The year of 2021

Jonas Orset

The first year of The Nordic Trailblazer is about to be rounded up. What an amazing year it has been.

Covid regulations forced us to be innovative and flexible with our plans, but we also learned how to stand tall in wind casts and ride through the dirt. Looking back, we came a long way making us better equipped for the next upcoming year for The Nordic Trailblazer.

This is the recap for 2021.

Ready for the 2021 season. Photo: Joakim Birkeland.

Spring challenges

While a new spring offers new opportunities, this year was also full of obstacles to overcome. With the outbreak of a new mutated covid virus, I realised it was not possible to follow our calendar program. We needed to set new goals.

Our biggest spring challenge became Everesting the tunnel, end the end of March.

In Gudvangen, there’s is a 3k tunnel with 300 meter elevation. Perfect for an Everesting attempt.
I wanted to ride on the tunnel and with my bike light, shine light in the dark. I needed to ride 30 times to gather 8850 meter of elevation gain.

It was a success! My support crew was really doing a great job. Riding 12 hours and 30 min, was the recipe for a long day, but even though it was hard, I enjoyed expanding my limits. More importantly the ride spread hope and we also raised about 10.000 NOK to World Bicycle Relief.

READ MORE: Everesting The Tunnel

During the spring time, I kept challenging myself and others by making different routes and race them for myself. Enebakk Rundt GRVL, Hallingdal Sunrise GRVL, DNF GRVL Open, Blomsterstien GRVL, Ring 4 were some of the routes.

Summer time and season opening

Then finally the infection rate was under control and in early June we were allowed to race national elite races. I joined the Norwegian Cup race in Stjørdal helping my team mates in Hero to the win.

Then we were finally allowed to host events, and we organising the DNF GRVL, a challenging 100-miler route for about 25 riders. Really a demanding gravel adventure, but this year, all riders made it to the finish.

Soon my team and I could also organise the 101percent Cup Wednesday Crit, the first of 12 weeks of racing. Another great crit season!

National road race was was such a cold rainy day with lots of crashes. I did not go down, but it was no top result for me.

In the end of June I went for a week of holiday with my girlfriend. We went on a road trip, full of good time, with a few hikes, some riding and lots of memories.

Trollstigen. Photo: Hanna Ersvik.

The week after I had my first shot of Covid vaccination and was a few days out, which also took me out of Tour te Fjells.

Cycling schools coming up

The summer went on, I was then in Oslo. I got into some kind of weekly rhythm, with Wednesdays Crits, weekend gravel rides with a few trips. The races were on hold for a bit.

Originally I was planning to race The Rift and Nordic Gravel Series Iso-Syote, but I had to pull out due to travel restrictions.

On the other hand, it gave me a chance to focus on something just as valuable. Cycling Schools for kids.

First location was in Askim where I led a four-days summer school with Smaalenene SK. Then a few weeks later it was another four-days with IK Hero in Oslo. The following week I had another five days with Green Cycling Norway, which made it some rather busy days, but also really fun.

August's long distance rides

August 14th I led the Break the Cycle 200 ride from Oslo-Halden-Oslo. Hope for Justice asked me to be in charge of the charity event, which I felt honoured to do. 200 miles, 320 km. Such a long ride, but the guys were doing a great job, and we got them all through in about 12 hours. Some sweat, pain and potentially some tears, all for the good cause of making awareness on modern slavery.

Break the Cycle 200 halfway in Halden.

The day after, I joined my girlfriends vacation on a nice little seaside cabin near Lillesand, South of Norway. It was a good time for a little breather.

The upcoming weekend I took on the 210 km Colorline Setesdal Tour with Team Heinemann. Our goal was winning the race, but we ended up at forth. I decided to return from Hovden and back to Kristiansand, making it a massive 420 km day!

Team Heinemann. Photo:

September Gravel

Then finally I had something looking like a gravel race season coming up.

First weekend of the month I was the main organiser of Green Cycling Weekend and the Nordic Gravel Series Nesbyen. About 40 riders of 8 nationalities had signed up, and were grinding through 140 kilometers of epic gravel with single tracks and mountainous scenery.

It sure was a tough day, but the post ride BBQ and Belgium Waffles made it all worth it.

Gravel in Nesbyen. Photo: Marius Bache Wold.

The weekend after I drove to the south-western of Norway and to Sandnes for the Nordsjørittet.

Nordsjørittet is one of the biggest off-road events in Norway, and they also had a gravel start group. The scenery was great, and filled with inspiration I went early away, winning the race by a 4 minute margin. Potentially one of my better performances!

READ MORE: Nordsjørittet Recap

The month rounded up with the first international travel of the year, going to Lahti, Finland to the Nordic Gravel Series. The event was this year again really fun, and I was eager to again go hard. The field was strong, with James Whelan from EF Education First as the main competitor.

I didn't feel at my best, but feelings in one thing, what the legs do it another, and I wanted to prove myself. I the end it was a proper battle, and I was entering the arena only with Kimmo Kainanen. I misjudged the last corned and Kimmo entered just ahead of me.

Sprinting into the finish in Lahti. Photo: Kent Erik Harridsleff.

October and season is going down

Due to Covid, the UCI races of Gylne Gutuer and Lillehammer GP were moved to the first weekend of October. Pretty last for road racing, and as expected the races became really gritty. Cold, rainy and muddy. It was impossible to recognise the riders after the Gylne Gutuer. Not the best results for me, but still it was a fun way to end the season.

The following weeks were full of cycling schools for kids. We had our last day of cycling school October 28th. Through the year I was in charge or co-leading 35 days of cycling schools for more than 500 kids. What an honour to be able to inspire and teach the kids about cycling!

Cycling school in Lillestrøm. Photo: Joakim Birkeland.

In the weekends my girlfriend and I went to Nesbyen, and I had a change to check out the new Hallingspranget. This one is epic, a 17k downhill trail on gravel. We will use it in the next year gravel event, which I will rename Gravelduro Nesbyen.

I was planning to do some CX for fun, was through a few colds, we decided to give my body a rest.

Winter's coming and soon next year

November was a nice time to catch up with some admin work, and getting things together for next year.

Early December I finally had a chance to catch up with my colleges and friends in 101percent Training in Catalunia, Spain. I learned more about lactate testing, gym work, and planning training, which is something that will be really helpful when I coach riders in Norway.

Cambrils, Cataluna. Photo: Jofre Prunera.

Planning a cycling season these days is not easy. You cannot know what to expect. Through this year I definitely learned to be flexible, optimistic and innovative to make the most of whatever comes our way.

We cannot decide the obstacles we face, but we can decide if we look at it as a problem or a challenge to overcome.

Thank you

Looking back is always fun, and makes me really humble about what we managed to do, even through a pandemic. I say we, because I couldn't have done it alone.

First I really need to thank the team behind the Nordic Trailblazer: manager Bjorn, mental coach and adviser Dennis, video photographer Joakim, handyman Viktor, not to forget the web designer and photographer Kent Erik, who decided to join me on this journey back in 2013.

Thank you all my sponsors: Stages Cycling, Wahoo Nordics, Cannondale, Impuls Helse, Økoland, Ski kiropraktikk og velvære, Squeezy Norge, Cycle Service Nordic, CCN, Universal Biology, Pharma Nord. And big hanks to my club team, Hero.

Thank you to all of you who support me big or small. Especially those of you in Team Orset, but also those of you helping out at events and projects, collages Green Cycling Norway and partners.

Most of all thanks to my family, girlfriend, and more than anyone, Jesus.

Looking forward to what's coming next!

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