Ice Age (Part 1)
They had cautioned us, the Norse Gods and our well-meaning friends, 'Norway—brace for the theatrical weather.' Rain. Cold.
Over the past two days their words took shape. A mere 5 kilometers beyond Mo I Rana, we were ambushed by icy tempests and ceaseless rain, unrelenting companions for the entirety of our 70-kilometer meandering journey.
By 'meandering,' we refer not to its lack of direction but rather its constant oscillation, a relentless dance of ups and downs, bends and swerves along a narrow main road, surprisingly busy with lumbering trucks and a stream of cars. The fact that this road offered virtually no shoulder did little to steady our fraying nerves.
Sharp ascents met us with unforgiving descents, the relentless wind acting as both antagonist and ally. It displayed its full arsenal—ferocious crosswinds, fleeting tailwinds, and the backbreaking force of headwinds.
It didn't matter where we were on the route, down low in the Fjords by the water, or up high in the Fjords, close to the snow capped the mountains, it was the same. We were all flippin' freezing!
Regardless of our high-tech wet-weather gear, we were eventually wet. The rain, it seemed, had a taunting refrain: 'No defense you devise shall shield you from our icy grasp. We shall locate your point of entry and seep in, chilling your very marrow.'
The water splashed Rapha Cycling club issue shades of Ajmal Samuel.
Support vehicle climbing out of Mo I Rana, at what was to be the start of a very long, wet and cold day. Water beads stand on the goretex fabric of Samuel's waterproof riding gear.
Garmin taillights and iphone pouch. Water logged.was the order of the day.
Ajmals fur gloves soaked to the skin.
A rather chiilled Garmin computer!
The Dampness Gallery. Vignettes of water splashed high tech equipment! Bruce Lee once said, "Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” He might have also added, 'wear waterproofs for water knows no bounds, or any obstacle too great, it will find it's path and seep right in' :-)
And yet, amidst this meteorological showdown, there emerged a spectacle that transcended physical discomfort.
It was the views—so breathtaking that they numbed our senses more profoundly than the biting cold ever could. Majestic, snow-draped peaks and sheer cliff faces loomed from the depths of the gunmetal-grey sea. Moisture-laden clouds, like capricious phantoms, cavorted around the serrated pinnacles of the Ranfjorden.
A boat tender fish farm corrals and wood pigeoins. Renfjord, Norway
Flocks of Wood Pigeons seen against the rocky contours of the Renfjord. The Woodpigeon is a bird commonly found in wooded and agricultural areas in Norway, gathering in flocks, especially during the colder months.
Ranfjorden, ensconced in central Norway between Mo I Rana and Nesna, is a geological masterpiece, an opus etched by primordial glacial hands. This formidable fjord extends its sinuous fingers deep into the heart of the land, unfurling a dramatic panorama of towering, snow-frosted mountains that audaciously plunge into an icy sea.
Ajmal Samuel stops for a side view, 3/4 view selfie on the high pass to Nesna, with the rugged snow capped mountains of Renfjord in the background.
As we ventured further along the road's summit, each of us couldn't help but yearn for the cozy insulation our three inquisitive companions seemed to enjoy. In all likelihood, they were silently musing, "You folks appear quite chilly up here."
Enigmatic cliffs, draped in moss and lichen, further embroider its rugged allure. Its existence pays homage to the gradual, patient craftsmanship of ice over epochs, sculpting the earth and bequeathing this natural masterpiece to posterity.
Ranfjorden's crystalline, frigid waters reflect the stark magnificence of its surroundings, beckoning us to grit out teeth and ride on. Soak up (excuse the pun) this early winter wonderland and bear witness to nature's enduring, resplendent artistry.
Finally, at the edge of a high pass, Nensa came into view. It was then merely a matter of descending a steep incline to reach the rest camp nestled on the shores of the Ranfjord. A hot meal and a warm bed awaited the cold and weary ASF team.
To the author of this essay and the creator of these images, among the series presented today, this one emerges as his all-time favorite. While it lacks the dramatic flair of snow-capped mountains, he selects it because, in his view, it evokes the essence of a painting, and more succinctly, perhaps a work by Pieter Bruegel. While Bruegel was renowned for his winter landscapes teeming with people amid the wintry wonderland of villages and landscapes, this author senses an inherently Bruegel-esque quality in the hues of this image. Nonetheless, the view from the high ground of the Ranfjord towards Nensa Bay in the background strikes a profoundly painterly chord.
Ajmal Samuel taking the plunge down a wet and windy road to the final destination of Nensa in the background, after a cold and long tiring day.
A sheltered channel within the Ranfjord offered Ajmal Samuel and his riding team a welcome respite from the unrelenting winds they had encountered on the high mountain passes. Here, they were met with a sense of serenity in the immediate foreground, beautifully juxtaposed against the dramatic landscape they had recently descended from in the background.
Gazing backward from our camp in Nesna, we cast our eyes upon the path we had traversed, leaving the rain and cold in our wake—or at least that was our fervent hope.
From our camp cabins, we were treated to sweeping vistas of Nesna Bay and the entrance to the Ranfjord. However, a looming rainstorm on the horizon served as an ominous harbinger of what awaited us on the morrow. Stay tuned for the full account in our upcoming blog post.
However, these creature comforts would prove fleeting, for the very next day, the team would confront further challenges—obstacles like bike-inaccessible tunnels, some spanning over 10 kilometers in length, and unpredictable ferry schedules from island to island, with instances where ferries simply ceased to operate. In light of these obstacles, Ajmal lamented, "We must all convene today and chart a course out of this wintry labyrinth."
Be sure to check in for our next blog tomorrow, Monday 25th September 2023.
TOTAL DISTANCE COVERED: 1,660.40 km KM (22 September 2023)
Day 30 -Mo I Rana to Nensa 66.45Km
Day 29 -Meravan to Mo I Rana 98.01km
Day 28 -Slussfors to Meravan 85.17km
Day 27 -Storuman to Slussfors. 62.00km
Day 26 -Lycksele to Storuman 102.9km
Day 25 -Vindeln to Lycksele 75.75 km
Day 24 -Holmsund to Vindeln 75.7km
Day 23 -Vaasa to Holmsund (Ferry Ride)
Day 22 -Rest Day Vaasa
Day 21- Rest Day Vaasa
Day 20 -Narpes to Vaasa 79.8km
Day 19- Merikarvia to Närpes 93.76 km
Day 18 -Pori to Merikarvia 52.8km
Day 17- Rauma to Pori 57.9km
Day 16 -Uusikaupunki to Rauma 47.4km
Day 15 -Turku to Uusikaupunki 73.5km
Day 14 -Helsinki to Turku (Car)
Day 13 -Tallin to Helsinki (Ferry ride)
Day 12- Tallin Rest & Recharge
Day 11- Märjamaa to Tallin 72.17
Day 10 - Pärnu linn to Märjamaa 64.1km
Day 9- Pärnu Rest & Recharge
Day 8 - Salacgriva to Pärnu 75km
Day 7 - Riga to Salacgriva 104.4km
Day 6 - Riga Rest and Recharge
Day 5 - Plieņciema kāpa to Riga 60.14Km
Day 4 - Kuldiga to Plieņciema kāpa 108.59Km
Day 3 - Liepāja to Kuldīga 97.34Km
Day 2 - Sventājato Liepāja 62.11Km
Day 1 - Klaipeda to Sventāja 42.89Km
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ASF has carefully chosen Resolve to be the beneficiary for 2023: Resolve is a charity founded in 2017 that helps create change makers in our community to drive a more inclusive city. Their signature program is a Fellowship that has so far supported over 70 emerging community leaders from diverse walks of life. There have been five cohorts of the fellowship on racial equality, ending gender-based violence, disABILITIES and empowerment, wellbeing and health and (E)quality Education for all.
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