Around the Pond: 5000 km on the North Sea Cycle Route

After about 30 km over smaller swedish highways I reach the norwegian border. Just a kilometer before the border a cluster of large supermarkets, where the norwegian can shop in "cheap" Sweden.

The border itself is delineated by a fjord, which is spanned by two large bridges, one for the motorway E6, the other one, a few kilometers further east, for the smaller highway 118. After doing some shopping at the supermarkets I make a breakfast break on the swedish side of the bridge. Here is a shop doing money exchange. I change some Euro into norwegian Kronor, probably paying much too much...

I have no maps yet for the norwegian part of the North Sea Cycle Route. I try to follow the cycle route signs for route 1, but the signage is not very good. A few times there are signs like "cyclists toward Sarpsborg follow 118 for 10km", and then no other sign for those 10 kilometers. Often the signs are missing or misleading.

I make my way to Sarpsborg, the first major city on the route in Norway. In Sarpsborg the cycle path suddenly ends, leaving me at the wrong side of the road, waiting for ten minutes for a break in traffic to cross the road. Finally I cycle back a few hundred meters, and find my own way.

I stop at a big mall, to find some maps. In a book store I find the best maps yet for the North Sea Cycle Route. Castor Forlag publishes a series of maps of cycle routes, printed on weatherproof plastic sheet, with detail cards for cities to cross. The North Sea Cycle Route is covered by two sets of these maps. The book store has the set for the eastern part. This will get me as far as Kristiansand.

Using my newly acquired map I try to follow the cycle route, and run into the next problem. The map wants me to cross a river on what is clearly a pure motorway bridge, without any pedestrian or cycle lane. It takes me a while to discover this, and decide for the moment to ignore the cycle route on the map and follow a busy highway on this side of the river to Frederikstad. Here the map seems to be OK, and I finally re-join the North Sea Cycle Route.

I want to try and reach Moss today. The NSCR map shows no camping sites near Moss, however. But my large-scale auto map shows one just south of Moss, and one to the north (in a part not covered by the NSCR map).

This part of Norway is mostly flat, agricultural. For a few kilometers the cycle track runs directly along the coast. Here I discover a boat that looks familiar. A closer look confirms: this is the royal yacht Norge, which I had seen up in Oslo a few years ago. It is anchored just off the coast, and I don't see any activity.

It is nearly 8 p.m. as I arrive at the camping site south of Moss. The reception is closed, and a sign say "campsite full". This seems to be a site for seasonal campers, and not welcoming a lone traveler.

What now? I could try the campsite north of Moss, but that is a few kilometers off the track. I decide to take the ferry to Horton, on the other side of the Oslo Fjord, where the NSCR continues. Near Horten are a few camping sites mentioned on the NSCR map.

I make my way into Moss and to the ferry harbour. There I buy a ticket, and join the auto queues waiting for the ferry. Only a few minutes later a ferry is arriving, and I hope to get on board quickly. But it seems the ferry service if run with fewer ship during the night. As all passengers have left the ship it is closed and shut down for the night. We have to wait another half hour for the next ferry to arrive. As everyone is on board and the ships leaves the harbour it is already 10 p.m.

We arrive in Horten at 10:30 p.m. I take a few minutes to find a information board and locate the nearest camping site. I get there at 11 p.m. The reception has been closed for hours, so I decide to just try and find a spot for my tent, and register in the morning. As I am still looking around I get approached by someone who later turns our to be the manager or owner of the camping site. He is interested in my bike, and we talk for a while about the trip on the NSCR.

He tells me where I can put my tent, and gives me a key card for the bathrooms. I forget to ask for token for the showers, so I get into my sleeping bag feeling somewhat unclean.


Day 30 - July 2nd: Strömstad to Horten (N)

Route

Strömstad - Sarpsborg - Frederikstad - Moss - Horten

Statistics

Distance: 134.43 km
Cycle time: 8:31 h
Average speed: 15.76 kmh
Hight difference: 1200 m
Total distance: 2069 km
© Thomas Stets ts.semper.d@googlemail.com
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