There are few more epic places to ride than Norway’s Trollstigen, with its giant cliff faces, waterfalls and alpine-style switchbacks. When trolls lurk in dark tunnels, it takes a brave man to stray from the beaten track, as Cyclist discovers
Trolls are miserable creatures. Scandinavian legends suggest that they are bad -tempered and don’t like sunlight – I know just how they feel. It’s far too early on a chilly morning in Molde on the coast of Norway and, as I stumble out of our hotel, blinking in the pale light, the first sight to greet me is the flat tyre of our hire van.
After a quick consultation with Stu, Cyclist’s deputy editor, and photographer Paul, we agree on the short-term solution of simply pumping it up as best as possible with a track pump and then gunning it for about 60km to Andalsnes, the start point for today’s ride, where we meet up with Jan Brokstad and Joern Hustad from the local Rauma Sykkelclub, who have kindly offered to show us around their patch.
The plan is to tackle one of Norway’s most popular routes, the Trollstigen, a winding road that carves its way through the vertiginous cliff faces of the Rauma region. From there we have planned a big loop that will take us 160km through troll country and back to our start point at Andalsnes.
‘Hmm,’ says Brokstad, looking at our map. ‘This route is not possible. Some of the tunnels are closed, and some are too long to go through by bike.’ Ah. We look at the map again to see if there are any obvious alternative routes. No. That’s the other thing about trolls: they like to make life difficult for humans by throwing obstacles in their path. Well, we decide, we are not going to be beaten by miserable trolls. There is always a way around every obstacle. Always.
HOW WE GOT THERE
We flew with Qantas (www.qantas.com) from Sydney to London’s Heathrow, with a connecting flight to Oslo, From there you can get a direct flight to Molde, then it’s about and hour and half’s drive to Andalsnes and the start of the route.
We stayed at the Quality Hotel Alexandre, which is only a 10-minute drive from Molde Airport. The rooms were big and modern and had amazing views over the fjords and mountains. The buffet breakfast was excellent and there’s also a decent restaurant, Vertshuset, located in the same building as the hotel. Prices start from a highly reasonable $82 per person (www.visitmolde.com).
A final thank you to Jan Brokstad and Joern Hustad from the Rauma Sykkelclub for taking the time to show us around their local roads, and to Hanne Knudsen from the Norwegian Tourist Board for ensuring our trip ran like clockwork. For more information on the local area go to www.visitandalsnes.com, or for more
on Norway go to www.visitnorway.com.
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