“Forbudt for gående og syklende, Cyclists and pedestrians prohibited" is what I read when I drive on to a highway. I got a panic reaction of two seconds. "What now? I can't return!" Then I realize that I'm driving a car instead of a bicycle. Phew! That's what you get after cycling for weeks and suddenly start to drive a car. In the same way, I stick out my hand instead of indicating with the indicators of the car, or I realize that I forgot to put on a helmet. The other way around happened to me as well. I remember cycling over a Norwegian highway two years ago and realized that I didn't put on a seat belt. According to my mother, I inherited that from her. Sometimes she thinks that she's stepping on the accelerator of a car while sewing. On the other hand, she sews very quickly...

img 4670My ancient Volkswagen Polo and my five-year-old Santos are best friends. No mater how far we travel, it is for the Polo never a bother to carry the Santos on it's back. And event though the Santo likes to put her best wheel forward herself, she patiently endures being driven around. Her time will come... She is more patient than me. I've been driving the car these last four days, I am glad to be able to hop on the bicycle for the last stretch!

At the end of last week I was almost done with the whole area around Oslofjord and then came the moment that I wasn't able to find a comping spot. My daily stretches are no more than fifty kilometres because of the time spent on research, but this day I had to cycle a hundred kilometres in total for the day, before I could finally find a spot just before it became dark. That day and the day before, were scorching hot. Those extra fifty kilometres were also fifty kilometres extra research, taking pictures and taking notes, as I was there anyway and coming back the next day just for was not an option. In hindsight, it was a pity that I was working so hard on that part, since the segment won't be included in the guide. At best it will be published on the website. The route was fine though there are no places to stay along these 100 kilometres, apart from a few expensive hotels. The lack of place to take shelter are not helping . Not shelter for the bright sun, but the rain*.
Two days later I was still tired, found it hard to stay clear-headed and objective. For the first time, I let myself be guided by fatigue and even though I had 60 kilometres ahead, I went straight to the car. My car was standing at Trond and Torhild (see newsletter 9, Kristian) and as Torhild asked me if I was still motivated, I replied that if she asked again tomorrow morning, that I would give a definite 'yes', but not now. Trond and Torhild let me stay for an extra day to redo the sixty-kilometre stretch and Torhild spontaneously offered to lend me an e-bike. Now that was a very tempting offer! With some reservation I accepted and enjoyed it tremendously!

The last stretch

img 4895These last two or three weeks, I miss the Willowherb flowers appearing in my pictures. This is not because they don't grow here south of Oslo, but they are done blooming. I'm sure you know the purple/ping flowers I'm talking about. They're on the cover of the guide cover of the guide. And the fact that it is no longer in bloom, it means the summer is over in Norway. They literally say "The autumn begins!" or "It is almost winter". I hear it in amazement. It has been the best weather in the world and as I type this, I've been sitting in the car these four days.

The segment that still needs to be done, is the first 350 kilometres or so of the Kristiansroute: from Kristiansand to Horten. At first I wanted to cycle the whole part back and forth. As a matter a fact, I like to be able to view the route from both side, but there is another reason: For some parts there are two or three options I need to check out and to choose from. I wanted to cycle them all, but I'm pressed for time.
My return trip was planned for four or five September, but because of the later start due to Corona, I need extra time to finish the route, and then I still won't make it cycling back and forth, because I have a new date for the ferry: September 18/19th. Going later is no possible because of appointments at home.
Because the car has to go to Kristiansand anyway, I decided to test the route by car where possible, with the purpose to thin out the options and to see if I can make some choices between them already. And it was possible! Thanks to the-not-always cycling friendliness of Norway... To put it this way: There are relative few roads where you can cycle, but not come by car. This made it possible to do a large part of the options by car. Two times I cycled a part. There were roads with adjacent cycling paths, a lot of roads with almost no traffic, and roads that were so narrow that I braced myself for upcoming traffic. Of the part with two or three option, I was able to make choices in almost all cases for the resulting cycling route. the parts that are dropped of the option list no longer need to be checked**. Segment that are still an option still need to be checked though.
This morning I arrived in Kristiansand and today I cycled the route in and around Kristiansand. When I arrive in Horten in a week or two, I go back to Kristiansand by train.
Yesterday I had an appointment in Arendal with the 'boss' of the Norwegian cycling route network. All the signposting of the national and regional cycling routes are his responsibility and it was the for us both very useful to get to know each other and to listen to what each of us is working on. We'll keep in touch and may somewhere in the future, we could be of some assistance to each other.

In hindsight, it was very useful to test the route by car first. And I won't have to cycle large parts or the options that won't make it in the resulting route. What was a pity though, is that the weather for cycling was perfect!! Just above twenty degrees C and sunshine. Therefore, I stepped often out of the car to make pictures and walks through lovely villages and towns. And also a pity: the weather forecast for the coming week promises rain for the whole week. But the pretty pictures are already made. In the end I still need to sell and attractive guide ;-)

Ha det bra!

For the interested cyclists:
* It concerns the western branch of the Kristiansroute. This route is interesting for those who want to follow the route On the way to St. Olav and wish to cut off a peace the way to avoid Oslo and the residential area around it.
** Between Khristiansand and Oslo there is a new highway, the E18. The old E18 is now a cycling route, bit it is not easy. The two-lane road is on many places still very busy and large parts are plain boring: Long stretches straight without anything interesting to see. That's what I found while driving by car. Let alone by bicycle... Almost all these part won't make it in the route.

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