With two days to the 300km Vatternrundan, I thought best to do some cycling. After a relaxed start, I had a filling breakfast at the hostel, as well as made a roll for lunch (not strictly allowed, but suggested by experienced hostel staying son)
It was almost lunchtime before I programmed the GPS with the lat/long of some suggested forest destinations for a ride. Without road maps for Norway on the bicycle Garmin, it's basically using the compass. It's a bit old school navigation but it works.
I headed off, riding on the 'wrong' side of the road and very aware that there were tram tracks to swallow skinny bike tires and trams that also could come the 'wrong' way. In the true tradition of GPS navigation and adhering to one of the many Gardner cycle touring rules, the GPS took me along what seemed like the longest stretch of cobblestone road in Oslo.
Eventually I passed Kitab's local bar and put a waypoint in the GPS so I could find it again this afternoon. The ride up the hill started gradual. There are lots of bike paths and lots of commuters on bikes both young and old. Helmets seem to spoil the flowing blonde hair look, so are only used by the hard core, racing look types in Lycra. The connection seems to be no Lycra/no helmet.
Kitab pointed out that 2XU Skins are the national dress. People seem to wear them everywhere and mix and match all outfits to incorporate these skins pants.
I think I have worked out why the majority of people here appear so slim; they cannot afford to eat.
E.g. small burger-king meal costs about $14.50 ($6 at home). Coke in a 7-11 is over $5. Banana $2. There are no low end restuarent, so $50 per person is about the starting price for a nice dinner at a bar.
Apparently they have the highest average salary in Europe. There are not lots of top earners, just a higher wage for the bottom end. Overtime is scare and as an electrician Kitab works 37.5 hrs/work and finishes Friday at 12:30. It appears our work/life balance is too far to the right if Norway is to the left.
As a port city, Oslo is surrounded by mountains, so as I ascended towards my waypoint, I could see the ski jump in the distance. Noting its compass bearings, I changed direction more to the west and after a lot of winding roads arrived at the Holmenkollen, a newly built(2010) ski jump to replace the old one Karen and I had visited in 1983.
It was an amazing engineering structure and seemed insane that skiers would be mad enough to fly off. Even the seating in the spectator area was steep.
From here, I could see a communication's tower further up, so figured it would be the highest point and worth a few more vertical meters. There were a number of road cyclists either descending at speed or overtaking me, so I knew it was a popular route.
At the top, after 20km and at an altitude of 533m was the Oslo winter park ski area. I then descended down another road and came past what looked like a big car park with cross country skiers going around and around on theirs roller blade like summer skis. Every couple of laps they would take their gun off, shoot at a target and then off they would go. Judging by their kit bag they were at least in the national team and looked fit.
The plan was to meet Kitab at 17:00, so I was a bit early and met Kristen riding her push scooter home from work.
We got the mountain bikes ready and rode up the direction I had been earlier, then veered east towards the forest and lake at Sognsvann (my original destination). We cycled quite a distance along fire trails and were passed by many cyclist and passed many runners (most in 2XU tights! ). It was a glorious evening and perfect for cycling. It was Kitab's first cycling there in daylight as he was use to turning on all the bike lights and going around the trail in the dark, and with snow patches.
We descended back to his place and I rode back to the hostel. I then spent a number of hours setting up an AirBnB profile (difficult) and booking a well located place in Stockholm for Saturday night. I booked a 14:30 train from Motala which will get me to Stockholm central at 19:30. Hopefully I will finished the 300km in less then 17 hrs!
Tired from two big cycling outings I fell into bed after dinner at Hungry Jacks.