Norway? Why should you go to a destination so far up north only for mountain biking? Well, after having biked three different areas in Norway we found a thousand reasons why. Here are just a few:
- awesome landscape,
- beautiful natural trails,
- daylight from 4 AM til 11 PM in summer,
- very friendly people,
- and the weather is better than what Norway is known for.
This time we rented a drone at droneking to capture the amazing landscape. Enjoy our report, pictures and video about mountain biking in Norway (and prepare for weird food combinations).
Inspired by Dustin´s hiking holidays in Norway we wanted to experience the trails on our bikes. Having agreed on the week right after Daniel´s wedding in June it was on Dustin to organize the trip to mountain bike in Norway. Luckily we where already in contact with Bjørn from Trailguide.net who seems to be famous all of over Norway 🙂
With his help we narrowed our options down to three different spots:
- Hallingdal – to meet Bjørn and bike together with him.
- the Fjords – for epic singletracks in stunning landscape.
- Gautefall – for biking on large rock areas created by glaciers during iceage.
After having set the destinations we used our cost calculation sheet to compare different accommodation and transportation options. Finally, we decided to go by ferry and car and book accommodation on AirBnB.
There is thing to bear in mind if you plan your budget: Food and drinks (especially alcohol) is pretty expensive in Norway. Therfore, we brought food and a portable cooler in order to save some money.
Best travelling time
As Norway stretches up over about 1750 km from north to south there is maybe no general “best” travelling time. But there are some things to consider: The further you go north the colder it gets (what a great finding ;)). Especially far up north climate is arctic all year long. In the fjord and coastal regions the weather is pretty mild, but often rainy in the mountains. Anyhow, prepare for snow even in summertime!
Most locals we met told us that the best travelling time is between June and September. Most mountain passes open already by the end of May until October.
We came to Norway at the beginning of June and were not really lucky with the weather. Hence, we were very happy about our sponsored dirtsuits light by dirtlej we used almost every day.
Depending on where you start you can either go by plane, train, ferry, car, on a bike or even walk if you have time.
Norway has almost 100 airports, but Oslo is by far the largest, followed by Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger. If you fly to Oslo you can easily start your mountain bike adventure from there or rent a car or take a train to other areas.
By car from Europe mainland:
Driving through Denmark you can cross the bridges to Kopenhagen and Malmo. From Malmo you can then make your way up the coast. Be aware that the roads in Norway have many turns, uphills or bottlenecks and often a speed limit of 80 km/h. During planning you consider that driving by car sometimes takes longer than expected.
By ferry and car from Europe mainland:
There are three major ferry lines going to scandinavia:
Depending on where you start you can drive all the way up to the ferry ports at the northern tip of Denmark. Another option is to go in a cruise from Kiel, Ruegen, Rostock or Gdansk. In any case start planning early to not miss early booking offers. Try to keep you car within the dimensions of 5m in length and 2m in height to not pay extra.
All we were looking for was a place to sleep, cook and put our bikes during our roadtrip. Therefore, we booked self-catered cabins via airbnb, which turned out being a really great solution.
Appartment at Ligia on an old farm. Very warm welcome with delicious selfmade waffles and fruits!
Hafslo at the Fjords:
A spacious and well-equipped self-catered cabin in the woods. The host Ernst even brought us wood for the fireplace.
We stayed in a basic rural cabin about 400 metres of walking distance to the parking spot at the road. The host Henrik prepared the place for us. Hence we had a warm cosy place with enough water and beer 😉
As Norway has the “right or roam” you are allowed to camp in the wilderness and even on private ground after permission. For more info check the website from Visit Norway.
Guess what, they speak Norwegian in Norway 🙂
It is nice to learn some very basic words like “takk” for “thank you”, but you get along with English very well. Most of the Norwegians switch to English anyways, as soon as they recognize you are a tourist.
Already mentioned in the planning section above, food can be pretty expensive in Norway. If you like to drink a cold beer after a long bike ride, you will find yourself paying 8 € easily, even in supermarkets.
Hence, we decided to bring a cooler and fresh vegetables, food in cans and drinks from Germany. If you plan to do so either, double check toll.no/en on what you are allowed to bring into Norway.
For meat lovers try to find a place where they serve reindeer, tastes very nice, even on pizza.
Moreover, if you bring a fishing rod, you are allowed to go fishing in seawater places. For fishing in rivers and lakes you can buy a fishing license for only a few crowns.
But most importantly we discovered great receipes involving chocolate covered peanut (known as M&Ms). You can have them on bread, in milk, pasta and almost every dish you can imagine. For 1 week you will need at least 2 kg for 3 bikers.
After an early start for our Friend Andi coming up from Frankfurt to Hamburg we started driving to Hirtshals in Denmark by car. During the few hours on the ferry we only got little sleep until we Larvik in Norway at 2:00 AM. The rest of the night we spent with driving towards of Gol in heavy rain. A short stopover for a powernap and we arrived at our first mountain bike destination (Gol) where we met Bjørn from trailguide.net. Let the biking in Norway begin!
Day 1: Gol
Still tired but motivated we started our first bike ride at our appartment around 11 AM. About. First we had to pedal up to about 680 m above sea level on the northwest side of Gol. An easy uphill on tarmac and dirt road an off we went into the misty forest. Beginning with roots and muddy sections the single track offered a great mixture technical passages and flow trails. The spooky setting due to the fog in the dense forest gave us a feeling how thext days are going to be. At least that is what we thought.
Day 2: Gol (again)
Our second day in the area around Gol our group got bigger. Bjørn brought two really cool fellows Adrian and Andreas along. Without any idea on how the biking would be today we got into the car and drove up to the Nystølfjellet (no clue how to pronounce it properly). A fjell is a mountain range often spreading over large area – being our biking zone for the day. Starting above the tree line we cycled up to three different peaks with flowy trails in between. This turned out being a great area to test our DJI Mavic Pro drone we rented at droneking for our new video. After a long break due to some technical issues we got some great aerial shots and continued on the fjell.
The Norwegian landscape did just not want to stop showing us his best facets. At the last plateau we had to cross an outflow of a lake as suddenly low clouds started to veil the view. After a short break the sky started to clear up again and offered an amazing view: To our right was an old hut right at the lake shore and to our left we saw the flank of the hill dropping into a valley surrounded by more mountains. We had no other option than letting the Mavic take off again to capture this stunning scenery. The way down the hill was pretty challenging and technical but a lot of fun!
Taking advantage of the long days of summer we started a second tour later that day. Bjørn led us up to the northeast of Gol via a tarmac uphill. About about 650 m above sea level we arrived at the trailhead. Winding down the single track towards Gol we crosses enjoyed a mix of forest, open and rocky slopes with some technical passages and some very fast and flowy parts. Later in the evening we could hardly believe the diversity of tracks we biked that day. In order to get an impression check out the scenes in the first minute of our video.
During a full day of driving from Gol to Hafslo at the Sognefjord through beautiful landscape we quickly stopped at a massive waterfall. Somehow Dustin´s mood was incredibly well, even though it was a large waterfall dropping down 155 meters. There is the assumption that only waterfalls between 5 and 50 meters cause bad feelings for him – nobody knows, we will keep on observing!
Back to biking! After the long drive to Hafslo the next day was mountain biking day number three. It turned out more being a hike and bike. This trip was the hardest of the Norway adventure: Up the mountain called Molden.
By car we drove up to parking spot and started our trip up the mountain. Some parts were okay to cycle but after a while it got way steeper, muddy and slippery. On the last section up to the peak at 1100 meters we shouldered the bikes and literally climbed up. Every meter was hard work but interrupted and rewarded by amazing lookouts.
Having defeated the climb up the mountain we started our descend down into the valley. Going down track of the 80/20 Enduro Series we had to cross snow- and mudfields. Later on we found out that they cancelled the last sections of the Enduro race last year due to bad track conditions. Well, after a while the trail became more rideable going back to very technical on the last kilometers. It is definitely a lot of fun for more advanced riders. Only one of us three was able to bike the whole track. Technically Daniel was the only real finisher of the race 🙂
At the end of the track almost at sea level we had to pedal up all the way back to the car. For the last 300 meters we took advantage of a very nice transportation concept: hitchhiking! Thanks to the Lady and her daughter who took one of us up to the car. Only a few minutes later Daniel was back with our car and we drove to our cabin.
During our fourth day of biking we rode many different tracks in the fjord area. There seem to be some ongoing discussions with some landowners about the behavior of some bikers (e.g. shuttling up all day with many bikes). Therefore, we respect the wish of the locals to not drag too much attention on this special area.
All we can say is that we pedaled up every meter we descended and stayed on the beautiful tracks. Besides amazingly flowy natural trails we also enjoyed a man-made section with steep curves and jumps. Later that day we met the local Vegard who showed us the really amazing green single tracks down to the fjord. We enjoyed the fantastic panorama and the amazing ride, hoping the area will settle it´s discussion and bikers support the locals in finding a reasonable balance between tourism and nature conservation. Until then we hope you understand we don´t upload the GPS tracks of the area here.
Back in the car we drove to Nissedal, our last destination at Gautefall. Driving over the ice and snow covered Aurlandsfjell was an amazing experience. Norway´s landscape is just beautiful. It took us a full day until we arrived our cabin in the woods (hang on isn´t this a title of a movie? Well it didn´t get that bad!).
Next day (bike day number five) we took the bikes to the “Himmelrike”. Bjørn gave us the advice to cycle up the hill at the Gautefall skisenter on the bedrock. After having reached the top you will understand why the granite valley formed by the glaciers of the last ice age is called Himmelrike (kingdom of heaven).
Riding down the bedrocks it started raining and got more slippery every minute. On the last 10 meters of the track Daniel slipped on his bike and crashed into the rocks. The trip to Norway ended with a broken hand for him. Luckily he is almost recovered by now and will hopefully be able to enjoy the rest of the season on the bike.
What we learned
First finding: There is no need to carry cash money. You can pay everything by credit card.
Roads in Norway have many turns, uphills or bottlenecks and often there is a speed limit of 80 km/h. The time in the car can easily exceed the time spent on the mountain bikes.
You can find more mountain bike GPS tracks on the internet than we expected during planning. Pretty often they turn out to be much harder to ride than expected 🙂
It is not only a rumor: You can easily hitchhike in Norway (as long as you don´t want to take your bike inside the car 😉
Another finding is described in the food section of this article. All food lovers should prepare for an M&Ms cookbook by trail-business…
Costs for the three of us:
Ferry: 285,- € (car limited to 5 m length and 2 m height, 3 passengers)
Rental roofbox: 55,- €
Total: 1490,- €
(about 500,-€ per person)
An great destination for every mountain biker who loves nature. The landscape seems to change every few kilometers and offers magical sceneries (e.g. Himmelriket). When you are going to Norway bring enough time. The week for our trip was a bit short, we could have stayed longer at almost every spot.
Norway is a large country and you can mountain bike almost everywhere. As long as you do not expect a touristic infrastructure like in the Alps you can experience amazing natural single tracks. Prepare for all kinds of weather and you will have a lot of fun!
Be careful, because some tracks can get very tricky and you may need advanced biking skills to master them. But even if you just get off the bike at these sections you will love every minute in this beautiful country.
Which brings us right to the final point: Take some time to enjoy the nature and the beautiful scenery. Our impression is that Norway is not the country for shredding down the hill (except for bike parks like Hafjell maybe). It is more for advanced rider who love biking in rural and natural areas. Perfect for unique mountain bike holidays.