Sunday, August 18, 2013

Saving Norway

In the parking lot of the snack bar, we do the ritual prep for night riding. Reflective leg bands. Headlamp in place. Rear blinkie flashing. On dozens of brevets and long rides now, the same set of tasks. I find it calming.

Riding at night is the best. There are so many advantages.
  • It's guaranteed to be cooler than the day
  • You can't see the hills
  • The roads are much quieter
Some of my most magical experiences on a bicycle have been at night. So the push west toward the main road in the Numedal Valley is full of anticipation for me. Danny and I were on this very road in 2007 and while my recollection is fuzzy it has to feel familiar. Something familiar would be good.

I don't recognize a thing. In fact the road is very busy for a sleepy rural county on a Sunday evening. Fast, impatient drivers. It's noisy and there are trucks. Lots of them! The road goes up and down, not as steeply as the roads around Oslofjord but plenty long. Descents are great fun but then it's always a long climb out.

Everyone has something to say about the traffic, the drivers going so fast and passing so close. I mean, it's Norway. What could be urgent in Norway? Maybe all the stunning scenery burns the retina if you look too long. Or the country is under some military threat and its citizens are rushing to save it.

Maybe the reason is economic... Oil is the mainstay of the economy and it has surely financed all the new Audis, BMWs, Mercedes gunning past. Powerful cars for an economic powerhouse. More reckless driving, more fuel burned, higher oil prices. A stronger Norwegian economy!

Ahead looms a macro tunnel, no way around it. Thankfully the road slopes downhill so we tuck in for maximum speed. A long 30 seconds. Toward the end I realize I'm holding my breath. A truck pulls out to pass as I break through the other side.

Turning west toward Skien, immediately the traffic drops off. They were all headed to Larvik, the reckless devils!

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