Where: Osterøy, Norway
When: September 2016
Osterøy. 35km away from home. Intriguing lines on the map, roads I haven’t ridden before, places I have yet to see. A formatted memory card and a fully charged battery in the camera—this one is easy on the batteries so I don’t stress much about not finding a spare. And a Strava challenge I’d like to be able to mark as done.
I believe I read somewhere that Osterøy is Norway’s largest inland island. Coming from a country that is obsessed with superlatives it didn’t leave an impact. Much more interesting is the impressive landscape it offers—mountains, woodlands, wetlands, not to forget the lovely gravel roads.
I’ve been wanting to ride some of the rural roads on Osterøy for a while now. This summer, few plans that have involved cycling have been realized, and until a few days before it looked like there wouldn’t be any Osterøy ride at all this year. But when a client called and cancelled a job on a short notice, and that on a day with blue skies and sun, Osterøy seemed like the perfect replacement activity.
I’m not used to long bike rides—before Osterøy I had never even ridden over 100km. To get there, that is to the bridge and back home, is about 70km, so it was obvious that my distance record wouldn’t hold. Which is perfectly fine, especially when it involves sweet gravel roads like these, even if they made up only a relatively small portion of the total.
The summer had been terribly wet, and in steep landscape that tends to come with its own set of troubles. When they—road authorities in this case—say Road closed due to landslide that’s supposed to be as far as you go. Though, sometimes the scenery makes it difficult not to go a bit further.
The stuff to bring, the stuff to bring
Given how little experience I have with longer rides, when it comes to packing I feel a certain room for improvement. One thing is what to bring, another is how to bring it.
Surfing various bicycle resources on the internet over the last couple of years has taught me how the frame bag concept has become a bit of a standard. The first few times I saw one I remember thinking something like how this must be an overkill, especially with what’s available of racks, panniers, handlebar bags and whatnot. As the story goes, little did I know.
Having dragged my panniers through various terrain during the last year or so I’ve come to realize that practical as they may be in one respect, having to push or carry a bike with them on it can be a less than satisfactory experience. And my panniers are a tiny–ish front pair. So I figured that I might as well try this frame bag thing, even if I couldn’t help doubting the amount of stuff the internet told me was possible to fit in one. A short Ebay search later and I was an uncertain owner of a second hand Jpaks frame bag and gas tank (the small black/red bag above the top tube in the photo below). The gas tank was really nice, as soon as I figured out how not to irritate myself over kicking it with my knees sometimes while pedalling. Initially I was less thrilled about the frame bag to be honest. Somewhat because it could fit my frame a little better, although it’s not a bat fit, just a little on the small side—probably best if it was custom made. And (and this is a minor issue), because the velcro strap furthest back over the top tube interfers with the another top tube bag I had grown accustomed to having on my bike, with tools and such, right in front of the seat post (not with me on this particular ride because it’s—well—not friends with the frame bag). So this time the tools had to go in the seat bag, hardly a big deal.
The short version: Months went by and the frame bag hung in a closet. Then I dug it out for Osterøy, strapped it on the bike, filled the pack tap with water and dropped it in there, some dry clothes, the cooking pot and stove (can’t go a whole day without coffee), some food, and loved having all this at the very center of the bike—loved it much, much more than I would have imagined!
So there, frame bag from now on. (For some reason I still like my racks on though.)
I’m optimistic that more opportunities such as Osterøy are about to land on my lap. And even if the days are getting shorter around here—fast—I’m kind of determined to make the most of them.