Day 1 (cycling) Nordkapp to Repvag 53 Miles
Here we are, Europes most Northern point Nordkapp, 550 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
A remote inhospitable place. A place where Winters last 9 months – 2 of which are in darkness 24 hours a day – but in June the sun is above the horizon and weather permitting the sun circles the Horizon never setting.
The time is Midnight, the sun could be seen shining directly North. The sea and the sky blended together on the horizon, the lightest Arctic blue from the polar cap reflection. The sight was mesmerising and would have been pure peacefulness had it not been for the thousands of sightseers from the cruise ship that was docked in Honningsvag!
The five riders were apprehensively ready for the off. After a brief live video to the world and a rousing cheer from the sightseers we were off.
The ride was only 53 miles with a few long hills up and down, but the fatigue from having spent 5 days, 12 hours a day squashed in the car showed on everyone’s faces including the backup team. The first part of the ride was stunning. The sun was shining on us as if a sign of approval for our efforts from above. Every corner we turned, the vista was as dramatic as the sheer size of the area. Reindeer and moose were grazing on any sparse vegetation that could be found in the harsh tundra. They didn’t seem too bothered when a car passed but for some unknown reason when we cycled past they went into a confused frenzy usually running from the fields onto the road in from of us then running down the road tripping over their clown like feet.
Nordkapp is actually an island connected by a tunnel which was half way of today’s ride. We got to the tunnel at about 2:30am. The tunnel was 7km long and went very deep under the ocean. The first part was eerie but fast, 3km down a 9% hill, then 1km of flat which gave you time in the darkness to contemplate what we are doing and why. Then the realisation that it was 3:00am on a Monday morning and we were 212 meters underneath the Arctic Ocean riding a bike! It was cold – bitterly cold – dark and damp and the only way out was the 3km climb. One hundred meters to go, bone-chillingly cold but this time we could see daylight. We had made it but the relief was short lived as the weather had made a turn for the worse. The beautiful sun had been replaced by rain – cold rain! Spirits were dampened, heads were going down, the fatigue of being awake for 22 hours was taking its toll. 25 miles to go, the struggle was on! Hills were coming out of nowhere and we were now soaked through to the skin. The pace had slowed as every hill was now like Everest on a cold day. The turns of the pedals were getting harder and harder. We ploughed through not the pain but the fatigue and cold eventually arriving back at the hotel in Repvag at 5am greeted by our faithful back up team who had waited up all night and had a welcome beer in hand for us. Time for some sleep!
Later that day we had made the decision to do 30 more miles to make the following day shorter.
After getting up we headed by car to Honnisvag for some lunch and we all had reindeer which was fantastic and very welcome. All were happy and warm.
At 6:00pm we set off from Repvag to Olderfjord, 30 miles away. The temperature had dropped even more and now the rain was really coming down but the team were unanimous that we were going to do it. It was a costal road regarded as one of the top ten in the world, but we could not take any consolation from it as there was low cloud, rain and mist. We battled on head down riding in a chain, each taking a turn at the front taking any wind. The back up were there at half way with hot coffee laced with warming whiskey – they were our heroes. We finally finished at 8:00pm and managed an impressive 17.9 mph.
Tomorrow we head to Karasjok riding 85miles – let’s hope for better weather.