This year in summer we have even been in Denmark twice. Once on the way to and another time on the way back from Norway. Here we take the North Sea Cycle Route (NSCR) under the wheels. To anticipate briefly: Norway is mountainous.
Altitude: 14,100 m
During the preparation of the tour, we have of course made us knowledgeable. For example, we buy from the Conrad Stein Verlag the outdoor manual Nordseeküstenradweg Norway and Schweden. It says literally:
Relatively flat pieces you expect to Larvik (from Oslo) and in Egersund, where you ride on an old railway line. Otherwise, it goes through the last glacial moraines up and down over and fjords. (Page 105)
Only after a careful reading you find in a small text box following sentence:
Reported as eight-kilometer bike path the section was restored in 1993. This gravel road with several ascents and descents, as well as horse tracks can boast one of the most burdensome sections of the entire North Sea Cycle Route. (Page 138)
What does this tell us? The North Sea Cycle Route in Norway is mountainous, but you can drive it quite well, except for the said eight kilometers between Grimstad and Lillesand. So we have ordered corresponding maps in the Geobuchhandlung and planned the tour. The plastic cards from the castor-Verlag and the corresponding height profiles were in principle without any further information, so we started the tour.
So it was actually
We are so lucky with the weather. Really. Almost only sunshine, clear visibility and little wind. In the four weeks in Norway it rains twice, and the last two days.
Norway is mountainous. With all the luggage and the children there is an incredible grind. Said book can be confidently recorded as a joke. We doubt whether the two authors Idhuna and Wolfgang Barelds had really been there.
But the landscape is really worth every meter, and no matter how steep.
The five days Arrival by Denmark in hot summer weather, of course, appear in retrospect as an absolute flat stage. Our statement that Denmark is only seen from the highway flat and boring, we can no longer leave after this holiday. Although it is in Denmark also up and down, but the mountains are not as steep (except the east coast of Jutland and Mon).
The night ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo is perfect. It has a small cabin with shower and you arrive the next morning after breakfast. We continue our tour with the ride over Hardangervidda to Bergen. Spectacular.
While in Oslo we have sunny 26 °C, we have light snow showers in Finse in height of 1300 meters. In Bergen, the sun shines again over 20 °C.
The first stage in Norway from Bergen to Haugesund is mountainous. There are many slopes. Our daily schedule is a farce here, the targeted kilometers we can not do anyway. The combination of the intense heat and the many mountains is very exhausting.
The second stage in Norway from Haugesund to Egersund is Norway's sandbox. One sandy beach is more beautiful than the next, so with warm sunshine we are mainly around the beach. The North Sea is, however, very cold.
The slopes are bearable except this acrid 20 kilometers west of Egersund, which run partially on the aforementioned embankment, and the other half on the old main road from 1845 (Vestlanske Hovedveg). On this 20 km we realise that Oslo is not reachable for us by bike, at least not in the targeted time. The ferry back to Copenhagen is already booked. So we will drive around the mountain stages at the Lista peninsula by train.
From Kristiansand to Kragerø, the route is marked by quaint little white fishing villages, hidden behind the archipelago. The slopes to be overcome are considerable, there is also the above-mentioned "most troublesome section". In the near of Kragerø the altitude increases again to clear the daily trip accordingly.
Our fourth and final stage in Norway takes us from Kragerø to Oslo. Settlement and transport are clearly increasing. Geographically, the piece is not as attractive as the others. But we find a bike for Jannis and he learned cycling that evening!
In Oslo, we enjoy a day off and have a look at some of the many museums: Kon-Tiki, Fram, Holmenkollen. Then we are whacked as by our heaviest bike (sliding) days.
The last three days the weather is really bad, light drizzle and cloud-shrouded mountain peaks make us the farewell to Norway a little bit easier.
After the ferry ride back to Copenhagen we meet with Heiko's sister, her boyfriend Udo and the two little children Anna and Felix, both are the same age as Jannis and Naja. In the following we have six wonderful days through the hilly north of Sjælland in changing weather conditions, and partly stormy headwind. Also included: the visit to the Medieval Centre in Nykøbing.
Overnight in the tent with the everyman's right
Apparently too often has the much-cited but never really prescribed everyman's right abused of foreign tourists, especially of the motorized ones. And so it seems now that it has been restricted to real hikers that move around of their own accord. Nevertheless, they are the victims of the escalating mobile home flood. We had not only once problems to find a tent spot at all, as the Norwegians have fenced everything. That means that we are driving for miles just between two fences.
Cyclists without children do not have this problem of course. Then you cycle in the late afternoon some more 15, 20 kilometers. With children that is not possible. In the end, we always found something somewhere.
Cycling in Norway
Norwegians do not ride a bike, they go by car, the bigger the better. Cyclists are correspondingly rare to meet Norway's roads. That are not everyday riders – outside built-ups we've seen in the four weeks only two daily cycling persons. Instead, you meet every now and then more or less athletic-inspired "kilometer-eaters".
The small number of cyclists naturally leads to the fact that they are perceived by drivers as a disruptive factor. Accordingly, the drivers behave.
On top of that, and that's really not lying, almost every phones while driving. So they are boarding with 80 km/h with their phone at the ear on three-meter wide roads around the tight curves. This is dangerous not only for bicycling children.
The Norwegians want to solve the "problem" by traffic planning and structural engineering by constructing crossing-free (for cars) bike paths and separate the bicycle paths from the more traveled roads. At least where there is enough space. This seems to us to be the wrong approach, because the dangers are even greater on that streets where bike paths are not possible due to space limitations. In addition, of course, the cyclist has cross under or over the car line, which is associated with additional effort for us as cyclists.
Our guide from the Conrad Stein Publisher
Unfortunately, the authors Idhuna and Wolfgang Barelds of Conrad Stein Verlag forgot to mention that the slopes of the said section be burdensome to the 20% that way. We find that this is a relevant information for cyclists. The many other portions where the slopes are even greater (30%), are not mention found in the book. The above example embankment is an old railway embankment of course, which can be be used very easy. In parallel, the new railway was built, but uses the old tunnels, through which you can not pass a cyclist of course. About a dozen times, you have to go ahead over the mountains with a gradiont of 25%. It may therefore be doubted whether the two are actually traversed the entire route.
By reading such books a certain expectation that was not met due to the steep mountains. We first had to adjust to the fact that it is different than expected.
That was a truly adventurous vacation.
For self-propelled children the route in Norway is not suitable because of the steep inclines (and especially because of the strong gradients on gravel roads) and the rapid way in which the Norwegians drive their cars. We recommend that only children ride from eight or ten years itself, which of course depends on the driving skills of the child.
The route is unsuitable for families who need to carry a child trailer, that would mean an incredible grind to pull the trailer over the mountains, if it is not impossible.
All other intrepid will be rewarded with the most varied cycling trip. There are rides through the dunes along miles of white sand beaches over alpine mountain stages, stony scree slopes, desolate moors and marshes, intensively farmed landscapes and deserted fjell like high mountains and more. Just look at our pictures on the following pages.