So here it is, after four weeks on the road; the signboard that tells me that my final destination is a mere 60 kilometres distant. Fuelled by coffee and pork chops, I set about demolishing this finishing stretch, wrestling with trucks and cars over the right to use the asphalt.
This final stretch could hardly be more dismal a slog. The weather turns sour. Drivers seem out to kill me. The wind becomes dangerously gusty. And on the outskirts of Bodø itself, it begins to rain. Yes, rain. By the time I get to the city centre I am damp and shivering, colder than I’ve been for the entire journey – yet it’s 4 degrees above zero. Oh, the irony.
But this is all incidental to the fact that I’ve achieved what I set out to do. Or, to be more accurate, achieved what I decided I would do, having already set out and taken a measure of the task. Initially I’d thought of riding to Tromsø, another four hundred kilometres or so north from here, but I decided against it after it became apparent that covering that distance would involve more compromises than I wanted to make. The only abstract target I truly wanted to hit was the Arctic Circle, which I crossed a couple of days ago.
So why Bodø? Mainly because it’s the end of the line – the railway line that will take me and my bike back to Oslo on Thursday evening. It seems a convenient point at which to end this little trip, perched as I am now on a tiny spit of land jutting out into the Norwegian sea.
It’s been a bit of everything, the last month. It’s been an ultimately challenging, varied and unforgettable adventure. In fact, it’s surpassed all my hopes in every department.
But now is not the time for retrospection and reflection. That will be a pleasure I’ll take in the coming days as I travel home – and, of course, for many weeks, months and years to come.
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