Lysebotn is a name that might not mean anything to lots of people. If you are a motorcycle rider, and have been in Norway, Lysebotn might ring a bell.
If not, then you might have missed something worth going back to Norway to experience.
Friday July 12th the course was set for Vrådal, a valley in Telemark county. Left home after work in the afternoon. Outside the city Drammen I met up with a friend and fellow rider. From there we took the E134 to Kongsberg, a city founded in 1624 after discovery of a silver mine. Also famous for its annual Jazz Festival.
The objective of the day was to reach Vrådal sometime late afternoon or early evening.
We stayed on the E134 out of town and rode into the county of Telemark, past Notodden, famous for its annual blues festival. Around 80 kilometers ride from Kongsberg we entered the valley Flatdal (flat valley in English). It was indeed flat, in the middle.
From Flatdal we continued on the E134 towards Brunkeberg, where we took off south on Fv134 or Kviteseidvegen, towards Kviteseid. Some 20 minutes later we arrived at Straand hotel in Vrådal.
West across mountains
The next day we set out right after breakfast. The weather was just perfect, almost no clouds and temperature in the mid 20s Celsius. We took small roads along lakes, first west, then a bit north, towards Dalen. Slightly before we took left and west west along Borsævegen, or road Fv45.
The road climbed and brought us up to a lower mountain area. One thing that never ceases to amaze me about Norway is the diversity of nature and landscape. You don’t have to go far to experience the changes.
We stopped at Hallbjønn, which is a lodge, cafè and dining place. You can also rent cabins here. They had just opened for the day. Entering the building I first saw a drowsy dog in a sofa, then heard someone speak German.
Turned out the lodge was run by a German couple who had lived in Norway for more than 25 years. She was from Berlin, he from somewhere southeast.
From there we continued west across the mountain, then down towards into the valley for Fv45 meets Rv9, or County Road 9. We took this road south to Nomeland, where we went west again, this time on County road (Fv)337. Which would bring us back up and into an into an area called Setesdal.
The area definitely is motorcycle country. Scenic, with great winding roads, running across the mountains, into valleys, through gorges and around lakes. Not boring for one single second, so pretty it almost hurt in the eyes.
By the way, Fv337 is closed between Brokke and Suleskard during winter. It normally opens in April.
Infrequently we overtook slow going caravans, the sort you’ll see a lot of on Norwegian roads during summer. it’s a motorcyclists prerogative, to be able to leave them behind. Driving a car you’re more at their mercy, although most stop to let cars pass.
As result of the/our luxury, despite a narrow road plus quite a bit of traffic we kept a good pace. Soon the road descended down towards Suleskard. After a couple of miles we took off and began the last 30 odd kilometers towards Lysebotn.
This far the weather had been fantastic. But our luck wasn’t going to last. As we got closer to Lysebotn and the west coast, it changed. The temperature dropped, with fog drifting across the mountains.
Arriving at Kjerag, which is a famous, touristy spot with fantastic vistas over Lysefjord, we could barely see a few meters ahead of you. Shrouded in dense wet fog we began the descent, down towards Lysebotn.
I didn’t stop to take any pictures before being below the low hanging fog. A pity, this road really is a piece of work. One of the more alpine experiences you can have in Norway. 27 hairpins worth of riding. Check out this website to get an idea.
We rode down to Lysebotn, where among other things you can catch a ferry to either to Forsand or Songesand. A guy at a coffee shop told us the weather supposedly would improve. But we decided not to hang around and wait for a change that, for all we knew, would not happen.
Back to Vrådal
As a result, after a coffee and a quick bite we went back up the same way we came down, up Lysevegen into the fog again. Such a pity not to see a damn thing. Wellm you can’t win them all and, as one says, better luck next time. There most certainly will be a next time!
The bad weather from the west coast was on our heels. Just as we descended from the mountains we rode right into and through torrential rain.
We had a quick stop for a coffee and a bite in Valle, then soldiered on, fortunately putting the nasty weather behind us. The further northwest, the better the weather. Soon we had the same weather we started with that day.
Rv9 or county road 9 led us north To Hovden. Then over the mountains and down towards Haukeli, where we got back on E134.
Around 7PM we parked the bikes outside our hotel. It had been a great riding day, about 400-450 kilometers done, mostly in the dry. The next day we would return back to Oslo, but chose a different route. More about that later.