Nord Cape

Posted Cycling

Some places where i did stay overnight.

Why there? Majority of cyclist from northern Poland chooses Praque as their first distant destination. It’s quite far, however reachable during a typical fortnight break, on the way some valleys and hills… great variety of experiences for a cyclist. As I don’t like to follow the crowds & go the beaten tracks, I decided on taking an opposite direction. Which turns out to be a mecca for the cyclists and bikers.  

The preparations were started by me approx 3 months in advance. Thanks to my employer, Navalis group, my workouts on a rowing machine were done 5 times a week while I was still at sea. Not too exhausting but hard enough to improve my stamina & endurance. And most importantly, substantive preparation, my research. A lot of common sense and my experience to date from cycling across Poland and the information I gathered by reading other cyclists’ stories.

Navalis – the company I’ve been working for many years now, are the main contributor to this journey. It was their support & approval that allowed me to workout while onboard the ship, their financial contribution & encouragement reassured me that I’m doing the right thing.  

My packing was started with a scrap of paper. I wrote down the most important parts, tools, food & supplements, the route was mapped out on Google Maps. From my home in the north of Poland, across Rostock, Helsingborg to Olderfjord.

Why Olderfjord? Somehow Google Maps doesn’t mark the route to Nord Kappe. Until the Swedish border I was cycling with a printed version of directions. While in Sweden I relied heavily on my smartphone & the battery life, because many routes are poorly marked.

The most important lesson… Now that I have completed the journey, I know that in order for these trips to happen you need to think a special way. You shouldn’t think “Will I make it?” but instead think “I’m going for a journey, an adventure”. I was going there just to try it. Every single day, this thought was making it possible & it made me believe that this is going to happen.   

Something like „don’t think about it, just do it” works out well. The break downs along the way were something I would greet with a smile. If something got damaged, my nerves wouldn’t fix it so what’s the point of getting angry? If I got lost on the way (which happened several times), the easiest way was to get back on-route by changing the plan. It’s worth mentioning that I didn’t book my accommodation & stop overs in advance. The plan was to cycle for 100km a day. This was making me feel good. If I was getting exhausted, I would start to look around for a place to stay overnight. Scandinavia is expensive, when it comes to accommodation, so camping places is where I stayed from time to time. It was very convenient, that in Scandinavia the law (Allemansrätten) allows you to set up a camp overnight almost anywhere. Planning in advance can be disappointing and piss you off, when the weather suddenly changes or something breaks down. Twice during my journey I didn’t meet the 100km mark and cycled less than that. The first reason was that my bike broke down & secondly, one day the wind was so strong that I had no strength to pedal more than 70km that day.  

It wasn’t the journey itself, but the experiences & the people met made this journey amazing. It would take ages to write about the feeling you experience while traveling, when you finally reach the destination and now that I’m back home talking and thinking about it.   

Below I enclose a short note from „my diary”, which I tried to write every night, after setting up the tent. Some basic facts & some feelings day by day, the people I’ve met and the discussions we had.

Basic facts:

3000+ km cycled including erring roads

1 broken spoke

26 days of travel

3 day on-board a ship

Middle speed about 15km/h

Priceless experiences, which I wish everyone to experience one day. 

Day 1 (127 km)

Today I have overdone it. Usually I travel with less excess weight.

In the beginning of the voyage, about 70km from home, I met 2 guys from Bavaria. They were on their way to Uznam isle. They have been travelling from Czechai, across PL from south to the north. Few kilometers later I sensed something which brought memories from my childhood. It was the smell of freshly moved Lucerne.

Day 2 (234 km)

It was hard to wake up today. My knees had been aching which made difficult to fall asleep. After a short warm-up, I started to cycle. It was a grey and rainy weather and a tough ride. After 12.5h of cycling, only 100km under way, with opposite wind blowing in my face, I did arrive in a camping place full of mosquitoes. 

Day 3 (340 km)

I slept well. Beautiful morning, full of sun and sound of birds singing. I managed to catch a ferry from Roctock just in time. On the ramp I met Cathrin. She’s been cycling from Berlin to Copenhagen but planning to ride along east coast. Unfortunately, I am heading straight to Copenhagen. However, today we’re going together. We’re heading to B&B where we spend the night in separate rooms. When we got there, I realized that my phone charger is lost. It’s a special charger because the phone is heavy duty and quite uncommon. Fast thinking and the place where the cable could have been lost is identified. Few kilometers behind I had used it and put it back in the pocket. Decision taken, I’m going back to check it. I found it. So eventually I did some extra km due to phone charger and while looking for a place to stay overnight (which was an adventure in itself).  

Day 4 (446 km)

Sunny morning. A night spent in a normal bed. In a Dutch B&B on street Landevej 8, where I took a nice hot shower. It made me feel much better. Aching knees keep reminding me that they’re still there, slight pain isn’t fading. One of my legs is almost burned with the sun, even sunscreen isn’t helping. Fast breakfast with Cathrine and we’re beginning the next day of cycle.

At midday we said goodbyes with Cathrine. As she’s keeping close to the coastline, I continue my way up NORTH?

Few kilometers later I notice a girl on the side of the road. Of course, also a cyclist. While passing I ask if she’s okay, “yea I’m fine” she answers while taking another bite of her food. I don’t stop. After a few minutes she catches up with me. And this way I meet Dibua. A French woman, cycling from Antwerp to Oslo. Nice fit girl with amazing figure. On uphills I struggle to keep up with her. She’s in about 40 so approximately 6 years older than me. She’s also much lighter than me due to less carriage weight. Few hours later she’s going to WarmShower place while I stay on some budget camp site.

Day 5 (561 km)

Koge camp site. It’s sunny and windy today… From the morning, my only hope is that this weather will be in my favour today.

Sweden. I failed to reach any of the camping sites I googled earlier however on my way I notice a sign for B&B. It’s only €5 for a shower & tent. Later on in my journey, I realize that it would be the cheapest accommodation en route. Really amazing place, with horses, dogs, ducks and a hotel for cats. The owners turned out to be really nice people.

I massage tendons under my knees for a long time, they are still aching. After a decent dinner I fall asleep.  

Day 6 (667 km)

A night in a tent on campsite of B&B Ronneboda. In the morning I collecy my tent & bags. Fast breakfast. Quick catch-up with the owners Cecilia & Peter. And off I go to continue the adventure. It’s been a long while since I felt so emotional leaving any place. Again I met friendly people who allowed me to stay at their awesome place. The B&B is up for sale. Sad it’s so expensive.

Today I had my first fall. I drove to the side of the road. I had “unklicked” my left leg from SPD but unfortunately I lost balance on the sandy ground of the right side. By the time I unhook my right leg, I was already on the ground 😉 pretty soft landing though. No damae so all is good.

Tonight I camp on Magnus farm.

Day 7 (782 km)

Morning on Magnus back garden.  I wake up pretty early. At 7:00am I’m already done with breakfast. Sunny day with no wind… that could be nice.

Day flew by so fast. The roads today were interesting, across the forests, some gravel roads. Some up and downhill cycles. Today my food supplies had to be refilled. Prices in Sweden are completely different than in Poland. Although I researched it prior to hitting the road, but the bill in food store was a quite unpleasant surprise. Another night on camp site.    

Day 8 (909 km)

Next morning 😉 camping in a nice place. Unfortunately, I’m starting to arrive at a conclusion that Sweden has no quiet camping places. All night long I’d hear the card passing on the main road.

Tonight I am sleeping on another camp site. Slightly more expensive yet nicer. Fast dinner of chicken with puree and some salad. I’m so full that it’s hard to breath.

Day 9 (1020 km)

Sunny morning. On my way I took some photos of ghnome with banana 😉 As I am traveling through Sweden, I need to use Google maps on my mobile. Printed directions are useless in Sweden. Why is that? Because most bike paths are unmarked. Who do I mention that? Because Google maps tried to direct me onto a highways today. I got lost for some time trying to find a detour.

Eventually I got to a B&B where I spent the night in a tent in the backyard thanks to Beatrice.

Day 10 (1150 km)

A tough day behind me. A lot of uphill cycling. Legs will be aching tomorrow.

The night I’ll spend in a place owned by Tinka & Adam, nice couple, in the city of Fargestra. Warm shower – what a relief.

Day 11 (1190 km)

I woke up in a bed for a change. Amazing feeling. After breakfast I come back to the room to pack my stuff. I research trains as I’m trying to catch my “ship” in port of Husum. Unfortunately Swedish railway doesn’t allow to carry bicycles. Checking camp sites after some kilometres of cycling behind me. Found the place where I’ll spend the night. Still thinking of how I’m going to catch the vessel.

At the campsite I meet another cyclists from Gavle. He’s traveling around the lake. After short small talks I’m going to sleep.

Day 12 (1290 km)

The night was cold. I mean very cold. Again I’m checking options of traveling wth my bike by bus or on a train. From the biker I met last night, I hear about another railway company which allows to carry bikes. Short phone call and the info is confirmed. Now fast to Gavle. I arrive last minte, as always. But instead of catching a train I’m getting a bus??? There were some problems with train track so bus is a replacement transport. I’m approaching the bus driver asking “will you take me with the bike?” What I hear as an answer? In short words “no hablo ingles”. After a few seconds some woman from Customer Service manages the situation and solves the problem for me. I’m on my way to Sundsvall. On my way I get a text message from the Captain saying that they’ll stay in port a day longer. It’s giving me extra time to get there.

When I arrive in Sundsvall I take time to cycle aroung the city and stay wild in the countryside. For the first time I see Sundsvall bridge from this side (shore side). I’m visiting this city often during my sailing contracts onboard of the vessel. The bridge looks really great. Nice piece of engineering work.

Day 13 ( 1410 km)

Quiet night on the wild ground. Now I need to rush to catch the ship before departure. They are going to Domsjo. Another well known port for me. After a tought cycle to Husum, I finally reach my destination. Few hours before departure. Wy was it so important fr me? It’s giving me a possiblilty to rest for a few days and to access a workshop onboard, which I desperately need. After saying hello to all crew members, who looked really surprised to see me when I arrived at the vessel with a bicycle full of bags, I get to the eat a nice dinner from galley and sleep in my cabin. 

Day 14 (1410 km 😊 )

Taking rest onboard of Seeland Tom Worden / Navalis Ship. We stay anchor until the evening. As the berth is occupied by another vessel. During the day I look after my bike, some adjustments, I correct the back mirror, handles, bags fixing frame to finally clean and oil the chain. Everything runs smoothly now. 

Day 15 (1410 km)

Already in Domsjo. So in comparison with Husum I’m few kilometers behind. Here I get some supplies: extra power banks, some cheap watch. Why power banks? Some more news is expected to arrive. En route I get some good news from my employer, they will support me with my cycling trip. They did sponsor me with my cycling outfit and now they’ll give me some more support. In return I’m to take some photos on my way. I am not prepared for this photo shoot so I’ll have to improvise wth my GoPro camera.

Day 16 (1527 km)

I did on 08:00. It’s going surprisingly easy. I need to check my speed meter, to avoid burning my legs, like I did on day 1 in Poland. The plan for today is to make min 100km. A slight drizzle, hopefully it won’t rain or get too windly today. Almost all the way, until Umea camping, I was on E4 route. It’s 2+1 type of highway. Free to ride for cyclists but highly not to be recommended. TBC

Day 17 (1543 km)

Woke up with the sunrise. Today I’ll continue on roue E4. Little windy in the morning, but it’s blowing on my side, so it’s not so bad.

At last the bike path starts, cycling through some forrest and a lot of uphill ride. Now I feel what it’s like to be in the north of Sacndinavia. Hills are becoming my “friends in arms”  as I almost start to talk to them when on the edge of my strength.

Day 18 (1599 km)

I stayed the night on a camp site. I slept really well. It was a quiet place with a sauna. I took my time there, trying to recover & relax before going to sleep. I feel like my muscles are becoming softer & softer with this tempo so the sauna was exactly what I needed. Next day I started late as I had to wait for the reception to open. The night before I arrived very late so got the place place to camp & a key however it was only because I booked in advance, during the day. Today I had to settle the bill with the camp & afterwards I was ready to go. At last I begin my journey again. Strong wind in the beginning which made me unable to describe its direction (opposite or not). Kilometers were going pretty easy, at least until I broke down. I managed to make a self-service stop on the side of the road. Luckily, I had some spare parts with me. I realized that spoke was broken on the side of the gear cassette. To fix it I needed a special spanner, which I left behind at home. Some brainstorming and I managed to cut broken parts with pliers and slowly 30km more with a crooked wheel. I got the the nearest campsite. It is no point to go any further, as it’s Sunday afternoon and all services are closed. Strange feelng, stoping early and full of energy, with only 70km on the underway.

I do not hurry with the tent. It’s a nice place, in the middle of nowhere. Very quiet and not made with luxury. It’s a simple, nice place with a fantastic lake view. I rent a fishing rod. Managed to catch some fish but let it go as I fish for pleasure only.

When I start setting the camp, I meet some guys who stay in a camper van not far from the tent. After few words we change from speaking in English to German, as I easily recognised their accent. Finally, I spent a few hours with Ursula and Erwin in their camper talking. Very pleasant & “warm” couple in their 50s. Talking about everything, my voyage and their travel. Very long story. After few hours it’s bedtime. I say my final goodnights and thank them for the tea. We won’t see each other again as I’m planning to leave very early. There’s a service station about 30km away and I hope they can make some work on my bike fast tomorrow. As a goodbye gift I got a smoked bacon from Erwin, which he made by himself. Today is. 04.06.2018 (not sure why I worote ths date in my journal).

Day 19 (km x?x?x?)

All night was very windy and still blowing like hell. Pretty nice waves on the lake. I eat my breakfast fast as I made it the day before. My bikemeter’s battery R.I.P. – it was too cold for her so from this moment I get no km data.

Up to service station 30kms I make in 3hours. Wind was strong and opposite. I arrive on the place after 10am. I explain to the service team what my situation looks like and that I’m on the way with a broken spoke…some man is starting to handle my case manually as we speak. A few minutes later he’s giving me back an indeally straight wheel with a replaced spoke. Short yestion “how much?”

“It’s free. It’s a gift!”  he answers. I thank him very much with a beaming smile on my face. Such a kindness – amazing!

“Put the wheel on the place?” he asks. “Excuse me” I ask immediately, not sure what he means. “Would you like me to assemble the wheel back on the bike?” “No I’ll manage, thanks!” I answer.

Cykel & Fritid Pitea!!!

Afterwards I’m going to eat some burger close to the servce station. Burger is done so it’s time to rit the road. It’s still wind & cold. Uphills from time to time. After few hours I need to take a longer break. It’s cold but my legs are burning. I call back my friend Peter who tried to call me earlier. Short message “it’s a girl” means that I’ll be a Godfather. When I started the journey his wife was already several weeks pregnant and until this day we weren’t sure if it’s going to be a boy or a girl. Short discussion and I start to cycle again. Arrive at the campsite. It’s cold but for the first time in a long time I meet other tents. I’m going to cook something in camp kitchen. Before sitting down, some scatty guy enters the kitchen (sounds like beginning of a good joke).

Bob very nice gentleman, originally from England, but has been living for many years in Australia. For a while he also lived in France and other places. Now he’s been traveling around Europe. We start to chat. His children are adults, his wife passed away a few years ago. In the 70s he moved to Australia, where he travelled across the country into the wild with his 4×4 camper. He did hiking many times. Once jumped out from some guy’s car while hitch-hiking. Long story but he said this happened only once for the years he spent travelling.

Sun is still up. But I glimse on his watch na d ralise that it’s 2am already! Wow- this sun is really confusing! We exchange the phone numbers & I’m running to get some sleep before the morning.

Day 20

Morning. I didn’t sleep long, maybe 5 hours. It’s windy, but not too bad at the moment. Collecting my stuff took me a while. Again, on E4 road with 2+1 lanes. Some parts of the cycle are on wild roads and stone-pits. A few times it seemed like the roads broke off, with the next turn hidden behind a tree or a rock.

End of the day, during which I witnesses a full spectrum of weather conditions. Within 1 hours there was sun, ran, wind and sunshine again. Eventually at the end of the day the google maps marked 125km cycles today, more than I anticipated. I’m now on new road E10, like a Polish road with less traffic. It’s an advantage for me as the cycle is pleasant. I notice some snow and hail in ditches. And it’s significantly colder now.  

Day 21

The night was cold but I slept really well. During the night the wind was strong, but the morning sky seems clear and much better today. According to plan I’ll do 105km today. The road seemed pretty good although you could feel the cold breeze. After a few hours of cycle I felt a desire to get a warm coffee & a donut. I managed to stop at the souvenir shop where they sold coffee & snacks. While drinking my second coffee & munching a donut, I met up with two Finnish men, who were cycling back home from Nordkap. One of them injured. There were very friendly & crazy about their bikes. We exchanged greetings & headed off in opposite directions.

Finally, I arrived in Muonio. On the way to Alta I met two German guys on motoribikes.

Next day, at the petrol station, I meet Silke & Ralph, a German couple from Wismark, who were cruising across Scandinavia on their BMW GS bikes. They were very curious of my travels & mentioned that they were of the same “travel-bug crew” who drove across Sahara desert on their motorbikes & were now driving across Norway. It’s hard to imagine but that they were in their late 40s. We had a great chat, managed to exchange numbers and headed off to our destinations. They were heading to Nordkapp but they were much faster than me. It was hilarious to see them two days later, driving back from Nordkap while I was still cycling up there.

Day 22-25

The cycle to Alta was one of the best days in my history as I managed to cycle approx. 180km in 1 day. When I got to camp site I had enough power to chat with the staff, & prepare my camping gear. Fast diner & headed to bed.

Muonio. Kautekeiono. Alta.

On the way to Alta I was cycling through deserted areas, a picturesque valley of on the outskirts of the city. On my way to there I was passed by an elderly gentleman, who turned out to be professor at the Copenhagen University, Mathieu.  I arrived in Alta around 7.00pm.

The next day, I got only to Olderfjord as I was exhausted from the terrible weather conditions. The wind was blowing in my face & I was soaked.  On the campsite I met with a Russian couple, Viktoriia & Aleksey, who were a great source of information. They were on the way back from Nordkapp, where it was super windy, roads were winding & the rain was unbearable. As I was already soaked, I gave up on my cycle for today & decided to stay on the campsite overnight. That night I met again, the elderly professor from Denmark, who was an open-minded & young at heart.  I hope to meet more people like him on my future travels.

Day 26

I woke up early in the morning, about 6.00am. After packing-up, while leaving the camp site, I saw a motorbike with a Polish registration plates. I said hello to the owner with “Dzien dobry” to start with. The owner turned out to be an open-minded & friendly guy named Bartek.  We chat for a while, exchange views on the travels & life. He’s on his way back from NordKapp, traveling back to Poland now. We finish the chat I head up to my destination.

I start the ride with tough uphill cycle. After a few kilometres I start to approach a couple on a tandem bike, I approach them because of a missing bike glove, which I had picked-up & give back to them. An exchange of greetings, a short chat about their journey & I head up. Because of the open landscape of the Barrents’ sea, I am surrounded by the fjords, which make my cycle really tough. The wind is coming from the seaside, in my face & from the side. After some kilometres I take a break. The retired couple from a tandem bike appear again & we share a cup of tea while having a chat. We start off together but I move up much faster, so they stay behind. Finally, I approach the famous Nord Kapp tunnel, almost 7 kms in length and 212m below the sea level. In the beginning it got much darker, even though the lights are on. Every car passing seems to make a sound of a tank, although there’s a speed limit of 40km/h, the noise is overwhelming. The 9% downhill decline is making me cycle with a speed of 40km/h without a single move. Until the middle of the tunnel, none of the cars are passing me by, everyone is staying behind. In the middle of the tunnel, the uphill begins. After approx. 2kms of an uphill ride I was forced to get off the bike and walk the remaining distance. In the end of the tunnel, towards the exit, Mathieu approaches me on his e-bike. We take a break after exiting the tunnel, me having a sandwich & Mathieu smoking a cigarette. After the break we hit the road again. Mathieu overtakes me easily on his electric bike, as I have no chance of keeping up with his speed. That’s how I start to reach the final few kms of my journey. While I cycle, I notice a hitch-hiker with a massive backpack on his shoulders. We start to chat and he turns out to be Australian, named Brandon. He rented out his apartment to have funds for backpacking across Norway for a few months. While we sip a freshly made tea together, a car stops with two ladies who decide to pick-up Brandon on his way to the destination. I start my final ride, with many uphills & slaloms. On my way  there I am passed by many motor bikers & tourists who are already returning from Nord Kapp but giving me “Thumbs up” which motives me to cycle faster. About 2kms before the destination, I notice a cyclist with saddle bags who is cycling down. We take a break and start to chat for a few minutes. After a while, he asks me where I am from. When I respond by saying that I’m from PL he looks at me and says “Pierdolisz?” (You must be fucking joking?). Turns out that he’s from the area of Łódz and the rest of his crew are still at the top. Both of us were so exhausted that we didn’t recognise each other’s accents. A quick selfie and off we go!

Finally, I approach the road barriers, an entrance to Nord Kapp tourist area. Right by the barriers, I meet the remaining crew from Łódz, teammates from my fellow cyclist met a moment ago. We chat, have a lough together, take a few shots & I share my excitement over the journey which they are starting only now. As I am finishing my voyage, they will be cycling from Nord Kapp to Helsinki.

I look around and see a large crowd of people, mainly Asian tourists, who take hunders of photos. Seems like a white night is attractive to every tourist on the globe.    

It’s almost midnight, when I finally approach a symbolic monument, the Nord Kapp globe. I take a selfie by the monument & am relieved to reach my final destination. I move to the side of the road, to set-up a camp for myself. Finally, I’m starting to share my GPS location, with my family & friends, who had no idea where I was going. A quick dinner on my Primus stove & I’m off to bed. Exhausted yet extremely proud of myself I fall asleep.

The return

Day 27

I woke up very early, still hyper from all the excitement. As I was waiting for the breakfast, which was served at 7.00am in the Nord Kapp tourist point, I was trying to clear my mind. It all hit me only now that this is really the end of my journey. The breakfast was a buffet, so I ate everything I physically could to refill my energy levels. At the end of the meal, I started to enjoy the sound of a piano. One of the tourists started to play the piano and he was really good at it. I moved to a coffee table to wait for my bus back to Alta. As I was sitting there, I spotted Mathieu who was walking by. I called out to him & we shared the next two hours chatting, drinking coffee & eating pastries. Right before I was going to catch my bus, we walked together towards the globe, where we took a photo together, exchanged contact details & said our goodbyes.

I approached one of the buses going to Alta, asked the driver if it as ok to get on with a bicycle, and I loaded my bags into the trunk. As I was about the enter the bus, I saw the British couple on the tandem bike. We said hello to each other, took final selfies & exchanged the excitement of reaching the final point. At last, I got on the bus.

It took us a couple of hours to get to Alta, where I stayed overnight. In the morning, I got on my bike to cycle towards the airport. At the airport, a kind lady (one of airport staff members) helped me with getting a flight ticked for myself & the bicycle. As I reached Oslo, I had to get another flight ticket, this time to Warsaw. Unfortunately, no flights were going to Berlin, which would be more convenient. As I was waiting for boarding, I took my time to watch the passers-by. Everyone was rushing somewhere, and here I was, in a completely different state of mind. Time to go home now.

As I got on the plane and walked towards my seat, I notice a man sitting in the seat next to mine. He was wearing an Iron Man hat. It was a starting point of our conversation. He was an active Iron Man contestant, who was on his way to Kazakhstan, where the next tournament was to take place. His goal was the 2018 world championships in Hawaii. Both of us fell asleep shortly after taking off. 

Upon landing in Warsaw, I realised that we landed delayed, so I was nervous about my last train home. If I didn’t catch it, I would have to stay overnight in the capital. I picked-up my bags & bike as fast as possible and I run towards the taxi rank. The taxi driver was immediately made aware that I had only 14 minutes to catch my train from the West Warsaw station. Which at this stage was approx. 10km distance with 15 minutes’ drive with no traffic. After a speedy drive through the city, we got to the train station. The driver got me as close to the entrance as possible, going past the barriers and probably breaking some rules. With no words exchanged, we jumped out of the car. I left the money on the passenger seat, with a proper tip for his great ride. As he was throwing my stuff out of the car, I was catching it & rushing to the train platform. Luckily, as I was putting my stuff on the ground, unsure if I managed on time, the train approached. As I had no ticket, I had to check with the conductor, who pointed me to the right train cart, where the bikes can be stored. I got the ticket and was starting to relax. At the next station, I noticed a guy with bike & saddle bags who seemed to be going on a long-distance journey. I helped him out with the bike & we started a conversation on-board. He was going to the north of Poland, to cycle across the Polish coastline.            

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