Some of you may have noticed I disappeared for the last 3 weeks, both from Durango and social media. Well, Hayley and I went to Norway for 3 weeks of mountain biking and bike camping.
The whole thing started when we saw an offer for a fully catered mountain biking holiday from Any Excuse to Ride Norway on Instagram. Hayley and I have never done anything like this before, but the pictures of the riding looked so incredibly stellar that we just had to try it out. Just the idea of cycling in Norway was pretty much enough for me.
So last winter we booked it and plane tickets for 3 weeks in Norway. The catered mountain biking holiday was just for the first week, and then we planned to go off on our own, camping or air-bnb-ing depending on weather.
We got into Bergen after 4 flights and about 36 hours of traveling. We had checked our bikes with the airline, and of course, they were lost. Not caring about much else at that time, we checked into our hotel and slept. The next day, our friends Brianne and Peter showed up after flying with a different airline. Luckily, their bikes did show up. Any Excuse to Ride Norway is a guiding service out of Kvanndal, a tiny village about 2 hours drive from Bergen. It consists of Will, Klara and Nora, the trail dog. Will picked us up in his van from Bergen, and still pretty jet lagged, and with only two bikes and 4 people, we headed to their farmhouse in Kvanndal.
The drive from Bergen to Kvanndal is utterly superb. This part of Norway is unlike any place I’ve ever been. Bergen is known as the gateway to the fjords, and is completely surrounded by fjord country. Kvanndal is situated along Hardangerfjord, the second longest fjord in Norway, and honestly, I just couldn’t get enough of staring out of the van at the country we were going to ride it.
It became apparent after the second day without so much as a word from the airline, that we were going to have to rent bikes. Will had some connections in the close by city of Voss, and we were able to get some full suspension rentals for the next few days. Unfortunately, most of the riding we did the first week was on rentals, but we had a blast anyway.
But what about the riding? Ho-lee-chit it was awesome. The first thing we learned about riding if fjord country, is a reality of the landscape. It is really steep. The walls of the fjords consist of mostly steep gneiss cliffs that were formed by glaciers around 80,000 years ago. This made for trails that started from altitudes of up to 1200m and went to sea level in only a few miles. However, not everything we rode was insanely steep, and we got the hang of it after a couple days. The main challenge for us desert dwellers was comically enough: water. It is fucking everywhere. It’s not news that it rains in Norway. A hint should be that 98% of the country’s power comes from hydroelectric stations. And it did rain while we were there. We just simply don’t ride in the rain in Southwest Colorado, mostly because it destroys the trails. So riding in the wet was something we had to embrace, and I think by the end of our first week, we were getting the hang of it.
We rode quite a variety of trails from steep singletrack to old tractor roads. The terrain they took us through was so beautiful, and the rain made for some incredible low clouds that would open up a little at the middle of the day.
Our bikes showed up the second to last day of our time with Will and Klara, and we finally got to ride our own bikes on some sweet trails. Overall, it was a really awesome experience with them, and we were really glad to have guides to show us the riding and show us a little bit of the country. I don’t think there’s any way we could have gotten as much riding in without their help. The fully catered bit took a little getting used to for us, but once we did it was really nice to just relax and be on vacation.
If you’re interested in taking a trip like we did, check out the @_any_excuse_to_ride instagram, and I’m more than happy to provide contact email for them.