Day 20-2. Bud to Vinsternes contd.
Our anticipation increased as we arrived at what we realised must be the junction with the R 64. The signs were not very helpful; we'd sort of expected there to be a big sign saying 'This Way for The Fantastic Atlanterhavsvegen Road Experience'. A quick check of our map suggested that turning left would be a good idea and it was. At first the road was quiet and empty but then we started seeing flocks of coaches from all over Europe parked at the side of the road disgorging gaggles of tourists with video cameras galore. This wasn't so bad, but we weren't particularly interested in stopping, partly because of the crowds of people but also because we were making good progress and feeling fit.
Quite quickly we realised that this was not a particularly pleasant place to be on a bike. There were two types of traffic on the road today besides the large coaches most of which seemed to be parked somewhere or other. One was distracted tourists in cars with caravans or huge motorhomes. The other group consisted of large trucks belting down the road at the speed limit. Neither of these groups of road users are our favourites when we're on our bikes. Both groups sharing the same space meant we had to be on our guard. As if this was not enough, a little bit further along we had to cycle near to the white line in the middle of the road. On our side of the road there were about forty or so anglers leaning against the railings at the side of the road. It was a bit disconcerting when a few of them started casting off with us behind them. I guess they knew what they were doing but a hook can make quite a nasty flesh wound. The reason why the anglers were here (although not why they were tolerated on this rather busy road) was that tidal currents brought fish with them. I managed to take a picture of the rip complete with lens cap fluttering in the wind.
So far it was not turning out to be the fantastic road trip experience we'd been lead to believe it was. Maybe the 'Wonky Bridge' (AKA Storseisundet Bridge) would fill us with new-found enthusiasm for this road. About a minute after passing over 'Anglers Bridge' I managed to get the good shot of the 'Wonky Bridge' and ten minutes later we were about to make our ascent. This turned out to be somewhat stressful as just as we started climbing I heard what turned out to be a car and caravan slow down behind us and crawl up the bridge at our speed of eight kilometres an hour. We'd kind of hoped we could stop at the top and enjoy the view but there was nowhere for us to do this. If the road had been empty then we could have stopped on the road, snapped a couple of quick pictures and carried on. But by now it wasn't just a car and caravan behind us but a line of vehicles (consisting of representatives of both of the unwanted groups of road users).
Ho hum. Fortunately once at the top we descended very quickly back down to sea level and the cars, trucks, campers and caravans were all able to pass us. If that was the high point of the Atlanterhavnvegen then it had to be the most over-hyped road experience in the history of tourist advertising. We were very underwhelmed, but, just when all seemed lost we realised that it was time for some lunch. We arrived at the tourist kiosk and tourist boat tour quay just before twelve and after parking our bikes up started with a visit to the loos and a mooch through the little shop. This was a truly cosmopolitan place with several different languages being spoken by fellow travellers. It was also jam packed with people.
I wanted to buy a sticker to say I had done the road and we got two coffees to go with our lunch. Outside the kiosk we found a small rock that seemed quite comfortable and broke out our sarnies. The sun was sort of out and we were sheltered from the light breeze watching the world go by. I tried to work out where I was going to put my sticker. The fact that this section of the road had been rather disappointing meant I couldn't bring myself to put the sticker in an obvious place so decided to place it on the wheel side of a front pannier. Proof that I'd done it but no suggestion of a recommendation for this bit of the route. As usual YMMV, but remember you have to keep your wits about you when this road is busy.
Were there any plus sides in this story? Well the scenery was nice enough, it was fun seeing how people milled around whilst eating lunch and the coffee was not bad for kiosk coffee. Suitably refreshed, we went to see if we could get a better view of the 'Wonky Bridge' from the mound on the other side of the road. Wheeling our bikes to the car park there we scrambled up and I got a couple of good pictures of the bridge and tried to get a panorama of this bit of the road and a picture of one of the other bridges. Then it was time to go, three quarters of an hour of lunch and sightseeing and it was not yet one o'clock.