Friday, 3 August 2012


So, the inspiration for this outing, a mash-up of a 16 hour overnighter (as suggested by Marco, for those without the time for a '24'), a first bikepacking trip, a gear shakedown, the urge to catch some trout and just because it should be a whole heap of fun. I even carried a can of Guinness and a beer cozy. Livin'.

To satisfy the bikepacking element I picked the Sveningen Rundt loop from a cycle tour guidebook mainly because I know the area really well so I didn't even have to bother carrying a map. The parts of the journey I hadn't hiked, paddled or driven before I made up as I went along, going on my internal compass backed up with the odd peek at a GPS app on my phone.

A triple espresso iced coffee thingy from the supermarket got my motor running and I blitzed out of Bergen a little after 4pm on the excellent cycle lane network. Rolling hills and epic cycle paths took me all the way south to the sea where I ignored all the ferry options and headed inland. The road along the fjord climbs slowly out of Osøyro with splendid views and minimal traffic. The sea and snow further south both glimmering in the late afternoon sun. Then the road drops like a stone and you can't see anything at all from the tears streaming in your eyes. Knee out, lean on the bars, nail the apex and I was overtaking cars. So. Much. Fun.

The uphills were just as white knuckle, only the white knuckles were from my death grip on the bars, grimmacing through the granny gears. The lactic acid flooding my muscles released a flood of memories from years of road and mountainbike racing and endless hours of training. It's easy to forget when you're an ex-racer watching the Tour de France on TV, it looks easy. When it's you on the hills, it burns.

The fjord road was longer than I had assumed. There was still plenty of daylight but I kinda thought I would be sat fishing at the lake by 8pm, with my beer in hand. As it was I was still a long way from camp and after four hours my legs were cooked. I was still feeling my way back into riding, the bike still only a few days old. Eventually I managed to give my cycling muscles a rest with a 25 hairpin corner hike-a-bike from the fjord road up into Brekkedalen. The trail was super steep (around 300m in a little over a kilometre) and over roots and pea to head-sized rocks. Sweat poured from me as I heaved the bike up and around each switchback. Quite how anyone thought this was a good trail to include in a cycle tour guidebook was beyond me. I wouldn't even want to ride down this damn thing on a DH rig.

Eventually over the top I paused for a handful of Jaffa Cakes (ok, two handfuls...) and crossed some streams and bridges, skirting the lake and there I donned my windshirt. It was about 18 kilometres, mostly downhill, to the lake I was aiming for and my legs started to cramp each time I had to climb on and off my bike. I left my tyres pumped up hard for the road ride tomorrow and as result I bounced off a few rocks on the way down, the front wheel slewing through the gravel piled up on the outside of the track, rattling my teeth and eyeballs but grinning like a kid at Christmas the whole way. I might even have got some air under both wheels off some roots...

The sun was down when I eventually made it to camp. I half-heartedly chucked the spinner out a few times while I waited for my well earned spaghetti bolognese to rehydrate. I even saved the beer I was carrying for another day, opting instead for a hot chocolate drink, my sleeping pad and my quilt as soon as I had eaten. 

In the morning I was up pretty early, my legs felt a little hollow and again I only had the inclination to throw the Mepps at the trout for a few minutes, this time while the coffee brewed. When spots of rain started to fall my plan to waste away the morning fishing round the lake vanished pretty quick and I was packed up and back on the bike in a few minutes. I spun little gears all the way home, still grinning and enjoying the freedom a bike gives. I got home in time for a second breakfast, 16 hours and a little over 95km better off. Quite how I have managed to live the past year without a bike is beyond me. I won't make that mistake again.

1 comment:

Marcus Gough said...

Nice work. Been toying with the notion of this thing they call "bike packing". This trip just opitomises the possibilities. I'm prob not going to try it out anytime soon though - need to concentrate on training for the Tour of Pembrokshire... What was I thinking!