Åre Bike Park – the Whistler of Scandinavia

SimenBerg-AreBikePark-0150Text/Photo/Film: Simen Berg

Åre is a true mountain bike resort, with a Whistler vibe. Not only because of all the vertical meters from top to bottom, but also because the cozy town is all about biking.

Every year we spend a few days in Åre, and with some friends among the locals, we know the place fairly well.

For years, Åre Mountain Mayhem was the main summer event. Now Åre Freeride Festival organized by Åre Bergscyklister in early July is the busiest week of the season.

The Bike Park
The lift system runs from Åreskutan (lift to 1274 masl) down to 389 masl at VM 8:an.

From VM 6:an, Lilla Blå and Flinbanan (see film below) will get you started with a smile on your face. More hectic and challenging are Nelson/Tjernis and DH-banan. The next level is served by Hummeln, and gives access to quite a few trails, including the popular Shimano-leden. And the new (2014) trail Uffes, after the former bike park manager, Ulf Olofsson.

From VM 8:an you can do Månskogen/Getrappet and Bräckebäcksleden. Respectively smooth and rough happiness on two wheels. Keep going up, and you’re facing 9 km and 20 minutes of pleasure. Easy Rider is an amazing collection of berms, while 1000 metersleden and Hellrajd are all natural.

Preseason riding in May happens from Bergbanan on the lower slopes.

Åre Eating/Night Life
Get the daytime snack (fika) at Stormköket on top of Åreskutan. Fjällgården is more of a restaurant, but still on the hill.
The after bike spots are Dahlbom and Broken. The latter has amazing tex-mex.
Wersén’s has an excellent dinner menu. Including reindeer, that really blew my mind when I tried it.
At night, Dahlbom is the place for bubbles and drinks, if you didn’t get too many on their sunny terrasse in the afternoon. The best bar (by far) for bikers by bikers is Parkvillan.

Travel to Åre
The train connects Åre to Stockholm and Trondheim, just pay attention to distances and logistics when you book a place to stay. Getting the bike on the train in Trondheim might be tricky, but normally it works out. By plane you go to Trondheim or Östersund.
Driving from Oslo, I prefer to do 710 kms through Sweden (via Kongsvinger/Torsby). With a stopover in Järvsö Bike Park on the way. For the Scandinavian Bike Park Tour, add Swedish Järvsö and Hafjell Bike Park in Norway. On weekends and some Wednesday nights, Drammen Skisenter, half an hour outside Oslo is also worth while.
If you’re into singletrack biking on a trail bike, check out Trysil Bike Arena.

Åre Accommodation
To leave the car parked the whole visit, we usually stay close to the square. STF Åre Torg used to be a bargain, but still is a good deal in the midst of everything. We can also recommend bike in/bike out Hotel Granen. Skistar will normally have bike package deals, so check it out. Parkvillan also has accommodation.

Åre Bike Park
– ÅBP Facebook
Åre Bergscyklister (Local MTB bike club)

A couple of films to give you an idea (more to come).

Tobbe Spesial, starting at Hummeln
On Tobias Liljeroth’s tail: Örnnästet – Rydbergs väg – Shimano-leden – Västra Stjärnvägen – Solstigen – Getrappet

Sondre (10) – first day on the new bike
A young man, Sondre (10), got a new bike and got to try it out with his dad Rune Dahl on his tail in Flinbanan. Seems like the youngsters already has his bike sorted out.

Fatbike in the winter mountains of Hemsedal

Simen Berg, Bjøberg, Hemsedal

Simen Berg, Bjøberg, Hemsedal

Text/Photo/Video: Simen Berg

The Fatbike is gaining popularity around the world. In 2013 there were a few handfuls of bikes in Norway, now they’re in the thousands.

To try it out, we borrowed Surly bikes from the importer, Brown Couch, plus my friend Are. It also turned out he had done the ride we had planned for the day.

We dropped one car off by the golf course in Grøndalen, not far from Solheisen. Then we got a lift to Bjøberg, close to the highest point of Hemsedalsfjellet.

The skiing tracks had not been prepared for many days, so the climb started off a bit loose. But it got a lot better as we gained some altitude. Basically there was from 5-10 cms of snow on a firm base. The ride was about 17 kms, with a moving time of 1:42.

It was our first experience with fatbikes. It is intriguing to be able to ride a bike on snow like this. But Kathrine and I agreed that we prefer skiing when conditions are like this. I can’t describe how frustrating it was to pedal downhill for kilometers, instead of going four times as fast on skis… And when the snow is gone, we prefer our full suspension trail bikes.

New Bike Park in Oslo Sommerpark Tryvann

Text: Simen Berg Photo/Video: Simen Berg

Drammen Skisenter (half hour drive) and Hafjell Bike Park (two hours drive) are the closest alternatives.

On June 29th 2012, Norway got an addition to the list of lift served bike parks aimed at those who like to fly down trails on full suspension downhill/freeride bikes. Oslo Sommerpark now offers five trails, of which one is a hand built DH race track. Next year they will add another three trails.

Fairly new sport in Norway
Gravity based biking in bike parks really started off for real in Hafjell around 2005. Until then, most of the action happened in Frognerseteren, close to Holmenkollen. Served by line 1 on the Oslo subway system between Skådalen and Frognerseteren. And that’s the same stop you will get the closest to Oslo Sommerpark by the Tryvann tower. More about the other bike parks later.

About the park
This bike park is a totally incredible accomplishment, taking into consideration that it all was built from scratch in less than two months.

But here it actually is, and five trails are up and running, with three more to come in 2013. Bike Park guru Snorre Pedersen from Hafjell Bike Park designs the trails, so no rookie mistakes around here.

The five trails are:

  • Begynnern: Flowy and bermy out in the open.
  • Eastside: Some tables and berms, but mostly tight corners on a narrower, machine built trail in the forest.
  • Fri Flyt: High speed trail with a lot of air time.
  • Stiknuser’n: Singletrack
  • Ryehufsa: Sportsklubben Rye built a downhill track for Norwegian Cup events.

Note: Please note that the videos were filmed on the very first opening day, with loose and wet conditions.




About the bikes
Begynnern and Eastside are smooth enough for hard tails until the brake bumps get to tiresome. With a full suspension trail / AM bike you’ll be fine in Stiknusern as well.
With a freeride/downhill bike you’ll be happy all over the place.


More Norwegian parks
Hafjell is the best bike park in Norway. Half an hour from Oslo, Drammen Skisenter offers excellent biking. In addition, you can enjoy lift served downhill biking at Geilo, Hemsedal, Ål, Narvik, Vrådal, Hovden, Ulriksbanen (Bergen), Fjellheisen (Tromsø).

Slickrock heaven for biking

Text/pics/video: Simen Berg

How about endless slickrock terrain with marked trails for biking in daytime, combined with high end hotel accommodation and food? Including massage, sauna, hot tub and bonfire story telling on top of this. Canvas Hotel in Telemark offers this incredible mix of adrenaline biking and soothing comfort.

Normally, groups of guests arrive by bike on an hour long trail. Others want to arrive on the 1.5 or 3 hour long trails. The latter on the DNT-trail from Gautefall. Luggage is taken care of. Once in the camp there’s a selection of marked trails, for the time being from 3 to 15 kilometers. Guests are divided in groups based on distance ambitions or technical levels, and guides bring them along to give everyone what they came for. Upon request, guides can easily organize multi-day trips in the area as well.

The trails are flowy and not very steep. The slickrock formations offer any imaginable feature, including streams, lakes and deep and wide cracks in the landscape. These are negotiated with bridges and woodwork in to the necessary extent. Luckily, the trailmaster himself is the landowner, who also is eager riding his bike. So in the years to come, there are loads of trail gems in pipeline here.

The hotel itself consists of 12 comfy yurts with two beds, heated with firewood. There’s a kitchen tent, sauna and bathrooms.
More information:

The trails are super smooth, so you’ll be fine on everything from a 100mm full suspension bike. 160mm will be overkill, but no problem. You’ll be OK on a hardtail, but should consider renting a Lapierre Zesty at Canvas.

Go on E18 to Porsgrunn and follow signs to Drangedal. Or you continue south on E18 and go on Drangedal signs from there. When passing Drangedal, keep going until Gautefall signs show up. Follow them, and stick to the plan you made when booking at the hotel. Allow 3.5 hours from Oslo and a bit more than 1 hour from Porsgrunn.

15 km/500 vertical meters from the hotel:

Gautefall – Canvas Hotel. 15 km/600 vertical one way on DNT trail. Walking trail that lacks the Canvas flow:

More info:
Guide at Terrengsykkel.no (in Norwegian) – terrengsykkel.no/index.php?stid=472
Story in Norwegian – terrengsykkel.no/index.php?id=3941

1327 vertical meters in one run

Text/pics/video: Simen Berg

Only 1.5 hours by car from Oslo, you can do one of Norway’s most amazing All Mountain rides on your mountainbike.  The climb starts at approximately 800 meters (from the tree line), and follows a truly biker-friendly DNT trail to Høgevarde (peak at 1459m, DNT-hut at 1400m). If you go back down all the way to Krøderen Lake (132m),  you’ll have one of the most majestic singletrack/doubletrack runs you can find in Norway. 25 kilometers downhill, of which only 3 kms on gravel/tarmac roads. And only a couple of handfulls of climbing meters.

From the Høgevarde peak you can enjoy a 360 degree view only surpassed by Gaustatoppen in southeastern Norway (straight to your west when standing there). You can also see Tryvannstårnet in Oslo on clear days.

There’s just one short passage on the climb that’s a bit hard to climb, mostly because of loose rocks. In other words, you’ll be fine on a 120 mm full suspension mountainbike. With more travel, you’ll obviously be more comfy at higher speeds back down the hill. A hardtail will also be OK, but not ideal. Additional protection other than the helmet really isn’t necessary, but I’ll wear light knee/elbow pads the next time I go (watch the video and judge for yourself). Two cars make the shuttling easier, but you might get a lift back to the top, or call the taxi (could be expensive).

By car from Oslo, you go on E16 from Sandvika and Riksvei 7 from Hønefoss until you get to Noresund. Then you wanna take a look at the map and start planning. It’s 1.5 hours from Oslo, a little less from Drammen.

Guide at Terrengsykkel.no (in Norwegian) – terrengsykkel.no/index.php?stid=471
Map/GPS-track – connect.garmin.com/course/983534
Norefjell – norefjell.com
Weather forecast Norefjell (800m) – http://www.yr.no/sted/Norge/Buskerud/Kr%C3%B8dsherad/Norefjell_skisenter

Quality Spa & Resort Norefjell (Hotel at Bøseter) – norefjellsparesort.no
DNT (Høgevarde) – turistforeningen.no