Things I learnt from bicycling to Stavanger

Having cycled from Oslo to Stavanger as part of my vacation, I learned a few things. Just like after my attempt last year, I’ll write them down, mostly for my own reference.

The entire trip took 7 days. Five of them were full 8-hour days with 120 km each and two were 50-60 km short resting-stages.

  1. When going during tourist season, plan your accomodation. I didn’t take into account that the Norwegian “fellesferie” was in full swing, and everything on the south coast was booked. As a result, I ended up booking into a hotel room at 990 NOK a night when I stopped at Krageroe. This was less of a problem on the westcoast, though.
  2. Bring almost nothing. I packed the absolute minimum of gear. A simple bag on the handlebars, and a small one under the saddle was all I had, and that weighed in at just a few kilos. You don’t need much. Shirts can be worn several times, and wicking clothes will dry over night when washed in the hostel sink. I brought no camera (there’s one on the phone), and I should have left the MP3 player at home (see the bit about having a radio below).
  3. Don’t plan for the worst. I had very little emergency gear with me. Patches, but no extra tube, for example. That way, I needed pretty much everything I had with me at some point, and most of my contingency plans consisted of “I’ll stop a car and ask for help”.
  4. Check your gear. I had one flat tire, and when I had everything dismantled, I found that I’d brought patches, but no glue. Luckily another rider was able to help me out.
  5. 75 km on the GPS = 120 km on the bike. As a rule of thumb, when something is 75 km away in a straight line, it’s about 120 km of cuycling to get there. This worked rather well for southern Norway, at least. I found that for me, 120 km were easy to do in a day, and then again the next.
  6. Mount the GPS. I didn’t have a bike-mount for the GPS, and as a result didn’t check the map as much as I should have. The problem is that the mounting equipment doesn’t fit on the Bianchi handlebars 😦
  7. Youth Hostels rock. These are great places. Most have a place where you can lock your bike inside. If you’re not a member, you can collect stamps for each night you are staying to work up to a membership. You might have to ask them about that, though. People there are generally nice, and you get a kitchen to make some food. The hostel at Jaeren gets my price for best hostel I’ve ever stayed in.
  8. Gravel roads suck. I had one bad crash on a gravel road, and my left elbow is all scar tissue and scabs. Avoid them. This means being creative when following cycle routes, and looking ahead on the topo maps so you don’t end up in a dead end.
  9. I love NRK P2. 8 hours a day on a bike can get pretty boring. Your MP3 player will annoy you on day 2. Radio, however, is different all the time, and tells you stuff. That is, it used to. Nowadays they rotate the same 10 hits, and the talking bits in between are retarded. With the exception of NRK P2, who have history programs, jazz music and intelligent programming. Having a useable radio on the mobile phone was absolutely brilliant.
  10. If it’s broke, know how to fix it. My bike is still fairly new, and the cahin started falling off. I realized I didn’t know how to adjust the gear system, and went with this annoyance for a day before finding a bike shop. Make sure you know how to adjust the adjustable bits on your bike before you leave.
  11. Bring ice-cube bags. Those plastic bags for making ice-cubes take virtually no space, and let you make ice that you can cool your drinking bottle with virtually anywhere you’re staying. Cold drinking water is heavenly when it’s 28+ degrees outside.

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