Content and images by Tom Johnstone To read part one click here. Occasionally in the mountains I came across these helpful little way markers and signs. Less helpful was the fact that none of them pointed to places that were actually marked on my map! 20 As I near the end of day one I finally climb up to just below 1,000m above sea level and break free of the fire roads. The final few hundred metres are beautifully tight twisting trails threading their way through rocks and bog, over bilberry bushes and rock slabs finally giving way to this beautifully hidden from view mountain hut. 21 The more experience I gain with Norwegian maps, the more often I find that places can have multiple names, often quite different to each other. This hut has a completely different name on the map, but thanks to a quick description of how to find it before I left, and the complete absence of any other huts in the vicinity, I know this is my spot for the night. 22 A view like this is too good to rush inside. DCIM132GOPRO Odds on the bike being safe outside tonight? Hoping it doesn’t get visited by any more trolls. 24 Even tucked up inside the views are spellbinding. DCIM132GOPRO Dinner time is my chance to hit the pause button, take in my surroundings and not only refuel and re hydrate, but check my food stocks and work out if I’ve under / over eaten through the day. I’ve done a whole blog on my food preparations before exped, check it out over here. DCIM132GOPRO I like somewhere to hang my helmet at the end of the day. Maybe it’s a psychological thing left over from the trips I did in the desert in the Middle East, where anything left on the ground risked being inhabited by snakes or scorpions, but I’m not a fan of leaving this bit of important kit to get kicked or stood on (or inhabited). 27 On the way out in the morning I had to retrace my tyre tracks from the day before and pass this beautiful lake again. In different light I couldn’t resist another photo. 28 The fire road section flew past, dropping 250m (820 mi) vertical and 8km (5 mi) scarily quickly – I stopped only once to get this picture of where my route goes next – back up into the clouds. 29 Can you spot the trail up and over that central pass? Nope? Me neither! This 2.5km stretch, rising just 600m, took nearly 3hrs and only 250m was rideable (by me). 30 On the final push to the top of the col, a trail through the rocks (thankfully) emerged. This was rideable on the whole and even though the legs were not keen, it was great to be weaving up these switch backs finally riding again. DCIM132GOPRO Any excuse for a breather… 32 Finally at the top the views change yet again and I feel like I’ve crossed from Scotland into the Alps. The views were too good to snap and run from, so I pulled up for lunch with a view and soaked it up til I got chilly. 33 Finally time to ride again, and from the first pedal stroke this felt world class. It also felt like the domain of fat bikes only, I really wouldn’t have wanted anything skinnier than my suddenly skinny feeling 3″ tires. DCIM132GOPRO I had to force myself to stop and get photos en route down this trail and was glad I was in true wilderness so no one could hear my ridiculous whoops, cheers and laughter at the spectacular quality of this trail. It was a continuous ribbon of world class singletrack, plummeting through boulder gardens, across streams, skirting lakes and ploughing through snow slopes. DCIM132GOPRO I took this opportunity to refill my water supplies on the theory that this water recently melted and must be about the best water you can get – and then had a faint memory of a lecture at university where someone said something about pollution and sediment release from melt water. Nope I didn’t pay attention, so I gulped it down and was instantly refreshed. I should check out that whole meltwater theory one day though… 36 When you are riding trails this good it’s easy to get wrapped up in the moment and the ground immediately beneath your wheels, so it’s important to stop every now and then and take in where you are. I’m lucky to have ever been able to ride this section of trail and the chances of me ever being back here again are slim. I took a moment to soak it up, and then a photo to help remember it (my route drops straight through this shot skirting all three of the large snow slopes running centrally down from the col). 37 And I’m off again, this trail continues down the hill and continues to twist and turn rolling spectacularly… Blah blah blah… You get the picture by this point, it’s a damn fine descent. DCIM132GOPRO Superb self timer fail DCIM132GOPRO An on board shot just incase you weren’t yet convinced this is a beautifully sweet trail to shred down. DCIM132GOPRO After another, much smaller (300m (984 ft) vertical, 2km (~2 mi), climb I start to reach the summits that drop into the fjord. The views are teasing me to crank through these last few km’s to the edge. Thankfully I’m back in territory I know well, rolling mountainside with hints of sheep tracks (or are these reindeer tracks?), slick rocks to roll over and bilberry bushes to raid. 41 As I near the edge I get my first sight of my ultimate goal, a huge vertical cliff face that plummets toward the fjord, hopefully giving unimaginable views into the fjord. This is the summit the locals tell me no one has ever biked up before. 42 My first sight of water since I departed yesterday morning. I almost want to save the view til I summit but it’s just too tempting to sneak a peak of the fjord from here. 43 After nearly 7 hours of pushing and carrying, sweating and cursing, rolling and racing, whooping and cheering, I arrive at my ultimate goal, I’ll let the photos do the talking here. 44   45 46 47 DCIM132GOPRO 49 I stay long enough on the summit to take photos, have coffee and cake and enjoy this spectacular place before the cloud starts to build in the fjord and head towards me. Before I leave I can’t resist the urge to lay flat down and crawl to the edge, it’s a stomach churningly long way down, at least 500m (1640 ft) sheer vertical beneath my eyes and then a scree slope plummets the remaining 700m (2296 ft) to the fjord. As I turn to leave the cloud catches up with me and it whisked over my head by the wind blowing up the cliff face. It’s time to get going before the rocky descent gets too wet to ride. 50 Once I start to drop off the mountain plateau the terrain changes in character again and when I stumble across this hikers trail dropping down the side of the mountain snaking through the birches and bilberry bushes I’m in steep loamy heaven. 51 52 53 54 I stop for a breather and to take in another awesome view, this beautiful valley seems to be begging to be explored, but today’s route is back down the the fjord, so I roll on. 55 With 500m of vertical descent done I arrive at the first summer mountain huts and am again envious of the lucky folk who get to holiday here, and those who work here, year in year out. 56 As the trail continues to drop altitude it carries on changing, from snaking through long grass to plodding through bog, skirting lakes and rolling over rickety bridges, then it shoots down a rocky, techy trail that suddenly drops you onto the top of a fire road. From here it should be plain sailing. 57 These final kilometers to the fjord are a screamingly fast fire road descent, it’s steep, loose, deep gravel, so the chance to stop and damp my speed a little is welcome. Below is just one of the many bridges that span spectacular gorges and the first major building hinting at my arrival in the village. 58 59 En route down the final section of fire road I allowed my concentration to momentarily lapse, unfortunately that moment was just as a 180 degree switchback came into view and almost resulted in the following photo never being shot. Thankfully I snapped back to it and managed to scrub 30mph odd off my speed before I shot off a significant drop into a tree lined gorge with a full blown two wheel, one footed skid in deep gravel. Don’t try this at home kids, it’s not the way to slow down and it’s not cool, but it did remind me that everyone risks loosing concentration at the end of a big ride and feeling like the tough bit is over is false confidence. Needless to say, I was shakily happy to reach the village and snap this. 60 A last few hundred meters of trail and I’m back at sea level. It’s a strange feeling to arrive back at the waters edge, it’s been a long ride to get here but is tinted with that sadness that comes at the end of a great ride. Thankfully I have another night out before I catch a lift back down the fjord tomorrow. 61 My campsite lies just a little further along the side of the fjord so my final section of trail for the day is a wonderfully rocky trail that threads along the steep edge to the fjord just above the high tide line, perfect. 62 After days of spectacular views you’d think I’d be approaching a saturation point, but I couldn’t help going back to the view out my tent door as the light changed throughout the evening and the colours kept changing. As darkness fell the sky erupted with more stars than I’ve ever seen, and the Milky Way lay across the sky running down the length of the fjord and kissing the mountains at the end. 63 My final morning sped by, interspersed by another tiny rodent visiting my food supplies. 64 My plan was to return to the jetty and flag down a passing ferry, but I struck gold and managed to get a lift out of the fjord on board a speed boat doing a kit shuffle for a group of sea kayakers. 65 The fjord had a spectacularly calm beauty to it as we sped along. Watching the seals eye us and then dive beneath the surface. Knowing that there’s well over 300m of water beneath the boat as I fly across the surface is a special feeling indeed. En route we pass beneath the summit I stood atop the previous afternoon and I reflect on this amazing, albeit compact, wilderness adventure, but I’ll save those reflections for another time and leave you with these reflections instead. 66 67 68 I’d like to extend a special thanks to the following people who helped make this amazing adventure happen; Jan, Manu and all the staff at Nordic Ventures, Matt at Inspired Expeditions, my eternally supportive wife Catherine, the guys at Surly for producing a bike capable of such an adventure, the folk at Eat Natural for making great bars, USE exposure for the lights, Howies for making great merino and a massive shout out to Sam Needham, who should have been with me on this adventure but had to go take yet more staggeringly good photos of folks riding bikes.  

7 Comments

  1. Waaaaaoooh !!! These pictures are awesome and these landscapes are just incredible. Thanks a lot and take care.

  2. Nice photos! Curious what that frame bag is?

  3. Outstanding pictures! Thanks for the trip report

  4. Hi Sid, Kent and Logan

    Thanks for the replies, it’s great to see my trip being enjoyed by so many others around the world.

    As Neil rightly says, the framebag is a homemade setup, I have made them for a few of my bikes and wanted to try out a few ideas for the Krampus before going for something final. This bag is made from recycled tent ground sheet and Velcro / zips off the local market. Since getting back from Norway the lovely people over at Alpkit have offered me a deal on their bike luggage so I’ll be using their very well constructed bags for my next adventures.

    I’ll be heading back out to Norway in 2015, one trip with a few buddies I ride with, and one guiding a few lucky clients, so hopefully the great crew here at Bikepackers mag will be up for re publishing future trip reports and you’ll be able to see more of my adventures.

    Thanks again for your support

    Tom

  5. Pingback: Into the Fjords - Part One - Bikepackers Magazine

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