I am cycling to Tromsø with a lump in my throat. Tromsø is why I am here on my bike at 4 am on beautiful Senja island. It is why I am here at all, cycling to the North Cape. Here last December with my parents, I fell in love with the place. I had to return. And, 6 months later, here I am. The road ahead twists and turns around the fjords of Senja and Kvaløya, and every turn is one turn closer to this beautiful town of the north. Tromsø: here I come!
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Tromsø is at 69°40′33″N and 300km north of the polar circle. In the summer, the sun never sets, and I cycle in the eternal light. In the depths of winter the sun does not peek above the horizon. For about 3 hours a day the sun approaches the horizon and bathes the landscape in the most beautiful deep velvet blue. In the south the sky turns orange: a sunrise that never comes.
The shortness of the dusk – the three hours before everything is plunged again into darkness – makes one focus. The next three hours will be lived to the fullest. For the next three hours, I will live in the now. Each day is intense, and each day here is oh, so beautiful.
In the winter I looked down over Tromsø at midday in the twilight blue. In the summer I stood in the same place at midnight, bathed in the midnight sun.
In the winter we went on a motorski near Lyngen. Waiting for the ferry at Breivikeidet was stunning. Everything so blue. In the summer, the rain had come. The clouds were threatening, and the place had lost some of its magic.
Then I headed north on my bike, away from the Tromsø region, into unknown territory for me. I was accompanied by some spectacular threatening clouds as I rounded the last fjords before the trek across the tundra plateaus.
And then across the tundra in the far north. The last stretch before the North Cape.
All cyclists going to the North Cape follow the same final road. Its barren beauty fills me with joy. But, the force of the elements make you to earn the last kilometres. This is the climax, and what a climax it is! A 7 km long tunnel that plunges to 212 metres below the sea with a slope of 9%. Acceleration straight down into the frigid depths. The teeth chatter, and the whole body shudders with the cold. Outside with the final approach, the wind is brutal and the slopes are steep. And it is cold. And it rains a bit. This is what the North Cape is meant to be like. A point at the end of the earth.
Humour me. Its not the most spectacular photo of Norway. Indeed, it is a photo that everyone takes at the North Cape. For the cyclist, it has extra meaning. It is the goal of the journey, even though the journey was the goal. This is the proof that I made it to the North Cape. I have seen some of the most beautiful parts of this country, and of Europe. And I am content.
I kept a blog of my bike trip. Maybe you are interested. Also I have made a short video of the trip. Thanks for reading my post!
Copyright: Matthew Harris (lambchopeindhoven)