I am quite sure I wrote this same sentence about a ride not so long ago, but this was one of the best rides I have done in my life. The mix of the scenery, the weather, the trails, the people and the bike was just perfect.
I got up a little later than I had hoped but what the heck it was my ‘holiday’ and there was plenty of time before the sun went down, I ended up aiming to leave the house before 11 instead of something around 9. I spent a good hour discussing routes with Anja (who’s family I was staying with) in the morning before deciding to try and reach a mountain called Steigtinden which was quite some distance away but also one of the most impressive mountains in the area. I planned to take my stove with me and also my little coffee maker (Bialetti) to the top and to stop for a while to have lunch so I also packed some really warm clothes to take with me, I really love this idea of taking the stove to stop and have a coffee with the best view from the top, I guess it is kind of taken from a few videos I have seen of other guys doing so. I packed myself plenty of food, plenty of extra warm clothes for when I stopped, my stove, my bialetti, tools and lights and a few spares so I was much more prepared than I usually am, often not even bothering with a bag.
I started off the ride with the last ascent of the day from yesterday which is quite a long slog up the hillside to the top of Keiservarden, cycling along the first bit of trail at the edge of the city brought some funny sights, here in Norway the pre-school kids seem to spend a lot of time outdoors and it must have been the time of day for outdoor activities when I was passing because at several points through the woods there were one or two teachers with a group of tiny brightly coloured kids running all over the place, dressed in all the colours you can thing of, I guess so that they do not loose any!
I essentially decided to follow the trail all the way along the top of the ridge and see how far I got, I quickly realised that to reach Steigtinden was quite ambitious as even though the trail was very good it was much more up and down than it looked on the map, so going was a little slower than expected.
As for the actual trails, they were perfect nice and compact, muddy but not ‘muddy’ so still plenty of grip, they were almost all just set into the ground a couple of inches so that you could use the sides of the trail as mini berms and not worry about sliding out so much, they were perfectly flowy with small humps and compressions all the way along and almost never straight with continuously smooth corners that just wounds themselves away through the sea of brown grass. One reason why this ride was amazing.
I made it to the top of Skaugtuva and could see that there was still quite a long way to go to Steigtinder and that there was also quite a big gulley in the way which meant that it was a good descent and ascent to get there, plus the peak of that mountain looked basically like a cliff and not accessible by bike! So I decided to stop here and have a nice long break with a coffee and food and enjoy the views. I set about getting my stove up and made myself a coffee along with the sandwiches and biscuits I had brought, hiding behind the wall some people had built as an addition to the cairn.
Whilst I was having my coffee another guy came walking up and I offered to make him a coffee also, he stopped for a chat and informed me that he had been up this mountain more than 300 times, he had even been in the local newspaper because of it, not sure why he came up so often, he never really said but I guess it was his favourite mountain!
The ride back was quite epic as I mentioned, because of a number of things. It was almost all downhill meaning I got to chill out and just enjoy the views, trails and sunset instead of worrying about time and energy. The sun was just going down over the horizon and gave some incredible light creating such strong autumn colours over the mountains. The trails as already mentioned before were perfect, flowy, fast, hard, rocky, technical, a bit of everything really and most of all long, it felt like they went on forever, winding their way along the ridge line towards the sunset, riding into the sun. Because of this it made the views even more incredible, I have to say Norway truly is the most incredible country I have ever been and getting to ride my bike in these kind of places is what I dreamed of only a few years back, it is like riding the trails that you see in holiday brochures or in magazines, so I feel pretty lucky to get to ride all these places.