Norway: an off the grid cycling adventure

We have one week and all we want is quiet roads, mostly offroad, spectacular scenery and camping possibilities abound; we are going to ride in the South of Norway, starting point Kristiansand.

We eat dinner at Bike4travel’s after work and start driving towards Germany on a Saturday evening, we end the night a little further than Osnabruck where we stay in a hotel. Yep, it’s holiday! We celebrate with a German beer in the bar of the hotel, not too much of course, Norway is waiting. 😉
Early next morning we drive the remaining distance to Hirsthals in the tip of Denmark. We leave our car at the gasstations parking lot and ride towards the ferry, a very fast ferry!

In just a little more than 2 hours we set foot in Norway and after a good night sleep, we are on our way into no-man’s-land. Litterally, because it doesn’t take more than 3 kilometers before we are on a dirtroad surrounded by trees, lakes and waterfalls! And a bonus, the sun is shining.

Just outside of Kristiansand

With the quiet roads, also comes a lot of climbing. Even though we don’t reach high altitudes, we manage to conquer more than 1300 altimeters the first day and that doesn’t change a lot in the next week. You gotta love climbing!

After about 80 kilometers we start to look for a place to camp, but we first stock up on food at a small grocery store at a crossroad. With tired legs, we have to climb the final kilometers to a lake, where we find a flat piece of grass to set up our tent.

The view of the lake is amazing and pleased by this first cycling day we quickly fall asleep with nothing more than the sound of the birds (they keep going all night!) and the wind. I don’t think not even one car passed us during the night, it is so quiet here.

View from our tent

In the morning we look at the map and in see no other option than to ride the tarmac roads today. But even out here traffic is so low, we often find ourselves all alone out here. I stopped counting lakes and waterfalls, they are everywhere!

At the end of the day the weather changes dramatically and thunder and rain start chasing us. We find ourselves on dirtroads again and just when it starts pouring down on us, we find a spot to camp and lucky for us, there is some kind of shelter where we can hide.

In Tonstad we stop at a gasstation, it’s cold and wet today and we need to warm up. We buy a sandwich with a Norwegian sausage and a cup of hot chocolate before we return to the road. About 10 kilometers further we pass a simple campsite and decide it’s time for a shower. 😉 Lucky for us the caretaker is at home, since the campsite isn’t officially open yet. We get to stay and enjoy a hot shower. In the evening we get a fire going and at the campsite’s shelter we cook up a pasta meal.

It’s been raining all night… and by the time we are supposed to get up and start packing our stuff, we are hesitant to start going. Too bad, today we want to cross the mountains and a climb towards more than 1000m lies ahead of us. It’s just no fun when it’s raining this hard… but we do want to go and decide to ride to the first crossroad at Sinnes, where we can choose to go left towards Stavanger, or right towards the mountains. We put on our raingear, pack the wet tent and hit the road.

In Sinnes it’s still raining cats and dogs, clouds are hanging low and we see snow up in the mountains. But we decide to continue towards the mountains, to a tiny community called Adnera, where (again) we can decide to go left to Lysebotn and Stavanger or to go right towards the mountains…

Once we reach Adnera, we stop for the famous sausage sandwich and just decide to go for the mountains. After all, that’s what we came for. 😉

The climb starts and a sign tells us the highest point will be 1050m, let’s go for it. At first the snow is up in the mountains, but the higher we get, the more snow we see and finally we are surrounded by snow and ice. It’s freakishly cold up here with the strong winds and low temperatures (4 degrees Celsius out of the wind), but who doesn’t love this landscape?

It’s an up and down climb and when we think we have reached the pass, we drop another 100 meters. It’s uphill again and finally we see a sign that lets us know we have made it. I’m cold and wet and I don’t really bother to stop, I just want warmth… We drop another 100 meters, only to find out we need to climb once more. The climbing keeps us warm, so we don’t really mind and even though the rain and temperature are harsh, we can do nothing else than to really enjoy the beautiful surroundings. As far as we can see the landscape is domanited by lakes and barren mountains, we love it up here!

After this last pass, we see the valley below us and put on an extra sweater and gloves for the cold and windy downhill towards Rysstad. Here we find a beautiful campsite, with heated cabins. Since it’s still raining a lot, we opt for the cabin where we can warm ourselves; a good decision. It doesn’t stop raining at all that night.

Slowly clouds are fading and the sun starts to show itself again. With 2 more cycling days ahead of us, we follow cycling route 3 to Kristiansand. The cycling is easier now and the last day we even get to cycle with sunny skies!

Cycling route 3 avoids the main roads and we mostly find ourselves on gravel roads, surrounded by pine trees and of course the many lakes.

We have lunch at a former(?) railroad station and than hit civilisation again as we reach Kristiansand. Even though this trip was no more than 6 cycling days, we felt like we were really gone for a long time, away from our busy lives. Right in the middle of nature, that we love so much. Norway, we’ll be back!

Some statistics of this trip:
Cycling days: 6
Total distance: 458.45 kilometers
Total ascent: 7046 meters
High point: 1059 meter
Download the GPS track.

Gear information (in case you are interested):
Bicycle: Avaghon X27.5
Tires: Schwalbe G-One 60-584
Gear system: Rohloff speedhub with Gates Carbon Drive Expedition CDX sprockets and CDX belt
Tent: Hilleberg Anjan 3GT
Sleeping bags: Cumulus
Waterfilter: MSR Trailshot
Camera: Fujifilm X-T3
Lenses: Fujifilm XF 16-55mm F2.8, Fujifilm XF 23mm F/2 and Fujifilm XF 50-140mm F2.8

PS: the bicycle, tent and sleeping bag are NOT sponsored, but the Gates Expedition sprockets and CDX belt were given to us by Gates Carbon Drive.  Since we work at Bike4travel, we do like to test different setups for ourselves to share with customers. This trip we used the G-Ones, the Gates Expedition sprockets and CDX belt and the MSR Trailshot for the first time and we both mounted a carbon front fork on the Avaghon. It was a nice and light-weight setup and for us ideal for this trip. We even decided to use the same setup for our next adventure in (probably) Peru. Except for the tent, don’t get me wrong, we absolutely love the Anjan, but since we expect colder weather we will bring along it’s 4-season brother: the Nallo 3GT. And in case you wonder, our beloved Santos bikes are on display at Santos headquarters!

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Jan van pelt June 1, 2019 - 14:10
Goedemiddag Ellen en Elmar ik heeft gistere avond jullie fietsverhaal gelezen en vond het zeer mooi en ook de vele Foto,s die er bij staan geweldig gewoon Gr Jan
Tonny Kerkhove June 1, 2019 - 17:42
Hallo Ellen en Elmar weer een mooi verhaal over jullie reis hoe bevallen de G one banden? Groetjes Tonny
Bicycle Junkies June 3, 2019 - 10:20
Hoi Tonny, die zijn ons goed bevallen. Ze zijn licht in gewicht, rollen licht op asfalt en hebben aardig grip op het onverharde. Lekbestendigheid is denk ik ok, niet superieur, maar voor ons acceptabel; we hadden beiden 1 lekke band: mini stukje glas (allebei waarschijnlijk doorheen gereden). De Super Moto-X rolt ook fijn, maar is een zware band, is misschien wel lekbestendiger. De Smart Sam is supercomfortabel op het onverharde en heeft veel grip, maar op asfalt was het wel harder werken. Voor nu is dit de band die we er even op laten zitten, zo kunnen we de duurzaamheid ook testen. We fietsen er nu ook mee naar ons werk, snelle band. ;)
Tonny Kerkhove June 7, 2019 - 07:42
John Metcalfe June 21, 2019 - 09:08
Hi guys I always love reading about your tours. I'm sorry I missed you when you were in England last year, close to where I live (Kendal). Ellen, your photography is stunning. Best wishes
Bicycle Junkies June 24, 2019 - 10:07
Thanks John!
Daan July 30, 2022 - 14:18
Hey wat een mooi fiets avontuur. Wij zijn van plan dezelfde route te gaan fietsen in september. Ho ervaren jullie de zwaarte van de route? Zijn op zich redelijk getraind. gr Daan
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