Ytterhogdal – Hamra 83.8 kms 1836’ ascent
It may have come to your notice, dear follower, that we are less than enamoured by the volume of traffic we encounter on parts of the main roads. Yesterday, after studying the map, it was decided that we would leave the E45 and take a cross country route which promised to be more tranquil and actually a little shorter. We had agreed on this deviation accepting that there was an element of climbing involved. The first 20 kilometres were the fastest we had so far ridden and with the whizzy wind still in our favour , we were feeling very optimistic about our choice of route. Hmm, if the first 20 were the fastest, the next 60 were the slowest! We should have realised something might be amiss when we passed four walkers at the start of an uphill section. We waved complacently while they exchanged incredulous looks. The map had promised viewpoints which were looking forward to as a reward for pedalling up the hill. At this point, there were a number of things which we had misunderstood. Firstly, that the first view point was at over 1500’, the second was that, although viewpoints by definition mean that one can see for miles, at 1500’ all that was visible was more trees! No sign of the promised wildlife e.g. bears, wolves, lynx or moose, although we did spot a fast moving red squirrel. Nor did the situation much improve. We had, however, achieved our major aim. The road was almost totally devoid of passing traffic! Any that did pass did so cautiously, having very sensibly noted that the unusually uneven road surface was likely to cause a major trauma to exhaust pipes or suspension. (For some time now, we had puzzled over the cause of raised circular humps in the road surface. Today provided the answer. It is the revenge of the trees! In order to construct the road it would have been necessary to cut down trees and then cover the proposed roadway with asphalt or similar. The latter has sunk allowing the tree trunk to re-emerge and cause havoc for the unsuspecting car, van or lorry. Bikes, of course are immune to damage as they have plenty of time to take avoiding action!
Anyway, back to the action. Having climbed until our legs were threatening to function no longer and having passed some wonderful wild camping sites, we finally arrived in Hamra, our chosen overnight stop. Hamra was shut! In a desperate search for some overnight shelter, we found our expected campsite, now abandoned with an equally abandoned bandstand. It was, at least, shelter from the increasingly whizzy wind (now in completely the wrong direction) and the rain. Almost resigned to a fairly uncomfortable night and with a problem of no decent water, we made one final foray into the village where Alan had previously spotted a sign which might be significant. Hoorah, it was. A quick peek up a short track, revealed a little hamlet of huts. Having rung an advertised ‘phone number, a nice lady appeared and produced a key to a splendid apartment. So we are recuperating slowly and have vowed not to deviate from our chosen path again. We are not quite finished with this one yet as we still have 11 kms to ride before we join the busy,but less demanding, main road.