This morning we left our hotel to get to the ferry, which would take us to Moskenes on Moskenesøya, one of the 7 Islands belonging to the Lofoten. We didn’t quite know where the ferry would leave Bodø, except of course it would leave from somewhere within the harbor and not from the railway station, so we planned to spend some time finding the right spot.
Since yesterday the weather had cleared again, and now we had the bright blue sky with some clouds and the sun again, it seemed like it would be a good day for cycling, if the weather persisted.
Bodø is placed on the 67th latitude and has been inhabited as early as in the Stone Age, 10,000 years ago. Some of the earliest living places of Norway have been found around Bodø, which is known to have good and safe fishing grounds.
In 1816 Bodø got its status as a city and is from back then remembered in the Bodøsong as housing 55 male people…
It was meant to be a merchandising ground for the export of fish from the Nordland fylke — the county of Nordland — so that Northern Norway would become less dependent on Bergen. But the city grew little in the first years — so little that the department of finance in 1850 wanted to take Bodø’s city status away again. First around 1870, with the success of fishing herring, the city started growing successfully up to 3656 citizens in 1890. The success of the fishing industry led to Bodø becoming gradually the center of administration, traffic and regional finances until on May 27th 1940 the city was bombed into ruins by the Nazi air force.
After the war Bodø had to be rebuilt from scratch, but was, with the further development of the airport in 1951 and the development of the railway in the early 1960s, able to retain its status as a main junction for the transport of goods and people. Today Bodø is the end station of the Nordlandsbanen, connecting it directly by train to Trondheim and from there to Oslo and the rest of the country. But Bodø does not have the railway station farthest in the north of Norway, this title belongs to Narvik from where the railway goes to Sweden, but it has no further direct connection to southern parts of Norway.
Originally we had intended to cycle across the Lofoten and parts of the Vesterålen to Narvik and from there take the train to Stockholm in Sweden to continue our ride, but it had turned out during the preparation that we would not be allowed to take our bikes onto the Swedish trains without prior dissemblance and packing them like one would, to carry them on an airplane. This was too much of a burden for us, so we considered renting a car from Narvik for some days but that had turned out to be too expensive with a price of more than 2000 US$…
So we had changed our plans and now would only be on the Lofoten for two days to ride to Svolvær.
But first we had to get onto the ferry to take us over to Moskenes. When we arrived, the queue seemed already very long, so we made sure not to be among the last ones to enter the ferry, a plan that worked out for us.
We didn’t know at the time, but learned much later, that we were much more lucky in getting on the ferry and across to Moskenesøya on this day than we knew. Apparently, about every second ferry trip had been cancelled during the summer as the ferry had some motor troubles…
Cycling on the Lofoten
After a boat trip of 3 hours and 15 minutes, we arrived in Moskenes. As two days before in Jektvik, we decided to let the cars get off the ferry and have them take the road before we started our ride.
Now the weather really had started showing off, and presented itself from its best side.
Today we had to follow the E10 across Moskenesøya toward Flakstadøya, so we had prepared ourselves for sharing the road at least with some traffic. After we had passed our first one-kilometer-long tunnel we stopped for some photos of the area.
Soon we jumped back onto our bikes, making it to the ”famous“ city of Reine — somehow the probably best-known photo of the Lofoten must be taken from the Reinebringen, a hard to climb mountain. But for us there was no time to climb mountains on this tour, we weren’t equipped with the shoes for it either.
The Tourist Information of the Lofoten actually does not recommend climbing the Reinebringen even if you are properly equipped, because of its difficult accessibility and every year people who have tried have failed and either gotten seriously injured or killed on the trip, and photos of the view have been taken out of tourist brochures to not encourage people, who do not have the equipment and training, to climb the mountain. So we only stopped to purchase some food for lunch before getting back onto our bikes.
Bike crashes cannot be planned for
After we had taken the road around the Fjøsdalen Tunnelen, 15 kilometers into our ride, we were stopped by a construction site. The construction of a half open tunnel to protect the street and traffic from landslides had started some time earlier, which meant that the traffic was stopped for about an hour in each direction to allow the construction traffic to take the space it needed. So we were stranded and a long queue of cars built up behind us. After a while, car drivers got anxious to go on and a bus driver, keen to holding his schedule, approached the construction site workers asking to open the road. But he — as everybody else — had to wait.
The road ahead of us was damaged by the construction work, with large holes and no pavement left.
Some time into this waiting game, Solo approached the construction site workers too, asking them to give us a head start as we would be slower on our bikes than the cars behind us and that would not make the car drivers happier. Unfortunately, this wasn’t possible.
Just minutes after the road had been reopened for the traffic and we had been back on our bikes, it happened what we both had feared…I crashed my bike when my rear wheel, after a double hole, did not land straight back on the path’s surface. Before I knew better I found myself on the ground and my bike on top of myself. Solo jumped down from his bike, preparing to get over to me to help me back onto my bike, fearing that I might have been trapped in the clicks of the pedals, while I was hurrying to get back onto my bike as I feared the cars behind me would not notice in time. Thankfully the driver of the car right behind us had left us some space…or maybe we were given a head start after all?
Solo wanted to check on my injuries right away, but all I wanted was to go on and clear the road, not becoming another road block. So I told him to go on right away, hoping I hadn’t been hurt too much despite some pain in my knee. First after 2 kilometers, in front of a tunnel, we found a spot where the road was wide enough to allow us a short stop to check what had been damaged. But still, I wanted us to hurry on, knowing that on the other side of the tunnel somewhere cars would be waiting eagerly to get onto the road.
Thankfully my bike had not been damaged and I had nothing more but a hurting scratch wound on my knee, which we took care of after having cleared that tunnel as well, and some scratches to my self-esteem.
Soon afterward we made it over the bridge crossing the Kråkersunded to Flakstadøya, where we followed the E10 along the Sundstraumen toward the Selfjorden.
Except for the crash we were really spoiled today. Finally, we had gotten the summer weather and were able to ride in our summer clothes without freezing, even when we took breaks, of which we took quite a few now as the Lofoten proved to be a beautiful place. Solo’s fears of it looking like Arctic Village at the border of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, which is pretty much placed on the same latitude as our goal today, Ramberg, proved to be wrong.
Yes, we had finally made it onto the 68˚ Northern latitude, but still, the area was fertile and used for growing crops. We hadn’t reached the Norwegian tundra yet. The Lofoten — as well as most of coastal Norway — take advantage from the warm gulf stream, which not only provides some warmer water in the Northern Atlantic but makes the winters less hard than similar regions in Canada or Alaska.
In Ramberg, at the campground, Solo asked me to stop and go inside to ask if they had a cabin for us. Sure enough with this nice summer weather, we could have camped in his tent again, but he wanted me to have some comfortable rest for my knee instead of bumping into him during the night, due to the restricted space in the tent.
But as so many times before they had no cabin left for us, they told us to try the next campground…where we found our room for the night.
After we had cleaned up and gotten some rest, we returned to Ramberg by bike for dinner and some after dinner photography, before finally returning to our room for the night.
Solo told me that if he had known the area to be this beautiful and this enjoyable to ride he would have wanted to ride on the Lofoten for two weeks…well maybe we would then have had to add the Vesterålen as well, but yes it was worth it so far.
A couple of weeks after we had passed that construction site for the landslide protection tunnel, we learned that actually a landslide had happened. Thankfully nobody got killed or injured, but the only connection on land between the northern and the southern islands of the Lofoten was blocked for some time…so we had been lucky not being any later on this part of our journey.