Nordkapp by bicycle, 1997

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A mid summer visit to Nordkapp

By Martin Andersson

4 bicycle-bikers set off from Gothenburg, starting with taking the night train to Kiruna. Then with bus transport to Karesuando, where the bikes were unloaded and mounted with our packs of bags.

But first – a prologue

It was all started by Patrik Nordkvist och Daniel Broman. These 2 guys were friends with Matthias van den Bosch, from their army service time. Mattias I had known for almost a year – being my colleague at work, at AB Lindare Beckman. He an electrician, me a test engineer of a company specializing in re-wiring of electro-motors.

Apparently there were a lot more people planning to make the tour. The idea of the trip had started a few years before, during above mentioned army time.

This story is about the 4 persons who set off on this trip.


Middle of June, 1997

The distance the train travels – 1200 km – is almost comparable to the whole length of Sweden. As it takes nearly 24 hours, this means usually a bunch of new acquaintances. At least the curiosity of what’s going on – by the young.

(Daniel on left, Patrick on right)

The next morning, we spot the mountains – growing in size – from the train window. The train is followed by a short moment on bus. Mattias, on board bus, is happy – things are going as planned.

Following the ‘flatbed’ roadside of the river Torneå, the first late afternoon – evening – we knocked off 90 km’s (about 55 miles). Months of training culminated in this first experience of ‘the real thing’. The joy. Probably close to what a young cow would feel at first sight of outside – the green grass.

A first real test of our bikes – under full load, the food making equipment as well as the tents. In the wilderness. (Myself in the photo on the right)

After the night and first go’s at cooking of food on fire, pretty soon the climb started. Here we have reached Muotkatakka, the highest location of roads in Finland at 565,6 meters above sea level. Just 20 km before leaving Finland.

Proof of snow! Melting in the warm sun…

Sometimes the scenery is so stunning, it calls for a pause. Or, a climb on a boarder crossing mark.

Having passed the first climb over the mountains, we were met by a warm summer weather as we came all the way down to sea level. More exactly – a fjord bottom – level, at Yykeänperä. Water was pouring down off the cliff sides – myself taking the opportunity of a cool-down-shower.

As the sun was starting to set, we made camp and collected shore-landed wood to build a fire. And to enjoy a well earned beer.

A few days into the tour-de-Nordkap, we noted – as our leg muscles grew – we would need to eat like horses. And above all, fill our water bottles at every opportunity.

Apparently – contrary to my memory – we had a night or two under a real roof. And the possibility to wash clothes. By hand.

Sometimes we would come across a real shop – or at least a smaller version of a shop. Usually this meant bunkering up on canned soup, canned meatballs and – typical for Norway – fishballs.

Having a party with sugar and salt – chips and coke – was a nice break. Especially, after the second climb – from Alta to Olderfjord. The climb was steep – it was the shortest distance made during these 10 days. Eventually closing in on the top plateau – as the landscape flattened – we were met by full snow storm. Many layers of clothes on. The only night when all 4 of us squeezed into one single tent.

We talked about burning a hole into the map of this location of hell on earth.

Normally, we would set up 2 tents. And sometimes, we would wake up in the morning to goats stepping around our tents. The first time was spooky, before one understood what was going on outside the tent.

After some 670 km, we finally reached our goal – Nordkapp. Our arrival was met by a few bus-loads of applauding tourists – mostly Japanese – having passed us a bit earlier. That’s me, seen within the globe-statue.

Height of the Nordkapp-mark : 300 meters above sea level.

After a few hours of rest and fulfillment from the amazing view, we waited for the night ride to Narvik – by long distance bus.

It was a 12 hour bus-ride. The distance made on bus was equal to what we had accomplished on top of a bike during the last 10 days.

From close to Norwegian Narvik, we jumped off a bit earlier, and headed towards Riksgränsen – a skiing resort in Sweden. A short 30 km ride. To make camp for night.

Being more relaxed, as we were done with the work-out on bike, we had to dress up. And took opportunity to enjoy the sun!

Just in time to enjoy the mid-summer festivities.

If my memory serves, from here we took the train homewards.


Epilogue

Myself and Mattias took on this trip without clip-on biking shoes. It really makes a difference, especially going uphill, to be able to use also the upward turn of the leg. A hard-learned lesson, that’s for sure.

Some of us had 26″ mountain bikes. In retrospective, 28″ wheels and a frame made for trekking is of-course the norm for this kind of trip. But, what do you do with a limited economy 🙂


About the author

This is my first attempt to scan 35mm negatives. Learning by doing.

Equipment : Mamiya Sekor 500 DTL 35mm SLR. Lens : 50mm (production around 1970) Weight : 750 grams (26,5 oz) so quite heavy – if compare to digital cameras today. But, I was almost always carrying a camera with me.

I like to catch the play of light.