Day 21: Storslett to Alta

Distance: 139km

Elevation: 1.930m

Today was tough. It was very hot and there was a lot of climbing. Towards the evening I also came into a thunderstorm.

The night had been somewhat traumatic for me. Since the camping site is located directly next to the E6, it was kind of noisy. So, I decided to put earplugs in. I don’t do this very often but I remembered that they often used to fall out. So, I put them extra deep into my ears. When I woke up around 1:30am, I wanted to take the earplugs out again. One I could manage but the other one was too deep in my ear because of all my “doing it right”. This had never happened to me before. I almost freaked out because I could not get it out. I actually risked pushing this thing even further into my ear. So I got up looking for some sort of tool. Luckily, another camper lady was also awake. I asked her for a tweezer and luckily she had one. I probably looked like some sort of rabbit in a trap. Even if I felt totally embarrassed, I asked for her help to pull it out. So there we stood in the middle of the camping ground after midnight: a panicking rabbit and the perplexed helper with a tweezer.

Finally, she managed to pull this thing out. I was so thankful for her kind help. I immediately threw the pieces into the dustbin – maybe a bit overly dramatic. I imagined what would have happened without her help. It took quite a while until my pulse got normal again and I could go back to sleep.

I woke up early and was in the saddle by 7:30am because I knew that today would entail some climbing. The first hill went up over 8km to 400m in altitude with amazing views on the Altafjord. I even reached the snow fields.

My mood was high and I felt strong. The descent over 10km was also very cool.

After a second hill, I found a supermarket and Cafe with a super nice owner who also spoke some words of German – cyclist heaven. It had gotten hot meanwhile and I took some time to eat, drink and chat with her.

Later, a Norwegian cyclist couple in my age came by. They wanted to do 3.500km Norway from North to South in 3-4 weeks. He looked quite in shape, she not yet. Both pulled fully loaded trailers behind them and had done 100km a day – but wanted to speed up now. It did not need much science to see that they would not make it in time unless they got rid of a lot of weight. I told them about the rule I have developed for my luggage: if I don’t need it every other day, I don’t need it at all.

Later, I also met Jim, another nice guy from Norway who was also going south. He was quite happy to have a chat since he had not met a cyclist in the past days. I also met other couples or small groups but they never stopped for a chat. They were in their own little bubble.

Oh, by the way: I saw more rain deers. Also I learned that none of them are “wild”. They all belong to Sámi people even if the roam around freely and each have an unique cut in the ear as a marker. The amount of rain deers pretty much represents their bank account. Hence, it is considered impolite to ask a Sámi how many animals he owns. After Tschernobyl, over 70.000 animals needed to be killed because of radioactivity. The Sámi were never fully compensated for this.

For the afternoon, I was following the Altafjord to Alta. Fjords are great to watch but not very practical in terms of logistics. I could see the city already when I still had 30km of cycling to do. A thunderstorm grew as I came closer. I would either have to ride right into it or do something illegal and take a bridge and some tunnels that are forbidden for cyclists to get on the other side of a mountain. I chose the illegal option and the plan worked out. However, 5km before the camping ground I finally got really soak and wet. It was actually quite refreshing.

I arrived at the camp ground next to the Alta river. This time, I chose a room because of the rain. I did my laundry and quickly ate something. I was very tired and simply crashed around 8pm.

Learning of the day: It is amazing who is there to help you when you are in trouble.

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