Norseman – Logistics (Iain)

If you are thinking of doing Norseman and you’re based in the UK then its worth knowing the logistics of how to get there and back and how much it’ll cost. Whatever figure you’re thinking of, double it and then add a bit. That’ll be the figure you actually spend!

Flight (£700)

There was only two direct flights to Norway from Scotland when I booked. The choice was either Aberdeen to Bergen, or Edinburgh to Oslo.

The closest Airport to the start in Eidfjord is Bergen but the closest airport to the finish in Rjukan is Oslo.

I’d rather have a short drive after the race than before so I booked Oslo. I also live much closer to Edinburgh Airport than Aberdeen.

The flight was 2 hours but the wait in the airport for luggage was at least 90 minutes!! My luggage could have flown most of the way back in the time it took to arrive.

Most airports don’t allow bags to be left unattended but in Oslo not only was there unattended luggage strewn all over the place there was also unattended cats and dogs.

We paid £700 for three return flights to Oslo (2 x extra luggage and 1 x bike box)

Car (£410)

I hired an estate car so that their would be enough room for everyone and the bike.

Last time I was in Norway I wrote:

We enter the destination as Eidfjord. The GPS thinks for a minute and then tells us it’ll take five hours. Nonsense! We’ll be there way before then. I was right. It was wrong. It took longer.

Driving in Norway is slow. Cars barely ever go above 50 kmph and even rarer do they overtake.

This may partly be due to their being barely a straight road between Oslo and Eidfjord. It may also be due to speed limits that I have unintentionally broken throughout the Journey.

I decided this time we’d only drive half way to Eidfjord rather than do the whole journey in one go.

Cost was £410 plus the cost of one and half tanks of petrol which is probably at least another £100.

 Accommodation (£610)

We needed 5 nights of accommodation. One to cover the first night when we only drove half way to Eidfjord. Then two nights in Eidfjord before the race, one night at the finsh and one night before catching the plane.

Night 1 (£140):  3 bed apartemnt in Geilo https://www.booking.com/hotel/no/ustedalen-resort-apartment.en-gb.html

This was a great place. It was very quiet and recently refurbished. We had dinner in a local restaurant and I apologise to Santa but I eat Rudolph the red nosed reindeer. It was one of the best dinners I ever had. The red nose was the tastiest bit! The only downside was the cost. Three main meals, two deserts, two beers and a coke came to £140! I blame brexit!

All the food in Norway was amazingly tasty. If the food didn’t bring tears to your eyes to your eye then the bill almost certainly will. There’s no such thing as a free meal here.

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Me with all my pals.

Night 2/3: £150 (3 bed airbnb in ovre eidfjord https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/21688216)

I was told to phone a number to let the host know we’d arrived. I did. There was no answer. I tried again and again and again. There was still no answer. Eventually we found a woman waling the street and it turned out she was the owner. She said she hadn’t received our calls. How strange!

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The place was a bit of a dump. I think it must have been converted from a shop as the layout was strange and the lighting was that strip lighting you only see in department stores where they don’t want any dark bits in case you use the shadows to steal stuff!

It was fine for out purpose ie it was close enough to Eidfjord to get to the ferry on time but it isn’t somewhere you’d book if you were after a romantic getaway.

Night 4:  £70 (one bedroom hotel in Rjukan Gjestehus https://www.booking.com/hotel/no/rjukan-gjestehus.en-gb.html) £100 (2 bed room hotel in Rjukan Hytteby https://www.booking.com/hotel/no/rjukan-hytteby.en-gb.html)

Andrew has already discussed his accommodation in the previous blog. I stayed in a holiday park chalet. Its a great place with a brilliant onsite cafe. The pizza’s are amazing! If you’re doing Norseman try to get booked here.

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Night 5: £150 two rooms at Best Western Oslo Airport Hotel

Just after we checked in a fire alarm went off. It was a chilly evening so I put on a jacket before leaving the building. There was about hundred people outside, everyone had wrapped up warm except one man – he was naked except for a pair of pants. I bet he was fully clothed when the alarm went off but thought to himself  – this is an opportunity to get naked. Nobody will complain and I’ll have the perfect excuse.

The hotel is very convenient for the airport as its only a 5 minute drive away. It also does a great breakfast. Unlimited waffles!

Food(£I don’t want to know)

The food was excellent wherever we went but it was also very expensive. I haven’t the courage to check my bank statement to see how much it all cost but budget to spend at least double what you do in the UK for similar meals.

Other (£200)

It’s hard to go a race and not buy the t-shirt, the cycling top, the yellow duck dressed as a minion with a Norseman tattoo! Tths was genuinely this was for sale and Andrew bought one. Due to the exchange rate everything was at least a third more than the equivalent UK product but worth it to have a reminder of the day…except the duck. That was just burning money!

Overall (£1920 + food cost)

A famous quote says travel is the only thing you’ll spend money on but come back richer for doing so. They obviously have never been to Norway. You may have great experiences but you will definitively feel very, very poor!

Norseman 2018 (Iain)

 

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Feck – I’d better start training!!!

I feel very lucky to have won a place through a ballot. Although – is it really a win to have to jump off a ferry into a freezing Norwegian fjord? Is it a win to then bike 112 hilly miles? Is it a win to have to running up a mountain called zombie hill?

I think most people would describe it as a punishment.

I’ve read they’re going to change the entry process from next year. I suspect to make it harder for no-hopers like myself to get in 🙂

Considering the rise in the number of long distance extreme races I’d guess Norseman will become like Iron Man Kona and an athlete will have to qualify to do it.

Unfortunately, I forgot I’d also entered the ballot for Celtman so I was a bit shocked when I got

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I haven’t ever been successful in a ballot for a race. Then I get in twice in a row! D’OH!

I’ve written to Celtman to apologize and ask they give the place to someone else.

Hopefully, another lucky person will also ‘win’!

Norseman Triathlon – Part 1 (Iain)

The gym manager of the Western Isles Leisure Centre once said to Andrew and I: “If you two were clever you’d only have one gym membership”. Little did he know, that’s what we were already doing!

The membership was a photo ID so, as we’re identical twins, we’d pass the card to whichever one of us wanted to use it.

Similarly, we can both use each other’s bikes.  Between us we have a mountain bike, a time trial bike, an aero bike, a cyclocross bike, a road bike with a 28 cassette and a road bike with a 32 cassette.

For this race Andrew decided to use my 32 cassette bike as it copes best with hills. This decision had one issue. Andrew has the bike bag so he would have to get it from his loft to my house.

He called to say he had the bag and could he drop it off the next day. He then added – “There’s just one problem. I’ve injured myself lifting it down from the loft!”

Idiot!

The adventure was nearly over before it began!

Although it did make me think this may be karma coming back. Revenge for the gym membership.

The physio worked wonders and Andrew was patched back together before the flight. He was as good as new…although he is 38 so the phrase should be – as good as new-ish. The physio isn’t a miracle worker.

We flew from Edinburgh to Oslo. It’s a short flight but, due to the time difference, we land after midnight.

Once we land it takes an hour to retrieve the bags. We head outside to collect a taxi. The driver takes one look at the bike bag and says it won’t fit in his car and even if it did there wouldn’t be room for the two of us.

I put the bike in the boot and sit in the back. He’s wrong. He mumbles something and then probably bumped the fare up to twice the standard rate!

Welcome to Norway!

The hotel has a waffle machine. A hot burning girdle lying open on a table. If British health and safety was here they’d go mad. Thankfully they are not here so I throw caution to the wind and made a waffle. Delicious.

We take the opportunity to cut bread and steal the cheese and ham. We’ll have them for lunch.

According to our car rental instructions the Hotel is across the road from the car rental location. We head over. It isn’t the car rental location. Even though that’s what’s written on our booking. They tell us we have to go back to the airport. Oh well, we have plenty of time it’s only 300km to eidfjord. That won’t take long. We can afford the delay.

An hour later then intended we’re on our way. The car is big and brand new. The man at the rental desk tried to sell us a GPS. We said no. When we get to the car it has one built in. I’m glad we didn’t pay extra for it!

We enter the destination as Eidfjord. The GPS thinks for a minute and then tells us it’ll take five hours. Nonsense! We’ll be there way before then. I was right. It was wrong. It took longer.

Driving in Norway is slow. Cars barely ever go above 50 kmph and even rarer do they overtake.

This may partly be due to their being barely a straight road between Oslo and Eidfjord. It may also be due to speed limits that I have unintentionally broken throughout the Journey.

I wish I could tell you the scenery was stunning but it required full concentration to make sure I didn’t miss the next turn in the road.

Andrew on the other hand raved about the view.

I feel like Morgan freeman in Driving Miss Daisy. If Miss Daisy was a lazy triathlete who claimed he needed the rest in the car to better prepare for his race!

Eidfjord is a beautiful but tiny town. It’s surrounded by mountains and is the perfect setting for a race.

We couldn’t stay there so I’d booked the closest place I could find to it. http://www.ovre-eidfjord.com/

13892307_10154314344768162_1390814182140077994_nThe hotel was quirky but nice. When we arrived a fellow competitor was arguing with the owner about the price of the room. He couldn’t understand why he was being charged more for having six people in a two bed room. He argued that he should pay for two!

I admired his logic and his cheapskatedness.

We left them arguing and decided to visit the biggest waterfall in Norway.

It was a few miles away so it was back into the car. By the end of the trip I’d spent more time with the car then I’ve spent with some friends!

We parked near the viewpoint of the falls. It’s a great view and well worth a visit. Although the markers showing where people have died did make me extra careful with my footing.

We headed back to eidfjord to get some supplies and to check out the town. I decided to test the water temperature in the only manner I knew how. I stick my hand in. It wasn’t too cold. No different from current Scottish loch condition.

We took some photos around town and then head back to the B+B to get some sleep.

Breakfast was waffles. Yay.

Unfortunately they’d all been eaten. The buffet had opened at 8am and everything was eaten by 0801. Triathletes like to eat and they like to get up early.

The waitress said she’d never seen so many folk turn up at once.

Looking at the “competition” it was clear there was some very fit athletes here and they were just the supporters.

I did wonder what they made of myself and Andrew. I didn’t ask. I didn’t want to hear what a Norwegian sounds like laughing.

We headed into town to register and to get the bike serviced. The flight over had damaged one of the disc brakes. It was slightly bent. I wasn’t worried. At worse we could bash it with a hammer.

13876311_10154314344673162_3062910982430429298_nWhilst the bike got serviced we went for a swim.

Huub had sponsored a practice session. Lots of athletes took the opportunity to have a go swimming out to the yellow buoy that would be used on the real course.

Andrew immediacy noticed a problem. He’d forgotten his swim goggles. Idiot (again!)

He went to the Huub stall to buy a new pair. They were 450 NOK which converted to GBP is equivalent to f’ing expensive!

The swim was great. The water was chilly but not unpleasant. Although I overheard a man from Dubai complain about how cold it was. I think his and my idea of hot and cold differ wildly!

The water wasn’t very salty which must be due to water flowing in off the mountains.

Andrew did one lap of the course. I did two. The swim reassured him that the big one wouldn’t be too bad.

The service man had finished with the bike and it now worked like a charm. Things were looking up.

Feck, deck, feck, feck!

The bike was making a sound. Not a good sound like wiiiiiissshhhh of speed but a grrrnnnnnhhhkkk of metal.

It seemed to be coming from the front wheel.

I now regretted taking the bike out for a spin. I’d noticed a big climb behind our B and B and thought it would be a good test for the bike but on the way down it had started crunching.

I stopped and spun the wheel. It was sticking. This was a problem!

I was near the B & B so I spun along. Planning to look at it without Andrew finding out. It would just worry him.

Annoyingly he was standing outside.

I had to tell him. He was worried. The service man was now shut and the race was tommorow.

“We need a plan,” he said

“We need google,” I replied.

I started googling grinding disc brake pads.

Andrew looked worried. He repeated, “we need a plan”

I told him to get the bike

“No, we need a plan”

Get the bike!

“We need a plan”

What’s the point of a plan if we don’t have the bike? He didn’t seem to grasp that whatever the plan the first step would be to get the bike.

He stropped off to get it.

I found the video I wanted. It explained how to loss the callers on the brake.

He came back. I took out an Allen key and loosened the callipers. The wheel ran smooth. Andrew looked relieved and worried. He may have secretly hoped that this would get him out of having to race!

We celebrated our achievement by having Norwegian meatballs. There’s a reason I’d never heard of them over their more famous Swedish rivals. They tasted disgusting.

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