The second part of our Norway trip began by stepping into unknown territory. In planning this trip, we could find almost no information about bikepacking in Norway. I saw this as a huge opportunity, but of course it was hard to know where to start. The way we packed for this trip was almost entirely with bikepacking bags. We figured we would treat our bikes like suitcases and just unload them for day rides. It was always in the plan to do some camping off the bikes.
After mulling over all our options, and factoring in the weather that was predicted for the next few days, we decided on a route that would more or less take us straight to Voss, where our next AirBnB was. We used http://www.norgeskart.no/ which is an awesome site with astonishingly detailed topo maps of Norway. A word of caution though, the trails shown on the maps vary from well established trails to bushwhacking. And there’s no real way to tell which they are until you’re there.
So we chose to go North from a small town called Øystese, and take trails as far as we could to get to Voss. We said goodbye to Klara and Nora, and Will was kind enough to drive us down the road to Øystese where we began our ride.
A paved road took us up the first 300 meters of elevation from Fjord level to a lake called Fitjadalsvatnet. At the end of the road, we found the trailhead, and began our ascent. The valley climbed steeply up towards the platau that was our goal, and we discovered what kind of trail it was that we had chosen.
The trail basically followed what appeared to be old scree covered in moss. I could go into great detail here, but the short story is that we carried our bikes to the top.
The next day we made it up to the plateau we had been aiming for and suddenly, without warning, the trails were completely and totally ridable. We explored this area, and went a couple different out-and-backs just to see what the trails were like. Hayley has a knee injury that’s been on and off for a couple years, and the entire day of carrying a loaded bike took it’s toll. We decided to head towards the road and into Voss the next day. The trail we took down to the lake was unbelievably cool.
We spent the next few days in Voss, riding some of the local trails (which were really awesome) and soaking up some sunny days. We had been going pretty non-stop since we got to Norway, so we took some time to just relax and feel like we were on vacation. We also had to decide what to do with the next few days, as we hadn’t planned them yet. The weather wasn’t looking especially promising, so the idea of camping was looking less appealing. In the end we decided to go to Bergen, and do touristy stuff around the city since we figured that might be the least hindered by wet weather.
We headed to Bergen on the train from Voss, and one short, scenic (imagine that) ride later we were in Bergen getting soaked in a storm. Bergen was an awesome city to hang out in, and it’s not a very large, so it was easy to get a lot of places by bike or walking. We walked up a long stone stair that took us up above the city, rode the tram down, saw cool parts of the old town, and went to an island called Fedje via a really awesome ferry route.
On the way home the airline lost our bikes again, but we weren’t surprised.
Norway was an amazing country to visit. It was the first time I’d visited a country nicer than the United States. The Norwegians we interacted with were very nice and almost all of them knew English. The landscape was unbelievable. Between the Fjords, the mountains, the trails, and the fact that we saw almost no people in the backcountry, it made for a really cool wilderness experience. The weather certainly was wet. I think if we go back, I’d like to see some other parts of Norway that are known for being a little more dry. Overall, we came home feeling so lucky for everything we got to do and experience over there.
The little bikepacking we did was a mixed bag. We got half totally awesome singletrack and half carrying our bikes uphill through boulders. I think for anyone looking to do bikepacking there, local knowledge and the willingness to try lots of different trails is going to be your recipe for success. If bikepacking ever catches on there, the locals will be the ones to turn to for advice for sure.
The riding we did with Any Excuse to Ride Norway was awesome. We really enjoyed the relative luxury of an all-inclusive holiday. They really took care of us when our bikes didn’t show up. I really hope to see Will and Klara and Nora again someday, they really helped make our Norway trip special.