Norway, here we come! Our next cycling tour adventure will take us above the Arctic Circle through the coastal islands of northern Norway. We’re calling this one the Arctic Islands Cycling Tour. But the destination is not the only unique aspect of this tour.
First, we are traveling in prime tourist season. In the Arctic, there is a limited window between snow melt and the onset of winter. If we wanted to see the beauty of this land, it had to be in July or August.
Next we discovered that the rest of the world wants to be there at the same time for the same reason, and accommodations are scarce.
It was time to call in the experts. For the first time in our cycle touring history we are handing the reins over to someone else. Rather than traveling as a self-supported duo, we booked two back-to-back cycling tours with Discover-Norway.
The appeal of these tours is that they are self-guided. Each day we will be handed our itinerary and we are on our own to make our way to the evening’s lodgings. Most of our meals are included. Oh, and our bags will be there waiting for us when we arrive. We only need carry extra clothing layers and the day’s supplies in our panniers. Sweet!
Speaking of bikes, they are providing those as well. After some minor trauma taking our own bikes to Scotland, we opted to rent bikes for this trip – one small, one large. Heck, we even bought off-the-shelf Norway cycling jerseys instead of designing our own.
I have no idea who our fellow cyclists will be, or even how many of them we’ll have. But I rather like the idea of swapping stories with them at the end of each day.
Perhaps the biggest adjustment for me will be adapting to the pace of this tour. I have to get into my vacation mode. My sightseeing and stop to smell the flowers mindset. Our daily mileages range from a measly 10 miles to 37 miles. This isn’t about racking up the distances, it’s about taking in the scenery and experiencing life on these coastal islands. I’m expecting the views to work their magic on me.
All this takes place above the Arctic Circle. We start in Tromso and work our way out to the barrier islands, using ferries where necessary. The Arctic Coast Tour tour lasts eight days, taking us to Svolvaer. From there we immediately join the Lofoten Islands Tour for another six days. That takes us down to the very tip of that archipelago, where we ferry to Bodo on the mainland.
For the next four days, we have added two out-and-back side trips on our own – mini adventures more in our usual style of cycle touring. Just to remind us what it’s like. And believe me, Rich booked those lodgings months ago.
Our finale will be hopping aboard the Hurtigruten Ferry, a near-cruise-ship vessel that hugs the coastline. After four days of close-up shoreline views it will deliver us to Kirkenes, just miles from the border with Russia. The end of the line for the ship. A dramatic ending to our tour.