The Rapha Cycling Club in Norway

The North Remembers

Rapha Cycling Club Raid Norway

17 April 2017

Norway is known for its vast and rugged coastline, pitted by narrow fjords that lead inland towards steep mountains. But it’s also increasingly becoming known for its cycling – both as a destination and as a nurturer of professional talent – with former world champion Thor Hushovd and Edvald Boasson Hagen hailing from the country. Pair this with a population of just five million, and a road network that reaches deep into its remote interior, and it’s easy to see why the focus of the cycling community is gradually honing in on this Scandinavian kingdom.

Across four days in early August, 11 Rapha Cycling Club (RCC) members travelled from Åndalsnes to Oslo for the second iteration of the RCC Raid Norway. Below, RCC member and photographer Marius Nilsen talks us through the journey – 730km through fjords to snow capped mountains and gravel tracks in-between.

Marius Nilsen

Rapha Cycling Club #6745

Within hours of stepping off the train from Oslo, a journey that includes the spectacular Rauma Line, riders were preparing to take on the Trollstigen - a 10 kilometre climb averaging 10% with eleven hairpins, and rising from sea-level to almost 900 metres. With the weather holding out at an unseasonably perfect 26 degrees it was more like a trip to the Italian Alps than the western coast of Norway, which is so often such a harsh climate.

But perfect weather never lasts, particulary across multiple days. Crossing valleys and descending into fjords on day two the weather deteriorated. A quick reminder to the riders that they, as always, are at the mercy of Mother Nature – and she can make it as hard or as easy as she likes. Then again, perhaps it is almost right to have to get your head down and plough ahead. As one rider pointed out – it makes you more aware of the need for both strong legs and willpower to ride in these conditions. This is no walk in the park.

Our next challenge was the Dalsnibba climb, which rises up from the base of the Geiranger Fjord (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The Dalsnibba is a 20 kilometre stretch of paved road which winds its way up to 1,500 metres, and the higher we went, the more the weather deteriorated.

Riding west to east, we encountered the highlands of the Jotunheimen, which forms a large area of a Norwegian national park. In the highlands you are surrounded by towering, rugged peaks - the intimidation of these behemoths is countered by the calm blue waters of the fjords which sit at their base. Reindeer roam freely in the highlands and without warning they appear alongside - halting you in your tracks before darting away into the wilderness.

The RCC Raid Norway began as a group of friends eager to show the roads of their homeland to fellow members. The Rapha Cycling Club hosts regular rides and events for its members in chapters around the world, with many organised by members themeselves.

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