Bergen - Espeland 15/8/02
The sleeper arrived into Bergen 7.30 am and breakfast was served in the hotel across from the station. When we got down to the Torvet the fish market was well under way, it is such a fascinating place with all the different types of fish and seafood including Whale meat! We waited for the Tourist Information office to open and popped in to try and get some maps. They didn't have the ones we wanted and suggested we try the ' Bergen Turlag '. It wasn't far away and with the maps and guide to the Bergen - Voss cycle route procured it was time to show Frank around. It was great to be back in Bergen, as the last time I was there was in 1986, moored up next to the Torvet in the Ocean Youth Trust ketch 'James Cook'. We had a good look around the 'Bryggen' a collection of wooden merchant's houses, then went up the Flobanen funicular which takes you up the mountain behind Bergen. It is well worth the trip as the view over Bergen and the surrounding islands are spectacular, especially on a clear day. After returning to the Torvet and a smoked Salmon and Shrimp Baguette from one of the stalls on the fish market we though we had better get on our way. Due to our need for a campsite we decided that we would aim to camp at Espeland. We set off towards the south and immediately had trouble finding our way out of Bergen. The roads were busy and there were no cycle lanes, we got hooted at a couple of times. A very kind Norwegian cyclist took pity on us and asked us if we needed any help? On finding out we were British he said "You need GB on your bikes, people might be more considerate!". We explained that we were heading to Nestun and fortunately it was in his direction and he suggested that we follow him and he would get us on the correct road. He was a little faster than us (as he wasn't fully laden) so we had to push it to keep up with him, but he got us on the correct road to Nestun and we thanked him gratefully and continued on our way. Most of the route was on the road, with some parts on cycle paths but it was quite a busy road. We soon reached Nestun and turned NE up the 580 to find our campsite at Espeland.
Espeland - Eidslandet 16/8/02
We were on our way early and soon found the cycle route at Arna. On the way I made the mistake of stopping just by the school gates at Garnes to wait for Frank. I was soon surrounded by a bunch of kids, asking me where I was from?, how far had we come? and one girl welcomed us to the rainiest place in Norway. I pulled her leg saying I didn't believe her as there was blue sky with hardly a cloud in the sky! Actually Bergen has the highest rainfall in Norway, and at Bergen railway station they have vending machines selling Umbrellas.
After Arnes it was easy cycling along the old road following the Sørfjorden and we were quickly passing under the bridge that goes over to Osteroy. When we got to Tengereid the signs sent us up a steep set of hairpin bends to a roundabout on the E16. The signs there said to Voss via Nordheimsund, well this was taking us far too south and would mean missing out the Eksingadalen valley which is supposed to be the prettiest in Norway. I asked a local guy about the route and he said the E16 was too dangerous because of the tunnels and heavy traffic. He suggested that we catch a train from Tengereid to Stangelle. This meant going back down the hill we had just climbed up! As it was lunch time we decided to stop at the rest area and make a brew and have some lunch. Why is that we always get funny looks from people when we get stoves out and start brewing up ? I'm sure the tourists in the coach were taking photos!- 'oh look at the Brits making tea!'
We were lucky when we got to the station at Tengereid as there was a train in 20mins time. We decided as it was getting late in the day and that we had better get off at Dale rather than Stanghelle. At Dale we soon picked up the cycle route signs and we were back by the fjord side. At Straumes we saw the Salmon fishing huts perched high on the rocks, they reminded us of dwellings in Riven. While were there we had a look at the 'Skipshelleren' which was nearly as life changing experience as the Danish Ertebolle midden! It's apparently one of Norway's most famous Stone Age sites and is a natural cave site which when excavated produced amazing finds of bones and tools some 6,000 - 7,00 years old. From the middle ages it was used to moor ships in the winter (hence the name 'Skiphelleren') At Hesjedalen there was a new tunnel built for vehicle traffic and they had left the old one for cyclists which was great, but even with reasonable lights it was very difficult to ride through. Further on we went through some more unlit tunnels, which even with good lights was quite disorientating as they are so dark, especially with on coming traffic with bright lights. We knew there were no campsites on our route so we looked out for any accommodation. By Eislandet we hadn't found any, so we asked a farmer who was hay cutting in a field if we could camp in his field. He said that it wasn't his field, but he knew someone who did have a field we could use. We followed him back into the village and he directed us to a field next to the river.
Eidslandet - Mestad 17/8/02
It was a clear still morning as we started to climb the Eksingadalen valley. At Eickward we past a lake with beautiful reflections of the surrounding mountains. It was an excellent ride up the valley passing waterfall after waterfall, although there was a gradual climb up the valley. We met several cyclist who probably wondered why we going up the valley as most people do this route the other way, trust us to be going the wrong way! At Lavik we met and had a nice chat with a family of Norwegians, they were just out for the weekend, mum & dad were on a tandem with their 2 kids in a trailer fast asleep! At Neshiem we started the horrendous climb up the Nesheimfjellset. It was bottom gear all the way and we had to keep stopping every 200m to rest weary legs and get our breath back. It took us 90mins to do 2km. It was one of those hills with a false summit, just when you thought it was the top there was more to go. I can't repeat my wife's comment on reaching the false summit!!! The run down the other side was around numerous hairpin bends down was excellent and we were into Tiesdal . Thank goodness for our Magura hydraulic brakes, as it is quite steep and long. From the top It was an easy coast all the way to our campsite at Mestad, I didn't have to pedal once!
Mestad - Voss 18/8/02
A bright sunny morning and we set off after a leisurely breakfast. It was an easy ride down to Evanger and we were soon on the busy E16 which was a little lively at times. At Bulken we got on to the cycle route which had at some stage been the old Bergen -Voss road. I think our legs were tired from the climb up the NesheimfjellsetIt the day before as it was hard work on cycle route due to it being so up and down, we thus resorted to the road which was flatter but very busy with heavy traffic. It didn't take us long to get to Voss and we went to find the campsite, it was quite small and very crowded, we looked at the map and there was another one 4km north at Staue. It was still a nice evening so we went on, we were quite pleased we did, as it was a nice quiet site next to a lake and a good place for a rest day! Weather bright sunny, warm.
Voss - Rest day 19/8/02
Did some clothes washing, cycled into Voss to do some shopping and had a good lunch. Returned to the campsite to prepare the gear for our Rallarvegen trip the next day.
On to our cycle along the Rallarvegen