Day 33-2. Berger to Halden contd.
The terrain was not so bad but we had a stiff headwind to contend with. This kept us both on our triathalon bars in the more exposed sections. At half one near Bergstrøm we saw a sign for Skodsberg (Skotsberg on my map :) and peeled off to the right. This took us back onto a more minor road that, after a couple of kilometres of open farmland turned into a gravel track again. Then the road started undulating and disappeared into a small forest. We both struggled a little here, although protected from the headwind, the rough road surface and short climbs made it hard to keep a good rhythm. Our rhythm got broken again at the edge of Skodsberg, Just round the corner after this house we encountered a large school bus. We'd heard the bus coming but the bus driver was a bit surprised to see us on the road. Fortunately, it didn't lead to any problems as we were going slowly and so was the bus. A couple of minutes later we popped back out onto the RV 21 again and headed towards Halden, on asphalt.
At Årbu we turned off the RV 21 and back onto a gravel road. Despite gravel being harder going than asphalt, we decided to do this section as well. It was still quite early in the day which meant we had plenty of time. Almost immediately we got grumpy. The first bit from the RV 21 was quite steep, the surface rough and there was some traffic. We struggled up the first few bends, stopped to take off clothing as we'd warmed up and I asked Damae if we shouldn't turn back. One of the rules of cycle touring is 'don't loose height once you have gained it', so we carried on towards Håkenby.
Forty minutes later we stopped at the top of a hill for a bite to eat and to put on our rain gear. It had started spitting a few minutes earlier but now it was raining properly. One great thing about rain is that Damae's red rain jacket makes her much more visible on photographs. After some fruit and chocolate we pushed on through the undulating countryside towards the clouds and it wasn't long before we got properly rained on again.
The road continued towards Håkenby round the edge of Femsjøen and through open countryside. At four we arrived in Håkenby and discovered that the left turning to Halden took us onto an asphalt road. We did then have to drop a bit into the valley and then climb back out of it but we both felt a sense of relief that all the hard work was now behind us. As it turns out, this was one of those things you shouldn't say on a cycle tour. Ten minutes later we encountered a climb which was long and steep enough to be hard work with a headwind. In addition, it was one of those demoralising climbs where you can see the road winding its way up hill. We stopped part way up to take off some clothing and Damae took advantage of this to have a quick stretch.
Our new bikes were better than the old ones but it would take us a year or so to get the right handlebars on the bikes. The advice we got from the shop we'd bought them from had not been helpful when it came to choosing bars. They had a 'straight bars with bar ends are best' fetish which won Damae over at the time, as it was said with conviction. She realised that it wasn't the best choice for her during this tour, but we weren't going to fiddle with the bikes before we got home. Not being happy with the pushy salesman I decided to keep with the stock VSF bars which I discovered weren't swept back enough for my comfort. One salesman was quite derogatory about the bars on our old tourers and suggested that we'd be stupid to put them, or similar ones, on our new bikes. In 2009 I found some bars on the internet that were very similar in shape to our old bars and we've been very pleased with them. You live and learn.