Alta – Suoloyuopmia 62.5 kms 1480 ‘ ascent.
Before I commence today’s narrative, I must explain that we have just dined on reindeer meat and local trout (not on the same plate!) and quaffed a can of ale each. We thought a well deserved indulgence but the alcohol has had quite a numbing effect. However, onward with the news of the day.
Alta is probably not one of the must see towns of Norway resembling as it does, something between lego land (all square and coloured) and a building site. However, it has to be one of the most bike friendly places in the universe. Not only are special tracks provided, but where these cross a road, be it very small or very large, the traffic must (and does) give way! How cool is that. Takes a bit of getting used to as every instinct cries out in panic. Mind you it only needs one foreigner who doesn’t know the rules to cause a massacre. Fortunately not too many strangers visit Alta.
Our campsite was some 10 kilometres to the east of Alta, and after traversing the town we headed into the rain and the wind which had been forecast to be a tail wind! (Weather forecasts, it seems, are the same the world over.) Even after we had turned left the wind remained stubbornly ahead. We were expecting a day of climbing and we were not to be disappointed. At about 30 kms of an unremarkable ride along the valley floor, the first evidence of nature’s fury appeared in the form of a bridge (well a non bridge actually) which had been washed away to be replaced with a somewhat fragile looking substitute. Still, 10 ton lorries were not having a problem so what the hell. Our next significant encounter was with a sign informing us that the next 6 kms were at 8% and wiggly to boot. Aargh. The river running the steep sided gorge was definitely un-canoeable unless you had a death wish, but was stunning in its ferocity. (Not quite stunning enough to take way the pain of burning lungs and legs but some small compensation.)
The plateau, (hmm, that suggest flat- not so) sported several lakes all still partially iced over with just the first signs of spring. A sudden panic of birdsong and buds determined to reproduce in the very short season! Humankind had joined the melee with roofers and chippies repairing the winter damage on small cabins scattered along the lake side A small sea plane moored next to an unremarkable caravan site, brought a whole new meaning to a weekend away in the caravan.
On reaching our overnight destination, there ensued some confusion with my request for accommodation. I thought that I had articulated my request in my best Oxford English but apparently not, as a very confused looking young man informed me that he spoke only English! I began again with more success and secured rooms and food. The latter I have already commented on and the former is as ever spotlessly clean and warm. Bring on tomorrow although with 24 hour daylight identifying tomorrow can be a challenge.