Sunday, August 18, 2013

The last ferry

Now we are three: myself, Niels-Kristian, Martin. Slowly drying out. Under light overcast and filtered sun we spend the rest of the afternoon approaching Oslofjord.

Navigation is no problem when the route goes 33.8 kilometers on road 111, then right in a roundabout and 21.7 kilometers on road 118 to Sarpsborg. In the town of Sarpsborg it's another story. I'm staring at 4 lines in the route sheet with the same mileage cue, with no right, left, or straight directions:

847,50 Venstresvingsbane - ellers ingen skilte, Tunevien.
847,50 Over motorvejen.
847,50 Left lane, no signs. Tunevien.
847,50 Go over motorway.

The third line is the kicker. In the confusing, rapid sequence and lack of street signs that say "Tuneveien", at this point there's actually a Y. We have to choose left on Tuneveien or right on Bjornstadveien, which is not on the route sheet.

Along comes a large pack, led by a rider who knows the way. We keep them in sight through this section and back onto road 118 but then let them go.

The terrain rolls gently, even slightly downhill along the E6 toward Moss. As long as we can see the motorway we're not lost. As riders have warned since Day 1 at this point we are pushing directly into the prevailing wind. A heroic feeling it is not. But with several riders, quite manageable by taking turns at the front. And, it's no longer raining.

Somehow we find ourselves at the ferry terminal at 6:20, perfect timing for the 6:30 crossing. Yay!
Niels-Kristian making sure the proper items are in his pocketses before heading upstairs.
A booth in the lounge is the epicenter for 8 or so randonneurs. The trip is only 20 minutes; unclear whether there's really time to eat. Maybe we should wait and seek food on the other side in Horten. That is a risky proposition; it's Sunday in Norway and nothing's open.

Still full from lunch, I settle for a Larabar and waffle washed down with a $5 cup of coffee. The mood is celebratory; we've made decent time. Between us and Skien, less than 100k. The sky is clear and the rest seems well, almost textbook.

On this brevet the ferries have been our rest stops and refueling stations. Our refuge from navigation. The biggest wildcards, in terms of making progress. Most of all, with less than 90 riders now scattered over many kilometers, they've served an important social function.

At the booth there is joking and laughing. There is cautious optimism without bragging or ego. In these faces that were unknown a few days ago, the best of human nature. Quiet courage. Effort, fatigue, humor, realism. Camaraderie.

Too soon we feel the engines slow. It's time to head back downstairs and gather our things and set out for Skien.

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