Gone for the weekend (Grassroots Norway)

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Mountainbiking can be so many things these days. We change the amount of suspension, find the correct head tube angles, create components from aerospace material, slap a title on the product and give it a sole purpose. We love our DH-sleds, light trail bikes or new enduro-weapons, but sometimes we forget the adventure and the joy of just being “out there”. This is a travelogue about mountain bikes, pancakes and exploring new trails.

The calendar reads mid September, summer is on its draw and colours go from green to yellow. Since the inception of our humble mountain bike group last fall we have talked about doing bike packing trips with sleepovers at refugees or cabins, but as always the summer comes to an end just as quick as it has begun. The trip had to be made now, preferably before the days would get shorter and colder. We set the date, checked the forecast and decided where to go. We would travel to a semi-alpine area in central Norway, known for relatively easy hiking trails and a good choice of possible cabins to sleep in. Most of the terrain was lying at around 1000 meters above sea level, with a mixture of dense birch forests, moors and rocky trails at the higher altitudes.

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Living in Norway we are lucky to have a Trekking Association with approx. 450 cabins spread across the entire country that can offer shelter and supplies throughout the year. An annual membership will give you access to all of these, so it’s all up to you which of them you would like to visit. Not being too familiar with the area we were in, we decided to stay at a cabin what would give us a 40km trip, with one sleepover. In other words: a schedule with plenty of room for errors, mechanicals and a lunch break or two.

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We packed our bags with the most necessary tools and spares, travel sheets and topped it off with some luxury such as whiskey, a few beers and the basic ingredients to make a decent rain deer stew at our sleepover. Most of the shelters that the Norwegian Trekking Association maintains also offer a decent selection of dry foods and canned/preserved ingredients. All you have to do is leave a receipt for your stay and whatever foods you have taken from the pantry.

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The ride proved to be slightly more rugged than we assumed, and for a good third of our trip to the cabin the trail was partially too difficult to ride up or along. Luckily the trail improved as we got above the tree line, and it also served us some amazing views of the rolling landscape as the sun came closer to the horizon. After six hours on the trail we approached the cabin, expecting plenty of available beds. So had many other done, and the place was packed! Regardless of space we managed to steal some time in the kitchen, and shortly after we were toasting and dining.
The cabin was crammed, with all beds taken. Spare mattresses and blankets had to be found, and were spread out wherever there was room.

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Dawn came with the trickling sound of the nearby river, and hushed voices of fellow hikers brewing their morning coffee and prepping their backpacks slowly woke us. Bags were packed, and bikes strapped with whatever wouldn’t fit a pocket. We had decided for a return that looked like a better ride; serving a few longer, less steep, descents and a more forgiving terrain than our trip to the cabin had offered.

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It didn’t take long before we were in a better flow than on the previous day. Traverses and climbs became easier when not having to continuously navigate from rut to rock slab, and we found ourselves hollering along the trail. As ascents became descents smiles grew to grins, and before we knew it we had reached our lunch-destination. The gas burner was soon hissing, with the frying pan sliding out pancakes while some fresh brew was settling in the coffee pot. We made sure to take our time, kicking back and almost falling asleep under the mild but warm autumn sun.

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The last 10 km flew by, mostly being old tractor tracks, giving us an easy end to our trip. We were soon back where we had started the day before, with local beer topping off what had become a great trip. We all agreed that we had ridden better trails, but the feeling of having explored new territory and having completed what we set out for easily outweighed the lack of perfect trails. This trip was all about the journey, and it certainly delivered.

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On this occasion Sti5 was joined by our Swedish Kona-friend Björn Olson, a mountain biker/gourmet/wine expert/journo’, who’s been touring around Norway in his camper van this summer. Tarjei Sporastøyl also joined us; a keen mountain biker, former snowboarder, and now ski resort manager.

Happy trails,

Bendik, Petter Andreas & Christian

www.sti5.no

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Fancy a trip like ours somewhere in Norway? Go visit the Norwegian Trekking association’s webpage, and start planning! English.turistforeningen.no/