[ blog » 2022 » 07_Tour_Norway ]d24: Odda to Hovden (by Philipp Gesang, location: A Dry Room near Hovden)


The drying room at Odda campsite didn't live up to its promise; when I went to fetch my laundry in the morning it was still wet as it was the day before, just 40 degrees warm. They really need to fix the circulation in there to get rid of the humidity.

It had rained all night, again. The pitch wasn't all tidy lawn so the outer tent ended up sprayed with mud. Lots of mud, it must have added half a kilo to the packed weight. I also found much more water inside the tent than could be explained by condensation alone; this needs some investigating, I just hope the water didn't enter by way of a puncture in the tent floor.

Riding up the first climb it remained dry for a while until it didn't. The sheer number of waterfalls left and right of that gorge is remarkable. Some of them I had to practically ride through. The road was rather busy with lots of campervans heading in both directions, probably looking for an alternative to the Trolltunga hike which wouldn't have been ideal in today's weather. Thankfully the traffic problem vanished after the pass tunnel, evoking memories of the Grand Saint-Bernhard. From there to the summit it's a breeze to climb, except for the wind, which again came from the front and sure as hell was more than just a "breeze".

The reward for enduring that ascent is a stunning view down the valley and loads of undisturbed natural beauty. Descending into Roldal involves a nerve-wrecking dance around the hairpin turns which gets even less fun after the summit road re-joins the main route at the far side of the tunnel. I encountered three cyclists, two roadies and one light tourer, heading up the climb from the hairpin side, the only cyclists I met all day. Everybody else seems to have gotten the memo about the weather.


After a short rest at the Roldal stavkyrkje I went to tackle climb no. two of the day, the Haukelifjell pass. No issues with wind up there but the rain kept intensifying. And it got cold. I was quivering even on the ascent as my legs didn't deliver enough excess heat to keep my upper body from freezing. Hands got stiff and numb, so much that I had trouble eating an apple. I'm just glad I didn't fall down one of the ramps. Fun times.

The pass road is even busier than the earlier bit, as it is the fastest route from Odda and Stavanger to Oslo. More than one stretch of it was off limit to cyclists, including two loops that were dug into the mountain. The fallback routes for these were pleasant to ride due to how quiet they were by comparison.

At the very top I got to see something novel to me: The summit tunnel is undergoing repair work so all the traffic is being rerouted over the fallback route. I. e. the cyclist route with just one lane. Since that segment is rather long, about 8 km according to one of the Vegvesen staff, they can't rely on traffic lights. Instead, traffic is organized into convoys with a leading and trailing "guidance car", funneling a kilometers long beeline of cars over the pass, one direction at a time.

Below the pass on the other side one has to cross a plateau with reservoirs. At that point the rain ceased for a while and even the sun showed itself through the clouds occasionally.

Divine Aleatorics

From Haukeli I had to climb back up again on another plateau at around 900 m of altitude. It was already getting late so I hoped to get this over with painlessly. Sadly that hope was in vain as Norway decided to hit me with the whole package: rain, headwind, steep short climbs. Those final 25 km to Hovden had it all. Stoically I made it there and asked for a room right away so I could finally dry out after two moist days.

Reflecting about that headwind issue I came to the conclusion that the cause was ultimately my planning. The omniscient weather gods of course had the advantage of reading my itinerary document so they know where I was going to go and could manipulate the weather there to maximize unpleasantness.

Next time I should adopt countermeasures: plan not just a single, linear route but numerous connected alternatives forming a directed graph where I randomly pick one of the edges to continue from whatever node I arrive on. So unless the Universe is fully deterministic and the weather gods posess complete knowledge about its state, they will not be able to reliably sabotage my trip by sending the worst weather down the roads I'll be taking.


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