Telemark Round Trip

Rating: 2

Submitted by: Kai Harrekilde-Petersen

Location: Round trip, total distance approx. 650km, west and south-west of Oslo.

Suggested ride(s): We did this trip as a relaxed weekend trip (Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon/evening), driving 115 kms Friday, 200 kms Saturday, and almost 350 kms Sunday.

Without longish breaks, it should be possible to do the trip in a full day, 8-10 hours of riding. Also, the trip can be shortened (or extended - for the Iron-butts) as the day(s) passes. The start and finish stretches from/to Oslo are rather boring, but the rest of the trip is great with lots of curves, steep climbs/descends, and magnificent scenery.

Starting from Oslo, you take E18 towards Drammen, then head for Kongsberg and E134. After Drammen, the road starts to get curved. Passing Meheia, you'll find what you've been waiting for: curves. Here, they're of the fast, sweeping type.

Once you come to Notodden, take right towards at the sign pointing towards "sentrum", and then immediately turn right (and up) again following the sign to Bolkesjø. This road will take you out of Notodden, going almost straight north for 21 kms. After passing Bolkesjø and Follsjå on your left side, the road ends at Riksvei 37. Turn left, and after ca 8 kms turn right along Riksvei 364. This is the "old" road to Rjukan, which follows the east side of Tinnsjøen and it is both longer and more twisty than the new road on the west side (Rv 37). If you're wondering about that road, I suggest reading Steinar Bang's tripreport "Scaring Meece".

The east and west roads meet at Mæl, at the bottom of Vestfjorden. From here you drive 8-10 km along the bottom of the valley towards Rjukan and Mount Gausta. It's an impressive sight to turn a corner, and suddenly beholding the Gausta in all its might (the top is 1881 m above sea level, and it is partly covered with snow at all times). For the history interested, I suggest driving right through Rjukan and on to the old Vemork power and heavywater plant. The film "The Heroes of Telemark" recounts the sabotage of the Vemork plant during WW2. To go up Gausta, you take off to the right (assuming you are coming from Vestfjorden; you turn left left if you went up to Vemork) at the sign of Tuddal (this intersection can be a bit difficult to see if you don't pay attention).

Here, the road just goes: hairpin, hairpin, hairpin, until you are at the top. Up here, at 1137 m, is the possibility of a rest (and a snack, if the kiosk is open) at a rasteplads (a combination layby/picnic spot), and for the mountain-hiking people it is possible to hike to the top of Mt Gausta itself (approx 2 hours each way, according to a sign). (Karines note: While not a difficult trail, it is demanding - as the cross erected half way up shows. It was put there in memory of a Latvian school teacher who suffered a heart attack on his way up. At the summit there is a "turisthytte", a cabin, with excellent waffles. You can also spend the night up there if you wish.) Shortly after this, the all-time-high of 1275 m is reached. Be careful, it's cool up here even in the middle of the summer. Down again is hairpin time. After Tuddal follow the road on to Sauland. Now you're back at E134 again. Turn left, back towards Notodden. Again, for the cultural guys, stop at Heddal, where you can see Norway's largest Stave Church, buildt during the 13th century.

Back in Notodden, aim for Nautesund and Rv 360 along the east side of Heddalsvatnet. Just before Rv 360 crosses the lake, turn left towards Nordagutu and Valebø. After 5-8 kms, turn left again towards Valebø and Valesæter. This road is not classified, but it is certainly fun and twisty. Bikers wont have a problem on this road, but if you happen to drive in a cage, beware of the 2.6 m height limitation (due to the railroad track). At Skien, take Rv 32 over Siljan to Steinsholt, then right at Rv 40 towards Larvik. Do bear over with Rv 40 as you travel the 6 kms down towards Larvik, because you're in for a real treat. At Hvarnes, turn left along Rv 306. In a few moments notice, you'll see the sign that transcends languages.

A few km's along the way, turn right. Now the road narrows into a single lane. After Nes, turn left, staying at Rv 306, towards Høyjord. After Høyjord, several possibilities exists. You can keep going along Rv 306 (an entirely good idea), or take Rv 312 to Hof (please note it is the Rv 312 alternative that is drawn in red on the map).

The Rv 306 alternative: When Rv 306 meets Rv 312, go left, and then right at the Rv 306 sign (1-2 kms down the road). This part of Rv 306 isn't as narrow and twisty than the part from Hvarnes to Nes, but it's great anyway. Rv 306 takes you on to Skoppum and Horten, eventually. From Horten, you may take the ferry across the fjord to Moss, or ride E18 towards Oslo.

The Rv 312 alternative: Go left when Rv 306 meets Rv 312, and stay on it, all the way to Hof. Then, take Rv 35 along the eastern shore of the Eikeren lake all the way to Vestfossen. Now you're almost back at Rv 11, and if you're short on time, just take it back to Oslo. If you want more riding, I suggest drive on to Hokksund, and then staying on Rv 35 by turning left towards Åmot. The best route from here is probably along Rv 284 the southern shore of Tyrifjorden to Sylling. From here, it's all homeward. If it is sunday afternoon, I'd advice against turning left towards E16, since you'll be driving in a queue all the way from Sollihøgda to Oslo. Turning right (also along Rv 285) gets you to Tranby - and E18. E18 will also be packed with cages, but there really isn't a good alternative here.

Kai

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