Day 7-3. Lofthus to Voss contd.
It goes without saying that Damae was, by now far behind me albeit equally hot and bothered. I found a shady patch of ground in the penultimate hairpin bend which was just wide enough for me to get myself and my bike off the road and waited for Damae to appear. This took a while and when she did arrive we had to wait a bit before a particularly long burst of traffic passed us before setting off again. This would be the last push up the hill and we did it at Damae's pace. Looking back down the hill I was able to photograph the top third of the pass, showing the waterfall and the road snaking its way upwards.
Very close to the top we spotted a sign warning motorists of the presence of cyclists. 'Why now?' we wondered having spent the last half hour climbing at six kilometres an hour having seen no warning signs. A few moments later we discovered that we'd just crossed a municipal border and Voss seemed rather more cycle friendly than Granvin. A hundred metres after the sign was a car park with toilets, a kiosk and picnic benches. The only thing missing was a picnic bench in the shade so we plumped for a sunny one next to the kiosk. It was time for an ice-cream, some food and most importantly an afternoon brew. It had taken us around forty minutes from the start of the climb to reach the car park. It had been an unbelievably hot ascent, far and away the warmest of the trip (so far that is), so even resting in the sun was a relief.
As we were taking it easy a Dutch couple came over and sounding rather impressed told us how impressed they were with what we had just done. They said that they cycled in the Netherlands but there it was flat. I thanked them for their words whilst pointing out that this was just a small climb actually: perhaps I should have just thanked them. Whilst the water was warming up Damae had a quick look at the cliff, the edge and the top of the waterfall. Apparently rather nice but not worth the climb in itself.
We dithered with choosing ice-creams but they were very welcome and ate them first followed by some hot tea and the remaining sandwiches. We checked the map together and saw that there was still quite a way to go to Voss. We hoped that it would be downhill all the way and in the shade. The plan was to make it to Voss and camp there. Damae remembered a campsite after Voss on the other side of the road which she said was lovely but I'd forgotten it completely. We knew that there was the small campsite in the centre of Voss but suspected that it would be even fuller than last time it now being high season. We decided to get to Voss and see how we felt. One other thing we needed to do was contact Per-Christian to see if he and Marit were going to be up round the Western fjords at the same time that we were.
So off we went, starting with another cycle path: the sign was just visible from our picnic bench. That we had a separate cycle track was good and this one also seemed to follow an old train line. This time it was going downhill and we wondered if the two lines had ever joined up somewhere under all those cliffs we had just cycled past. I made a mental note to try to find out when we got back if this had been the case. Within a couple of minutes of getting going we went through a tunnel which was lovely and cool inside. Then we were presented with nice wide well surfaced cycled track, which perhaps most importantly was going gently and continuously downhill.
This made life much sweeter and we started to enjoy the scenery around us, the wide open valley, snowy mountain peaks in the distance and, now we had cooled off somewhat, the sun. We now started seeing cyclists in comparatively large numbers travelling toward Granvin. One guy stopped to ask if this was indeed the way to Granvin and seemed happy to get a 'Yes!' from both of us. Another couple passed and we smiled and greeted each other. Then a lone female cyclist came past and suddenly Damae turned round and yelled 'Brigitte!!' and slammed on her brakes. I stopped too and so did Brigitte and we all turned round and congregated on the path.
The week before we left for the cycle tour Damae had spent a week on a Jazz Camp for Women together with among others Brigitte. Brigitte from Switzerland had taken her Rohloff enhanced and much travelled touring bike with her to Norway with the idea of cycling back to Switzerland for her summer break. She hadn't made a route plan and had decided a couple of days earlier to take this route. Had we not missed the ferry it is likely that we would have missed Brigitte so a 'flock' of coincidences caused our meeting.