Oslo

September 13, 2012 - Oslo, Norway

So this is it. We have arrived, no crashes, no robberies, no severe losts, no cash crisis', no injuries, no moose sightings or bear and/or wolf attacks and not even a bonk or a puncture. Overall a relatively tame trip, so I apologise for the general lack of pain on our behalf. At least the first couple of days were tough, based on our daily wind calculations I can suggest the worst Scandinavian cycling trip to be a ride from Stockholm to Gothenburg and/or Oslo. This way you are guaranteed a horrendously brutal headwind.

The first half of today's ride was spend avoiding the cycle route 7 to Oslo, sporadically meandering across roads and into local housing estates it was best avoided. Then our maps ran out and the cycle route 7 came to our rescue and then quickly dumped us. Skirting around a diversion we picked it up again and followed it successfully for around 15km. After passing the theme park we were left slightly confused. The track appeared to be leading us onto a gravel road into a logging camp. Dani with her slick road tyres was unsure, I became less sure as we hit a 15% climb. Just as we were seriously beginning to doubt the direction another 7 sign was picked up, now taking us through some lush forest tracks, the wet pine smell all around us making perfect pee stop terrain. In clear mountain bike territory Dani was not comfortable, puncturing was pretty high on her list of concerns. I however was all over it, the first time on the trip where my bike with its chunkier tyres and front suspension was massively outperforming Dani's leaner, meaner machine. I was well up for the rest of the 7's journey into Oslo.
It wasn't long after this highlight that we were back to pavement and golf course skirting and we left the cycle routes behind, within the last few km's of Oslo and starting to get the city lost feeling we welcomed the cycle routes return -for all of roughly two seconds, as I narrowly missed being forcefully ejected from my bike by a van driver opening his door and cornering to see a 20% climb looming dead ahead. That should teach us about cycle lanes! However it did give us a stunning view of Oslo, it's harbour and surrounding islands as we approached on the high road.
I have been impressed to note the position of women in Scandinavian countries up until now, after 6months in London as a construction manager I have yet to see one other female working in the construction trade side of the industry, yes architects and yes engineers but no dirty hand jobs. Here I have seen two blondes with strimmers, one with a pneumatic drill and a brunette digging a trench, I have seen others walking around in hi-vis indicative of an outdoor manual job. Of this I am impressed.
I am also impressed with the ease with which we managed to collect some bike boxes, walking into the first Oslo sports shop and picking up two huge boxes was a welcome relief after my experience in other cities (notably Rome). Of course we have spent the past week or so trying to supplement our fallible navigation mechanism. Picking up free maps of future destinations as and when possible. A common feature of maps acquired on this trip have been highlighted and numbered areas without explanation. We have just returned from a heavily numbered area of the Oslo map, still none the wiser as to the meaning of the numbers. Yesterday a fantastic looking red and blue highlighted trail linked two villages via what looked like a quiet short cut, unsure as to whether it was a scenic driving, walking or cycling option I kept an eye out (as I always do for the potential short cuts) to find nothing in reality. Perhaps a county border? On our arrival into Swedish towns we'd always head straight for the centrum, in Norway the sentrum. This obsession with the labelling of the central point of a settlement threw us completely in the first couple of days, where we foolishly assumed that to have a centre more than four buildings would be required, but it appears that the centrum simply refers to the precise point equidistant from all immediately located structures and it's not prerequisite to have more than one.
I have also noticed that the Scandinavians come in two kinds, type A: those who are highly enthusiastic (verging on insincere) with crap English and type B: those who are loathed to be taking to you operating fluently. Today's first tourist info  housed a type A, usefully locating the cheapest, closest accommodation ( with the help of a pre-typed English sheet.  Type B was met in tourist info number 2, speaking with almost a brummie accent he sarcastically told us that we could not get to Lillehammer using the oslo pass because the clue is in the name. Considering it is possible to get to Lillestrom using the oslo pass you can see where the confusion might kick in.  We were also told there were only two possible options of getting to the airport, bus or train. To get details it's best to walk to the bus or train station and ask them. After recently winning a coffee tasting competition and having effectively downed 3 expressos in less than 3minutes adding a general headache to the overall trip tiredness, I readily concluded that type B's should not work in tourist information centres. It also meant that I was not particularly keen for dani's suggestion of maybe cycling to Lillehammer, as it's not included in the Oslo pass I'm thinking it's way beyond what I signed up for, envisaging at least another 40km of bonus cycling. Having googled the place we would be looking at more like a 332km ride, at least I'm comfortable in the knowledge that to reach Lillehammer public transport will have to be enlisted. Sweet - bring on the holiday part.


3 Comments

Dr Gill:
September 14, 2012
So let's just examine the evidence here.... You managed to find a head wind without my assistance? Maybe you at e common factor! And finally note of caution when going to the toilet au naturale in pine forests be careful what you wipe with!
tim johnston:
September 14, 2012
Haha, James, typical doctor's comment! Tho I agree that stray cones are probably best avoided...
tim johnston:
September 14, 2012
Bit puzzled by your comment re women doing manual labour. All over the third world you can see women being used as beasts of burden, doing the dirtiest, heaviest jobs: breaking rocks, carrying impossible loads of firewood, pulling ploughs, shoveling sh*t... In England, women used to work naked down the mines. Just be thankful you live in a 'sexist' country!
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