Day 2-2. Kristiansand to Evje contd.
We were concentrating on cycling and with the weather being so wet the camera stayed inside its bag in my handlebar bag (mental note - buy cheapie waterproof camera to sit on my handlebars). In fact the next time the camera would make it out into the open was at Vikeland/Vennesla where we found shelter, bought some groceries and stopped for lunch. It was busy here, cars coming and going along the narrow access roads. What we missed was the constant honking of horns and revving of engines that I've grown to expect in the Netherlands.
As we were finishing our sandwiches a man and his son approached and started talking to us in Norwegian. We were able to chat and follow what he was saying most of the time and he would switch to English for a sentence or two. He was interested in our bikes and what we were doing in Norway. It turned out that he was a farmer and also a cyclist. However his cycling took place mostly outside Norway as he had no time in the summer and early autumn to do anything other than work. Thus he liked cycling in southern Europe out of season. He did want to take time out one summer to cycle round Norway and liked the sound of our planned route.
He wished us a good trip, said his goodbyes and we packed up our gear. Pulling on our rain gear, which had dried just a little during lunch, went off to find the route. Actually this was not difficult as there was a brown Route 3 sign to our left and we could see the bridge we were about to cross from where we were standing. The rain continued, it was the sort of day where you cheered when the rain eased a little. 'Oooo it is only spitting rather than peeing it down!' was a comment we were to make a few times today. The fun part of the day would be several sections on unmetalled roads. The first section that we hit some time before two in the afternoon was grey grit and like most of the subsequent sections remarkably easy going. The grit was well packed and although the surface would have been firmer in the dry, the wider tyres on the T400's coped well. We were also glad that our chains and gears were all covered.
The Hebie Chaingliders tended to growl or hiss when water got into them, but besides that we could see no ill effects on the bikes. Similar roads in Denmark had caused us many problems in 2006 albeit on our very cheap Halfords bikes. Despite our confidence in the new bikes a little doubt lingered. Maybe some sand would get in somewhere and cause damage. Maybe the Chaingliders would fill up with grit and catch on something. However we didn't spend too much time worrying about it as despite the reasonable road surface we still had to concentrate rather more than if we had been cycling on tarmac. Progress, although steady rather than spectacular was still welcome and the route itself had a few surprises in store.
Well, they not really big surprises as we knew the route followed an old railway line at some point, but suddenly we popped out on to a short section of tarmac and found an old station complete with water tower for steam engines. We paused and despite the rain I took a few photos, including a panorama (complete with raindrops on the lens). My lens cloth was rather damp by now and was to get wetter as the day went on. Damae wondered if the old waiting room was open so we could brew up, but it wasn't so we pushed after a quick snack hoping for a spot to brew up later.
We ended up stopping around forty minutes later just before half three. The rain had eased enough to make stopping worthwhile and besides we needed to eat something. Still no tea though, but the snacks and sandwiches were welcome topped off with some water. On the Numedalruta we'd learned the importance of taking regular stops to eat even if there was no shelter from the rain.