An impromptu ride down to the Italian Alps to experience some of the climbs I’ve been meaning to do ever since moving to Munich: Stelvio, Gavia, and Timmelsjoch. Also to remember how to do multi-day rides in the run-up to the TCR. I realised how hard alpine climbing (on a bike) can be.
- Kilometres cycled: 714
- Metres of altitude gained: 11,000
- Nights: 2
- Nights with sleep: 1
- Countries visited: 3
- Passes ridden: 7 (some bigger than others)
- Passes planned to be ridden: 8
- Near-death experiences in tunnels: 1
- Marmots spotted: 1
- Train crashes spotted: 1
I was going to combine this with a “lessons learned” post, but I know some people are eager to know what I took with me, so without further ado here’s the list.
With three full bottles of water, the bike and luggage weighed in at a shade over 20 kg. I didn’t weigh the bike beforehand, and I have to admit I was a little shocked when I eventually did weigh it at home, after the event. I think by slimming down my kit and choosing some lighter options I could maybe shed a couple of kilos, but I’m not sure I could realistically get it down much further than that without making too many compromises.
So here’s a list of what I took and how I set the bike up. I’ve written things roughly in order of how much I used them. Things that I didn’t use are starred* and things I would not bring again are
These posts are getting longer and longer!
Anyway, the final third of my journey around Norway was in many ways the toughest. It may not have had the ferocity of the earlier mountain sections but, at the risk of sounding like the blurb of a detective novel, I had my demons to contend with.
Lysebotn and the rest of day 3 were my first real taste of the Norwegian mountains and the day was a taxing one. By mid-afternoon I’d come down off the high ground and into a headwind on the Rv9 toward Haukeli. My energy was leaving me and I was feeling like I wasn’t going to last much longer. Thirsty, exhausted, and craving fresh food, I pulled up to a grocery shop in Valle for a break.
This was the first slump I’d had and I felt pretty rubbish about it. You’re supposed to just keep pedalling, right? And I was stopping just because I couldn’t face it? That’s not a good look. Well, I’m sure it’ll get better, but right now I need that bottle of pear juice in the fridge.
tl;dr: I rode a bike-packing event covering pretty much the whole of sub-arctic Norway. The 3,400 km route took in Norway’s most iconic scenery and demanded payment in kind. I bike-packed my way to the end in 9 days, 8 hours, 43 minutes.
- 📈 Lots of climbing
- ⛴ Inconvenient ferry timetables
- 😰 A 1,000 m switchback descent, including a 1 km tunnel with a 10% hairpin inside it… that had to be climbed again afterwards
- ⛽️ Extortionate petrol station food
- 🚏 Camping in bus shelters
- 🪦 Camping in graveyards
- 🥵 Unbearable heat
- 🥶 Unbearable cold
- 🎭 Plentiful mood swings
- 🏔 The most beautiful mountain scenery I’ve ever seen
This was a long ride and this is going to be a long write-up – long enough to merit several instalments. Riding so far is a complex experience and I’m not really sure how to capture the whole thing in a blog post, so we’ll see how this goes.
tl;dr: I cycled 1500 km from Somerset to Sutherland, and realised I wasn’t as prepared as I thought.
Last weekend I rode the inaugural TINAT audax, devised in memory of Mike Hall by a team including Mark “Black Sheep” Rigby, James Gillies, and Gareth Baines. The 600 km option seemed the most audacious – and the best value for money. It ended up being the hardest ride I’ve ever done, but also the most rewarding.
A few days ago I rode Andy Corless’s infamous Mille Pennines 1000 km audax in the north of England. It was my first ride over 600 km, and my first ride where sleep is a serious consideration.
It was a seriously challenging ride, both physically and mentally, but certainly worthwhile. Here are some reflections.