The Narvik Tour

1 day
130 km
June 1989

I spent the whole of 1989 in the Norwegian army. 9 months of it up in the north, 2000 km from home. I brought with me my bike and I did some tours. The Lavangen, Salangen, Senja and the North Cape tours were reasonable successes. In between these success, I had one big failure; this tour. It was a hopeless optimistic 350 km tour in 2.5 days and with the same hopeless setup as the Senja and the North Cape tour. I stretched myself to the limit at the Senja tour and only managed 130 km a day at the best on a mainly flat road. So I in my deranged wisdom thought I could do a lot better than that. Madness.
The tour I planned started from Setermoen and went over the mountains to Narvik, then to Skarberget, ferry to Bognes, ferry to Lodingen, road again up to Tjeldsund bridge and then the finishing 150 kilometres over some frightening mountains up to Setermoen again. All together a total madness. My neck was thankfully saved by a destroyed wheel just south of Narvik (at Skjomen bridge). That piece of luck also saved my North Cape tour a fourteen days later.

Please note that the bad quality of the pictures is both due to my incompetence as a photograph and the bad quality of the camera.

I started from Setermoen late afternoon in a blazing sunshine after a day of shooting and marching. I was not in my best form. The tour started with a climb. The climb took me up to a small lake and up a small valley to a hill overlooking the Salangen valley. The road descended vertically into the valley and then followed it past some houses I have learnt has become Polar Zoo.

Looking back down the Salangen valley with the Stor Ala mountain in the background.

Back in 1989, the valley was the playground of the Norwegian Army. This was during the cold war too. After ten kilometres of nice flat cycling, the road started to climb towards a bridge at Forset. The road crossed this bridge and climbed steady up from the valley floor from this bridge. The climb was a bit boring, but I got my reward on the top of the hill, overlooking Fossbakken. I was also dehydrated so the descent to Fossbakken was done in blazing sunshine and

The climb up from Fossbakken was very steep and hot. The heat was almost unbearable. The climb was both long and steep. The climb ended at over 400 meters above sea level and with some beautiful views over the fjord deep below. I was both exhausted, dehydrated and starting to panic.

Looking down towards Gratangen.

The road was now perched above the fjord in a vertical mountainside. The descent alongside this mountainside to another valley was very scenic. The road became pretty flat before a new mountain climb took me to the mountain overlooking Bjerkvik and Narvik.

Looking down towards Bjerkvik and Narvik (in the distance).

I descended down to Bjerkvik and took the road towards Narvik. This 35 km long road was very undulating with some very big hill-climbs along the pretty busy road. I was exhausted when I arrived at the famous bridge over Rombaksfjorden. The road from that bridge to Narvik was sheer hell in the midnight sun and I was very pleased when I arrived in Narvik at midnight. The midnight sun meant that the temperature hardly changed from midday to midnight and back. I now got the full force of this. After a small break in Narvik, I cycled down the flat road to Skjomen bridge. The wheel said bang, I tried to repair it. To no avail. I pitched up my tent for the rest of the night and took the bus back to Narvik and Setermoen the day after.

I was bitterly disappointed....... but I soon saw sense. This is a fine, but hard tour in it's own right and I am glad I have done it. This tour is also a part of the 2650 km long North Cape to Lindesnes route. A tour I have no plans to do.