june 2001

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birdwatching | gastronomy | architecture

Sunday July 1, 2001 (Vaeroy, km+27=1375)

The daily news are on the July page !

Saturday June 30 (Vaeroy Island, km+9=1348)

Message sent on Saturday at 07:55 pm

Hullo, Gaëtane greets you, typing the daily report ! Benoît is busy with domestic duties: cleaning the codfish that I have fished today, before eating it with Isabelle and Bruno.

This morning we took the ferry from Moskenes to Vaeroy: a two hours travel on an rough sea. At the youth hostel, we have met Isabelle and Bruno, from France and working in Oslo. We will have dinner together in their rorbuer.

Friday June 29 (Å, km+58=1339)

Message sent on Friday at 06:46 pm

The name of the village where we are now : "A" (french pronunciation: euh) is very brief. So will be our report of today !

Thursday June 28 (Nusfjord, km+46=1280)

Message sent on Thursday at 07:26 pm

We have a drink in our rorbuer with Julien, a Swiss cyclist from La Chaux-de-Fonds. Nusfjord is the most charming village that we have seen in Lofoten. We stay in a real fisherman hut, lovely beautiful and simple.

To come here, the road runs along a Stern settlement ; these birds have strongly attacked us. Gaëtane yelled under their nose-dives, their beaks really brushed our skulls ! Useless to say, I did'nt take time to identify them precisely: Arctic our Common Sterns…

Wednesday June 27, 2001 (Stamstund)

Today we have rowed towards the open sea, in a boat lent by the inn.
We have fished 6 fishes, but we broke a small metallic piece of our fishing equipment, while trying to haul a big piece.

Tuesday June 26, 2001 (Stamsund, km+59=1235)

Yesterday, 30°, today 10° ! goodbye to the sun which shined during a full week, day and night.

We are tonight in a small inn, near the sea and a direct view on it.
We have a guest for dinnerin our rorbuer: a Belgian from Leuven, 65 year old cyclist and birdwatcher.

Monday June 25, 2001 (Heningsvaer, km+37=1176)

A fruitful fishing day: after 3 small fishes, Gaëtane calls for help, fighting with her fishing rod: a huge codfish, weighing several kilos that we succeed to bring on the ground.

We could use freely Internet in the bookshop of Svolvaere; the time is limited to 30’ per person, with fellow guys waiting their turn. Wonderful to read your messages, either private or on the gold book; we would like answering all these, but we have only the time to consult the site, check our hotmail mailboxes, send some digital pictures. Thank you, we great all of you.

Sunday June 24, 2001 (Solvaer, km+20=1139)

Nice walk under the permanent sun. We have written some postcards, then chatted with two Norvegians from Trondheim who told us very interesting data concerning culture, customs, languages, art of cooking…

It was no mass in the beautiful church, we read the lectures of the day in our pray booklet.

Saturday June 23, 2001 (Svolvaer, km+56=1119)

In some private messages received by us, some of you are concerned about the condition of our buttocks and calves: they are ok, thank you! Since several days we have day and night a shining sun. We will stay for 2 nights in a small inn.

Friday June 22, 2001 (Stokmarknes, km+85=1063)

Message sent friday at 07:58 pm

Arrived at an isolated camping – stop – Splendid day, shining sun – stop – have fished 4 pieces, Gaë got the biggest one – Kisses – stop.

As every day, watch the gastronomy & birdwatching heading, and don’t miss the new pictures !

Thursday June 21, 2001 (Risoyham, km+63=978)

Beautiful day on the west coast of the island Andoya, with rocky peaks falling into the blue sea, under a blue sky. We were a bit tired after the long ride (100 km) of yersterday; and we have set up the tent passing Andenes, in a camp along the sea, with a wonderful view facing the midnight sun.

After two unsuccessful attempts in the open sea, I will try to fish our evening meal in a small lake, not far from our camp.

Wednesday June 20, 2001 (Grillefjord, km+93=908)

Message sent wednesday at 07:35 pm

Everything went quickly today. I am typing my message from the ferry on which we have embarked at the last minute, after a splendid (thanks Luc for the advice) and exhausting ride.

Fine ! Finally the sun disappears behind a cloud ! It has been a hot day: 30° centigrade, and we had to climb several slopes, ending with a pass at 175 m, it’s hard when you come from the sea level ! Otherwise, we are in a very good shape, and I hurry to send this message before being in the open sea; we have a 3 hour boat trip to Andenes where we should arrive around 11:00 pm.

Since 1988 Andenes is the main European center for whales monitoring, as well as the gathering point for scientists of different countries.

Tuesday June 19, 2001 (Sorreisa, km+57=816)

message sent tuesday at 07:58 pm

Message from Luc (the french man) :

Back from Oslo, we had visitors at Svendborg ! This doesn’t happen every day, and we appreciate receiving people like our belgian friends. For this particular evening: grilled whale meat, coffee and rhum, before rushing on our internet sites ! The contrasts are high here, you pass from one century to the following while going from one room to the next one.

This morning my intend was to show our friends some speciality of the country: mosquitoes ! They begin to show up… The Capercaillies who live behind our house hide themselves ; you should come here in April to watch their nuptial parades. It’s so much to discover here by people interested by the environment. I live in this area since 9 years and don’t get tired of it ! It’s a pleasure to welcome people here and help them discovering this “Indre Troms” country.

Ben’s daily report :

Yesterday started beautifuly, at the Statoil gas station of Nordkjosbotn, where we got a free internet connexion. We wondered about the number of visits, the messages, the sponsors, and were convulsed with laughter watching Xavier’s drawing of Ben, thanks to everyone !

We left the E6 highway and its traffic for a secondary road; picnic alongside a beautiful lake. Finally we found Luc place, a very remote location. Luc, Espen and Aslak have welcomed us as we were kings. The 5 stars confort is not available here: no running water, no central warming, no inside toilet: by – 30° centigrade and with 1,50 m of snow in the winter, it’s becoming harsh.
On the other hand, they have internet, and around 10:30 pm we have appreciated to watch together both sites.

This morning, wonderful walk in the woods with Luc, afterwards we saw goodbye to our friends: thank you very much, it was a much rewarding stop place.

Tonight we have set up our tent facing an estuary. Following Luc advice, we will change our itinerary: going north to Gryllefjord, then taking the ferry to Andenes, and crossing the Vesteralen and Lofoten islands.

See also the headings “gastronomy” and “birdwatching”.

Monday June 18, 2001 (Svensborg, km +74=758)

Hurrah ! we are at Luc place ! He lives with a group of norvegian friends in an isolated farm, a very unusual location. They have a little “outdoor living” business (http://www.undervegs.no) and provide their customers - sportsmen all over Europe, or local schools - with sledge and dogs expeditions in winter (they have 5 huskies here), mountain ski or telemark during the spring, canoying along rivers in the summer, etc.

We have learned a lot of things up to now, that we will tell you in more details tomorrow: architecture, birdwatching, the team spirit here, you will get all about it. I leave you now to join our hosts, they prepare a big fire, let’s hope it will make the mosquito flee away: they fight us tonight, and we are told it’s only a beginning: the real thing begins at the end of June.

OK, we finally got the web connexion, probably thanks to the proximity of military bases.

Sunday June 17, 2001 (Nordkjosbotn)

Tonight our neighbour in the hytte n° 2 is a belgian cyclist from Antwerp ! He left Antwerp at the end of May, and arrived here at an average of 165 km per day…, with a 12 kg bicycle and his luggage limited to 10 kg. A nice chat with a fellow countryman.

Today Sunday, we went to a mass in a school, celebrated by a lutherian pastor. Singing hymns in norvegian with the assembly and afterwards chatting with some of them was for us an opportunity to have contacts with local people, which does’nt happen too often for us, except with the camps managers.

Tomorrow we will spend two or three days in the mountains, in the area of Overbygd, trying to meet a Luc, a french nature guide. Kjartan Barslev gave us is address; Kjartan is a young Danish who crosses by foot Norway from south to north, carrying a 30 kg rucksack…

He gave us a lot of informations. We will tell you about Luc, if we can find him, and if we get a net connexion when we will be in the mountains.

Saturday June 16 (Nordkjosbotn, km +47 km=684)

Short and rainy day’s run today, to the place where we have decided to spend 2 nights in a “hytte”. Let’s tell you the story of our Internet site.

We first conceived all the content and architecture, then our webmaster and brother-in-law Roland Fabri translated this in the html language, and set up the processing structure. At this point Cécile Quénum, designer at Ultim Technologies, gave our site its present look, before passing it back to Roland for the daily maintenance.

Benoît encodes every evening the report of the day, as well as the birdwatching paragraph; Gaëtane makes possible corrections, then encodes the gastronomy heading. We send this daily report before 20:00 pm, if we get into the Net from our camp. If Roland has’nt get anything at 20:00 pm, he knows that nothing will be received this evening.

We consult our site and our private mail when we find a PC with an Internet connexion. In that case we try also to send digital pictures which Roland will include on the site, besides some general pictures he finds himself on the Net. We find important to inform you on the way we proceed, and how we have conceived this site: sharing our experiences with our family, friends and – why not – with internauts all around the world.

These daily updates are not an imposed constraint; moreover, they would not become a burden: we will not run like rabbits to reach a hill summit, if we don’t catch the Net from our tent. Similarly, we don’t try to find a PC with Internet connexion in every village crossed on our way. We want the site remain a pleasure for us, as remain the essential motivations of our journey: a beautiful adventure for our couple, the sponsoring of two solidarity actions and the promotion of bicycling at the European level.

Friday June 15, 2001 (Skibotn, km+69=636)

Message sent Friday at 06:36 pm

Another beautiful day… we went along a fjord 20 km in one direction, then 20 km in the reverse one, coming back nearly opposite our starting point. Then we rushed during 30 km facing the sun, pushed by the wind, riding our loyal war horses. I stop here the description of our marvelous discoveries, to avoid demotivating you.

Yesterday we have crossed a German cyclist who rided to Gibraltar and then was pedaling towards the North Cape, before going back to his country trough the Baltic States and Poland. Gaëtane noticed a superb elk on the left of the road: an enormous beast, dark brown, with a huge horse face, but without antlers.

We have planted our tent near a kind of delta and small lagoons. Our friends mosquitoes which left us in peace except for one evening will probably come back here. At this point I must leave you to lauch the camp fire: we have to cook two fishs in buttered paper. I fished them today; they are the size of trouts, and fighted like braves. One must be a small codfish, the other remains unknown in its silvered mantel.

Thursday June 14, 2001 (Olderdalen, km+81=567)

Message sent Thursday at 07:35 pm

A beautiful day, in the morning Benoît had to enter the lake to recover his hook stuck between stones, after another unsuccessful fishing trial. Just before our departure, badaboum ! A clap of tunder ? No, a snow avalanche on the nearby mountain…

Alongside our road: wonderful fjords, fischermen huts, fish driers…
We have set up our tent near a fjord surrounded by high mountains (1200 to 1500 m high, but you would guess alpine summits), with glittering glaciers. The river’s mouth in which we pour water for our bivouac is bathed in the golden sunlight. Like us, Arctic Terns enjoy this evening…

Wednesday June 13, 2001 (Sandbukt, km+69=487)

dessin de Xavier JanssensA rainy day; in the morning Benoît tests his telescopic fishing rod without results. Afterwards we had to face several slopes, one of which 400 m high; at its top there was snow and mist…

Tuesday June 12, 2001 (Langfjordbotn, km+89=418)

Message sent Tuesday 07:42 pm

We are keying our message facing a fjord, hearing birds as Common Gulls, Redshanks, Oystercatchers and Willow Warblers. We had to pedal some additional km to find this dream bivouac place.

Today we have enjoyed good wind conditions while cycling north alongside a fjord, with good morale and physical condition. For the first time we have encountered two Lappish women in traditional dress, selling souvenirs in a shop for tourists.

“hytte” are small chalets found in the campings: a single room with 2 or 4 beds, a table and kitchen furniture.

Monday June 11 (D-Day + 7, km +30=330)

Message (sent at 07.53 pm) from Gaëtane & Benoît in Alta

Difficult start this morning : it’s still raining, the lending library where we could get one hour free connexion to the net is closed on Mondays, as is the only cyber café in Alta.

We decide to stay one night more in our “hytter”, to have some rest and finish our daily tasks: laundry, bicycle maintenance, reloading the batteries for the GSM and the camera. Anyway, we did’nt foreseen pedaling more than 5 days out of 7 to enjoy the crossed areas.

Luckily, in a telecom shop, a joung salesman allows us to use Internet, to which they are permanently connected. What a pleasure to watch our website so carefully updated, much visited, the golden book full of enthusiastic messages, and the solidarity with “la Roue libre et Solidaire” and “Aprobenir”. We are grateful to all of you who sponsor these two non-profit organizations. Many thanks to our Webmaster Roland, and to all you who follow our progression.

In the afternoon we visit the museum in Alta with its impressive rock drawings in the open air : fascinating visit under the sun. Back to our hytter, to greet all of you. Tomorrow we leave for 5 days alongside the coast, and intend to reach Nordkjosbotn, 337 km to the south-west of Alta, below Tromsö where we will not go back.

Daniel, met by G & B on June 7 at the North Cape, has sent a message !

See also “gastronomy”, “birdwatching” and especially don’t miss the “new photos” received this morning !

Sunday June 10 (D-Day +6, km +72=299)

Message (sent at 07.27 pm) from Gaëtane & Benoît in Alta

Beautiful evening ; it rained a lot last night, the temperature dropped, but we have no more wind. Continuing trough the toundra, a couple of French people travelling by mobilhome invites us for a cup of tea or coffee.

Suddently the landscape changes, becoming green for the first time ; the firs appear, the birch are higher. We have to find our way trough Alta, a wide town, and under heavy rain we arrive at a camping 5 km from the center and hurry into a hytter, a kind of wooden and well warmed bungalow. At the end of this day, we wonder if the worst ennemy of the cyclist should’nt be the rain !

See also the headings “gastronomy” and “birdwatching”.

Saturday June 9 (Duoddar Sion, km +49=227)

50 km, mostly going up with the wind on our faces, tiring ! On the other side, magnificent landscape, we encounter 2 cyclists : a Swedish, then a Finnish, 110 and 150 km of average daily progression…! A mystic bivouac place, well protected from the wind, near a wooden chapel lost in the toundra.

See also the headings “gastronomy” and “birdwatching”.

Friday June 8, 2001 (D-day +4, km +75=178)

message (sent at 07.11 pm) from Gaëtane & Benoît at Olderfjord :

the globe at North Cape

- Gaë : it’s 8.00 am, let’s get up !
- Ben : not at all, it’s 1.45 am !
- Gaë : damn ! I looked at my watch on the reverse side !

This morning talk proves two facts :
1. It's clear during all the night,
consequently one looses count of time
2. You would better to wear a watch
with figures on the dial.

Finally we get up, wash ourselves in the finnish style in a chilling mountain stream. After a look on the birds on the beach, we start. The wind slows us in the morning but helps in the afternoon ; we find a nice camping place alongside a river, in a birch wood.

The first mosquitoes appear around 5.45 pm ; they are huge, and in spite of our small ultrasonic transmitters supposed to drive them out, we have to manage at 6.00 pm a strategic withdrawal in our tent.

Click on the headings “gastronomy” and “birdwatching” for more info.

Thursday June 7, 2001 (D-day+3, km +66=102)

message (sent at 08.02 pm) from Gaëtane & Benoît at Kafjord :

Le Cap Nord

Yesterday night at the North Cape we have been rejoined by Daniel (20 year), pedaling 4.500 km from Frankfurt in
38 days, a daily average 2 x ours !

At midnight, no sun, cloudy sky ; it rains, our tent succeeds at this first test.

Beautiful road going back to Honingsvag ; some shopping, then we start again towards the south and a 7 km long tunnel linking the island to the main land : going down, then up through a 10% slope, in the cold (5° centigrade).
It rains ; we slip on our knighthood dress : large cape and gaiters. We send this message from the tent which crackles under the rain.

See also the headings “gastronomy” and “birdwatching”.

Wednesday June 6, 2001 (D+2 day, km 36)

Message (sent at 07.47 pm) from Gaëtane & Benoît from the North Cape :

Superb, extraordinary, we are at the North Cape !

Pleasant cruise aboard the Nordlys from Tromsö to Honnigsvag ; we sort our luggage items, writing on each bag their main content (this will avoid opening several bags before finding the requested item !) and we put less weight on our bicycle front wheel.

Arrival around 12.00 am at Honnigsvag, 36 km south of the North Cape. Superb landscape, large areas still covered with snow. Hello, our first reindeers ! Rather pale, some nearly white, youngs more dark ; they are like those pulling Father Christmas sledge ! Some are domestic but most are wild. Fantastic birds festival, in a completely different environment for us. See “birdwatching” heading.

We pedal up and down, for this first (half) stage ; at Cape North entrance, the entry price is 175 N. crowns (900 fb) per person ; fortunately, it’s free for cyclists ! Sitting in the heated circular restaurant, we comment for you this wonderful time, before mounting our tent : we hope to admire the midnight sun, although the sky is presently cloudy.

See also “gastronomy” by Gaëtane and “photos” headings.

Tuesday June 5, 2001 (D+1 day)

Message (sent at 04.45 pm) from Benoît and Gaëtane, in Tromsö:

1.30 am : Benoît is awake, because of the light through the window’s curtain. In Tromsö, the sun doesn’t set from May 18th to July 25th !

At 6.00 am the sun is already high in the sky. Some shopping, as gas supply for our gas ring (transportation of gas supply is forbidden in planes). Nice picnic, facing a lake: many birds are busy here with their fledgings, these birds that we only encounter in Belgium during the winter.

Back to Tromsö : “poot, poot”, our ferry enters the harbor ; we will embark tonight at 18.20 pm for a 21 hour trip to Honnigsvag, 30 km south of Cape North…

PS 1 : Gaëtane starts a new heading : Gastronomy
PS 2 : Benoît too : Birdwatching

Monday June 4, 2001 (D-day)

Message (at 07.18 pm) from Benoît and Gaëtane arrived in Tromsö:

10 am in Zaventem airport : our bicycles are embarqued in the plane, with flatted tires, dismounted pedals… Goodbyes to our families, our adventure is starting !



First stop in Oslo, arrival in Tromsö, we recover our bicycles in good shape and pedal to the town’s center. Benoît spots two birdwatchers and gets some tips. Temperature 7° or 8° (centigrades, of course), cloudy weather, hills are entirely covered with snow : everything is ok in Norway’s kingdom !

SK1596 Brussels 11:00 Oslo 13:00
SK0380 Oslo 14:20 Tromsö 16:05

click here to better understand where there are going.

Saturday June 2, 2001 (D-2 day)

Belgian newspapers writing about us (in French):
"Exploit", "8000 km à la force du mollet"
in La Lanterne, "8000 km en amoureux" in La Dernière Heure.

Departure from Brussels airport monday at 11:00 am. Direction Oslo, then Tromsö. Still a lot of things to finalize... in less than 48 hours.

Thank you Géry and Roberto for your hospitality this saturday evening. Thanks to all of you for your encouragements.

Friday June 1, (D-3 day)

11:00 am: press conference at the "Bike House" (la Maison des Cyclistes), together with Provélo and the ECF. Because of another simultaneous "bike" event, we thought nobody would come, and we were thus completely relax (and amazed) when the reporters from "Télé-Bruxelles" (local TV), "La Lanterne" and "la Dernière Heure" (both Belgian newspapers) arrived.