Day 5-2. Haukeli to Røldal contd.
At Vågslid heading towards Arbuvollen the terrain changed a little, the road started climbing and twisting at the same time. The combination of these two features, (which each on their own are bad enough) means that what traffic there is, has less time to spot you and take evading action. In addition the speed difference between car and cyclist is amplified, the cars still able to do eighty whilst we are plugging along at six kilometres per hour. Often up and bendy goes hand in hand with the road narrowing as it did in this section.
Thus when the traffic flow increased noticeably we started to worry a little. Vehicles with Norwegian plates were generally good at giving us space, it was the tourists that gave us the biggest of scares. This was even with cycling defensively no less than fifty centimetres out from the shoulder, often a metre or so. That way we created space for ourselves that we could retreat to if someone made a mistake.
It did not take long for someone to misjudge an overtaking manouever. This time it was the first camper of a convoy of four all bearing Italian number plates. I have to admit that this Italian made a much better job of scaring me than either the Dutch or German driver in the days before. On a long right hand bend, with the road narrowing and a jagged rock wall next to me the camper came very close indeed. If he had hit me I would have been propelled at speed into the sharp rocks that made up the cliff face and my cycling helmet would have been as much use as a wet tissue.
I yelled very loudly and saluted the driver in a way that made my fright clear. I doubt that the driver of the first camper even saw my gestures let alone understood them but it did seem to have an effect on their compatriots following me. I heard the sound of diesel engines slowing behind me and when there was space on the other side of the road and they could see the road ahead, the three remaining campers came past rather more slowly and carefully.
Fortunately a little bit further up the road straightened out and flattened as it reached the top. The road was still busy but at least we were visible again and drivers had no excuse. But there would be some relief from this soon as the map indicated that we would join the old road which would save us the task of fending off inconsiderate drivers. I was also looking forward to a bit of peace and quiet. On the way to the next stop I noticed another obsolete road which might have made a good cycle track. Although it could have been an access road the houses the unmetalled road served were very old too. Infrastructure so carefully built and then superseded.
By now I was once again far ahead of Damae and arrived at the start of the old road section that would take us over the Vågslid tunnel. I parked up my bike and found a sheltered spot in a nook next to the road. Whilst the wind had been welcome when we were climbing it was just a bit too cold and strong to be comfortable when I stopped. It was twelve thirty and I decided time for a bit of a stop and a sandwich. I had plenty of time as it took Damae fifteen minutes to appear. It turned out she had stopped for a bit to munch some energy food and adjust her clothing. She was also ready for a little bit of a break.
Looking at the old road we briefly entertained the idea of staying on the main road and cycling through the tunnel. It appeared to be open to cyclists as a peloton of racers whizzed out of the tunnel at speed and headed down the hill. The old road in contrast climbed sharply so it was tempting to take the main road. However we were following the route 3 so it was now time for a real challenge.
After packing in and gathering our energies that is exactly what we got. The further we climbed the more our muscles protested, our heart rates soared and the sound of the main road waned until it was no longer to be heard. It was the challenge of being a cyclist once more, alone in a landscape just you and the hill: the sound of your breath, the wind and the noise of the bike underneath you.