Day 6-1. Røldal to Lofthus.
Distance D 79.03 km Max 56.5 km/h Time 5.49:19 Average 13.6 km/h
Distance S 79.81 km Max 54.5 km/h Time 5.14:43 Average 15.2 km/h
We awoke early after a good nights sleep to a beautiful morning. I got up just after seven and wandered about with my camera. Our Røldalfjellet anxieties were being kept in check by a conveniently placed layer of low cloud. Within the hour the cloud had lifted just enough to see the road again and I zoomed in to capture our enemy forever in pixels. It looked like it was going to be a beautiful sunny day, which was about par for the course seeing as the morning would consist of a long climb. Still Røldalfjellet was what we were here for and we set about the tasks of the morning. It was nice to eat breakfast and pack up in the sun. It was quite a relaxed start but even so by a quarter to nine we were ready to leave. We had been shown up by both the sit-up-and-beg cyclist and the mountain-biker with trailer. They both got off even earlier heading off to their own challenges.
The first climb to the main road hurt quite a lot. I should just have walked. My muscles and joints still cold and hence protested clearly. Damae chose start her cycling day at the main road where it was flat and sensibly walked the first three hundred metres. That over and done with we were presented with around five kilometres of relatively flat cycling to warm us up before at Håra we were supposed to leave the main road for the old road. Of course we managed to miss the turn the first time, noticing our mistake almost immediately. The tunnel was closed to cyclists and the signs were just after our turning. I went up to see if there was another turning but there wasn't. A process of Holmesian deduction meant that the turning just before the signs, where Damae had stopped, must have been ours. As we turned into the side road we noticed a small brown 3 sign slightly hidden by the building site at the bottom of the lane.
Now the real work had started: it was steep as to be expected and we crawled up the hill slowly in the cool morning air. The views back down to the Rødalsvatnet were fabulous: clear air, sunshine, mountains and the lake. Even stopping a couple of times it only took fifteen minutes to reach the next main road section just at the other end of the tunnel. Damae had dropped far behind so I waited a few minutes for here to arrive. This time she wanted to catch her breath for a moment. Although the main road snaking away from us looked flatter as soon as we started moving again we realised it was just as steep as the first section of the old road had been. At least our bodies were now used to the idea of exercise and plenty of adrenaline was coursing through our veins. Not that that made it much easier.
We were glad we had started early for a number of reasons. The traffic on the broad main road was light and generally well mannered. We were also going to be able to do a lot of hard work before the mid-afternoon dip period occurred, the importance of which we were to realise later on in the trip during a few days when we started cycling around or after lunch.
After a further fifteen minutes slogging uphill and with Damae out of sight I stopped at another development project. It was not clear if this was a new build project or part renovation. Neither was it an ideal place to wait as the dust flew round me as I tried to find a place to stop. We were due for our first proper stop of the morning. The weather was lovely and the sun was already too hot. Damae paused momentarily to recover a little and we both then decided to push on to look for a quieter place for a brew and a proper break. So back onto the main road, across the section where the tarmac had been dug up, round some more hair-pin bends and before we knew it (well twenty minutes later) I arrived at a now forlorn looking parking lot and disused kiosk.
The old road wound its way up the hill behind the kiosk whilst the new road disappeared into a tunnel in front of the kiosk. The old road was barely two cars wide, so I guess on a busy day, in times gone by, it would have made sense to pause here and let your car cool down before carrying on up the hill. For us it made a nice spot to brew up and eat some biscuits.