THE NAVY ROAD
A ride on Rallarvegen is the most fascinating and dramatic cycling experience in Norway and perhaps Europe. The gravel road was built by hand in the late 19th century as part of the construction of the Bergenline Railway. Most cyclists start their trip at Finse (altitude 1222).
From Finse the road takes you through the arctic mountain plateau to the highest point of the road which, is located 1 km east of Fagernut (Altitude 1343). Along the road you can see the old Guard Houses (Railway Heritage Sites) of the Bergenline Railroad.
A stop at Fagernut Guard House is highly recommended. Apart from Norway´s best waffles, coffee and a warm fire place, Fagernut features an interesting exhibition about the life of the Railroad Guard´s life.
Descending from Fagernut down to Myrdal (Altitude 867) the road leads you through the beautiful nature of Western Norway, dominated by dramatic waterfalls and rivers.
Kleivagjelet is located a few kilometers west of Hallingskeid. This stretch of the road is well known for its exquisite natural beauty but it is also one of the most dangerous parts of the ride. For your own safety it is advised to step off your bike through Kleivagjelet. A camera is a must on this stretch of the trip.
Located two kilometers east of Myrdal is Vatnahalsen Hotel. Vatnahalsen is a great viewpoint and an alternative for a nights rest before continuing your trip.
From Myrdal you can choose to continue your bike down to Flåm (Altitude 2), through the green and fertile Flåm valley. When you arrive in Flåm the Flåm Railway museum is definitely worth a visit. From Flåm most cyclists travel on the world famous Flåm Railway back to Myrdal.
The Flåm Railroad is truly a masterpiece of engineering and is one of Norway´s major tourist attractions. From Myrdal you can take the Bergenline to either Oslo or Bergen to continue your Norwegian adventure.
The first traces of human activity at Finse are 7000 years old. Hunters and gatherers lived and hunted reindeer in the Finse area. Archaeologists have located several camps at the islands on Finse Lake from these peoples.
The first tourists at Finse were British Lord Garvah and his son who in the 1850s used Finse as their base for hunting and fishing trips. A series of stone cabins, referred to as the Lord Cabins are still visible around Finse. The best known of these is Lordehytta in the Foldaskardet which remains in excellent condition.
The modern Finse community was created as part of the construction and operation of the Bergenline Railway. Finse was located on one of the most sheltered areas on the alpine stretch of the railway and was, for this reason, picked as the centre of the manpower needed to clear the track of snow in the winter.
After the opening of the railway in 1909 Finse Mountain Chalet (Later Finse Hotel) was opened and it quickly became the desired holiday spot for European jet-setters like the Prince of Wales, Sonia Henie and Fridjof Nansen.
In 1914 Norway´s first indoor skating-rink was constructed at Finse. Triple-Olympic champion Sonia Henie lived temporarily at Finse and used this facility to practice for her three Olympic gold medals. The Skating rink was unfortunately demolished after Finse was bombed by the English during World War II.
Throughout the 20th century Finse has been used by numerous explorers to test equipment for polar expeditions. During the Second World War the Germans established a top-secret research base here in order to test the qualities of different engines and fuel types in a high altitude arctic climate. It was these research efforts that led to the English bombardment of Finse in 1943.
In more resent years Finse has been the location for many movie productions. The most famous of these was Star Wars Part II (The Empire Strikes Back). All the winter scenes of the movie where shot at the Hardangerjøkulen Glacier.