Day 4-2. Valle to Haukeli contd.
Fortunately navigation was no problem and we were taking turns in finding the way. Splitting this responsibility was already working well with handover points every twenty to thirty kilometres. This had the advantage that if the going was good we could carry on cycling without having to stop to refold maps. The size of the maps meant that we could each accomodate two of them in the Ortlieb map holders, which meant we could cycle until lunch before having to worry about changing maps around.
Today the route was to follow the road up river, which actually made things a little too simple. The guide seemed to send us on some extra diversions away from the road and we were wondering if we were going to take them all. During the NSCR in 2005 we cut bits off here and there in particular an off-road section where we later learned there were salmon to be seen leaping upstream. So what was it to be? To follow the route faithfully or take the easy way out. It was to be one question we were to ask several times a day.
Within a half hour we were climbing agaim. The gradient somewhat steeper although not as steep as this access road that seemed to go vertically up the hill. This was hard work especially for Damae, who was still tired from he day before. She had made the tactical decision for this tour to always climb at her own pace so disappeared into the distance even more quickly than in previous trips. I would stop every now and again to let her catch up, which of course made my average speed quite a bit higher. It wasn't until a couple of days later that we started logging both sets of stats.
The scenery was becoming a bit wilder, a more remote feeling as the road wound its way up the valley. A bit more than an hour after starting off we started thinking about a break. We'd hit another steeper bit and just before a bend were directed by a 3 sign to a small sand track behind barriers on the other side of the road. Ah, how nice they are thinking of our safety. I guess it was safer to cross the road at that point as futher up visibility for drivers was somewhat less. However it became clear (immediately) that this track was also used by horses, as not only was the sand soft it was pitted with hoof prints. I waited for Damae to catch up after the first fifty metres. She was game so we plugged on up the hill. Luckily there was less than a kilometer of this surface but it became very steep and the surface did not improve much. We both complained cheerfully wondering which berk had chosen this particular diversion, but pushed on as a little further up a picnic spot was marked on the map.
After a particularly steep fifty metres the track took a sharp right turn revealing a table and benches. I stopped and put the kettle on and waited for Damae to appear. Her timing was perfect the kettle boiled just a little later as Damae cooled off. As a picnic spot this was lovely, away from the road next to a babbling brook, which explained why the unknown 'berk' had sent us this way. We decided to linger and make this our first lunch stop of the day, a bit early but we'd been on the go for an hour and a half without a proper break. The short climb and poor surface were compensated by the spot although we were not entirely convinced it had been worth the effort. On checking the map we discovered a second short off-road section, and were tempted to avoid this completely. We decided to get back onto the main road as soon as we could and took the first opportunity that came our way. In the end we only cut off a hundred metres or so of the track, and upon arriving at the next off-road section took it as it appeared to have a much better surface.
By taking these short off-road sections we were snaking back and forth across the main road. This was not a bad idea as the road, although not so busy was busy enough and then with tourists rather than locals. Tourists had started to provide us with some adrenaline raising moments. Earlier in the morning a large camper with Dutch plates (with of course two bikes on the back) had passed a little too close when there was plenty of room on the road and no oncoming traffic. After the initial moment of stress, and the regulation one fingered salute, I mulled on the dichotomy of cyclists driving cars with no regard to cyclists who are cycling.