At the beginning of last summer I was coming to the end of my year living in Norway and moving to Slovenia. I had done quite a lot of mountain biking in the area around Trondheim where I had been living, however not had many opportunities to get down to the steep rocky mountains and fjords that Norway is famous for. I had been several times further south to Oslo, Trollstigen, the atlantic road and the mountains between Oslo and Bergen all the while scanning the landscape for suitable riding trails, planning ahead for when I would be able to return with the bike. That chance came right at the end of my time in the country when we ended up with a 4 day road trip around central Norway.
I am lucky enough to have a friend, who I know from living in London a few years ago, who is almost always up for a bike trip! Initially he was just going to come over for a few days riding near Trondheim but it was him that persuaded me to turn this into a bit more of a trip and go exploring further afield, once I started looking at maps and photos of places we could visit it didn’t take much persuading before the plan turned into a full on road trip around the Norwegian fjords, we concluded that the driving would be worth it for the places we would get to ride… we were not wrong as the following images and words prove.
Jonny arrived late on Friday night, bikes were immediately built and the car packed ready to set off early Saturday morning.
The weather for Saturday looked ropey and we had planned to ride in Oppdal, weather dependant (since we were told it was currently snowing there), in the morning to break up the drive, then drive on down to Sogndal area. When we arrived in Oppdal the sun was shining and we decided to get the bikes out, in retrospect we were very glad we did as the drive from there down to Sogndal ended up being extremely long. Although neither of us said anything, we could both tell we were thinking ‘is this really worth it?’ by the end, especially with the amount of snow we were passing, however we were not disappointed by the trails which awaited us, it was certainly worth it!
We awoke to some rather wet weather which certainly dampened the mood, we had planned to ride some trails in a small fjordside town called Kaupanger but first we needed food so stopped in the town, we actually ended up spending until about 11:30am faffing around avoiding the rain before doing a ‘f*ck it, let’s just get muddy man’.
There had been an enduro race in Kaupanger last year so we had the map from that to put together a loop, we soon got over the wet and were seriously blown away by how incredible the trails were in Kaupanger! Lush green forest floors with ribbons of brown trail twisting off through the pine forests, despite the wet the trails actually turned out to be really grippy.
I will certainly be back to this place to ride at some point in my life, this small insignificant town has stuck in my mind since.
Day three meant only a 30min drive in the morning to get to the first trails next to Sandane, however we must have had plenty of Weetabix for breakfast as we ended up riding in three different locations that were two ferry trips, several tunnels and 200km apart.
In the morning we rode a trail up to the mountain called Haugsvarden which was a pretty technical rock fest all the way down through the trees, we decided it was warm enough to break out the Hawaiin shirts Jonny had brought along on the trip for this ride! We then hit the road and the ferry to get across the hills to Geirangerfjord where we had been told of an old post road that used to link the towns of Hellesylt and Stranda, of course now there is a tunnel connecting the two, where the trail was also very technical and rocky and the views exceptional! In the evening we planned to drive to Valldal to spend the night but we ended up arriving pretty early and managed to get in a quick 2 hour ride behind our cabin after dinner too!
Safe to say after 3 rides and a long drive we were ready for bed very soon after our ride.
Me negotiating a few hairpin switchbacks near the bottom
When I first arrived in Norway, I had signed up to ride for weekend down in the Fjørå area which was organised with a big group of 50 riders by an Norwegian mountain biking website, the trails that I rode during that weekend ended up being the ones we rode on our last day on this road trip, I had to go back as the scenery and trails together were fantastic.
We ended up doing one big ride which took in two ascents finishing on a little piece of trail which is known by locals as ‘blowjob’ ….it is that good. The sunny weather and warm wind wasn’t quite the same as last time I was here, it was still warm enough to break out the Hawaiian shirts for one last go (albeit with a thermal underneath).
To me Norway is one of these countries that is a sort of ‘holy grail’ of nature and landscape, all through my life I have always thought of it as a goal to be able to go and explore there and experience these crazy landscapes that you see so many ‘picture postcard’ images of, such as the Trollstigen, the northern lights, the Preikestolen or the Trolltunga, is amazing and to get to ride my bike with a good friend in these places is another thing. That was the thing, all the time we were riding we were thinking these are really great trails but what made it special was the landscapes that came with it, we weren’t just riding great trails, we were riding great trails in incredible landscapes.
Whenever you think of Norway I am sure you have some similar preconceptions as I did regarding the nature, however I bet you anything the second thought that comes into your head is – ‘it is really expensive, I mean a beer costs £10 or something doesn’t it?’. But I would ask you to try to ignore that thought and get yourself to Norway, it is definitely worth it, the beer might be expensive, the distances long and the roads slow, it might rain a lot but all of it is far outweighed by the trails and landscapes you will experience. Plus you can pick up a beer for £2.50 in the supermarket anyway.
You can find plenty of example of the cabins we stayed in here
I finally have to say a big thanks to my friend Tarjei, he basically organised this trip for us! Tarjei is a friend I met whilst living in Norway and rode with a lot there his knowledge of bikes, bike tech and trails amazes me, I had mentioned to him about where should we go and ride for a couple of days and he told me a few places which I started researching, only a few days later he sends me an email with basically our 4 day itinerary sorted; with rides, maps, photos, roads to take and how long it will all take which was perfect, so thank you Tarjei!