The road to Bergen – Trollstigen, tunnels and the sheep!

13 Sep

Includes short movie ….

(Bear with us, we’re a bit behind with our blogging. This was written several days ago, we’re currently in Berlin).

The day begins

A biker’ s dream day. Sunshine (at last) and great roads. Spending the night at Andalsnes we knew we were only a few kilometres from the famous Trollstigen which translates to Trolls Road. It is a road cut into the mountainside and has 11 switchback turns in what is quite a narrow area. Visitnorway.com describes it as a visual delight. If you are prone to vertigo it is not quite such a visual delight!!!

The ‘Trolls Road’ Norway

After being expertly negotiated, at the top, feeling a bit trembly, there was the opportunity to get off Bertie and to admire the modern visitor centre, walk along the very nice walkways to various viewing platforms and to buy the usual souvenirs (oh dear, no room on the bike for them). This was actually the first time we had really encountered tourism since we had left Nordkapp. We headed off to check out the view and while Jim managed the full view from the most exposed walkway, I wimped out. Hence on my photos the bottom half of the bends are missing.

Jim handles ‘exposure’ better than Jenny!
The visitor centre at the top of the Trollstigen

However, we both agreed it had not been a particularly nice road to ride. Many of the passes in the Alps provide better riding experiences. So why then did I say ‘great roads’. Well, thereafter the roads were really good with ever-changing scenery from deep dramatic gorges to forest and farmland and around every bend a fjord with small settlements clinging to the shorelines. There were plenty more hairpin bends to keep even the most seasoned of bikers happy and it all culminated in a majestic view of Geiranger and it’s famous deep and very steep sided fjord from a viewing platform high above. The long winding road down to the town made us glad we did not encounter any of the numerous tourist buses that had become a feature of the traffic the further south we travelled.

Geiranger Fjord

Our route continued south on Rv 63 until it joined Rv15. Here we turned towards what we thought was Grotti which we rather liked the sound of, only to arrive and found it is actually Grotli and we’d misread it due to another well worn crease in our map. It was here that the Rv 258 begins, an old picturesque road I had read about. This road provided us with the highlight of our riding so far this trip. Probably running only second to the Carreterra Austral in Chile, this road is known as Gamle Strynefjellsvegan and although only a mere 27 km long it’s beauty is not measured in distance.

The Rv258

It was built in 1894 by manual labour for the transport of goods and labour and even now is not tarmac – our kind of riding. The road is a 27km visual feast of glacial landscape with glacial lakes at the Grotli end followed by a long descent down a winding road into the green valley surrounded by imposing mountains at the other end. Until the 1950’s snow clearance of the road was still by manual labour, 200 men clearing several meter high snow drifts. Thank heavens for snowploughs although the road is still closed from late autumn till June. If you’re riding or driving in Norway to the NNW of Bergen we recommend this road, it’s well worth a visit.

The author taking a break on the Rv258
The author and her chauffeur taking a break

We stopped for our picnic lunch at what we thought was the perfect spot only to discover sheep behind the rocks lying in wait for us and our food. They were quite aggressive in their quest for food and watching them chase me across the rocks back to the bike provided Jim with his most amused moments of the journey so far (at my expense). When he had finished laughing he did come to my aid and chased off the sheep that was trying to eat one of the canvas pouches hanging over the petrol tank.

The author makes a break for it, seen off by mad Norwegian sheep
Our exit (SW end) from the Rv258

The next day started off with a strange mist and light then later we were again treated to sunny weather (amazeballs).

Strange light over the Fjord

Today turned out to be a totally different journey to the day before. Norwegians are superb tunnel builders as we have found out, they have built 900 of them with more under construction. They frequently go under water with gradients up to 10%, have roundabouts inside as we discovered in Tromso, even crossroads which come up with little warning. Then there is the one that does a circuit of almost 360% inside a mountain. The most unnerving to date had been the one which had no lighting, no road lines and went round a bend. Our route from Bjrkjelo to Bergen consisted of 21+ tunnels of varying lengths together with half a dozen mini tunnels that don’t warrant a mark on the map. Part of our chosen route on this day was to ride through one particular tunnel. The Laerdal tunnel is the longest road tunnel in the world at 24.51 km (15.23 miles).

Don’t run out of petrol in here!

At 3 intervals along its length you are treated to special blue and green lighting which apparently is to aid driver concentration. There are laybys at these points and we saw people pulling over in the tunnel to take pictures. Quite bizzare but there you go. What is most amazing about any of these longer tunnels is that it can be raining at one end and sunny at the other, farmland at one end and a fjord at the other or in the case of one which had us baffled when it suddenly split into 3 which led straight onto the ferry which by luck was waiting for us. As I said ‘ all quite bizzare’.

Another ferry. We’ve lost count of how many we’ve used in Norway.

All in all a great days riding and we finished in Bergen!

Video – The road to Bergen

Overlooking Bergen from the Hostel Montana
There’s quite a lot of large cruise ships touring the Fjords

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