After Mo i Rana in Krogen, there was a 7km tunnel unavailable to cyclists. The only alternative route was almost twice as long and went over the mountain instead. It was the toughest climb so far, though still only 580 meters from sea level. It took me three hours of mostly walking my bike up.
As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve had some trouble with uphills on this trip. This is only partly due to my laziness. Especially at the end of the day, I often prefer to walk just because it’s slower and easier. I don’t need to exert as much energy, so there’s also less sweating. But now that the mountains are getting higher, it’s not just preference. It’s genuinely too difficult to cycle uphill.
I was hoping and expecting to be stronger by this point. Usually after a month of cycling my legs feel better and the daily distances begin to grow. Maybe I’m getting old at mid-thirties, but that hasn’t really happened yet on this tour. So I'll need to lighten the bike somehow.
Besides brake pads, another reason I visited the bike shop Mo i Rana was actually to lighten my gear ratios. If I could just pedal more easily in the steep parts, it should do the trick. The mechanic tried to fit a much lighter rear cassette, but it wasn’t compatible with my shifter. In the end they didn’t have a wide enough selection of parts for the job, so we switched back to my old gears. I can try again in Trondheim.
Another solution is, of course, to carry less stuff. I’m sure I can still find many items in my inventory that I could easily do without. And some that could be replaced by a lighter version.
With a small amount of planning, my food and water weight could be reduced drastically. Right now I carry up to three liters of water, but that could easily be two or one by just checking ahead for places to refill at. Or perhaps I could buy a filter system that weighs an additional couple hundred grams, but means I’d need to carry hardly any water up the mountains.
Honestly, my food system is kind of ridiculous. The principle of having extra calories so I can stay camped when I want is fine, but there’s been no consideration for weight anywhere. My go-to breakfast is müsli with a banana, an apple, raisins and a nice 3dl carton of Norwegian coffee cream (10% fat for the calories). Now that’s a tasty and good meal, but the portion itself weighs quite a bit. I’d be better off eating away the water heavy fruit right after visiting a store. And in any case I’m still left with up to 700 grams of extra raisins and müsli for future breakfasts in the bottom of the pannier.
Or if I want to eat a few sandwiches during the day, I may end up carrying a huge loaf of bread, at least 150g of cheese, a cucumber, and a 475g squeeze bottle of spread. Compared to what I’m actually eating, most of it is just dead weight.
Then there’s tea. I like tea. But I need sugar in it. And you can’t buy sugar in a small package. Usually it only comes in a one kilogram sack. I try to look for the half kilo box of sugar cubes, but even that is a lot of excess to carry just for a cup of tea.
So it looks like I need to introduce some actual sense into my packing, at least as long as I’m in a mountainous area like Norway. I’m not in a hurry as such, but if I walk up every single hill from here on, it’ll be snowing before I get to south Sweden.