RideEatCamp

Tunnels

Europe

Today we rode through three tunnels on our way to Nesna. Two of the tunnels were about 3km long. Every day we ride through at least one tunnel, the longest being 4km. The longest tunnel in Norway is 57km. That’s a half hour drive! Cyclists aren’t allowed in all tunnels for good reason.

The sound of passing vehicles is exhilarating.
The sound of passing vehicles is exhilarating.

This is not a tunnel, but I liked this cable bridge, and we ride over it today.
This is not a tunnel, but I liked this cable bridge, and we ride over it today.

One tunnel took us between two islands. I think we were riding on the sea floor. Most other tunnels send us through a mountain, with sometimes 3,000 vertical feet of rock above our heads.

When approaching a tunnel the first thing you feel is the cold wind coming from its black mouth. If the tunnel is long enough there are giant fans hanging from the ceiling that help push air through the tunnel to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

When you enter a tunnel you get the same feeling you get when you jump in the water and all of a sudden the outside world is gone and your new world is liquid. Sounds come from all angles and all at once. When a car approaches you feel like you’re about to be engulfed by a great wave. And then the car passes and the tunnel is empty again except for you and the still air and your tires cutting through the wet road.

It’s calming, similar to riding at night. There’s nothing to see but the passing road in the faint beam of your headlight.

You lose track of distance. You begin to wonder when the tunnel will end. It’s only darkness ahead and it’s suffocating. And then you see a soft glow on the walls of the tunnel. And as you slowly round the corner you see the bright white wall that is the end.

When you punch through the white wall all the noises from the tunnel suddenly disappear. Your pupils contract and dry air rushes around your body. It’s like coming up for air.