Day 5-1. Haukeli to Røldal.
Distance 59 km Max 51.5 km/h Time 4.34:17 Average 12.9 km/h
So far during this trip we'd awoken to the sound of rain on the tent. This morning was to be different, the sound of the river and traffic from the road on the other side of it. A pleasant surprise to say the least and we breakfasted in the sun. Not to say that it was warm: Damae was well wrapped up and still feeling the cold.
Our route today appeared to involve a lot of climbing and we had been looking at the maps since the day before trying to work out what would be a good place to stop tonight. After Røldal we would have to do a monster climb over the old main road so decided to aim for one of the campsites there for this evening. It looked like we would have to do something around sixty kilometres today which seemed a little short. However our average for the first few days was higher than the eighty kilometres a day we were aiming for if we were to have a chance of reaching Strömstad. So we had some distance in hand.
Considering how late we had arrived in Haukeli the night before it was an early start. Breakfast was finished around a quarter to ten and we hit the road at half past ten, in the sun! After crossing the river and taking one last look at the campsite kiosk we headed West. Our tired muscles had a chance to recover this morning as the first section out of Haukeli was a gentle climb along the river. The main road was a little busy for our liking but so far none of the drivers had managed to scare the willies out of us. So far so good.
Within a half hour we saw another campsite probably the one at Flothyl, with a better location than the one we had stayed at. We realised though that that half hour this morning would probably have been forty-five minutes or more the night before as the gradients were already steepening. Ho hum here we go. The road continued to wind its way up the river valley. Twenty or so minutes later I crossed over a saddle and finding some safe space to stop at the side of the road, waited for Damae to catch up. I was to do this a couple of times in the morning, more often than not Damae would carry on past me and I'd follow her down the hill.
There followed another descent and another climb through the wonderful scenery in the wonderful sun with a smattering of rustic architecture. Then, you guessed it another descent. Actually today we would have preferred overcast and dry given the amount of climbing we had ahead of us. It seems to be a fact that whenever we have an uphill day, the sun comes out to keep us sweating nicely. The headwind that had picked up in our first hour of cycling would drop as we approached the crest of every climb, the point where you could have done with the cooling effects of a breeze. This effect was also something we were going to notice at other points in the trip.
We noticed that the road was getting busier all the time, which was not so bad as it was quite broad and not too twisty. Drivers could see us from a long way away so generally gave us enough room to feel safe if not entirely comfortable. On approaching Vågslid I stopped on a wide grass shoulder as I was now far ahead of Damae. I took the opportunity of looking at all the development taking place round here, with new hytte and houses springing up on all sides. The bleached bright new rock was very different to the older boulders and cliff faces that had been there for centuries. In that sense the new buildings and access roads scarred the landscape, but there was still plenty of scrub to go round.
Damae arrived and didn't want to stop. It had just turned twelve and neither of us was particularly hungry. In addition there was nowhere to sit and we would have been quite close to the road. We decided that a half hour to an hour further along would give us a sense that we had done a good morning cycle.