Dodging rocks, roots and twigs equals … happiness? Well, this is what many people who have tried racing along mountain bike trails would say, experiencing an adrenalin rush that is not easily matched. Others have discovered the joy of cycling through more gentle hills in the forests.
And for sure Norway’s topography lends itself fabulously well to MTB, what with mountains and vast forests, and the dramatic vistas that accompany them. Thanks to the so called right of access act (Norwegian Allemansretten), you are free to bike through most places in the countryside (but do ask the locals for any exceptions and look out for signs).
Several skiing resorts, like Hafjell, Trysil, and Geilo, have bike parks for mountain biking and downhill, and open up their lift systems for bikers in the summer. Hafjell Bike Park is particularly well-known since they hosted the mountain bike world championships in 2014. MTB is not just for pros though – most bike parks have options for beginners and children, so the whole family can join in.
Just bear in mind that we do care about our nature, and spending time outdoors comes with responsibilities. Avoid making new trails, show care, slow down, and be nice to hikers and fellow bikers. This way, everyone can have a big smile on their face for the mountain-top selfie. It’s the smiles, not the miles, that counts.
Last but not least: Look after yourself and remember to protect yourself by wearing a helmet.
The single track (as the name implies) is about the same width as the mountain bike itself. Anything larger simply wouldn’t fit. It is not to be confused with a service road or fireroad, as the latter could support a four-wheel off-road vehicle. These single tracks typically double as hiking paths through forests or across mountains and plains. Still, they can be as different as night and day: Some are smooth and easy, others are more like rough forest paths riddled with rocks androots.
Some trails, notably in dedicated mountain biking areas, are incredibly smooth and accessible no matter your age or skill – though they can still pose a challenge for professionals who take them on at higher speeds. Others are more inherently challenging.
Manners and common sense on the trail
Having great trails to ride on is not a right, but a privilege. The Norwegian Organization for Mountain Biking (NOTS) urges everyone to be considerate of the trails and ski trails. Here are the most important guidelines for trail-wit.
#1 Be considerate and give way for pedestrians and skiers.
#2 Limit your speed, avoid being a danger or nuisance to others.
#3 Avoid making new trails.
#4 Don’t cross the ski tracks more than necessary.
#5 Don’t ride on vulnerable trails just after periods of heavy rainfall.
#6 Don’t ride in the ski trails when it is breakthrough snow.
#7 Don’t make the trail wider.
#8 Carry your bike through marshlands to prevent deep grooves.
#9 Don’t lock the rear wheel when riding down steep hills.
#10 The biker riding uphill has the right of way.
#11 Avoid riding in the most popular ski trails during peak hours on weekends and public holidays.
Henrik Alpers is the leading man in Norway for everything related to two wheels powered by hard working legs. Amongst numerous initiatives and activities, he is also the editor-in-chief of Landevei, a magazine for MTB enthusiasts. Here, Alpers recommends his five favourite mountain biking spots; single track bliss and major attractions for bikers.
An epicentre for cycling enthusiasts of all levels, Hafjell offers both MTB and downhill areas that are rich in experiences and most definitely worth a visit. The nearby Sjusjøen Mountain Bike Park has equally exciting biking possibilities.
Already well established as Norway’s largest winter sports destination, Trysil has also gained widespread credit for its biking facilities. Trysil Bike Arena has more than 100 kilometres of family friendly single tracks and marked routes, both in the mountain and the forest. The single track field Gullia is full of fun challenges for the whole family. The Fjellekspressen lift brings people and bikes up in the mountain throughout the summer.
A fun, eight kilometre long path with many adjoining tracks. Top features include diverse ground surfaces and charming wooden bridges created by local carpenters. Tungvekteren has become a favourite for both families and MTB enthusiasts, many of whom come from afar. There are also plenty of routes to try in the area around Arendal.
Barely any capital in the world has such an immense, preserved forest only a short trip from the city centre as Oslo. For Nordmarka, the starting points Holmenkollen, Frognerseteren, Sørkedalen, and Sognsvann are all easy to reach by public transport. And you’ll find further possibilities for adventurous mountain biking if you enter the forest from the west or the north. Nordmarka has several sports cabins and traditional eateries that serve homemade food, amongst them Ullevålseter.
The diverse biking challenges of Drammensmarka and Finnemarka forests suit both easy-paced families and enthusiasts who prefer long, demanding trips. There are several good starting points for excursions in the Drammen region, for example Ulevann Krokstad Skauen, Engersetra, and Drammen Skisenter.
The Norwegian right of access (“allemannsretten”) has been part of the Outdoor Recreation Act since 1957. It ensures that everybody can experience nature, even on larger privately owned areas.
The main rules are easy: Be considerate and thoughtful, pick up your rubbish, and show respect for nature and people.
Take only pictures, keep only memories
Norway is a country of outstanding natural beauty. Preserving this landscape, its communities, and the way of life, is essential for locals and visitors alike.
Norwegian philosophy is very much that conservation is everyone’s responsibility.
The locals try to leave as small a footprint as possible. Leave it as you would like to find it is the mantra, regardless of where you are.
It is all about the quality of life. Not only now, but for the time to come as well.
Heimdalsheia in Nissedal is popular for mountain bike enthusiasts. Several hundreds of metres of footbridges and two suspension bridges were purposely built to create a network of paths between Gautefall and Heimdal. If you want to spend more than a day, you might consider glamping it on Canvas Hotel.
The fact that cyclists are welcome is hopefully a given, but Cyclists Welcome is actually a scheme that can be found in many European countries, including Norway.
Companies in the collaboration – accommodation providers, tourist information centres, and destinations in Norway – commit themselves to be excellent hosts for cyclists. They will offer secure bicycle parking, repair kits, information about nearby routes, public transport, and where to eat along the way, and much more.
If you choose to spend your cycling holiday in one of these places, you will be well taken care of.
Read more on cyclingnorway.no
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