Looking back through the blog posts I have made I can track a definite progression of my movement away from mass participation events toward more low key, intimate events. I guess this is mainly as these smaller events tend to be the most challenging. The tougher you make something, the fewer the number of people who are gonna show to suffer.
So, finding myself on a start line with less than 200 riders around me didn't feel out of place. But the fact that about 5000 had already started the event ahead of me that morning was mind blowing. Plus, another 6000 or so would be starting over the course of the morning…even more mind blowing!
Racing bikes affords me not only the opportunity to suffer with friends new and old, but also to fulfill my passion for travel. Nothing gets you more ingrained in a new place than being absorbed into a bicycle event. If you love the outdoors then at some point you will of been alerted to the huge potential Norway offers, a nation of outdoor sport lovers over all seasons. Norway has a lot to offer.
When I was contacted by Singletrack Magazine about a “gravel” race in Norway I was instantly keen to know more. When I found out there was the opportunity to travel with a photographer to cover the event I agreed to do it. Then, when I found out it was the largest mountain bike race in the world with an entry field of 17,000 I was stunned.
17,000 riders! The Birkebeiner bike race is truly massive!
The event is a 94km race from Rena to Lillehammer using the network of gravel roads. The trip started on the Thursday before the race with meeting my travelling companion, photographer Henry Iddon, and two hours of wrangling with check-in at the airport due to some confusion over the ticket booking (I had at the last minute replaced another traveler). Having not met Henry previously, we quickly eased into conversation with a mutual love for cycling, travel and general misadventure.