‘Are you never afraid while camping in the wild?', I get this question a lot.
'No', is my answer. The chance that something could happen to you at that time is statistically negligible. It's much more riskier to walk around in the dark (as a woman) in a random city in the Netherlands.
And all those insects, spiders and mice? Well, maybe you'll see them more often while camping in the wild, but they're also on campings. And at home…
Once back on the road on my bicycle in Kristiansand after a couple of days in a car, I'm once again back in my element. That is the advantage of driving in a car for a couple of days: it made me long to go back cycling!
And what a luck I had with the weather in the past week! It was expected to be rainy, but apart from a few light showers on Sunday and Monday, the rest of the week was wonderful weather with a lot of sun. As I write this on a Saturday morning, after twelve days in a tent, I'm in a 'hytta' on a camping waiting for that one rain shower to fall. It was expected to have rained last night, but nothing happened.
After the last newsletter, I got the same question a couple of times, why I don't do more parts by car. The argument was: quicker and easier.
Well... after going over the same road by car and by bicycle, I'm convinced that a bicycle route guide needs to be cycled completely, with a packed bicycle. Only then can you judge how a route 'feels' like. In terms of difficulty, traffic density and beauty... And even though you get an overall impression, it 's not always as easy. Such a large contraction is not something you can put just anywhere you like, it was not relaxing at all. And last but not least: I saw what I missed when passing by car after stepping on the bicycle and going over the same route again for the most part.
How a route 'feels' is off course subjective and that makes it a bit harder. What one person likes, the other person can find it boring after a few kilometres. And what one person finds hard to do, the other person does it with ease. And one road can be packed with traffic one moment of the day or season and be completely deserted on other times.
I think I am an average long-distance-cyclist and most readers will recognize the description in the guide. That is the feedback I get from the users thus far, and that is great. Sometimes I need to make hard choices: flat and free cycle lane along a highway, or a wonderful forest road with a few steep parts. That I will choose the latter, and the cycle lane will be designated as an alternative, or call it an option. The order of the choice are: 1. safety, 2. able to ride by bicycle, 3. pretty, 4. quiet, 5. Easy cycling. And if none applies and there are no other option, that we'll have to make do. These parts are often relative short. These criteria are all subjective and I won't be able to please everyone. I'll do my best anyway... Number 2. able to ride a bicycle can mean that there are a few places where you have to step down for a steep part. Let's just call this 'adventurous'. And why is 'easy cycling' on the last place? That's because in my opinion the previous mentioned items are more important for a good cycling holiday. If you're in a hurry or need to make a certain amount of kilometres per day, then Norway is not the country for you, or as the racing cyclists do here, going over the motorways. Then even Norway becomes boring...
This Kristiansroute is really beautiful, as you might agree with these pictures and those of the previous newsletters. But the thing that making a route so hard is, judging the traffic density of a road. This whole segment along the coast (Sørlandet) as a name for being The Norwegian Riviera. The smiling south, The summer paradise, The hidden pearl of Norway.... In other words, very touristy and therefore busy. And for good reason, it is really wonderful. The shallow coastline, the picturesque white fisher villages, the narrow roads through the rocks. And then those wonderful views on the fjords with red or yellow cabins on the coast and (sail) boats that are moored there. During the high season it's very busy, but in September it is very quiet and the villages and towns along the coast are almost seem deserted. Great for cycling, but most cyclist who are going to cycle this route, will come in the high season.
In short, it is what it is.
I think I'll hop on the bicycle. The advantage of camping out is that you hear the rain falling. Now I have to keep an eye on what's happening outside. Still nothing. It's still dry and I'm getting impatient. So, up we go, close the laptop! Publication comes later. Now we go cycling!