Sunday, August 11, 2013

Vårlivarden and Skomakarnibbå

We've had quite a few things going on this spring (more on that later!) but we managed to fit a few hikes in when the weather permitted.  After our visit home in March, we took advantage of the long Easter weekend by hiking Vårlivarden.

Of course we brought Pistol with us and the usual provisions - Kvik Lunsj bars (aka Kit Kat bars), PBJs, and apples.  Hiking this early in the season meant that we had to cross over some ice and the air was brisk, but it was a beautiful day for a hike!

We had another long weekend in May (Norway has a TON of national holidays in the spring!) so we took some advice from a fellow expat and drove to Hagalid to hike Skomakarnibbå.  A legend of a shoemaker (the hike's namesake) and his death by falling off of the ledge while watching a wedding procession claims that the outcrop will fall into the fjord if seven sisters marry on the same day.  

The hike starts at a farm, and so many sheep greeted us at the beginning - Pistol wasn't sure what to make of them! We made sure not to get too close because a watchful border collie never let us out of his sight.

This hike goes through woodland, bog, and up cliffs along the 7km trail.  

This hike was fun, but tiring!  I was happy to see those sheep again (Pistol... no so much).

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Boy and His Bike

We both had high hopes for cycling while in Norway. We even bought two bikes and had them shipped with our other goods.  In hindsight, they were not good bikes. Terrible, in fact, compared to the professional ones that everyone seems to have here.  Nonetheless, we gave it a good try and cycled from work one day and even cycled to a monument to a sunken ship call The Broken Chain on the coast near Tasta.

Jeffrey usually has more energy than I do and this was no exception.  Good thing he doesn't mind when we take breaks!   

I shared our experience with Leif Christian, laughing at our naivete regarding all things bicycle related and he saw an opportunity.  There is a major cycling even in June of every year in this part of Norway - the North Sea Race - and he offered to help Jeffrey train for it.  He even offered his second bike for Jeffrey to ride (thank goodness - the move was rough on Jeff's bike and cut the brake line to the back tires... it also looked like a 12-year old's bike...).  Jeffrey is never one to pass up on a new experience and agreed before Leif Christian could even deliver the full proposal.  I was also in full support, mainly because there was not a third bike and I could just cheer him on!

What Jeff didn't realize is that this race is 91 kilometers long!  That's 56.5 miles and about 10x longer than any bike ride he'd ever been on before!  Leif Christian began the training sessions in April and graciously lent Jeff gloves, jackets, and water bottles (Jeffrey did buy his one cycling shorts).  I loved hearing the stories when Jeff would return home of how Leif Christian would reach the top of a grueling hill only to turn around and tell Jeff that he still had a ways to go before cycling to the top again.  He prepared Jeff well, though, and last June Jeffrey participated in a the North Sea Race along with thousands of other cyclists!

I used a map of the route to strategically place myself in spots where Jeff could see me cheer - it was so fun!

Most of the track is on surface roads and hundreds of volunteers shut down the streets, pass out food and water, and attend to injuries.  There are a few places with gravel, though, and with over 10,000 participants there is some danger of losing your balance in crowded areas. Jeffrey actually slid on some gravel, scuffing up his knee.  I didn't even notice until he was done - it didn't slow him down at all.

The picture below was taken at the start of the biggest hill ever.  Since I was there, he took this as a good opportunity to hop off and I walked with him to the top.  I was definitely not a part of the race, but with all the spectators, life music, and fellow racers giving high-fives and encouragement, it was easy to see why the participants enjoy this race so much.

And he finished with a great time too! 4 hours and 17 minutes!

It was over a year ago, but I am still so impressed.  He was happy with his accomplishment and said he couldn't have done it without his biggest fan (and Leif Christian, obviously).