As a Finn, I’m well aware of our inferiority to Norway in every way. Having such a perfect neighbour is almost unfair.

Norway has vastly better landscapes and views, everything is cleaner and better maintained, buildings look nicer, and the people are happier and healthier. The air smells cleaner and water tastes better. Even their borders extend further south, west, north AND east than ours. Norway is so rich and generous they are seriously considering donating a mountain to Finland. It would be Finland’s highest point, but doesn’t even crack Norway’s top 100. Everything is bigger and better in Norway.

Welcome to Norway - even our roads are pristine. All of them.

The headwind was still blowing when I started again, so I only cycled across the border and to the first rest stop. Obviously a very idyllic and tidy rest stop with sixteen rolls of toilet paper in a bathroom that was made of solid gold. The forecast said the wind would calm down in an hour or two, so I had a slow lunch and did some bike maintenance while I waited.

My brakes had felt pretty weak earlier, so I adjusted the pads. Then I lubed my chain, fixed the mirror position, tightened a few screws here and there, and taped up a couple points in the front of the frame that were rubbing against wire casings. Presumably there were likely to be very few bumps in the exquisite Norwegian roads ahead, so I pumped a little more air into my tires to increase speed at the cost of suspension.

The brakes in particular are very important in a place like this with many long downhills. This is something I learned last summer in Lofoten Islands when both of my break pads wore down to nothing. I had to either walk my bike downhill or brake with one foot dragging on the asfalt, which wore down the sole of my left shoe to a nearly patternless smooth surface.

Late at night I found a great place to camp called Lulledalen, next to the Lullefjellet Nature Reserve forest. I was back in a coniferous zone (as opposed to the sparse vegetation and dwarf birches of Kilpisjärvi). There was a 2.7km path around the forest with many informational plaques. Apparently among the various flora of the forest they even have the rare yellow Lady’s Slipper orchid, but I couldn’t find it. Maybe it wasn’t blooming yet due to the cold early summer.

They even have laavus in Norway.

The nearby stream was so flooded even the spruce trees were in the water. (Long exposure shot)

While doing some customary typing in my sleeping bag before bed, I suddenly heard a deep loud rumbling sound that lasted a few seconds. At first I presumed it must be thunder, but it was far too cold for a lightning storm. Then I realized the sound was actually rocks - or more likely huge boulders - falling off the mountain on the other side of the river! Ho-lee crap. I hope no-one was camping under that. And there’s a lesson for me to steer clear of rocky walls when finding a place for my tent.

The mountain still seemed to be mostly there in the morning.