Biking the Redwood Forest

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Just a twenty minute bike ride from Rotorua you find some fantastic bike tracks in what is known as the Worlds biggest man made forest. The bike park is free to enter, so all it costs to go would be the rental of bikes. Half a day set me back thirty dollars including a helmet which was absolutely needed there.
The tracks were varied grading from one to five in difficulty, but when setting off in an easy route without being cautious you could easily end off in a harder one with unexpected jumps and drops. I liked riding the grade three and four tracks which where challenging enough considering I was riding a hard tail bike with minimum protection. Renting a full suspension with complete gear for downhill would have cost a hundred and sixty dollars a day, and I figured riding just a few of the hardest tracks would not have been worth the difference in costs. Just a few kilometers onwards there was also a gondola lift with downhill cycling trails that also had some quite extreme jumps so Rotorua is definitely a place to go if you are a pro rider looking for World class rides!

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Downhill Biking in Norway and Sweden

“With its many mountains, Norway has got to be a great place for Downhill biking”

I am not sure if the guy I met in Brazil was telling me this or asking me this, but it was true. During this and last summer I have gotten to try out some of the many tracks you will find in Scandinavia, but with a littlebit of creativity you can also find tracks pretty much anywhere. The many long stairways in Bergen city center is one that I found pretty cool, and I have also seen people cycling down from the summit of Dalsnibben to the sea of the Geirangerfjord.

The summer ski resorts with dedicated tracks for downhill biking that I have tried are the following:

Oppdal Bike Park
Open: From May to October it is open on weekends, thursdays to sundays 11.00-17.00
Number of lifts: One gondola, Hovden, serving 7 slopes. There used to be a chairlift as well, Vangslia, but this was closed last year as new owners took over the resort
Getting there: From Trondheim by bus with “Nettbuss Nordfjord” takes two hours and  costs 188kr for a student and 125kr for a bike. From Trondheim by train with “NSB” takes two hours and costs 152kr for a student and 101kr for a bike.
Lift pass costs: 100kr for one ride with the gondola, 210kr for one day pass, 360 for a two day pass
Comment: Oppdal is a quiet little town where it is easy to pitch a tent where you want in the woods. The lifts are within biking distance of the city center, and are pretty quiet with just a few bikers, some sheeps and some tourists walking the trails. There is also a nice viewpoint on top with a restaurant and luggage storage. The slopes are varied, but some are a bit hard to reach now when the chairlift is not open, then you need to push your bike across to the other side of the mountain. The slope called “Superflytløypa” was definitely my favorite, going through the woods, with a few good jumps.

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Mount Ulriken, Bergen
Open: Open every day, but hours are depending on season: May-Oct 09.00-21.00 and Oct-Apr 09.00-21.00
Number of lifts: One gondola, “Perle&Bruse“.
Getting there: Just ride your bike fifteen minutes from Bergen City Center!
Lift pass costs: 90kr for one ride with the gondola, 150kr for round trip or two separate tripsDownhill Oppdal

Comment:  There is one dedicated downhill bike track, with quite unexpected jumps that can be hard to spot. I quite liked riding down the walking trail to Landås/Nattland, but there were no other cyclists in the tracks and places where carrying the bike was necessary.



Hanguren, Voss: 

Open: From June 7st to August 24th, it is open every day from 12.00-16.00
Number of lifts: One gondola, “Dinglo & Danglo/Hangursbanen“, and the chairlift in Bavallen for selected weekends.
Getting there: From Bergen by train with NSB takes 1h 10 mins and costs 138kr for a student
Lift pass costs: 100kr for one ride with the gondola, 210kr for one day pass
Comment: Voss is a town known for its extreme sports, and the slopes are well used by people who know their stuff! You can easily bike from the city center to the gondola or even pitch your tent on top of the lift.

 

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Åre Bike Park
Open: From June 6th until some time in the late summer
Number of lifts: Up to seven lifts can be open for the summer season. Most of them are open from 10.00-17.00

Getting there: From Trondheim by train with NSB/SJ takes 2h 40 mins and costs 166kr for a student
Lift pass costs: 275kr for one day pass (45,- for the card itself)
Comment: It is Scandinavias biggest and best. The red slopes have lots of jumps, especially “Uffes” and “Shimano” That go from the top. The red trail of “Finbanan” followed by “Kanonrøret” fun park can be run from the lower lifts and have some great jumps, drops and wall rides.

My next downhill adventure will go to..
Oslo Sommerpark Tryvann

Open: August 19th to October 13th, Wednesdays-Thursdays (15-20) / Saturdays and Sundays(10-18)
Number of lifts: 1 chairlift serving 6 slopes
Getting there: Take the number 1 tram from Oslo City Center, get off at Voksenkollen Station (second to last) and walk for ten minutes from there to Tryvann Tower. Ticket price is 20kr if you by it on beforehand or 30kr on board the tram.
Lift pass costs: 65kr for one ride and the day passes costs 235kr on weekdays and 260kr on weekends
Comment: I’ll definately bring my bike to Oslo next time I go, as the tracks here look fun!

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Cycling Los Yungas aka “the Death Road”

Months ago, around the same time we booked our around the world tickets, we also booked a day tour activity called the “Death Road”. An old trade route where hundreds of trucks had fallen down the steep cliffs that followed the narrow road that today is mainly used for cyclists. This day trip had been our parents biggest concern for our travels, but when getting on top and seing the amount of people that take this cycle tour every day, and getting a good security explanation from our bicycle guides at Vertigo, we quickly saw that this is a trip that anyone can do safely by just going in their own pace.

At 8 o’clock in the morning we set of on the one hour drive to “La Cumbre”, the start of our tour, located at 4700 meters above sea level. From there we had a 45 minute downhill ride on tarmac, crossing through beautiful landscape while getting used to our bikes, before we once again jumped into the van to drive a few kilometers to the starting point of the Yungas Road, also known as the Death Road.

At 10.50 we started paddling downhill through clouds and muddy roads. The climate changed several times between sunny, foggy and rainy, and the temperature gradually got warmer as we went down. After five hours, 54 kilometers and a descent of 3500 altitude meters we could call ourself survivors of the death road. We had reached Yolosa, which was the end of the cycling part and drove from there straight to a hotel where we could have a shower, a swim at a pool and a good lunch, while talking to other groups that had done the same crazy ride. On the three hour ride back to our hotel in La Paz, everyone were sleeping after the exhausting downhill ride, and when we returned to our hotel at 8pm we were so finished that we just went straight to bed.

 

 

 

 

 

Going up to a height of 5000 meters in Cotopaxi National Park

6.45 a white pickup with bikes on the back was waiting for us outside our hostel. Inside was our guide and an 67 year old lady from England who were going with us up to the Cotopaxi Volcano, which has the second highest summit in Equador at 5897 meters above sea level.

On the way up we had to stop several times to acclimatize and let our bodies get used to the altitude bit by bit. Since our guide was a former park ranger in the national park, he used these oportunities to explain the map of where we would be going and to tell us all about the plants, animals and landscape which he seemed to know a lot about. For the first stop it was also possible to purchase warm clothing from locals waiting for tourists, and on the second stop you could drink coca tea that should help coping with the high altitudes. On the last stop before our walk there was also an oportunity to get a stamp in your passport from Cotopaxi stating the altitude you had been to.

Our trek started at the end of the road, at a parking lot at 4600 meters. The wind was blowing heavily and the snow hit us in the faces like small mosquitos would do when driving a motorbike. Luckily we had brought lots of warm clothes, and the guide provided us with some ugly boots that kept our feet dry. The weather was not in our favor, but that seemed to make it a bit more exiting and challenging, and despite the small snowstorm we all were motivated to get up to the top of the tourist trail.

We walked slowly, foot by foot. Both because our sunglases were filled with snow making it almost impossible to see anything and because of the guide stating the importance of not going up too fast to avoid altitude sickness. Panting was not allowed at all.

Cotopaxi

At 4864 meters we reached the refuge, where people would normally take a break and drink a coca tea before continuing, but since it was under reconstruction we did not get to go in and just made a small break outside by the sign instead. At that point the British woman had to lay down, and it did not take a long time before she started vomiting because of the altitude. And that was a woman who had walked the Inca Trail and climed to the top of Kilimanjaro before, so our guess was that she was not in shape that day or that she had just not been in the height long enough to be doing the trek. As we were determined to get to the top, we continued without her and the guide and made it to the glacier, meaning that we had reached our goal of passing 5000 meters! Going down afterwards was quick and easy with the thought of the achievement in the back of our minds. In total it took us between three to four hours round trip to do the trek.

When we got back to the parking lot at the bottom the guide and the girls got in the car to warm themselved, while I jumped on one of the bikes taking me almost a kilometer downhill past the Quilota Lagoon and to the place we could get our passport stamped before, where the bicycle was loaded on to the car again to drive back to the city. It had been a great tour and the fact that the weather was at its worst just made it a bit more of an achievement.