My starting point of Bergen was a spectacular way to launch into this journey. The beautiful sea port city had much to offer in cultural terms as I arrived amidst the beginning of a summer festival. The hosts whom I found through they cycle-touring website, warmshowers.com, were gracious enough to let me stay for two nights as I nailed down my route with locals and explored the city. They also fed me very well and shared some of the local customs--including fishing etiquette, a few Norwegian words and a detailed explanation on why Norways wine monopolies were superior to their Swedish rivals.
My first jaunt on the road out of Bergen, I made very good distance covering an average of 100 kilometers a day. In no time at all, I had made it down the coast and to the opening of Hardangerfjord--arguably Norways most scenic waterway. The roads that took me up this fjord were absolutely incredible; raw majesty at its finest. Huge expanses of water and massive, steep cliffs complemented by quaint mountainside farms with rows of wild roses and rhododendrons made for an extremely scenic ride. A couple hundred kilometers and a few ferry rides later I stopped to rest in the small town of Øvre Eidfjord.
From Eidfjord, I had one of the most physically and mentally taxing days of my young life, but I was rewarded for it. From the river valley, the iconic Mabødalen road would take me up more than 1,000 meters from sea level. 40 straight kilometers of climbing through sketchy conditions of rain, snow, narrow tunnels and gravel roads. Though halfway through it all I got to stop and take a break at the scenic vista of the Vøringfossen waterfall. You've probably seen it on a postcard or travel brochure somewhere. It's quite amazing in real life. After battling through the glacial plateau I was cold and numb on the descent into Geilo. I stopped for a hot meal and a cold beer but ended up getting a place to stay. The restauranteur was a fellow cycle tourist and I think could tell how depleted I was. Bonus tip for awesome hospitality.
The next few days were a breeze after that. Awesome weather and flat(ish) roads were all the motivation I needed to crush kilometers. I had chosen a scenic route that wrapped alongside rivers and lakes. Unfortunately, snow melt coupled with classic Norwegian rain spells meant they were too gorged and muddy to fish. No matter; I had my sights set on the road.
Enlightened but not discouraged, I was on the road again. The terrain was becoming flatter and the lakes more frequent as I approached the eastern border. With my freshly acquired knowledge that lake trout don't require permits, I spent my last days in Norway breaking early in the afternoon to set up camp by water and bust out the gear. Fishing is a great way to unwind after getting off the bike and also helps to beat the sticky, inland heat.
I was starting to believe I had bad luck...or at the very least bad technique (still very likely). But on my LAST day in Norway--as if planned by fate/irony/comedic fishing gods or whathaveyou--I caught my first fish of the trip.
If the lesson from my last post was patience, this weeks lesson is persistence. I suppose the two compliment each other--especially in the realm of angling. I've learned from my travels as well as my fishing that answers aren't simply given to us. We must seek them out. But the search is perhaps the most rewarding part. It seems commonsense to say that it is where we stand to gain the most.
As I sit now beside this new and unexplored body of water, I'm filled with hope and excitement for what's to come. I can't say that all my days on the road have been easy ones. But when I find myself feeling stuck, frustrated or just plain tired, I take a breath and step back to realize the larger picture and am wiser because of it. Hard to do at times, but necessary for actual growth. So if at first you don't succeed, get a beer (or four) and find a new lake.