Day 21-1. Voss to Mjølfjell Vanderhjem.
UP Distance 40km Average 13.3 km/hr Max 48.6km/hr Time 2.59 hrs
DOWN Distance 40km Average 19.5km/hr Max 46.3km/hr Time 2 hrs
We were awake at seven, and on our bikes just after eight. In theory this would be an easy day: forty kilometres climbing in the morning and a forty kilometre descent in the afternoon. Unlike our last trip up this road we would be carrying minimal baggage which we reckoned would make a difference to our times.
Coming out of Voss we made only one navigational error. At one point we ended up on the very busy main road when we should have gone right up onto a side road that functioned as the cycle track. This was less than five minutes of our cycling day but the road was already uncomfortably busy. Shortly afterwards we turned left onto the quieter road that would take us all the way up to Mjollfjell Youth Hostel and started to enjoy the climb and the views. The morning had an autumnal feel to it with mist hanging in the valley and the air still and fresh.
The source of the column of vapour rising out of the valley was a rather less scenic factory. Fortunately we had to climb a bit higher before we discovered this and had already enjoyed the effect it had had. The mist in the valley was lovely and the day had not warmed up enough to make the climb too hot. Unlike the Rallarvegen earlier in the trip we were able to recognise much of the route from the start. We both remembered this bridge as it crossed the railway early on in the climb, and the set of hairpin bends a bit further up where the road climbed very quickly. There was of course a lot we had forgotten, and some things I had remembered in the wrong order.
Within the hour it was time for a Damae first wobble stop. She picked a spot where the road ran close to the river, a small set of rapids doing their best to fill the air with the sound of rushing water. We ate some chocolate and drank some water before hopping back on the bikes and heading on.
Three quarters of an hour later we stopped properly for a mid-morning snack and a cup of tea at the same spot as the year before. As on that day it was now quite warm and sunny, although we had started a lot earlier than last time. The air was clear and Damae was way behind. Her face suggested that she'd found that last section tough although both of us were finding it easier without a full set of bags.
One of the things I had forgotten was just how long the exposed section after Norheim was. This ran for a couple of kilometres up to Urdland with an almost sheer drop covered in trees and brush. Damae had gone on ahead so I dismounted and walked for a bit. I guess I had erased this from my memory the first time, which was probably a good thing as I might not have wanted to do the route again.
Within an hour of the last stop we were at our destination and stopped at the youth hostel to buy a drink and some ice-cream. I wanted to head up to Upsete for the fun of it but Damae wasn't game. The last time we had been here we'd been tired out by the day's climb, and had arrived after tea time. This time felt very different mostly because we were not cycling into the unknown but just going up and down a familiar route for the fun of it.
We sat in the sun eating, drinking and relaxing, before we ate some lunch. Both Damae and the cat were enjoying the warmth and the terrace was sheltered from the wind. The road up to Upsete was still calling me but that would have added an hour or so of climbing and a slightly tricky descent on an unmetalled road. We'd already done forty kilometres in the morning and would have to do the same again albeit descending.