Like a bit of inky ribbon, the mountain street begins its lengthy descent to the shimmering Romsdalsfjord under. Gathering velocity, I alter right into a extra aero place, the combined woodland of deciduous and coniferous timber flying previous in a blur, progressively giving approach to open pastures awash with yellow flowers and pink blossom.
After twenty minutes, the street ranges, now flanked by a slender pebble seaside and the occasional barn, painted within the conventional “falu purple” color of Norway (initially made out of a mining by-product with glorious anti-weather properties, a components relationship to the seventeenth century). Two small wading birds take flight; seaweed wafts within the air, restoring my focus like smelling salts after the spellbinding descent. For the following 110km, I pedal and freewheel in refreshingly brief bursts, hardly ever straying greater than a stone’s throw from the waterline. The asphalt is sort of flawless, and there’s a complete absence of site visitors, leaving me merely to benefit from the parade of jaw-dropping panoramas.
Again at my base camp, the Storfjord Lodge, I put the bike away and sink into the out of doors scorching tub with a beer, admiring the views of Norway’s fifth longest fjord. There’s simply time for a restorative therapeutic massage earlier than a meal of native hake with hollandaise, an off-menu pasta dish (knocked up at my request), and chocolate fondant with caramel popcorn to complete. The chef, Ingeborg Valde, was born within the village, a theme I discover repeating as I chat to workers and locals alike. It’s simple to see why you’d wish to come again – or by no means depart.
It’s my first go to to the Sunnmøre Alps on Norway’s west coast, a 55-minute flight north-west of Oslo. Etched from glaciers tens of millions of years in the past, the fjords plunge as deep as 679m, and the snowy peaks soar as much as 1,700m, generally close to vertically from the water. Regardless of the late-Might days being already lengthy, and fairly heat, one of many locals I journey with recounts his close by snowboarding outing of the day earlier than. It’s apparent that is an adventurer’s paradise.
It’s a condensed model of Ride The Fjords, a brand new six-day biking journey run by one among Norway’s top-end lodge house owners and tour operators, 62°Nord. My previous worldwide biking journeys have at all times consisted of the plain locations in mountainous central Europe; I’ve by no means given Norway a second’s thought. However this problem has promised the last word mix of problem and luxurious, set in a wholly new and clearly dramatic panorama.
The absolutely loaded itinerary, which incorporates RIB and helicopter excursions, sees teams of as much as 12 staying between two of 62°Nord’s fjord-side lodges while having fun with nice Nordic foods and drinks. All biking wants are overseen: an ex-pro guides alongside the area’s finest routes, and a completely stocked assist automobile, full with mechanic, follows all day. Overlaying 400km with 2,500m of climbing (throughout 5 precise driving days), the exertions are designed to be testing however not flat-out gruelling (although if a personal group is thirsty for extra, further mileage may be factored in).
High finish Fara F/AR bikes – fittingly, a Norwegian model – are offered for each visitor. They’re simply the job: constructed for mixed-surface use, and fitted with wider tyres for the occasional gravel stretch riders negotiate. Initially, I used to be involved these would gradual on-road progress, however any distinction in velocity is barely noticeable (and the additional consolation they convey for lengthy days within the saddle greater than compensates). I used to be in truth a gravel virgin, however the problem was gratifying; and I unexpectedly appreciated this versatile, comfy bike by journey’s finish.
On the second day, after a leisurely, hearty breakfast, I roll out from the lodge at round 9am for the brief journey to the Magerholm-Sykkylven ferry, which crosses the Storfjord. These ferries are a fixture of the surroundings, plying the glassy water between islands. The bridges – reminiscent of these of the close by Atlantic Ocean Highway, as featured in No Time To Die – are a extra putting sight. It’s a bluebird day, just a few excessive, wispy cirrus clouds. I ease into the journey, and as soon as once more discover myself gobsmacked (and delighted) by how little site visitors there’s on the street – and by how a lot not having one eye always skilled again over one’s shoulder elevates the whole biking expertise.
The undulating roads harbour a handful of few-hundred-metre climbs, completely apportioned to get the heart beat racing with out pushing too early into correct lactate accumulation. As I achieve altitude, I move the ski resort of Stranda; patches of snow get greater, and ice floats within the lakes. Once I descend to a small, unassuming dock, a black RIB and captain are ready. My bike is put behind the assist automobile, from which I pull on a full-length weatherproof go well with over my biking gear.
The RIB slices effortlessly by the glassy water; the pilot, Maria, whose household has lived within the space for a number of generations, eases up once in a while to level out landmarks. Amongst them is the UNESCO-protected Geirangerfjord, thought of one of the vital scenically excellent fjord areas on the planet. Quite a few waterfalls cascade down sheer partitions. I’m genuinely spellbound.
After an hour on the fjords I’m reunited with my bike in Hellesylt, and pedal onwards by the enchanting valley of Norangsdalen. It’s one of many narrowest in Norway, with peaks hovering excessive both facet and a sequence of bright-turquoise meltwater lakes (one among which is dwelling to the sunken village of Lygnstøylvatnet). I pull over for a a lot wanted late lunch at Hotel Union Øye. First opened in 1891, it sits on the finish of one of many staggeringly steep Norangsfjord; every of its decadent rooms carries the title of a well-known visitor, together with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Henrik Ibsen and Roald Amundsen. These on the complete itinerary get the pleasure of a two-night keep right here; however after a restorative cease, I cycle on, finishing the day’s 150km loop again on the Storfjord Lodge.
My third and ultimate day ought to technically be the Queen Stage, which sees friends hop into helicopters for an exciting journey to the method of the Trollstigen. Famed for its dramatic profile and hairpin bends, Trollstigen is an 18km-long power-ride with a climb of 850m. However late-Might continues to be early within the season, and the street continues to be blocked by snow. I journey an alternate route – which is finally reduce brief by fierce torrential rain.
I name it a day at a espresso store in Geirangerfjord and am grateful for the assist automobile – and the mid-afternoon return to the lodge, which permits me to bask in some do-nothing hours within the tranquillity of the spectacular environment. Earlier than the journey, I used to be assured of the spectacle this panorama would ship; my expectations for what the biking would maintain have been decidedly modest. What an end result to have the ability to say that after three days and a few 350km within the saddle, I’ll head dwelling with little doubt that this stretch of Norway’s coast is a bona fide biking vacation spot; one I’d advocate with out reservation to seasoned cyclists and novice buddies alike. As for me: I’ve a sense I’ll be again at some point – subsequent time, in full summer time.
Fergus Scholes travelled as a visitor of 62°Nord, on an abbreviated model of its six-day Trip The Fjords Journey, which prices from £5,760 per individual not together with worldwide flights, 62.no
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