I wake up once again under a solid roof. The dawn chill doesn’t sting my nostrils, because it’s on the other side of a double-glazed window. I don’t have to jog for warmth around a field full of snow the instant I get out of bed. And, best of all, I don’t have to force down a pan of sticky porridge for breakfast.
My rest day has worked wonders, and despite feeling groggy and having a splitting headache throughout the previous day (and hence the lack of blog about that otherwise uneventful day), I feel fitter and more energetic than I can remember feeling for months. I’m on the front page of the local newspaper, it’s sunny outside, and I’m gagging to get out on the road under the clear blue sky.
My host in Tynset had kindly invited me to join her for a meal with some colleagues the previous night, and I’ve been invited to stay the night in a Dutch couple’s home about 40km up the valley to the east, and to spend the following day learning the art of Telemark skiing.
Their place is right on my new and improved route. Although the mountain-crossing, Trondheim, and the wet and icy coastal road north is perhaps the most obvious way to get to the Arctic Circle, I’ve decided to head east into Jutland, Sweden, and where (funnily enough) it’s likely to be colder — and therefore more suitable for cycling and camping.
I’m pleased, because I’ve spent the majority of my first week wondering how to get under the skin of this reserved nation. But in the last couple of days, I’ve met a variety of people and suddenly I find myself being passed between circles of friends, colleagues and acquaintances. It’s a small world here in Norway, and right now this is working in my favour.
At the back of my mind, I’m aware of the cost of this binge of socialising — I’ll have to make up the miles later on. But I would never pass up these unrepeatable opportunities unless I really had to.
The weather is becoming a running theme, but my journey depends so tightly upon it that there’s no getting away from it. By the time I arrive in Os, the town of 2,000 or so inhabitants where I’m going to be spending the night, the temperature has dropped to ‑14°C. And by the time dinner is safely stowed away in my stomach, it’s plummeted to ‑25°C outside.
I hope the skiing offer for tomorrow still stands…