When challenges occur, the best medicine is breaking the circle by doing something even more challenging and crazy.
At sunrise, Friday May 7th, I was heading into 105 miles of gravel in Hallingdal. I made the route the day before, searching solid climbs, backroads, unknown farm roads, and beautiful sceneries.
It became a huge challenge, but it was epic and I loved it.
Video in the bottom.
Where: Hallingdal, Norway Start/finish: Nesbyen Alpin, Nesbyen Distance: 105 miles - 168 km Elevationgain: 4500 meters Date: May 7th 2021 Starting time: 5 AM CEST Finishing time: 3.50 PM CEST Elapsed time: 10h 50 min Riding time: 9h 29 min Riding speed: aprox. 18 kph.
Bike: Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty 1 Tires: Maxxis Rambler Gravel 40mm Nutrition: Squeezy Sport Nutrition (Discount: 20% off (if buying more than kr 500) – Orset20 ) Pre race meal: Økoland (Discount: 20% off and free delivery – JOrset2021 ) Race kit: CCN Sports / Green Cycling Norway Helmet: Met Manta Shoes: Fizik Terra Powerstrap X4 Chain lube: Muc Off
There is something special riding in sunrise. The day is long at this time of the year in Norway, and to catch the sunrise I needed to start 5AM the latest.
I was waking up at 4.15 AM, and after eating oats and filling bottles, I set of from my family's cabin at Nesbyen Alpin the same time the sun broke the horizon.
Riding in the early morning is magical. The world is quiet, people are still sleeping, the wild animals aren't expecting humans and easy to get a glimpse.
The morning chill is refreshing, yet it was freezing. Down to -6°C. I was hoping the sun would heat up the air soon.
The first 15 km was all downhill to Nesbyen. Luckily I then hit the 4k climb to Vassfaret and got the heat up again. The view when riding up was incredible.
New roads, where the winter can still be found
I had only seen Lomtjernveien on the map, but it was magical in the morning. A few placed the snow was still on the road, but it was a cold morning and the snow had frozen to solid ground. I was really enjoying it.
Down to the valley was another cold experience, but once again I soon restarted the climb up to Garnås. I finally met some people awake for their commute to work. All in cars, I was the only one crazy enough to be riding at this time of the day, just passed 6.30 AM.
The climb up to Garnås is steep, but paved. Once at the top, the road goes into gravel. I know this one from before, it's a super sweet narrow mountain road ideal for gravel riding. When the snow is gone...
I came to roads covered in snow. I was hoping it was just for a bit, but the bit lasted quite a while. I was too stubborn and optimistic to turn, but after doing 10 km in an hour on the snow, I started questioning my route plans.
On the other hand, I was up for an adventure, and decided to skip being rational, and just keep carrying on, even if I had to walk. Which I also had to do for quite a bit.
Eventually it looks better
The view from the top was breathtaking. The snow on the mountains, while blooming green grass and trees in the valley.
Now the sun was up, and temperatures were rising. Soon the snow started get slushy, which made the snow riding even tougher. But I was almost through, after 30 km and 2.5 hours of snow grinding.
Down to Ål was fast and fun. I like Ål. My mom is from the area and my grandpa still lives here, in Vats. I visited him yesterday, but today I was just following the route with no detours. Just a quick water stop at the gas station.
The route led me up the climb to Ål folkehøgskole. Another nice, and familiar climb. From the top, I headed into the woods, in the shadows I again met the snow.
Another time-consumer. This one was about 5 km, and took only 30 min of serious pedaling.
Kvinnegardslie offers a beautiful hilly farmland, a small valley full of sheeps and cattles. I even got a glimpse of a white mountain fox. Quite an unusual sight.
I followed the farm road of Nersetvegen to Ål Skisenter. Not surprisingly, it was again covered in snow. Now it was warmer and the snow harder to ride. Eventually I got through, but I was glad the expected 'shadow roads' were done. Hopefully no more snow.
From Torpo I had another solid climb. The sun was up, and it got really warm. My warmest buffs, gloves, and ear warmers were placed in my pockets, which really filled them up. I was totally stuffed with extra clothing.
The road over Torpoåsen, down to Gol was amazing. I was feeling grateful to see this places, basically by coincident. I made the route only party by experience, but mostly by feel. I didn't know what to expect, but some of these backroads really got me speechless.
In Gol I again refueled. 8 hours and 128 km in. A reasonable rider would from there follow the main road back to Nesbyen. After all, from Nesbyen I had another climb of 600 meter elevation, last 350 in gravel.
I never called myself as a sensible rider, and had no problem climbing up 500 meter to Solseter. From there a trail led me down again.
I really had to pay attention. Doing downhill with gravel bike after being out for 9 hours and sleeping just 4.5 the night before, is a recipe for fiasco.
I gathered myself and came down safely.
From Herad I enjoyed following the Hallingdalslågen to Svenkerud. Soon I was in Nesbyen, just a last kicker up, which proved to be quite a energy depleater. I promised myself to buy an ice cream before the last 10 km up from Nesbyen to the cabin.
Nothing beats ice cream on a warm day. The sun was up, temperatures had been rising up to 12°C. The breeze was still cool, but riding uphill was hot. The ice cream gave me a tasty snack, some sugar, but mostly motivation to get up the last hill.
My legs started to be sore, but I had been enjoying it. I was not in a need to stop, if it was the plan I could kept going, but I was already well passed my scheduled 7 hour ride.
Made it back
Finally, I was through the route. 168 km and 4500 meter elevation.
Arriving after 9h 30min of riding, almost 10h 50min after sunrise. I didn't take long stops, but with parts of walking and short water and energy stops the time flies.
I was tired, but finishing with a big smile on my face.