While getting ready to eat on a rest stop south of Innhavet, a smiling young cyclist rolled in. Despite a name like Sven and the bushy red beard, he wasn’t a viking, but actually German. Usually all the fellow bicycle tourers I meet on the road are going in the opposite direction, but this was a rare exception, as we shared the same route. After a chat we agreed to pedal together for a while.
Having just finished school in Germany, Sven had three months to spend on cycling in the Nordic countries before starting new studies. He had begun his journey at about the same time as I, and had crossed into Norway only a few days earlier via Finland and Sweden. We were both glad to experience better weather finally. His attitude to life seemed happy and optimistic: “Everything is better in the end. And if it isn’t, it’s not the end."
Soon after starting we hit a vertical climb of 400 meters. One of the highest of the trip thus far, since the roads in North Norway are comparatively flat. I had to make frequent stops to catch my breath. A passing caravan driver gave us a honking serenade, while the woman in the passenger seat applauded wholeheartedly. After at least an hour of climbing we finally reached the top. Silver-lined clouds twirled above the surrounding peaks, with occasional beams of light penetrating the green valley floor.
The way down only took a few minutes, but it was one of the most exciting riding experiences I can remember. Descending on a wide highway with perfect asfalt, we hardly used our brakes at all. The sheer speed on the slightly twisting mountain road was exhilarating. I was grinning like a madman the entire way down. When we reached the fjord Sven checked his odometer for the top speed - 53km/h. We stopped to bask in the adrenaline.
After Mørsvikbotn we took a detour off the busy E6 to a beautiful side road with practically no cars. I stopped to take a time-lapse, so Sven played a bagless bagpipe. Apparently in order to become a bagpipe player, you need to first practice with just the pipe, which he had brought with him. Forlorn medieval music and the Lord of the Rings soundtrack felt fitting to our surroundings.
Not long after we found a great secluded communal barbeque pit shelter by a clear mountain stream. It was an easy decision to camp early.
The next day we continued together, but it was becoming obvious our styles of touring weren’t very compatible. Even not taking photography into account, Sven was probably twice as fast as I was. He would wait on top of a hill, while I lagged behind, pushing my bike up the steepest parts, muttering profanities under my breath. He preferred to do most of the day’s cycling before I typically get out of bed. And he wanted to continue much further and stay at a camping ground, while I was just hoping to visit a hotel shower to wash off the sweat from all the climbing, so I could just wild camp anywhere.
So we agreed to split up. It was great to have some company for a change, but there wasn’t much choice. After exchanging contact information and well-wishes, he continued south towards Fauske unimpeded.
I proceeded to enjoy a hot shower so long it probably violated the Paris accord.