Christianssands 1200 – The second loop

After a couple of hours of sleep, the alarm went off and it was time to continue the journey. After the cold the night before, it was time to put on some more clothes to stay warm. Freezing through the early hours of a new day, is an unpleasant and unnecessary experience. Wool as the inner layer was chosen, due to the heat keeping properties of wool. It keeps you warm even if it gets wet.

At 10 past midnight we met up at the rendez vous point in Kristiansand and headed into the western loop. First stop Sjøsanden Camping site in Mandal (654 km). The night between Kristiansand and Mandal was darker than it had been further northeast the night before, but it was also warmer. Or could it be the wool that made it feel like it was warmer? The readings on the gps showed 6-7 degrees higher this night, so it was not nearly freezing. The night felt velvety and like a carpet tugged around. Going from Søgne to Mandal, there are few sources of light except an occasional road light and lights from houses along the way. All felt quiet. Closing in on Mandal, the darkness also had got into a struggle with the daylight, and the daylight was about to win; thus revealing the beautiful coastal landscape at Tregde. At 0330 we reached the checkpoint at Sjøsanden.

The camping site was closed, so after a short rest we went on towards Lindesnes Lighthouse (697 km), Norway’s southernmost point. After having to ride a few kilometers on the E39, one of the main highways between Oslo and the western part of Norway, we headed onto a much quieter road down to Lindesnes. The tiredness began to take its toll, so after a few kilometers, we had to rest. No bus shelters or anything was in sight, so we just lie down directly on the dry asphalt and fell asleep for 20 minutes before continuing to Lindesnes.

At the Lindesnes site there was almost no activity. Only a young man having breakfast. The time was around 0630. There was a light, cold fog coming from the ocean, so pedaling on was the correct option. The route went back to the small community of Spangereid, where the route headed west towards Lyngdal. This is a 17 km ride with lots of uphills and downhills. The last ascent before heading down to Lyngdal is particularly long and steep. The rain also started to come about a kilometer after Spangereid, making life a little bit more miserable. But when finishing this part, the road stretched out again for a long, (almost) flat ride past Farsund and Vanse to the checkpoint at Lista Lighthouse (760km). A good tailwind helped a lot on the way to the Lighthouse and life felt good at this point despite the rain. The Lista Lighthouse is an attraction due to the landscape and bird sanctuary there. A lot of seabirds use the terrain for nesting. The coastline outside Lista also is quite treacherous, claiming a lot of ships over the centuries.

When leaving Lista, tailwind had changed to headwind and the pace went down. After a few kilometers, the course turned off to the north, leaving the flat plains of Lista to a more hilly terrain again. The old road from Farsund to Åpta is a fine example of how they built roads in the old days. Much like the corkscrew near Langangen on day 1. The narrow road winds up along the steep hillside in a lush, green forest, giving the impression at times you are riding in a green tunnel. Vernon later had calculated the ascent here to 17%. On the northern side the road falls into a long descent down to the small community of Åpta. From Åpta the ride goes further north to Kvinesdal. Enroute we followed the top of the hillside overlooking Kvinesdal. Giving a spectacular view where the curtain of trees opens up for a look several hundred meters down. From Kvinesdal the route goes along the valley north to the small community of Kvinlog (837 km) where we found the check point at the local store. The rain had continued more or less for 10 hours straight, but there was still work to be done.

From Kvinlog the route goes into a quite tough terrain towards Konsmo (896 km). The climb from Kvinlog eastwards is not long, but it is steep and after this climb, it is just a short while before the long ascent at Haddelandsheia. Well, to a man from Rocky Mountains like Vernon, the ascent probably is not long, but to most others it is some distance. No road continues goes going up forever, though. At some point there will be a descent again. This time towards Eiken. At the top it looked like the valley below was engulfed in fog, but after a short while we realized it was only low skies almost covering the valley. Underneath it was clear view, but with the continuous rain and headwind. At Eiken the route turned south for some kilometers along the Lygne lake before taking east across the hills to Audnedalen. Downhill towards Audnedal, disc brakes definitively were an advantage. The descent is very steep and long. With less braking power in the wet and cold, it could have been a scary ride along the narrow, winding road towards the valley floor. When finally down, it was a turn to the right and then a 40 minutes ride to the check point at Konsmo. The shop there closes at 8PM and after a while it was clear it would be impossible to be there before that time. 8.10PM I rolled into the check point to discover it was all dark. A man was cleaning up outside and I got to speak to him. He soon appeared to be the owner and after explaining the 896km ride to get to his shop, he went inside for to give me a stamp in the brevet card. When he came back he also brought a coke and an egg and shrimp baguette! My man! I was eternally grateful!

After a short break filling the stomach, the return to Kristiansand (953 km) started. Just after midnight Kristiansand was reached after 350km and well more than 4000 hm. A well-deserved rest was then a necessity. But before bedtime, the time for riding to the next control together with closing hours of the next check point was looked. Through the day, almost 7 hours were “saved”, giving the possibility of sleeping until morning with lots of time to reach the checkpoint at Engesland (1005 km) before 1123AM. The alarm was set to 0530, giving 1 hour to be ready to ride.