The road to discovery
I felt proud this morning. I’m starting to realise that I’ve been so sheltered that I’ve lost my perspective on things. With nothing to worry about everything is a bit of a worry. Which makes me useless when any kind of real stress comes along.
This morning was proof that your mindset can change. What would normally be a display of heart wrenching self pity and cringe worthy uselessness when presented with an unexpected challenge, was now positive action towards resolving the problem. In a crazy way after all of these trying experiences I’m starting to feel (or at least act) calmer. Because I’m calmer I’m able to cope. Because I’m coping I’m calmer. It’s circular.
What I thought’d happen
I’d wind through thick alpine mountains before returning to the greener farmland of the west
What actually happened
I sped over vast, icy plateaus, chilled to the bone but thrilled to the core
Today I rode from Bergen to Aurlandsvangen, taking a long detour to the east through Hardangervidda national park, past Hardangerjøkulen and all the way to Hagafoss. At Hagafoss I turned around and completed the loop back to Aurlandsvangen. I could have taken a more direct route and saved hours of riding. But I’m incredibly glad I didn’t. Read on and you’ll see why.
▣ Highly recommend ▣ Boring but safe ▣ Shit. Boring, strenuous & dangerous ▣ Incomplete
I rode the south coast of Eidfjord a couple of days ago when I travelled north from Odda to Bergen. But today it felt different. In Iceland I mentioned that no two fjords are the same. It’s also true that no fjord is the same day to day. Today Eidfjord was warm, shimmering — the definition of relaxation. A stark contrast to the muggy, misted shores I experienced a few days ago.
Winding around the coast, fragrant summer smells perfumed the rushing air, the sun warming my lashes, my cheeks, my shoulders. I watched the quilt of lush green farmland bubble over the landscape. The water, at the foot of a frosted green rock face, a perfect mirror, sprinkled with floating pallets. Snowcapped giants peered from behind. No boats. No waves. Tranquility.
Hardangervidda to Hagafoss
From Eidfjord, I continued west across Hardangervidda, the largest mountain plateau in Europe, and around Hardangerjøkulen, the sixth largest glacier in mainland Norway. The fertile hills of Eidfjord hardened into wild sweeping slopes, splattered with grass, blotted with snow, each slope more graceful, more grand than the last. I was surrounded by a sea of earth, foamed with snow. Jagged rocks and stony pebbles tumbled down the hillside and littered the shores.
The road is at its most epic here. It zigzags around the hills, disappearing between the folds of earth. Glide up and over and around and watch the earth pour out beneath you, in blues and greens and browns, puddling and dripping in places, staining and rippling in others.
Such a beautiful curvy road, in perfect condition, lends itself to excessive speed and peals of delight. A motorcyclists dream.
After reaching Hagafoss, I turned around and rode west to Aurlandsvangen, a small town that lies at on the east side of the Aurlandsfjorden, where the Aurlandselvi river meets the mouth of the fjord. If, like me, you arrive in Aurlandsvangen from the east, you will be smacked in the face with a jaw dropping view. The contrast alone from the wild, barren plains of the east to the lush green valley is sensational. But the view from the top of the last mountain pass, above the steep winding road to the valley floor, is something else.
From up here, Aurlandsvangen looks like a toy town. Cute little whitewashed houses, brilliantly outlined against the vibrant green grass, cluster around the Aurlandselvi river — a sapphire blue jelly shining splendidly in the sun. The trees are perfectly conical, standing bolt upright like furry toothpicks in a mound of clay. The colours are vibrant. Everything is perfect. Nothing is out of place.
The road down to Aurlandsvangen is as fun as the road to Lysebotn . It consists of several hairpin turns and spectacular views all around. The only downside is the few cold, dark tunnels. Which, at that point, I’d had enough of as I was running out of daylight and didn’t have time to stop and put on more clothing (if that were even possible). Bursting back into daylight and the exploding views as I exited each tunnel, though, were some small redemption for the pain.
I reached the valley floor and immediately felt the warmth seep through my clothing. The air was thick, the ground fertile and the flowers buzzing with life. The remaining sunlight glowed behind the mountains and pulled down the curtain of night as I rode the long straight road towards the fjord mouth. It was a long day and my body ached from exhaustion and my bones cracked from the cold. Too broken to bother finding a place to wild camp I found a campsite and gladly paid $30 to pitch my tent. An incredible day. An incredible world.
What I learned today:
- Nature knows no hurry.
- Humans are happier outside.