Smiles, miles and lessons, Copenhagen to Oslo 

Smiles, miles and lessons, Copenhagen to Oslo 

July 2020

We set off from Copenhagen two families with ages ranging from 11 to 56 bound for Oslo. Our route was to take us across Denmark where a ferry hop would bring us to the southern tip of Norway and we could continue our ride up the coast to Oslo. Aside from being the capital of Norway and a true urban jewel, Oslo also offered the opportunity for a sail home on the Oslo to Copenhagen ferry – finishing off our adventure with a bit of luxury. 

Bicycle caravan

Our bicycle caravan

We left Copenhagen a fleet of six Coh&Co bikes: three of our wood and carbon WOOCA’s were joined by one StoneWeave Erik and one of our Mattis gravel bikes – followed up by a brand new Vogel GF-oo1 gravel bike.

In Aarhus, we would be joined by Kristina’s 15-year-old son on a second StoneWeave Erik. 

All in all, we had allocated two and a half weeks for the trip. We expected that after a few days of getting in shape we would be able to average somewhere around 60 kilometers per day. Everyone carried a good portion of gear. The kids carried their own clothes and personal gear, while we adults divided the cooking and camping equipment among us.

We didn’t weigh our gear but I had around 25 kilos worth of stuff divided between my rear rack and a handlebar bag. 

Magical cycling routes in Denmark!

As cycling often does, this trip opened our eyes to new sights and opened up a new perspective on our own home.

It helped us to connect the dots between our home and our Norwegian brethren in the south of Norway. For me, I discovered that our own national cycling routes offer a magic window into a part of our country that we just don’t get to appreciate every day. I eagerly look forward to exploring more of these hidden gems in the future.

Maps can be found here

Navigation wise Norway was a bit more of a challenge but with a bit of work and the help of these guys at bikemap.net we got a handle on it.

I discovered that our own national Danish cycling routes offer a magic window into a part of our country that we just don’t get to appreciate every day

Norway is gorgeous riding

Our StoneWeave and Vogel frames ate up the hills and rejoiced in the off-road sections, but our time pressure kept us on the larger roads more than was really desirable. I had planned on following cycling route N1. The route was very well marked but we ended up navigating a good part of the way with our Wahoo Element Roam – and also relying on Google for a final couple of days as we spent more and more time on secondary roads.

Google did a great job (considerably better than last year in Germany), but it was unsettling to ride on the shoulders of the larger roads. The considerate thoughtfulness of the majority of motorists was greatly appreciated!

Danish-Norwegian cultural exchange in a time of Covid-19

This years summer has seen loads of Danish /Norwegian cultural exchange. COVID 19 has inspired many Danes to stay at home while yet others have looked to Norway instead of going south for warmer weather, as is often the case in the summer.

For us, this meant that despite having planned this trip a year ago after finishing last summers ride to Berlin, we were stuck with having to wait a day in Hirtshals before there was a place for us to get on the ferry across to Norway. This delay compounded by a couple of days slowed down by late starts and a pedal/crankarm repair that took a good morning, put us behind schedule a couple of days.

Our rest day at the campground in Hirtshals gave our thighs a chance to rest and the kids a chance to swim and go to the beach. 

LESSON: Accidents DO happen!

Until this point, we had struggled with a variety of small irritating challenges, two flats, the second of which blew out the bead on the tire (snake bite). A pedal managed to work its way loose endangering the thread on the crank arm of one of our WOOCA road bikes.

Despite these smaller irritations riders and bikes alike seemed to be eating it all up and enjoying the adventure as we went along.

Unfortunately, all was to change on the ferry to Kristiansand.

As is often the case accidents can strike and in a moment the best-layed plans can fall to the ground. While preparing to deboard the ferry at Kristiansand Maikens bike disappeared out from under her on the wet, an oily and slippery deck of the ferry’s disembarking ramp and she went down with a bang. All of her force landed on her elbow and despite being tapper it was clear that she was in considerable pain. One of the Colour line ferry attendants arranged to drive her to the local hospital for acute treatment.

Alone in Kristiansand

By now the rain was falling and showed no signs of letting up. We took to a cafe with 3 kids while Jesper and Maiken were at the hospital. After a couple of hours, the Xrays showed a serious break and it became evident we needed to find accommodations in the city and that 4 of us would be heading back to Denmark the next day.

There is not much that can be said about what happened on the ferry. We do call them accidents for a reason all one can conclude is that you need to BE CAREFULL ON WET SLIPPERY FERRY DECKS!

This left Kristina, 15-year-old Birk, and myself alone and 4 days behind schedule in a rainy Kristiansand with ruffled feathers and a bit disheartened. We focused our attention on the ride up the coast as we watched our friends return to the ferry that had delivered us full of hope and enthusiasm just one day earlier. 

Our bikes

One quick look at the Norwegian coastline and it is evident that the riding ahead would be quite different from the first week across Denmark.

Rolling hills farms and wandering forest paths would give way to a wilder rocky and steeper. Our first day on the Norwegian roads brought us through forest paths and we ended up with 750 meters of climbing some on gravel and some on asphalt.

Kristina on her Coh&Co Mattis gravel bike seemed to love it. As did Birk on his StoneWeave Erik. My Vogel GF-001 made reasonably light work of it but the many kilometers ahead did seem daunting. Birk’s Erik is really designed as an urban bike and although it has a very sporty StoneWeave frame it was not really equipped for lots of off-road mountain climbing.

Kristina’s Mattis and my Vogel Gf-001 are both set up with single chainring in the front and 11/42 cassette in the back making them well geared for just about anything you can throw at them.

Birk’s StoneWeave Erik is kitted with a belt drive and an 8 gear internal Shimano Alfine. I was a bit concerned that the internal gear range would not be enough for Birk on the hills. Shimano Alfine 8 is a great hub ,but it only afforded him a 307% power range and that left him at a disadvantage. But youth being resilient as it is we ended up pushing up more hills than he did! (yes there were a few gravel hills along the route where we just ended up hopping off and putting our shoulders into it).

If you are ever in Langesund, say hi to Sven

On the second day in Norway, I noticed a bulge and a hop in Kristina’s back tire.

In the middle of the next day, it became evident that the slash her tire had received from the puncture on the first day was slowly propagating and that at some point the tire would call it quits. This was not an ideal situation because despite being a great believer in 650 B tires these are 38mm wide and impossible to find in Norway.

We ended up gluing a couple of layers of inner tube into the inside of the tire and covering it with duct tape...

Finding Sven…

We made it through the next day putting another 87 kilometers behind us but I was pretty convinced that we needed to do something if we would have expectations of making it the last couple of hundred kilometers. Eventually, we found our way to Nustad Sykkelservice in Langesund, and Sven who runs a bike repair shop out of his home did a fantastic job of servicing us through. Despite not having a replacement he was eager and enthusiastic to help us devise a jury-rig solution that could give us a chance of making it all the way to Oslo.

We ended up gluing a couple of layers of innertube into the inside of the tire and covering it with duct tape. This gave us a pretty solid wad of resistant reinforcement on the inside of the tire….. It also put a slight but pronounced hop in the wheel when rolling and that made me worry that the bike would become super squirrely on fast descents, but Kristina managed to get used to it and made the best of it.

If you are ever in Langesund and need som service you should definitely look up Sven and send our regards!

Pressed for time we chose to Cross Oslofjord at Horten and approach the city from the eastern side. This would save a bit of distance and it is also quite a bit flatter. The ride from Moss to Oslo was navigated with the help of Google and although much of it was on idyllic country roads the last 15 kilometers or so were a descent into the city along some pretty big roads.

Failures and lessons learned?

So, despite owning a bicycle business I must admit that I was not as prepared for this ride as I would like to have been.

Failures such as slashed tires innertube punctures and broken chains are par for the course but I do wish I had taken more time to prepare and think through the spares kit. One tire of each size is an absolute must and extra brake pads would, despite not being needed, have provided an additional sense of comfort. Even more importantly, I would definitely put a self-sealing tube sealant such as SLIME into every tire because despite only having two punctures it would really be helpful to know that we have done anything and everything possible to not get stranded on the roadside with a tire spoon and a patch kit. An extra Carbon Drive Belt would probably also be wise along with the quick link chain links I had along.

On top of that, I hope that I have time to fully service and inspect all the bikes before departing on our next ride – that in itself would provide a bit of security.

Either way, it was a great ride and our Coh&Co bikes were great companions. Next year I think we will be heading South… maybe to France?

So, despite owning a bicycle business I must admit that I was not as prepared for this ride as I would like to have been

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