It didn’t take long to reach the top. From there, we headed northbound, making our way along the well-maintained, winding gravel paths, passing by ridges and tarns along our way. It was an easy route to follow, and after about 30 km we reached the Kalhovd tourist cabin overlooking the nearby lake known as the Kalhovdfjorden.
We were ready for a short break, so we stopped for a waffle and more coffee. There were a few other visitors around, walkers, hikers and backpackers. We chatted with them about the area and they told us how they come to the area to ski in the winter, staying at the cabin for a few days. We made a mental note to research the ski slopes once we were back in the office on Monday.
Refuelled, we continued east along the gravel trail on a gentle downhill slope towards lake Tinnsjå, one of the largest in Norway, enjoying yet more spectacular views. It was starting to cloud over, but we’d come prepared in our thermals and gloves. We know the Norwegian weather to be ever unpredictable. After all, it was October. Passing the lake we swung down onto more flat ground and rode the final 25 km back to Rjukan, aka base camp.
We got back to the car, loaded our bikes in the back, changed our shoes and headed on foot into Rjukan to find some much-needed lunch. The industrial town still paints a picture of its beginnings about 100 years ago. In 1909, the valley was transformed from rural farmland into an industrial factory town, thanks to the innovative vision of businessman and inventor Sam Eyde, who saw potential in the area’s natural resources, especially the epic waterfalls.
He built a hydroelectric power plant which drew some 12,000 workers to the area. The town of Rjukan was built within a few years and became a hub of innovation, industry and money in Norway. Today, the Vemork hydropower plant (where the waterfall’s energy is converted into electricity) is part of the Norwegian Industrial Workers Museum and is also where the Saboteur's Trail ends—an inspiring hike in the footsteps of the resistance heroes, who in 1943 bombed the Nazi-controlled water plant at Vemork. Riding over the classic suspension bridge and the switchbacks up to the plant is a short but thrilling climb that takes you back in time.