This week we have decided to interview Karl, one of our volunteers from the Czech Republic, who has recently arrived to Nøsen. As a former competitive cyclist, Karl has lots of tips for aspiring cyclists, who want to explore the area around Nøsen.
Below the interview, Karl shares recommendations and details about his favourite tour.
Q: So Karl, tell us, when did you start training as a biker?
A: I started cycling when I was about 15 years old, with friends. Pretty soon my friends and I started to organise races and by age 18 I joined a cycling team in the Czech highlands. I have been cycling competitively for 2 years, from 2013 to 2015, and a competitive runner for 1,5 year, running in half marathons and 10Kms-long races.
Q: Is there an achievement that you are particularly proud of?
A: I joined the "Run Tour", which is one of the main competitions in the Czech Republic. It consists of 13 races, each 10 Kms long. I ran 9, and placed myself between 6th and 9th place each time.
Q: Wow!! That's impressive! Why do you like cycling so much?
A: Hmm.. That's not an easy question! I think on the one hand it is because it always changes. You can always take a new path, and then you can never know what lies ahead. On the other hand, I enjoy for different reasons, and that depends a lot on why I am cycling, what type of bike I am riding on, and who I am with. If I am cycling with my girlfriend, I tend to enjoy the views, the conversation and the sharing of the experience. If I am training, I focus on the sensations in my body, the feeling of power in my muscles, the energy running through me. If I am training on a road bike, I am focusing on the speed and endurance, whereas, generally speaking, if I am on a mountain bike, I am deeply focused on the path and the technique. I suppose, ultimately, I really enjoy it for all of these reasons, as it helps me focus, but also relax, feel my body. I guess it is about what I make of it.
Q: And now you have been in Nøsen for, what, 3 weeks?
A: Yes, I am here as a Workaway Volunteer. I arrived in Nøsen three weeks ago together with my girlfriend Sonja. It's our first time living abroad, and we are really enjoying it.
Q: What surprised you the most about cycling around Nøsen?
A: Probably the fact that, as a cyclist, you have to be prepared for quite long distances. In the Czech Republic, you can easily go for a bike ride and reach a nearby town or village after 10 Km. You can also go for 200K-rides if you want to, but you don't have to cycle far to cross a village or a landmark. From Nøsen, if cycling on the road, you have to ride 80/90 Kms (round-trip), slowly riding down- or climbing uphill for quite a while, before getting to the next town.
Q: Do you find it overall more challenging?
A: No, I am best at endurance, so I actually really like it in that sense. In the Czech Republic, I was used to roads where a really steep path would kind of apppear out of nowhere, and suddenly you'd find yourself climbing up really fast. I find that more challenging, as it demands a more intense effort.
Q: What would you recommend to anyone wanting to go on a bike tour around Nøsen?
A: I would recommend to start out by riding to Hemsedal or Gol. In both cases, the ride is not as intense, so, you don't need to be a pro to do it. The descent is less steep, which is also nice. Right before coming to Gol there is a small hill. You wouldn't expect to find it there, but the views from the top are gorgeous! Plus, the landscape is amazing throughout the trip. You are surrounded by mountains the entire time. Maybe to Norwegians that feels normal, but I found it really beautiful and motivating.
Bikewise, I think people need to think beforehand whether they would rather go on some of the signposted trails or ride on roads, and bring a bike which is suitable to their choice. Having said that, a mountain bike is probably a safe option.
Finally, I think people have to be ready for the weather conditions. Sonja and I have encountered all sorts of weather conditions in our bike rides so far.
Another important thing to notice is that overall there are not that many cars on the road - however, if you were to have an accident, a long time could go by without a car stopping by. So, that's both a blessing and a course.
Bike Tour to Gol
- Start time : 11:12 h
- Date : 13.4.2017
- Duration : 5:36 h
- Total amount of calories which we burned : 3000 kcal = approximately 12 000 KJ
- Total distance : 85 km
- Avarage speed : 15,1 km/h
- Max. speed : 52 km/h
- ASCENT : 1070 m
- DESCENT : 1085 m
- Average e: 764 m
- Maximum altitude : 909 m
- Minimum altitude : 225 m
It was April 13th. After a good and solid breakfast, we prepared our bikes for the ride.
At about 11h00, we were ready for the journey, were in a cheerful mood and had a great feeling in our legs. The weather conditions appeared to be great for us. Everything seemed to be perfect. As we set off, the wind was blowing in our direction.
After 16 kilometres, we turned right, to get onto the road towards Gol, which soon turned out to be completely muddy. After another few kilometres, we descended towards Oset Høyfjellshotell. But out of the blue, we found ourselves face to face with a snow storm, and considered for a while whether to come back to Nøsen or not. The wind was so strong...
We stopped to ask a guy, who was passing by, for the right directions to Gol. We were also quite keen on knowing how far it might be from there. "Almost 20 kms" he said. "The track goes slightly up and down from here. But after that, you'll be going straight downhill all the way to Gol. But you will have to climb that big hill on the way back to Nosen" he added.
Mad as that may sound, we decided not to give up and kept going. As we got on the main road to Gol, it started to rain. We knew that we had to ride a further 10 km down the road. This downhill seemed to be turning into a never ending story... It felt long. The wind was blowing against our faces, and it rained so much that by the time we made it to Gol, we were completely soaked. We found we could not enjoy the way down at all, as we were mostly searching for the closest restaurant to dry our clothes in and have some snack.
Luckily, in Gol, the restaurant had tea and hot chocolate fo free :-D !!!
It took 2 hours for our clothes to dry, and by then, we decided to start our way back to Nøsen. But we also took a small tour around Gol, which is nice and picturesque small town, worth visiting!!
On our ride back, we were compensated for our suffering. Everything went smoothly. The sun was shining on us. The weather was beautiful and after climbing 10 kms uphill, we had time to stop and observe the beautiful landscape all around, both the views of the mountains and of Gol from afar. That was the trip's highlight, I think. Such a beautiful view, no matter where I am and what I am going through, would put a smile on my face. When I looked at the mountains, I was so suprised by their beauty.
For this or a similar trip I would recommend:
- Bring along and wear functional/versatile clothes: the weather is changing every minute, thereby you can never quite know what to expect.
- In this season (April) I prefer wearing a thermo compress long sleeve shirt, a second layer functional coat with long sleeves and a windproof cycling soft jacket. However, the most important are my winter cycle pants (With insoles, e.d.). On a longer ride, I would always wear pants with insoles, because otherwise I know that after a while my butt is going to hurt.. (and for anyone reading this, be advised that yours will hurt too!!!). Personally I love a brand called "Craft". I highly recommend it, especially to people who have little experience with cycling.
- I recommend always bringing along the second functional layer when starting out, instead of having it on. In the beginning, it is really important to heat your muscles by quickly increasing cadence and working through the gears. That of course leads you to sweat a lot. Having spares is very important, or else you'd be left with no warm/dry clothes once it gets colder. It is better to heat up with less clothes on, rather than do the opposite.
... and for bike...
- Special cycling shoes: these can help you transfer more power to your pedals even if you pedal back. For winter or cold weather I usually wear special creelings on my cycling shoes with function materiál and a waterproof layer.
Tools for small eventually repairs
A waterproof musette with mac
... for safety and fun...
- Cyclists must not forget to wear a helmet AND cycle sunglasses
... and for energy...
For longer trips, I always take along some quick supply of energy, for instance energy gel, or some energy snack. Be careful in choosing your energy protein or snack. You should try first, what brand you prefer or suits you well.