My friend Tinius has a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Tinius, Glenn and I wanted to go up there during the summer, and because it was within the reach of what we thought we could ride in a single day, we went for it.
It was July, and the latest we could leave was the 20th. This was a problem for me. I was on holiday, and would be home at three in the morning. The plan was to leave at 5 am. I thought I could just sleep on the plane; I couldn’t. By 3 I was finally in bed, and by 4 I was up.
This was going to be the longest single bicycle ride of our lives, and I was doing it on an hour of sleep.
The way out – 255 kilometres
I met up with Glenn on the way to town, where we would find Tinius waiting for us. Glenn brought a lot of things, so he was riding with a backpack. We made fun of him for that.
We cruised along very familiar roads for the first few hours. The mood was good all morning, talking and sprinting to speed limit signs as always, not thinking about how long the day would be. The long way ahead of us through a forest was new to us all, but easy to follow. We even found a gravel shortcut, which made me happy, but not Glenn, because Glenn hates gravel.
Everyone was still fresh 120 kilometres in, legwarmers came off, and we met some dudes from our club who came down the mountain that was awaiting us, and we had a burger. My stomach didn’t appreciate that. When we hit the mountain an hour later, 33 brutal kilometres long and with 1150 metres of climbing, everyone suffered.
No picnic at the top and straight down via a super sketchy descent. We made it into the valley faster than cars, bought a chicken, and devoured it in a parking lot. Rarely does food taste so good.
Another brutal climb out of the valley brought us to a plateau. Ahead of us lay a straight road that flowed up and down. Trucks coming towards us disappeared from sight and popped up again, and 215 kilometres in this really messes with you.
It was a desolate and treeless place, but beautiful. The setting sun made everything orange, and we ran out of food.
We wouldn’t make it in time. Tinius’ mother picked us up; we came up 30 kilometres short. The car did the rest, up a gravel climb to Songavatnet, a big dammed lake. We left the bikes behind and all got in a little motorboat. No one spoke as we crossed across the lake, partly because we failed to do the whole ride, but mostly we were just completely empty. The boat reached a beach and we got out and put bags on backs.
It was a long walk over swampy, mossy land, over to another smaller lake. The three of us got in a tiny row boat and Tinius rowed us across. It was midnight, and it was getting dark. We were over a thousand metres above the sea however, so it was mostly just really cold. With 250 kilometres in the legs and 19 hours of traveling another walk through the wet swamp hurt, but we made it.
The way back – 240 kilometres
The cabin had no electricity, water or phone coverage, and sat high in the mountains amongst snow and sheep and reindeer. It was the most isolated place we’d ever been, but it was a great time. Being isolated this way every now and then is really healthy I think.
Glenn, Tinius and I slept in the tiny second cabin, which had three beds and a fireplace. Right as we were going to bed the old guy who owned the cabin came in and told us a story about how he once almost suffocated to death in his sleep in this cabin from the fireplace smoke. He laughed, told us not to worry, and left.
We spent a day out in the middle of nowhere, and the next morning we headed back. I wanted revenge on the mountain, but we realized it would be smarter to take a straighter way home, with lots of super smooth descents. It was another long 12 hour day, it got dark in the end and we bonked a little bit, but it wouldn’t stop us from racing the last gravel road to Tinius’ home blind, at full speed.