Day 7-2. Lofthus to Voss contd.
Once the unloading and loading of vehicles and passengers was complete we turned ninety degrees and headed across to Kvanndal. Along the way we got our first view up the Granvinfjord and before we knew it we were standing on the quayside waiting for the traffic to disappear. Once the road was as free as it was going to get we pushed off taking one last look back towards Kinsarvik. We had been able to trace the scar the road made just above the level of the fjord from the boat. We realised that it would probably be like the one from Dragsvik to Vik and it was. The road climbed up and down, narrowing to just over a car wide in some places and was not much wider for most of the first ten kilometres.
We had to take extra care as the views all the way along Granvinsfjorden were just lovely. Every now and again a small patch of flatter land would appear on the other side of the fjord and on it would be the compulsory farmsteds making the most of the available land. The road itself was well surfaced which made one thing less to have to think about. In terms of the drop next to the road, I managed OK distracting myself with the views except for one corner which just felt too exposed for me. There I walked for about twenty metres before chasing Damae down and we saw a pair of cycle tourists coming the other way. The first we'd seen since Mr Grim the afternoon before.
At the village of Granvin we paused a little indecisively and ate a snack or two. There was another outdoor museum here which had we not missed our ferry we might well have spent an hour or so looking round. Never mind, we were sure we'd come this way again sometime. We still had to get to Granvin and end up somewhere near to Voss by the end of the day.
Not long after our stop as the valley got progressively narrower and the scenery more picturesque we got a pleasant surprise. A proper cycle track appeared once beside the road with signs to Voss albeit partially obscured by a road sign. Despite this they were quite visible. We'd noticed obsolete railway infrastructure beside the road and it looked like our cycle track would follow the path of this old railway line. A cycle path was great but one that follows an old train line was a bonus. Trains can't go up very steep gradients and thus our cycle path was pretty flat as it wound its way around the West side of the Granvinvatnet. The sun was shining and the cycling was easy: what better preparation for Granvin.
All good things come to an end. In this case it happened when we left the embankment and crossed under the remains of the railway bridge. Here we got an inkling of what the climb might entail. It remained flat as we passed a rather well settled campsite and turned left on the main road (the 13). From there we could see that we were about to start climbing and would now find out what the old gentleman meant when he spoke in mythical tones about this hill. After a few hundred metres of main road we stopped to refuel, in what seemed to be a less unsafe spot and watch the traffic racing by. A little further up the road steepened noticeably and disappeared ominously round a bend. We hadn't had a good break since lunch at twelve, partly as the going had been easy on the old railway line. Now we were in need of a little refreshment as Granvin (whatever that might entail) was just about to start. Then we could delay no longer: wheeling our bikes across the road we quickly found the low gears.
This was not a particularly long climb but it was particularly hot and there was absolutely no breeze at all, well no natural breeze in any case. The only thing approaching a breeze was the flow of air as a car or truck passed. In that sense we were lucky that the road was quite busy. However although the passing vehicles offered us a bit relief, the effect it made little difference as the tarmac underneath us was so hot. Within a minute or two we had sweat dripping off all the body parts it could drip from, and more of the stuff running into our eyes.
The scenery was magnificent in an end-of-valley sort of way with bare sheer cliff walls rising up out of the steep upper slopes. The road wound a rather improbable route up the side of the seemingly impassable valley wall. After a series of harpins the road straightened out as the waterfall came into view. We both had plenty of time to enjoy it as the road took a long sweeping turn to the left before a second set of hairpin bends appeared. When climbing up such a road it can be difficult to work out where it will go next. As I saw the hairpins I groaned to myself: the straight bits were steep enough whilst the hairpin bends we'd negotiated so far were even steeper in the middle of the bend. Ho hum. I comforted myself with the fact that the top could not be that far away, and there we would rest. Plus of course we had unbreakable Rohloffs whirring away encouragingly to the rear of our feet.