that is now bypassed by a long tunnel, there was a half an hour long ferry between Innfjorden and Andalsnes. I took the ferry and had a look at what caused the closure of this road.
I have no quarrels with the closure of this road....
Pretty conclusive and a wise choice, in my view. I do not like Russian roulette. I was soon in Andalsnes. I visited the small village which is famous for a lot of things. I soon turned my attention to Romsdalen itself. First of all, a visit to the Troll Wall.
The Troll Wall in Romsdalen
I then fully turned my attention to the major obstacle and highlight of the day, even on the tour itself. The Trollstigen climb is 13 km long and is 900 meters high from bottom to the top. That 13000 meters divided on 900 meters. Trollstigen is also the most famous hill climb in Norway and a
“must do” item for all serious cyclists. So I did it.
The road to Trollstigen started with a “false” climb over a hill from the Romsdalen valley to the Isterdalen valley and the foot of the Trollstigen climb. The climb itself from Isterdalen starts with a couple of kilometres of a “warm up” climb before the proper Trollstigen climb starts.
The “warm up” climb through Isterdalen to the proper Trollstigen climb
It was starting to rain when I arrived at the foot of the proper Trollstigen climb. 11 kilometres to the top, the signpost announced. The walls was vertical in all directions. Only a narrow road climbed through them. The climb was pretty hard so I removed my t-shirt and climbed it.
On my way up the climb
Almost at the end of the climb.
It was raining and I had skies both above me and below me. I remember the tourists in the buses pointing at me like I was a madman or some escapee from a mental institution. With no t-shirt on, I probably was. But this was a necessity due to the humidity and the dehydration I was suffering from due to this extreme climb. The last bit was absolute vertical and I was totally drained. I was almost crying with joy at the top. It was a hard, hard climb. The hardest I have ever done. It was also a very bizarre experience I will never ever forget.
I can now proudly boast that I have climbed Trollstigen.
This is a major trophy and I celebrated with some water and coffee in the cafeteria at the top. I spent some time at the top and admired the spectacular scenery here. I soon turned my attention to the remaining one hundred meter of the climb past a small lake and up along some snow to the top of this small climb.
The 50 kilometers long road down the valley on the other side took me less than one hour. This is the fastest road I have ever done. I did it safely on a good road. I arrived at Valldal where I stopped for some food.
From Valldal, I took the road out the fjord for five kilometres to Linge and the ferry over to Eidsdal.
I took this half an hour ferry. When disembarking, I spotted the camp-site in the middle of the next picture.
Eidsdal and the camp-site
I pitched up the tent and then went back into Eidsdal with my bike. The stearing was so much lighter without the two bags on the front. The result was a very wobbly cycling and I almost crashed. The local policeman then explained to me that it is not a good idea to drink and cycle. I explained why I was wobbly and the policeman got a good laugh. I decided to not do any journeys like this until the end of this tour.
I slept like a log again and woke up to a nice day. I packed down the luggage and saddled up the bike for the climb over to Geiranger. First, I had to climb a 625 meter above sea level high mountain. The climb from Eidsdal was pretty gentle up the river until the road became very steep. It crossed the river again and became very steep. The climb was vertical until it the road arrived at a lake and the road became flat along it. There was some minor climbs up a valley. I bypassed a tunnel and soon arrived at the top of the climb. The views over Geiranger was fantastic.
Geiranger and the Ornesvingene I took down to Geiranger
The problem was that I had to descend down the vertical Ornesvingene to Geiranger and a ferry. I did not see any ferries so I took it easy down this zig-zag descent. The brakes took a very heavy beating though. So much that they were really smelly when arriving at Geiranger. So smelly in fact that it stank out the ferry port.
I was fed up with hills for the time being and just wanted peace and quiet at the ferry. I had also done this world famous ferry before so I found myself a place to sleep during the 50 minutes long journey. The ferry arrived at Hellesylt.
I disembarked and took the very narrow gully up to the left (see the road). After three kilometres of pretty nice climbing, I left the main road and took a smaller road over Norangsdalen. This valley is a hidden gem and worthy a lot of praise. The road climbed up to 385 meters above sea level before it descended down the very narrow Norangsdalen. The mountains was very imposing and intimidating. The valley almost barren. A very strange, but majestic experience. The cycling was very good too and my bad mood turned into pure joy. I cannot recommend Norangsdalen highly enough.
Norangsfjorden. A avalanche ridden fjord.
I was soon down at the sea again and I cycled like mad to get the ferry at Leknes. The ferry was cancelled and I spent two and a half hours there eating and sleeping in the waiting room. I finally caught the ferry over to Sæbø. This ten minutes long journey took me over the famous Hjørundfjord. An avalanche ridden fjord with very high and vertical mountains in all directions. It is a mountaineer's paradise and very popular.
I disembarked in this nice village and took the road up the valley to the top of the small climb at 280 meters above sea level. This climb was actually very good and gentle. I stopped and pitched up the tent at a small lake halfway down the descent to Ørsta.
The next morning was sunny and I descended down to Ørsta. This nice village is by the sea and I had a small meal before I continued down the main street and ended up with a sharp nasty climb up to the main road again. The road went out the fjord to the next ferry at Rjånes. I took the ferry over the fjord to an island. The road on this island to Fosnavåg was very funny moderate undulating road over bridges and small ridges (hi, this is good poetry !!).
Some of the road to Fosnavåg
I arrived at a church and asked two young girls about the direction to my auntie. Unfortunate for my reputation and my standing in the family for the last 20 years, I did not knew that these two young girls was my cousins. Oooops !! Instead of sending me miles in the wrong direction and over some nasty hills, they gave me the direction to the house I was standing next to. Even I got that right and I was greeted by my aunt two minutes later. That was the end of part 1 of this tour.
450 km (approx)
5 days (4.5 days cycling)
I stayed over at my aunt for two days. I ate well and they also took me around the island. My grandparents was also visiting them at the same time. I got my batteries recharged. I started again in the morning for the journey down the coastline to Stadtlandet. The weather was good.
My cousins, my aunt, my grandparents and myself.
I took the road back over the bridges and the island again until I reached the crossroad over to Gursken. I took this road over a very steep climb and then the descent down to Gurskebotn and the sea again.
The hard climb up from Gurskebotn.
The climb from Gurskebotn was hard. I was heading for the ferry at Arvik. I reached the ferry and took it over to Koparnes. The road from Koparnes was flat and offered no resistance. I was starting to get into the groove again after two lazy days.
The small hill over to Vanylven offered no resistance too.
There was a lot of dark skies in the area and I was speeding up along the fjord, over some small hills and down to the fjord again to Aheim. I got some food and ordered a cabin for the night at Ervik. That was a lot of kilometres away so I therefore hurried around the fjord and out towards Ervik. There was some nasty climbs here and the skies looked like they were going to drop some water on me. I speeded up along the fjord and over some climbs along it. I finally reached the pretty Leikanger/Stadtlandet village. I had a good view of the climb taking me over to Ervik. I bit the bullet and climbed the hill with some dark skies chasing me on.
The descent down to Ervik was a bit hairy on a bad road, but I survived and reached the fantastic beach at Ervik.... and my cabin. I parked my bike, paid for the cabin and ran down to the beach to take a photo of the oncoming storm. The storm was buffeting the cabin and I did not have a great deal of sleep that night.
The beach at Ervik just before the storm.
I woke up again to some dubious weather. I was doing the climb up to the top of the Stadtlandet mountain at 497 meters above sea level. I followed the road back towards Leikanger before I started the climb. It was steady until reaching a shoulder and a crossroad over to the other side of the island. I took the road straight up the mountain to Stadtlandet. The weather was foggy and rainy. I met some Swedish tourists coming down in a car and they told me the place was shut. I still carried on though. This mountain is also also called Vestkapp and I thought it was appropriate to visit the West Cape one year after visiting the North Cape. I have never bothered about the east and the south though......
The final meters before the top of Stadtlandet
I reached the top in fog. I walked around the tourist centre and was promptly invited in by the staff there who told me they were indeed open. I bought a diploma for my trouble climbing up there. It now hangs in my old bedroom in Norway alongside the diploma from the North Cape. I even got a mug of hot chocolate. The weather and conditions was like a typical winter day in Scotland. I looked down in the fog towards Ervika. The famous views from this mountain eluded me so I turned back down the mountain.
The road back down the mountain.
I got a mini-snowstorm on my way down the mountain again and I was (almost) freezing to death. I was very happy when I reached the bottom of the mountain. Even the climb over to Leikanger was better than this.
The road back again to Leikanger.
I now agree with those who say Stadtlandet is a fiendish place. The sea around this mountain is a graveyard of shipwrecks. The mountain very unfriendly, although the staff in the tourist centre was friendly enough. I reached the mountain overlooking Leikanger again.
On the hill overlooking Leikanger.
I descended down to Leikanger again and headed in the fjord towards the next mountain climb to Sandvikseidet at 285 meters above sea level. The climb was pretty sheltered, as the picture below prove....
On the climb up to Sandvikseidet.
I reached the top and took a couple of photos down towards the fjord again and towards Selje where I was now heading.
On Sandvikseidet looking down towards the fjord.
On Sandvikseidet looking towards Selje and road I was going to follow to Måløy.
The descent down to Selje was vertical and pretty hairy. The sun was warming up the road and myself. I was pretty happy. I turned to the left at the bottom of the mountain and followed the fjords for 40 kilometres to the bottom of the Almenning Skaret climb.
From this coastal road looking back to Stadtlandet.
The road past Eide, Moldestad, Barmsund and Flatraket was very similar to parts of Northern Norway (the west coast of Senja, see the Senja tour). The road was mostly flat. The landscape was barren and naked mountains without much vegetation. I loved the cycling here because it gave me a sense of speed. It did not take me long before I was at the bottom of the climb to Almenning Skaret. This climb was steep and nothing special.
On the top of the Almenning Skaret climb.
At the crossroad at this mountain, I took the road through a small tunnel towards Måløy. I crossed the big bridge and headed straight for the ferry. I had to wait half an hour for it. I preferred a good meal instead of sightseeing in Måløy. I am sure this city is a nice place.
I took the half an hour long ferry over to Oldeide at the Bremanger Island. Oldeide is one of the most desolate places I have ever been to and I got a bit dispirited when I saw the oncoming rain.
Overlooking Oldeide and Måløy from the climb up to the tunnel.
I got some rain on the climb from the ferry towards the tunnel on the top of the hill. The tunnel was dark and wet. I went through it and the rain turned into a tropical rainstorm. It was starting to get dark and I had to pitch up my tent. I got the tent up and spent the night freezing before the tiredness sent me into a long sleep.
I had to reach the once-a-day 1000 ferry so I woke up early and packed down my luggage for the 20 kilometres cycling down the hill and along the sea to the ferry at Smørhavn. The Bremanger village was pretty, but I trying to get over to the ferry as quickly as I could. I got a tropical rainstorm and some nasty side-wind just before Smørhavn. I still reached the ferry with plenty of time to spare. I occupied the waiting room and got myself dried up. The ferry arrived and I was very happy to embark on this small ferry.
On the ferry, looking back at Smørhavn.
The ferry journey down to Florø, with a small stop at Botnane, took 2 hours. Most of it out in the sea with no protection against the Atlantic Ocean. The ferry was slightly rolling and I observed my mug of chocolate going forwards and backwards over the table. The landscape was fine so I had a nice journey.
The rain was waiting for me at the Florø city. I made my way out of this city and headed inland the 30 kilometres of cycling towards Eikefjord. There was some tunnels along this flat road along the fjord. But most of all, I was drenched with rain and it was bitterly cold. Yes, this was in the middle of the summer. The weather forecast for the rest of the day was very bleak (with sun the day after) and I had to cross a big mountain. For the sake of my own safety, I gave up for the day at a small camp-site just after Eikefjord and rented an (expensive) cabin for the night. I spent the rest of the day drying up my gear and my bike.
I woke up the morning after to a pretty dreary morning. The camp-site owner assured me that the weather would be sunny from midday. I had no other choice than chance it over the mountain. I therefore started the climb up to the Ramsdalsheia mountain at 500 meters above sea level.
Almost at the top of Ramsdalsheia, looking back towards Eikefjord.
The climb was long and pretty boring in the rain. The road was very narrow. There is now a 7 kilometres tunnel under this mountain and I am not surprised. The road over the mountain was really bad. The top of the climb was in the middle of a small tunnel and the landscape on the other side was totally different than on the climb. A strange mountain, Ramsdalsheia.
The descent down to Naustdal was both vertical and hairy in the rain. I finally reached Naustdal.
I took the road along the fjord to Førde. This is a town which has been branded the ugliest one in Norway. I have to agree with that view. It is not pretty and looks more like a small child playing with it's Lego bricks. Buildings and architecture strewn around the landscape without any planning whatsoever. In retrospective, Førde looks just like another Norwegian city on the West coast. Maybe it is not as bad after all, compared to the other towns in the region.
The weather had now turned into sun and I had a lengthy lunch here before I left Førde for what I believed was a minor climb. I was wrong. Very wrong. This climb towards the airport and Sande was both long and steep.
The climb from Førde.
From the top, the road descended gently down a valley to the crossroad at Sande. This is the main crossroad between the Sognefjord and the Førde region. It was the main crossroad back in 1990. A couple of new roads has changed the road system in this area and Sande has been more or less forgotten.
I took a small road from Sande up a very steep valley to the Vikedalsvatnet lake. These 10 kilometres of climb was pretty boring, but the sun made it a nice experience. I was starting to get some heat back into my body after two days of almost freezing to death. The lake itself was pretty scenic.
Vikedalsvatnet with my destination at Gaularfjellet in the background.
The road was flat as a pancake and I was really enjoying myself. This road ended at the foot of the Gaularfjellet climb. The moderate hard climb started in the bottom of a valley and followed this valley to some lakes. It was starting to get late in the night so I pitched up my tent at the end of the valley and next to a camp-site.
My tent at Gaularfjellet.
I woke up in the morning again and climbed the fence over to the camp-site for the free use of their services. Nobody noticed me and I was soon on my way up to the top of Gaularfjellet at 748 meters above sea level.
The final climb to Gaularfjellet, looking back again at the climb.
I reached the climb early that morning and I was very happy about that. This was a moderate hard climb with some good scenery. I recommend Gaularfjellet to all cyclists as the best road between the Sognefjord and the Førde region.
The top of Gaularfjellet, 748 meters above sea level and some nice 68 kilometres of flat road to Sogndal.
The descent started with a potential fatal accident. I had strapped the handlebar bag wrong in the morning and the brake on the front wheel did not work. I finally managed to stop the bike and strap the bag properly onto the handlebar. The whole incident really scared me. The following two pictures is from the descent down to the fjord.
Snow on the top of Gaularfjellet.
The famous zig-zag road on Gaularfjellet.
I reached the valley floor at the bottom of the descent and followed the valley down to the fjord. I followed the road along the fjords to the ferry at Dragsvik.
The fjords at Balestrand and Dragsvik (in the middle of the picture).
The ferries here is frequent so I took this short ten minutes journey over to Hella.
The fully kitted up bike at the ferry.
The 35 kilometres long road to Sogndal past Hermansverk and the other Leikanger followed the mighty Sognefjorden. This is the longest fjord in Norway and mainland Europe (only a fjord in Greenland is longer). It is also surrounded by big mountains. I was feeling fine along the pretty flat road to Sogndal.
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.
Looking over Dalavatnet towards my final destination.
I reached the final destination in the afternoon after 1000 km of hard cycling. A 14 days holiday followed.
This is a hard tour in the fjords of Norway. I could had made it harder if I had not avoided some pretty big mountains on part 2 of the tour.
This tour was done in 1990 and some tunnels has replaced the ferries around Kristiandsund. These tunnels has made this area less interesting. I would still recommend Atlanterhavsveien though.
The Smørhavn to Florø ferry has also closed down and been replaced with some new roads. It is called progress, but progress in this area makes the lives of us cyclists a bit difficult. I sort of miss the ferries from that time which has been closed down due to progress. But I guess I am just an old, grumpy man. Anyway, this area and this route is recommended.