Shower, clothes change, bike check, phone check and then food from the local supermarket, bread, cheese, apples, nuts two strong black coffee's, hit the road north, always north. The road shadows the Vefsna river which seems to cling to every contour and deviation of the road, a constant companion for most of the day, around fifty miles to the town of Mosjoen, the panoramic views remaining just as incredible as days before, bathed again in sunlight, cloaked again in the deepest blue sky, the road works its magic once again. Miles trip by, not so much effortlessly but without the debilitating fatigue of the headwind and mountain passes. Stop at a service station just north of the town, strong coffees, apples, nuts, bread and cheese, the staple diet of the road.
The road edges nearer to the summit, passing frozen lakes that grab the side of the road, just feet away from your passing, still deeply frozen with melt holes forming to reveal hidden depths, the mind plays tricks to imagine yourself riding off the road to be swallowed into the deep water through one of these gaping apertures, with no one else around. The road changes direction as if to force you to take in ever distant horizon, Gronfjellet peaks rolling into view, out staged by the backdrop of the Rana ice cap in the distance, this 'is the 'monument' promised by the map, views of a 'monument' scale and proportion.
Ronnaug, her son Alf, her friend from the café welcome me with warmth and hospitality as through a re-union from the distant past, we share family information and photographs, and talk about Norway, Europe and briefly about Britain. It seems that Norwegian people are happy to feel slightly detached, geographically, from so many things happening in Europe and across the world. Throughout the cycling challenge, this limited experience is of a beautiful country, landscape and terrain aside, of people comfortable with themselves and with others, with an overriding strong sense of social responsibility which was to be envied, there seems to be an empathy and warmth wherever you go whoever you meet or come into contact with. Lunch over, we bid our farewell's with a promise to keep in close contact and to see each other again, riding back along the road one last look back, a lasting impression, a house the colour of sunflowers, you count your good fortune as it comes your way in so many ways, Ronnaug checked that I had her brothers address, I promised to find his house.
The miles roll by, complicated by the by-passes to avoid the more frequent tunnels, north east into the southern edge of Mo i Rana, the last main town before tomorrow's final push to the Arctic Circle, late evening and the temptation of a hotel room overcome for the economy of a campsite and most basic of huts, swelteringly warm from the day-long sun, food from the supermarket on the opposite side of the road, bread, salami, nuts, broccoli and no coffee, shower, bike check, phone check to pick up more nice text from home Bev, Meg & Sarah, my three closest allies that give permission from home to head out north, mum from further north in Yorkshire and Keith &Fleur parents to the brave, and always smiling, Aiden Mitchell, they all seem in good form. Asleep by eleven o'clock, still day light outside, to remain daylight throughout the night, still no real distinction between night and day, still no real sun-fall or sun-rise
These sort of days don't come often, you count your good fortune in being able to pack so many good things into such a few short hours, so many uniquely positive outcomes, you set out with nothing booked, nothing pre-arranged, for good things to unfold to leave lasting impressions, where the magic happened.
Day 5 - 125 miles