A segment of a ski movie we saw last year was filmed in the Lofoten Islands. Skiers were getting ready inside seaside cabins before being dropped off by helicopters on the ridges of steep mountains, seemingly shooting out from the beach. Now, our jam-packed ferry is slowly coming in the bay at Moskenes and we are experiencing it for ourselves. The jagged peaks look like the high tops of lofty mountains but salty air tickles our nostrils, we are at sea level. Dry cod, the stockfish, which used to be Norway’s biggest export—before North Sea oil was discovered during the late 1960s—is omnipresent and fishing is still a big industry throughout the archipelago.

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Reine harbour with its picturesque “rorbu” (fishermen cabins). Nordland.
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Stockfish heads drying on wooden racks, out of Reine. Nordland.

After less than 10 kilometres, we’ve seen four tunnels already and we are ordered to load our bikes in the trailer of a pilot car to go through some road construction. Janick asks the young driver if they are digging a tunnel. « No », he answers, « a tunnel would be the cheaper option for the government but here we build a half-tunnel, with one side open, because the tourists want to see the Lofotens ».

La parade des vacanciers sur la route touristique nationale des Lofoten. Nordland.
The vacationeers summer caravan on Norway;s Lofoten national tourist road. Nordland.
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« A tunnel would be the cheaper option for the government but here we build a half-tunnel, with one side open, because the tourists want to see the Lofotens ! » Nordland.

The Norwegian Sea side is shrouded in fog around Ramberg but the rest of the way to Leknes is clear sky, crystalline waters and white sand beaches, this could be Bora Bora. From this magnificence the bike path plunges—on the left-hand side of the roadway—into the Napp Straight tunnel : a 2-kilometre long slippery corridor of wet concrete smell where black slurry is splashing up from our tires to our helmets!

Bora Bora ou les Lofoten, au 69ième parallèle de latitude nord? Nordland.
Bora Bora or the Lofotens? Nordland.
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Winds cleaning up the sky from the coastal fog, here and there. Nordland.

From Leknes, our map shows road #815 and we follow it as an alternative to narrow European Road #10 (E10) where the concentration of rental cars, caravans and motorhomes is making it difficult to look up from the handle bar. Besides the ant mill that is E10, the Lofotens with its organic farms, fishing villages, artsy and outdoorsy communities, midnight sun in the summer and northern lights in the winter have an inviting relaxed aura, it’s just so busy right now.

Janick émerge du tunnel franchissant le détroit de Napp, entre les ¸iles Flakstad et Vestvåg. Nordland.
Janick resurfaces from the tunnel linking the isles of Flakstad and Vestvåg. Nordland.

The short ferry ride from Fiskebøl to Melbu, on Hadseløya, acts like a Vallium as the noise goes down—no more honking at view points because someone has taken one’s spot!–and quiet road #82 cajoles us along Sortland Sound. It’s easy to decide on staying on smaller roads to the border with Sweden, even if it means a few extra kilometres: when they are so pleasant, who’s counting?

Reliant les îles Hadsel et Lang, le fjord Sortland en toile de fond. Nordland.
Riding over the Strait between Hadsel and Lang islands, Sortland sound in the background. Nordland.
On vient de faire les foins sur Hadsel, à plus de 68 degrés de latitude nord. Nordland.
Hay harvested and drying north of the 68th parallel. Nordland.

In the Harstad region, pedalling trough adorable farmland lining milky aquamarine waters, we are both invited to a hot shower and to sleep in a family’s boathouse. Once we reconnect with E10 from road #829, we don’t have time to focus on the komune map at the intersection that a blond woman and a blonder teenage girl are stirring us towards their parked vehicules for a cup of coffee and a slice of lemon cake—we have been told before that people in the north are more spontaneous and open than the Norwegians living in the south of the country and we are starting to believe the hype! The three generation family from the Lyngen Alps, east of the city of Tromso, is joined by a young teacher and his two children from Narvik. The blond woman’s husband is Sami and says he doesn’t speak the native language. His grandfather does but his father did not learn it as he was growing up when Norway had a strict Norwegian-only language policy. All of them agree that the Swedish Sami will have retain more of the original culture.

Au sud d'Harstad, dans la baie de Sørvik, nous somes invités à crécher dans un hangar à bateau dont le deuxième étage a été aménagé en loft. Troms.
South of Harstad, in Sørvik, we are invited to a hot shower and to sleep in a family’s boathouse. Troms.

Out of Bjervik and on our way to the border, a small hand-painted sign reading « Samisk souvenirs » draws us to a couple of white tents where three people are selling Sami traditionnal gifts made of fur, bones, wool and wood. A cheery lady is amused by our loaded bikes and chats us up as we dig for our rain jackets. Pierre explains that we are on our way to Kiruna and then to Karesuando and onwards to Kautokeino, where she lives when she is not a travelling saleswoman. She says « nei, nei ». We think that she doesn’t believe we can cycle that far and boy is she ever cute. She keeps saying « Kautokeino nei » and then she points at the mountain behind her « Kautokeino ». We clue in : we missed the turn-off, we are going in the wrong direction! We thank her wholeheartedly. She hugs and kisses us, and tells Janick to wear a different jacket because this one won’t do in the upcoming downpour, a true mother!

Dernier lunch en Norvège avant l'ascension vers la Suède et Sapmi. Nordland.
Back on the “right track”, last lunch in Norway before the climb up to Sweden and Sapmi. Nordland.

Nearing Bjørnfjell, we have climbed to 500 metres a.s.l., it’s still drizzling and we are not surprised to reach a wind farm with the mills facing the opposite direction : it’s like Sweden is trying to blow us back into Norway! While we were in rural and urban areas on the Norwegian side—amazing at this latitude, thanks to the North Atlantic Drift—this side is remote northern Sweden. We are following the railroad to the mining town of Kiruna, both of them built just over 100 years ago, along cobalt blue lakes, pine forests and rounded mountains. The wagons have open tops and carry iron ore from the mine in Kiruna to the harbour in Narvik, day in and day out.

À l'ascension vers le petit col formant la frontière entre la Norvège et la Suède, sur la route entre Narvik et Kiruna, nous avons découvert un parc éolien tournant à pleine capacité...ce qui expliquait bien des efforts! Nordland.
Wind farm and headwinds on our way  out of Norway into Sweden, on the road between Narvik and Kiruna! Nordland.
À Bjørnfell, intégrons l'Union Européenne, la Suède et...Sapmi! Nordland.
“Nothing to declare!” Entering the EU, Sweden and Sapmi in Bjørnfell. Nordland.
Sur le plateau de l'extrême-nord suédois, en plein territoire Sami, pédalons en compagnie du lac Torneträsk. Lapland
On the plateau at the northwesternmost corner of Sweden and into Sapmi, pedalling along with Torneträsk lake. Lapland

One hundred and fifty kilometres from the border, Kiruna is a nice place to deal with a slight culture shock as people here speak Swedish and Finnish interchangeably. Full-sleeve tattoos are a bit more common here too. Also we are now in the EU and it makes grocery shopping overwhelming at times : Greek and French cheeses, Spanish olives, Italian candies, Danish cookies and Finnish tofu! Chocolate, ice cream and beer have underwent a price shrinkage which makes Sweden even sweeter!

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Kiruna. Lapland.

On the lookout for summer pastures, reindeer, and herders! (Alta, Norway - KM 2,570)
Norway Beach! (BODØ, NORWAY – KM 1,395)


  1. Harold

    Vraiment cool de vous suivre comme ca, les photos sont superbes

  2. Ritchie Dolman

    Hi Nomads2
    We are a New Zealand couple looking at cycling this same route in June/July2017.
    I love your photos and information. It looks like you had a really great trip!
    We aim to stay on the E10 after Kiruna down to Finland en route to Helsinki.
    Did you find the E10 a good road to cycle on after leaving the Lofotens? Good places to camp and buy food along the way?


    • Hi Ritchie! Thanks for your message! Great ride on the way! 😉

      If you zoom in on embedded map for details, you’ll see that we got off E10 anf the Lofotens in Fiskebol and reunited with that continental hwy few tens of kilometres before entering Bjerkvik and continuing on to Sweden, shore of Tornetrask lake, Kiruna and Svappavaara, where we headed north. Places to camp is no problem and you can buy food at least once a day. Plenty a room for cycling on the mega pavement “trail”…at least, for the parts of E10 we rode out of the Lofotens! Have a great ride!

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