From Fjords to the "Troll's Highway": Cycling the Norwegian Coast
Micah Sewell is a writer and explorer always preparing for new adventures from the bike saddle. He's a lifelong admirer of nature and spent six weeks this summer cycling the length of Norway, from Oslo to fjord country and up the coastal road. Along the way, Micah collected data for our roadkill survey project. More info about Micah and his tour of Norway can be found on his website: www.micahsewell.com.
One of the most common questions I'm asked about my bike trip is how I prepared myself for it. I can see the people who ask me this picturing me in the gym, covered in sweat, or racing up mountainsides, or living on a diet of salami and powdered milk just to see how it feels. They look at the uncommon and interpret it as the extreme.
I didn't do any of these things. In my opinion, the most important preparation for a long bike tour is to hone your sense of adventure and to prepare yourself to find the thrill in every moment that passes. If adventure is the discovery and savoring of new experiences, then the view from my saddle can't be beat. I biked 3,000 kilometers from Amsterdam to Tromsø, in northern Norway. There were hair-raising sections, like the 11-switchback descent down "The Troll's Highway". And there were exhausting days, like the 12% climb from sea level to Norway's highest mountain pass or the heavy, sideswiping rain in the Lofoten Islands. But with 150 hours or more perched atop my bicycle, there were also countless in-between places - the places where no car will stop, where no-one on foot will travel past. These are the moments that make a bike tour special - the hidden berry patches (my fingers are still tinged purple), secret viewpoints, biking friends met on the road, and wildlife hideouts that open up to you when you travel at the right speed.
Working with ASC added another dimension to the daily ride. If you looked through my camera roll right now, you'd find some mildly disturbing photos - a squashed frog on the side of the road; a bloated seagull that never got to finish its last meal. I'm not a sado-animalist, though. It's research, I promise! Along with bike tourers around the world, I've been watching the roads for signs of roadkill.
I haven't seen too many animal collision victims, which is a good thing, I suppose. Everyone in Norway seems to know someone who's run into a moose or a deer in the mountains, though, so it's not surprising that accidents happen. I'm charting my lack of sightings up to the low-traffic roads I tend to cycle and the time of year, when large animals have more food available and are further from inhabited areas. These are my very un-scientific assertions, backed up by nothing, so take them for what you will.
Even though I haven't added reams of data to this project, it's been a pleasure to be a part of it. Being on the road with a mission adds a new dynamic to travel; it's one more benefit of traveling at a bicycle's pace. And now, when people ask me about preparing for the trip, I can add brushing up on "roadkill ID" to the list of suggestions.
Learn more about ASC's roadkill observation project for road cyclists, the importance of tracking roadkill and how to get involved on our roadkill page. Make sure to like ASC on Facebook, follow us on twitter (@AdventurScience) and subscribe to our blog to keep up with all the exciting news from the field.
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