CYCLING IN NORWAY16 August, 2014 0 comments
Cycling In Norway
Now, I know what you're thinking 'it's far too expensive!' Well, I'm happy to be the one to tell you that it's more than possible to cycle Norway on the cheap, and enjoy some of the most breathtaking scenery that the world has to offer.
Visit Norway say that if you ride a standard touring bike, then the coastline is a good place to start exploring Norway. The majority of the population live by or near the sea, and the varied scenery makes the cycling trip interesting. The total length of the Norwegian coastline is an incredible 1,000 kilometres, and includes numerous fjords and inlets, thousands of islands and a number of picturesque villages.
Cycling Norway are keen to point out that Norway has many well-planned, sign-posted routes. The routes vary in length, scenery and attractions, but they're all spectacular! You can cycle through forests or villages, alongside fjords or up in the mountains. There are plenty of places where you can hire bikes for your trip or you can bring your own from home, though be warned, this does take some extra planning.
Norway is perfect for experienced and novice cyclists alike. The jaw-dropping scenery makes up for all the challenges that the Norwegian landscape will throw at you. Ensure you carefully plan your route before you head off though. The last thing you want is for your trip to turn into an ordeal, with too many mountain climbs, and not enough time to cruise and enjoy the scenery.
Climate and temperature
The climate in Norway in the summer is really well suited to cycling. The best weather is in the south of the country. In the north it is always a few degrees cooler. The best months to cycle in Norway are June, July and August. You do need to take into consideration the fact that the season may start later up in the mountains due to snowy conditions.
Clothing and equipment
The weather in Norway can be rather unpredictable (though I guess we are used to that in the UK!) To have a ride that's comfortable, you want to make sure that you have clothing that is going to be able to keep you warm and dry. A waterproof jacket, trousers and gloves are all must haves. Wool long johns are great for cool days and always have a fleece available. It's especially good for when you have breaks and cool down a bit. Sun protection is vital, even in the north. The sun gets extremely intense in the middle of summer, so make sure you have a good quality, high factor sun lotion always to hand.
Where to stay
Norway has accommodation to suit any budget. There's basic camping cabins to high-class hotels. When you see the notice 'cyclists welcome,' that means that the accommodation caters to the needs of cyclists. They may offer:
- Parking for your bike
- Dinner in the evening
- A place to wash and dry your gear
- The possibility of a packed lunch for the next day
If you're not hiring a car, then trains and buses (and boats at some point no doubt) will cater to your travelling needs when you're not pedalling. You're allowed to bring your bike on trains and buses, though bear in the mind that most companies charge 1/2 the price of an adult ticket for your bike.
Carl Cartlidge on Travellingtwo.com cycled from Oslo to North Cape, and had some interesting things to say about the expenses on his journey. Scandinavia was the most expensive part of my trip. But that's not to say it can't be done relatively cheaply. You just have to be frugal in your indulgences. Alcohol was expensive. To bring costs down, you might want to consider taking advantage of Scandinavia's Allmansratten (Every Man's Right) Law. This guarantees everyone the right to stay or camp on any uncultivated land for one or two nights. A bicycling holiday with your own tent is a cheap way to explore Norway.
Norway's most popular route
The most popular route in Norway is the 130-mile stretch between Geilo and Voss known as Rallarvegen. On the ride you will travel across the Hardangervidda mountain plateau and continue from Voss to Bergen. There are numerous places to stop and grab some rest and food, including Finse, Hallingskeid, Vatnahalsen, Flamsdalen and Myrdal. The trip should take about three days and the good news is that you will be going down more hills than climbing them.
Other things to consider:
Norway has a lot of tunnels, especially in the west of the country. Always use your lights when travelling in tunnels, as they can be long and are often unlit. Always be extra vigilant. At the entrance of the tunnel you'll find a sign which has the name of the tunnel and its length.
Food and drink
It's entirely possible to eat and not break the bank in Norway, you just have to be slightly more careful when putting things into your basket. Some recommended foods to take on a cycling trip, be it long or short, include:
- Lomper - this is a delicious, flat potato cake with the texture of a pancake. It's delicious on its own or with practically anything, including hot dogs or jam. Ideal for taking on trips, as it takes up hardly any space, and it doesn't matter if it gets squashed.
- Brunost - if you are out for a day trip, take some of this famous Norwegian cheese with you for a true Norwegian experience. It's sweet/salty caramel flavour is, what can only be described as bizarre, but it really is a must try.
- Lefse - Lefse is a flatbread and is extremely popular with cinnamon, butter and sugar. You can buy it pre-packaged relatively cheaply in supermarkets. Excellent for refuelling on long rides.