Pete headed out to explore Hardangerfjord with Any Excuse to Ride Norway with Hazzard Racing’s Lachlan Blair in tow.
Norway had been on the list of places to explore with the bike, and after a few emails to Will and Klara at Any Excuse to Ride Norway, the flights were booked and I managed to smuggle a Scottish pinner in the form of Lachlan Blair over as well.
If you missed part 1 of Pete’s Norwegian adventure, you can catch up here.
Words and photos by Pete Scullion.
The following day in Norway took us in the opposite direction from Kvanndal towards Granvin and a trail that Will told us had been the walk to school for a farmer that lived high on the mountainside above the town.
A short blast along the fjord took us into a now familiar alp where farmers could find just enough flat ground and grass to tend a flock or herd. As a boy, he’d need to walk to the tiny village of Nesheim to go to school. We would be retracing those steps from several decades past.
After passing the original farmhouse that is now surrounded by wooden cabins built by people looking to escape from Bergen, we enter the cool, damp darkness of an old Scots pine forest. The ants nests here sit about three feet high and are swarming masses of insects.
It doesn’t take long before we find the old school run, carefully tweaked to ride a little better than a walker’s path that had been taken back by nature. We’re battling the dappled light as we go deeper into the forest and sitka spruce takes over.
Lower in the woods, Will has definitely put the work in, with flat out straights complimented by well-built berms that shoot you into the next section at warp speed. The dappled light is playing havoc with line choice and we all decide to just get down clean without wrecking ourselves rather than trying to buzz the tyre in front.
It’s not long though before the forest opens out again and the change in light isn’t so severe and the trail widens slightly. With this trail slowly being brought out of the ground after being swallowed by nature, the surface in the woods is very much hero dirt, and we can push hard knowing that there’s plenty of grip on tap.
Nora has soon worked out that I am the one likely to be stood still the most, whenever I decide to fire off a few shots and therefore comes to me whenever I’m setting up and simply stares me out until I throw her a stick. This would become the running theme of the week, as unsurprisingly, collies can fetch far more sticks than I’m willing to throw.
We burst out onto the fire road to a view that is classic Norway but really quite mind-blowing. A fairly hefty waterfall tumbles its way off a cliff several hundred metres high, the wind catching the water as it falls, and so high is the cliff, that it almost looks like no water is making it to the ground.
Once we’ve gawped at the waterfall for along enough, it’s back into the woods again, this time the feeling is a little more Scottish with some cool, dark pine woods, awash with lurid green moss and some slimy ruts.
The speed drops the the fun isn’t over quite yet, there’s plenty of turns to fire into blind, hoping we’ve judged it right and don’t go for an unscheduled tumble off-track.
The final run down to Nesheim is steep, slick and open. We’ve found a break in the trees and for the first time in a while have an uninterrupted view of the massive landscape where ice has definitely left its mark. Sheer cliffs and flat-bottomed valleys have all the hallmarks of the movement of glaciers here.
A short ride along the old railway line gets us back to Granvin and we’re made very welcome indeed at the Jaunsen Gjestgjevarstad Restaurant, a real jewel that should be visited whether you’re on a bike or not.
The building is of Seventeeth Century vintage and did plenty of trade when the railway line and ferries serviced Granvin. After standing derelict for many years, it was taken over by the current hosts who show us around the original decor and then sit us down for some top notch food.
While Will and Klara get a massive bowl of fish soup with some home made bread, Lachlan and I are treated to fish soup followed by local veal sausages. All the food is locally sourced and proof that these guys really know what they’re doing when it comes to feeding people.
We’re told we’re actually sitting in the old entrance hall, but when the two buildings were merged after the takeover, that the door was moved and it makes the perfect place to enjoy the sun and refuel for more riding in the afternoon.
Suitably fuelled with coffee and cake after a more than hearty lunch, we take off towards ‘Dead Deer’, a trail lovingly hand-crafted by Will and Klara, taking its name from the deer skeleton they found when scouting the trail out.
With eleven points to its antlers, this would have not been the kind of animal you’d want to bump into in the woods. As it stands, the skull complete with antlers marks the entrance to the trail.
What follows is what looks like a trail centre in north Wales. Large slab rocks have been wedged wherever the ground wouldn’t allow a wheel to roll, and the presence of picks, spades, axes and loppers is proof that this is till very much a work in progress.
It’s late in the week now and we’re very much feeling beaten by the adventures to date. I’m struggling to keep pace and content myself with refilling on water to keep the brain sharp, knowing we’ve a rest day inbound.
Our last full day takes in another magical mystery tour. Our first is near Kvanddal and takes us from the road side up a ferociously steep staircase to another group of farms sitting a few hundred metres up this sheer precipice.
The going is slow and steady. You really don’t want to take a tumble here, but the height gained yet again offers impressive views over Hardangerfjord just before the rain rolls in proper and we take shelter under some tall Scots pines until it passes.
We’re back on some familiar slab rock up top with massive views out to the other side of the fjord before things turn up a couple of notches and we’re battling the greasiest boulder field you could possibly imagine.
No brakes is not an option, but brakes are also not an option for getting down this smoothly. All we’re left to do is pinball our way down as best we can as the recent rain renders the rocks completely frictionless.
The last hurrah of the trip sees us returning to the hill above Alvik that we had to scuttle away from on day one. We don’t venture quite as high this time and dive into a very different trail indeed.
Up to now the forest trails have been steep and technical, if not both. This one has an unfamiliar amount of flow to it, with berms, kickers and perfect corners to carve into. Will and Klara have definitely put a shift in getting this one to link the fire roads up. Grip levels spike and after a week of searching for grip, it almost feels alien to have too much of it.
Lachlan is yet again in his element, and finds airtime where we’re struggling to keep the wheels pointing in the right direction. There’s no point even trying to keep up, he’s gone. Once we’ve slapped these beautiful turns as best we can, we head back to sample the slabs we tackled on day one, albeit with a little less grip this time.
Almost knowing where we’re going this time again is an unusual feeling off the back of riding blind and we can really attack the trail this time, despite the greasiness brought on by the showers.
We almost don’t want this run to end as we know fine well that we’ll be packing up once we’re back at the farmhouse in Kvanndal.