Day 7: Malangen to Alta 454.7km
The morning is marred by drizzle, and an uncharacteristically dull circumnavigation of the peninsular, before we pick up the pace again and start threading our way between the black and menacing mountains of the north. It’s like a film set for Game of Thrones. Winter’s coming, you know.
The fjords seem to last forever as we’re forced down one side, only to swoop through a U-turn to cling to its opposite coastline, the E6 now feeling like a much-magnified version of Scotland’s A9 from Glen Morangie to Thurso. A roadbook error (ours, not its) see us cruise past the lunch stop, and it’s another hour before we realise. We’re not going back, so we make our own arrangements at a local café, and eat pizza slices next to a pretty harbour. Our ineptitude meant that we missed an apparently stunning section of off-road up into the mountains near Birtavarre. But we weren’t short of our own views, and as the lead riders eventually stirred us from our increasing slumber at the small harbour at Sorkjosen, we fuelled up for the run into Alta, and some of the biggest scenery of the whole trip.
The E6 is still giving. Perfect radius bends are stitched together with longer straights that run fjord-side, and suddenly we’re climbing from lush sea-level switchbacks up to a little over 1300ft for a snow-filled stunning view over the islands of Skopa and Noklan. An impromptu off-road opportunity is visible from the road, and a small group of us detach to ride through icy puddles of meltwater as snowdrifts tower above our heads. Filthy and invigorated from our endeavours, we re-join the E6 and start the long descent to Alta, dodging panicked herds of reindeer trapped between sheer cliffs to the right and a perilous drop to the ocean to our left. After a Norwegian standoff, they eventually baulk past us close enough to touch. I’d swear the leader had a slightly red nose.
Still the heat is with us, the bike’s clocks showing an extraordinary 30-degrees, and the skies take on an ethereal blueness, with wispy clouds that look painted on wafting high in the thermals. This feels like frontier country, until we finally drift into the outskirts of Alta. Civilisation is a shock after days of sparse human contact, and the chain hotel feels oddly alien. There’s no urban normality though, Alta being fringed by black snow-capped mountains, and that same sense that it’s somehow on the edge of the world.
And tomorrow this will all be over. We'll snake back out ot Alta for the final run to Nordkapp - mainland Europe's most northerly point. It feels odd to be so close, and when we look at how far we've come, how far north we are, and how much of the world is below us, there's an overwhelmingly surreal sense that we're on top of the world. Tomorrow, the road will run out, with just 2093km of ocean and islands between us and the North Pole.
It's Day 8...
Catch up on Part 1 of Destination Nordkapp
Catch up on Part 2 of Destination Nordkapp
Catch up on Part 3 of Destination Nordkapp
Catch up on Part 4 of Destination Nordkapp
Catch up on Part 5 of Destination Nordkapp
Catch up on Part 6 of Destination Nordkapp
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