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The locals: skiing and Styrkeprøven
Until recently, Norwegians were likely to come to cycling as a summer respite from skiing, just as their top cyclists would ski cross-country (great cardiovascular and leg exercise) during the cold, dark winters. These days skiing is still popular but Edvald Boasson Hagen and others now visit the Olympiatoppen, the national elite sport institute only a short ride from Oslo city centre, where the facilities include a giant rolling road for indoor cycling training. The alternative: spiked tyres, heated insoles and cycling through the blizzards.
Despite the climatic difficulties there is a local competitive racing scene, the highlight of which is, perhaps, the Styrkeprøven. These are long organised events, inspired by resistance fighter and cyclist Erik Gjems-Onstad, who cycled the length of the country – and Finland and Sweden, too – monitoring the Nazi retreat.
Though they’re open to all, at the top level the Styrkeprøven are fully supported team time trials, in which up to 30 riders from each club work together. The record for the longest Styrkeprøven, the 540-kilometre Trondheim-Oslo, is less than 12 hours, an average of 42kph. The prospect of giving your all for the team and being spat out of the back with 300km to go doesn’t bear thinking about.
In Oslo for a while and looking for someone to ride with? Try contacting a local club. Rapha recommends: