Norway: part 2

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Summary:

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.

Norway: part 1

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.

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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.

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The Riding

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.

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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.

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Talos, L, Pink/Blue, Rocker dropouts

I’ve decided to add a new version of the Talos to the linup based on some feedback I’ve been getting from customers, and to make the Talos a bit of a more rounded offering. The elevated chainstay design is slick and unique, but it does limit dropout selection. There’s just no good way to integrate sliding or rocker drops into the elevated CS design without designing and making our own dropout frame components (which I’m working on, but more on that later).

The problem then becomes how to get such short chainstays with a yoke. I’ve never liked the current offerings of CNC’d yokes, as they don’t actually allow you to run very short chainstays. So I began the process of developing my own that met all of my criteria. After quite a few versions that just weren’t perfect, I arrived at the current design that I’m really excited about.

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Without going into a ton of nerdy framebuilder stuff that isn’t that interesting, I’ll just say that this was my solution to a very complex problem. And it came out pretty aesthetic, so I’m very happy with it. This is what we’ll use to offer a rocker dropout version of the Talos.

The rocker drops have about 19mm of travel, and mount the brake within the rear triangle so adding a rack is much easier. The Rocker drop version of the Talos will also come standard with rack mounts. I feel that this makes it an incredibly versatile bikepacking machine.

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I finished this prototype and am now bringing it to Norway for 3 weeks of testing. On that note, the shop will be closed from August 1st to the 24th while we’re on summer vacation. We’ll see you at the end of August!

Pinion Custom build

I recently finished this custom mountain bike build for a client in Telluride, and it marks an exciting time for Myth Cycles. We are now building with Pinion Gearboxes.

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This was the first build we’ve done with a Pinion gearbox, but it most certainly won’t be our last. If you aren’t familiar with Pinion, it is a drivetrain replacement that acts like a transmission. All the gears are in a box that is bolted directly to the frame, and gear changes all happen between the crank and chainring. This means you can run a simple singlespeed rear hub, and even a Gates Carbon belt drive if you want to. The gearboxes come with 6 to 18 speeds, but the most popular (for mountain bikes) seems to be the C1.12, which has 12 speeds and about one more gear of range than an Eagle drivetrain.

These gearboxes keep all the gears in an oil bath, which means very low maintenance. They require an oil change every 10,000 Km, or every year. If you have a chain connecting the gearbox to the rear wheel, it will require normal chain maintenance. But a belt will require very little, in the right conditions (i.e. no mud).

Pinion does add weight to a bike. It’s hard to calculate exactly because it replaces a lot of parts, and it’s integrated into the frame. By my reckoning, it adds roughly 3lbs, give or take. But the weight is low and central, so it’s not as noticeable.

Shifting under load? Nope. This is the first thing a lot of people ask me about Pinion. That sounds like a downside if you’ve never experienced it before. However, we have a Rohloff on our tandem which shifts in a similar fashion. Yes, you have to pause pedaling for a split second, but the nice thing is you can dump a ton of gears if you want to. With a little getting used to it, it becomes very natural.

Right now we are only offering Pinion on custom bikes. For a little more info and pricing, our Custom Framebuilding page now has a Pinion section. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out via our Contact page.

Wyvern, L, Turquoise

Just finished up this Turquoise Wyvern for Dakota, and I continue to see why Turquoise is one of our most popular colors. This one was built up with our Fox 34 build kit, and was the first bike to feature Fox’s new step-cast 34. He also opted for the 11-speed GX drivetrain instead of the 12, and 29er wheels! This bike came out to 27 lbs.

Can’t wait to see this thing shredding around Durango!