Day 8-2. Voss to Dragsvik contd.
Our next stop was to be at Nesheim which we arrived at after fifteen minutes of steeper climbing. Nesheim had a general store where we bought a litre of milk and some ice cream to keep us cool. We sat outside the shop on the picnic table (which was just in the shade) eating our lunch, cooling down and gathering our energies. Then we were off again heading out of Nesheim past the sharp steep bend at Skjervheim. Within half hour I had to stop again as I was too hot in the unbearable sort of way. I'd managed to find a tiny patch of shade next to the road and took full advantage of it. There was precious little clothing I could take off. I didn't want to have to put sun tan lotion on all of my upper body and not wearing cycling shorts was not an option. I had to be content with taking off my cycling gloves and socks I had put on earlier in the day. The reason I was wearing socks in the first place was that I'd cycled with my sandals too tight the day before and had a sore spot under the skin. The thick socks padded the area but now what was important was as much skin exposed to what little breeze there was. Every little bit helped, so I also removed my cycling gloves.
Damae arrived a few minutes later to carry out her own adjustments. Then on we went and much to our relief the turning to Årmot arrived a little sooner than expected. It is interesting how memory plays tricks on you and/or how you remember. Here we paused again to admire another new development before carrying on. Along the way a gentleman walking up the road stopped to watch us pass, and said something in French, the tones were encouraging but I had no idea what he had actually said. Soon after I rounded a bend and got my first glimpse of the hairpin bends at the head of Myrkdal and a little later on of the waterfall. I then noticed a sign saying 'Sprint 1km' and was passed by a gentleman on a racing bike.
We'd already decided to stop at the waterfall for a cuppa and a snack, hoping that the sheep there would not be too bothersome. Whilst we were waiting for the water to boil and shoooing sheep away (which, as expected had turned out to be mostly bothersom), we saw more and more cyclists approaching and finally a complete peloton of about twenty-five racing bikes. All very Tour de France. We watched the peloton head up the hill and saw it string out as the climbers broke free. After finishing our tea it was our turn. The inevitable could be delayed no longer. Starting together I felt confident enough to head off on my own and a large gap quickly appeared between the two of us. The race was still going on and I was passed by a racer who said (with a broad grin) 'keep smiling'. I smiled back and went back to gritting my teeth, noting that he seemed to be part of the 'Vikingtour'.
What I'd sort of forgotten when we had descended here last year was that after the hairpins the road did not flatten off at all. Well I had remembered that the descent before the hairpins was fast and furious but I had not used this information to consider what the road would be like going the other way. As with the climb over Granvin the day before we would have to chop this in to shorter sections. I kept on going until I reached the souvenir stand after the hairpin bends, and decided to stop there given there was a car park and some space to stand away from the road. If you were to drive from the bottom of the hairpins to this car park it probaly doesn't seem very far, but it took more than a half hour to get to this car park.
In the luxurious shade provided by Voss Kommune sign I drank some water and cooled off. I made myself eat a rather warm but not quite toasted cheese sandwich before Damae arrived. We decided to look at souvenirs to recover and cool off. Suprisingly we found some stickers and decided to imaginatively name our new bikes Moose Too and Troll Too. The souvernir shop is a little strange, specialising not only in the usual trinkets and stickers that you'd expect but also more exotic products such as moose meat salami. Being vegetarians there was nothing edible that we'd want to buy: not that we wanted any more weight on our bikes at this moment anyway.
Before we set off we checked the maps again. We knew that the climb proper ended as the Skjelingavatnet started. Thereafter it would be a mix of short climbs and descents until the Storhaug tunnel. This section of the climb was far and away the most arduous of the day due to the very high temperatures, no shade of any sort and lack of a breeze. There was actually a breeze, a light tailwind that was travelling at the same speed that we were. Now I know that horses sweat, men perspire and ladies glow, but both of us sweated profusely along this section travelling at our different speeds. The effect of the heat from the sun combined with the warm still air around us and the hot sticky black tarmac beneath us was like standing in a sauna repeatedly moving bricks from one side of the room to other whilst someone else keeps pouring water on the hot coals.