Thanks to frequent flier miles, incredible planning once again by Geir, and no thanks to Newark International airport and Continental, three Yanks traveled to Norway for nine days of fantastic riding.
Two of us flew from the SF Bay Area, while Kevin flew in from Colorado. On three different airlines. The end result:
Continental airlines lost Paul's bike and all of his luggage somewhere in Newark. Yes, another reason to hate New Jersey!
We all met in Amsterdam since we were all on the same KLM flight to Trondheim. I got to know that airport VERY well(like 7+hours well)since I was the first to arrive and since our flight was delayed.
Those wacky Dutch sure have a knack for well-placed bathrooms.
We arrived later than planned in Trondheim (28 hours door-to-door baby!) so our short intro ride was canceled as the local beer flowed and as the phone lines were burned up trying to rescue Paul's bike and luggage from the Joisey thugsters.
Still no sign of Paul's bike so Kevin, Geir, and I hooked up with Jorgen and Jorn for some local Trondheim riding around Goat Hill. Blueberry trail, Raspberry trail, et al were in great shape due to an unusual lack of rain. The locals have some amazing riding just a short spin away. I left the still camera at home and shot some video. Jorgen's pictures are linked below.
That night we had a tasty BBQ on Geir's deck while rainbows danced around us.
Paul's bike and luggage finally made it to the Trondheim airport sometime after 12am and Paul and Geir drove down to rescue it.
Day two and three
We loaded the bikes and drove a few hours East to get to Are Bike Park in Are, Sweden. Big rock above the tree line, swoopy singletrack down in the trees. A herd of reindeer (see Kevin's picture in the link below), Paul chasing reindeer (see Geir's pictures belowr) and many runs up to the top in the tram over two days. No stills but I did get some worthy video.
You can see some fantastic pictures from this trip by following links below. Thanks to Geir, Kevin and Jorgen for taking the time to carry their cameras and for taking some great pictures.
geir's pictures Are
geir's pictures Blåhø
geir's pictures Sunndal
While I took a picture of a strange DH totem hanging from an adjacent window, Paul scoured a map for backcountry routes.
We had a slight detour on our way back to Trondheim. It seems that the highway that we came in on had been completely washed away while we had been enjoying the mountains. We eventually made it back to civilization (Norway), had some surprisingly good pizza in downtown Trondheim and got ready to depart for the Oppdal area.
We drove South for a few hours to Oppdal which is a ski area in the Winter. We provisioned at a gas station (bacon-wrapped hot dogs!) and at a nearby market
Then it was on to Krisoffer's cabin to set up our base camp before heading back to Blåhø for a ride. The Blåhø ride was the most scenic ride on our last trip. And every ride was scenic so that's saying a great deal about Blåhø's beauty. This year there was less snow but we explored a bit farther. No stills from me(check Geir's and Kevin's) but I did shoot some video during the ride.
Kristoffer's cabin was incredible as well as being in an idyllic setting.
It was time to head an hour West to the fjords. The views during the drive were amazing so we knew that the ride would be over the top.
The ride started in a valley right next to a marshmallow farm. Few people know that the Norwegians were the first people to commercially grow and harvest marshmallows. Here's Paul trying to move a full-grown adult marshmallow.
He didn't succeed.
To show how domesticated and docile they are (as compared to their wild brethren), Geir rode across a few of them. Don't try this at home!
Once these guys are harvested and butchered, you'll see them in your local grocery store. So now you know where these delectable treats come from. Thank Norway the next time you're enjoying smores around the campfire!
The trail meandered through some woods and across a glacier-fed creek before getting serious and pointing straight up. Norwegian hike-a-bike style.
We kept going up, and up, and up. Geir decided to take a break and frolic in some just melted glacier water. Reports are that it was cold.
Some wondered whether he had grabbed a handful of the local fungus which affected his judgment enough to get into the water.
We kept climbing through vast fields of wild blueberries until we reached the first lookout and stopped for a bit to eat.
We kept climbing and climbing, broke through the tree line and reached the high point of the ride which was just below a glacier.
Lunch was had by all and then we started back down. As I said during the descent, the ride was like Goat Camp (in AZ) on steroids and crystal meth. Uber technical and relentless.
Above the tree line it was less challenging, but the vistas made up for the lack of tech.
Into the tree line and things began to get really interesting.
Near the end we did some local real estate speculation and then rolled back to the car.
The plan was to head to the fjord for a swim and BBQ. Jorn and Kristoffer offered to shuttle us up to a local peak for a quick descent to sea level. How could we refuse such a generous offer?
Up top, Kevin was trying to figure out how he could get his phone to plug into the local equipment for a quick charge.
How many times am I allowed to use the phrase "amazing views'?
Those were some serious power lines suspended across the fjord.
I strapped on the helmetcam and proceeded to get my ass royally kicked by the overgrown fall line trail. Yowsa, that thing was tough.
Once we were rescued at the end of the ride, we headed to the BBQ beach.
Amazing views? (glacier at the top of the earlier climb is in the top left)
Bacon-wrapped hotdogs over an open fire. Mmmmmmmmm
We left Oppdal and headed South to the Rondane area. Geir scouted this ride last year and linked up a gravel road climb, some tough tech pedaling and some hike-a-bike (ok, a little bit more than some) to reach a prominent peak. From there it was down, down, down through barren rocky fields to the tree line where we picked up an old farming trail for a ripping descent back to the valley floor.
View looking back down the last hike-a-bike
heading down (kevin is the orange speck, middle left)
View from an overlook before the last big descent
After the ride we drove South for four hours to reach Oslo and our next wonderful host, Are Sorensen and family.
Today was an alleged rest day with a "recovery" ride happening in the afternoon.
We started with a traditional Norwegian breakfast on Are's deck.
While on a mission to get a new headset for Paul's Intense 6.6 (thanks Trond!) we stopped by a famous park in Oslo. Lots of sculptures done in stone and copper and not a stitch of clothing on any of them.
We hooked up with a bevy of Oslo locals and rode some really fun trails that had a mixture of slickrock and rooty goodness during our four (?) hour ride. Then we rode into downtown Oslo and cruised around the packed waterfront area, and through a bunch of different neighborhoods in search of a restaurant that wasn't packed. It was a great way to see this beautiful city. Even the Norwegians were grinning at the freedom and mobility offered by being on a bike in an urban landscape.
A big ride in the hills/mountains North of Drammen, led by Øystein (who Paul and I met at Are last year). Big climbs, big views, great company, grin-worthy descents, and one toasted Americun. That would be me. Put a fork in me, I was done. Legs shot, upper back and neck spasming, I bailed before the last micro climb that led to the last descent.
Pizza and beer with the locals topped off the day and then we were headed North to stay in Lillehammer that night.
The original plan was to ride the lifts in Lillehammer but we decided to head back to Trondheim for some tourist exploration and riding on Goat Hill. Geir and Paul did a shorty on Goat while Kevin and I rode around downtown Trondheim and saw some of the sites. The handheld urban riding video was interesting.. We met at the local microbrewery where pint prices for an Amber type brew had jumped from $8 two years ago to $9 in 2006. Viva the almighty US dollar!
Out of Geir's house at 4:30 am to begin the 28 hour trip home!
Thanks to Geir (and family) as well as all of the locals who welcomed us onto their trails and into their homes during our stay. Norwegian hospitality simply cannot be exaggerated. It's beyond belief!
So Geir, former Norcal resident/rider/troublemaker extraordinaire moves back to his native Norway and just can't stop gushing about how great the riding, the whale hunting, the moose fondling and the sheep chasing is.
Eventually he steps up and organizes a little get together in the Land of the Midnight Sun. After taking a big dent out of my frequent flier miles account, I'm headed to Norway with Paul to meet Geir and the rest of the locals, as well as Nate who flew in early from Seattle.
I borrowed Marc's bike coffin that can hadle two bikes. I had to remove the big fork, all cranks and pedals and few other bits to get in under the 100 lb limit set by the airlines.
We flew, we ate, we drank, we transfered, we flew some more and finally 23 1/2 hours after leaving the Bay Area we were at Geir's house in Trondheim and putting bikes together for a mellow ride to stave off jet lag.
We went on a really cool local ride on some primitve trails at Goat Hill. Only one picture since I was still really wobbly with jet lag. Nate caught a stick and shattered his SRAM X0 derailleur. Local replacement cost at the Trondheim LBS = $400+ US dollars! (he returned it after Jorgen set him up with an older model that worked for $30. It helps to be on friendly terms with knowledgable locals).
The official start to Geir's event found us riding Goat Hill. No riding shots since I dragged the helmetcam along on this great ride. We met at the local ski jump, which is used in the Summer for training as well (ceramic ski track and plastic bristles in the landing zone simulate snow).
We rode and we rode and we shot some video.
After the long day we retired to Geir's for a classic Norwegian dinner. Lotsa flesh-based products...
We got our first real taste of the whole "Land of The Midnight Sun" deal that night since we weren't passed out due to jet lag.
The view from Geir's deck is beautiful, with this traditional Norwegian farm just a stone's throw away.
This picture was taken at 11 pm at "night." Shortly thereafter, I spotted movement in the farmer's field just a short distance away.
Geir's rocket launcher was empty so we didn't get to hunt it, but the moose was pretty cool (we stil think that Geir paid someone to let it out to trick the gullible Americans).
More local Trondheim riding. More video. No pictures. Dinner/drinks at the microbrewery in town that night. Pitchers of beer are US$30 but good nonetheless.
Here is the Trondheim area video:
We get up early to drive to Sweden for some DH action at Are. The riding is superb and the scenery is some of the most stunning that I have seen. The mountain tops out at only a bit over 4,000 feet but you feel much higher because you're above the tree line for a great deal of the riding.
Did I mention that the views were awe inspiring?
Here's the base staion of the cable car that drags you up over 3,000' vertical. Followed by some photos looking back down the mountain as the cable car climbs.
Paragliding is apparently very popular in this area(three in this pic).
So we rode the whole day with the only interuption being an idyllic slopeside lunch (straight out of Heidi or the Sound of Music or something of that ilk). More video happened, until I packed the DSLR for the last run down.
Happy campers on the way up.
From the top, Jorgen follows Geir....
Jorgen waits on the slacker and then rides on through...
Geir worked a nice rock face for the camera.
...and eventually we got down towards the tree line.
The we rode in the trees for a long time without stopping for pictures until the very bottom, where I caught Jorgen frolicking in the wild flowers.
Here is the video from that day of riding
This was one of the best days of riding that I've ever had. Great company, great terrain, great food, and great scenery. At the end of the day we bid farewell to all of the folks who had ridden with us that day and drove the two hours back to Geir's house in Trondheim for a BBQ, norwegian-stylie.
Mmmmmmm...reindeer steak (Rudolph!), whale steak (Shamu!), pork, and assorted veggies. Not a bad way to wrap up a superlative day of riding.
We drive. We drive South for a couple of hours and stop to ride a remote hiking trail. Geir is pretty confident that it's never been ridden before. Afte riding it, we belive him.
But first we have to get there. Culture shock moment: we have to pay a toll to drive on a gravel road to the trailhead.
There's this little shack deal (replete with retro turf roof even) that you have to stop at to pay the toll. You don't pay the city. Nor the county. nor the state. Nor the federal government. You pay the farmer guy who owns the surrounding land.
As we drive in, the terrain opens up and the awesome views commence.
We start climbing. The scenery does not disappoint.
Then we climb some more and it gets wetter, icier, and snowier.
After soaking in the amazing scenery,
it's time for the descent back down...
...and then the three hour drive South to Geir's in-law's cabin. That midnight Sun thing strikes again, taken at about 11:30 pm as we started the fire to get some warmth into the cabin.
Exploratory riding right from the cabin.
A friendly local who decided our front yard was the local buffet and restroom.
Lotsa sheep trails and stark scenery. Some rain, cool temps but a good day despite some really overgrown trails that were often flow-challenged.
I think she digs Maverick forks.
What a babe. If I wasn't married...
While we were all covered in sheep shit in varying degrees by the end of the ride, Paul's pedal was pretty damn awesome in its sheepiness.
So after a six hour lovefest in the hills, we came back to the cabin and made this crazy pasta dinner, gorged ourselves, and then crashed hard in preperation for our last day of riding, in Norway's first National Park, Rondane.
Rondane National Park. Norway's first National Park. Once again we're above tree line but this time we're a bit higher, around 6,000'. Rocky hiker-formed trails that are perfectly legal for bikes.
Yawn. More big views.
Not a bad spot for a bit of food.
A river runs through it and Paul rides by it.
We explored a bit and then stopped at the first big waterfall of the day (down in the gorge no direct pictures) and rode around it.
The view back to the lake was pretty cool.
Then it was on to a double waterfall that was screaming to be photographed and ridden.
...and finally the trail back home.
Still Day 7.
We drove all of the way back up to Trondheim, grabbed some dinner at this restaurant that rotates 300' above the city and rotates 360 degrees every hour. It's located in the TV tower. Then we had some time to do the tourist thing and amble around the old part of town.
These were taken between 10 and 11 pm...
We even found a bike escalator for that hill that you just don't want to climb.
The old fort on the hill above old town.
Coolest of all was the cathedral that was once the religious center of Northern Europe.
The statues were otherworldly.
Then Geir found a City Bike rack, inserted the proper coin, and despite the fact that it hand a flat front tire, proceeded to do a bit of urban assault by the light of the midnight sun.
Steeper than it looks.
A flat tire doesn't matter when you're wheelieman.
Then we went back, disassembled bikes, slept for four hours and travelled 25 1/2 hours back to California.
Once again, a HUGE thanks to Geir, and all of the other Norway riders, for the great times and wonderful hospitality!