Norway by bicycle
Many of us live a life where we’re constantly questioning if we are doing the right thing, having a job that we really enjoy, living in a country because we love it and not just because we are born there, where we are going and what the future holds. There are so many options out there, and we all have to dig deep in order to find what’s right for us as individuals.
We came across Tristan Bogaard who is currently on a journey of a lifetime. He travels the world on a bicycle and is currently exploring Norway, he has seen things most just dream about, and he has no plans to stop there. Get inspired!
Please tell us a bit about your current adventure?
It sure has been quite the ride. Everything sort of started about three years ago, when I was intensely wondering what I wanted to do with my life. I lived in a small Dutch town, didn’t like my job and felt a need to do something big for myself. I was pretty hungry for a challenge. I was into running a lot, and for some reason decided that I wanted to run from New York to Los Angeles - which would’ve been a challenge far too big! Instead, my brother influenced me to take a bicycle and cycle the 5000km stretch, which is what I ended up doing. And, like anyone’s first bicycle tour, I did it totally the wrong way. Wore a big backpack, cycled way too fast and therefor missed half of what I saw, only to find myself on the plane back home from Los Angeles wondering about what I’d actually achieved.
America made me find out how liberating it is to travel by bicycle, how free you are and how little it costs in comparison with conventional traveling. Sure, you have to put a lot more effort and are definitely not protected from the weather, but that just makes it a better story. Adventure cycling, as it’s also called, was my calling. Fast-forward six months, and I was ready to do another solo tour. Better this time, with proper Ortlieb panniers, a cross trail bicycle that could conquer different kinds of roads, no more big backpack and a newfound motivation to see my home country, continent and to meet as many people as possible through it. I feel fortunate to say that starting that second tour turned into my life’s story. I’m almost 19.000 kilometres in at the moment, found my love for landscape photography through it - and the very girl that has currently given up her job, stability and life in London in order to join me on this adventure through Norway.
Initially the plan was to tour around Europe for fourteen months, but I didn’t plan anything after it. When the fourteen months and a ride from Netherlands to Portugal, Italy and Norway ended, I simply continued to other countries I hadn’t been to, since I still had the money (savings) to continue. Here and there I found the opportunity at making a little money, which has remained the same until now. As of last June, Belén finally joined me and we chose Norway to be the first country we’d cycle through. We’re cycling from Tromsø to Bergen throughout four months, are currently in Ålesund and have another two months to go. We’ll go on a special train / bicycle journey afterwards, and plans for next year are slowly coming together!
Do you have any sponsors?
When we started planning this Norwegian tour, one of the important things for us was to try and find brands that we wanted to collaborate with. You often hear about sponsoring or sponsorships, but that generally just comes from one side. You get our product and have fun with it. In our collaborations we seek to work with brands that we feel strongly connected to, not only receiving their products that we value, but also supplying them with photo- and video material in return. This enlarges our journey’s reach and gives us chances to set up important relationships. So we do not have sponsorships, but have received a significant part of our gear due to these collaborations. We’re ambassadors for the bicycle brand Specialized and have a bunch of other collaborations going on. You can find photos, stories and vlogs related to these on our and their social media pages.
What has been the most memorable thing along your journey so far?
One of the most memorable things, if not the most memorable, has been the many friendships I’ve found throughout these few years of traveling around Europe. Both platforms like Warm Showers and Couchsurfing have brought me into contact with a lot of fellow cyclists, or people simply interested in traveling. I enjoy staying in contact with many of them and know that some I’ll be friends with for my life’s length. I think that the connections you can cycle yourself into are one of the most precious things about a journey like this!
Have you come across any unexpected obstacles along the way?
The road hasn’t always been smooth, so to say. There have been quite a few bumps in it and there still are, mainly due to the fact that I am - as many other should wandering the world on their bicycle - seeking to make my living from this lifestyle. In the beginning it was just about cycling for me, but as I’ve fallen more in love with the diversity of the days and the ability to see so many remarkable places by my own strength, I realise that I cannot allow myself to get back into a job (or lifestyle) I wouldn’t enjoy. It’s funny how that realisation is both enlightening and extremely stressful, since I have to force myself to work out how to earn enough money to sustain this journey. That’s been biggest obstacle that I definitely didn't expect when I just stepped onto the pedals!
I’ve never had many other unexpected obstacles besides that, apart from what happened to Belén and me two weeks ago, just out of Trondheim. We decided to camp out by the river for the night but due to unexpected rainfall east, the river flooded the shores, including our tent. Waking up on what seemed to be a waterbed, literally seeing the bags float in the front of the tent and water slowly trying to swallow our production gear was a pretty traumatic experience. We got out of it sort of well and managed to save most of our gear, but are still feeling the after-flow while trying to get our hands on new camera gear (which is difficult for us since we don’t earn a Norwegian wage, which makes especially camera gear quite expensive!). We’ll be a lot more careful in camping next to rivers in the future…
Where do you eat?
Because we try to watch our budget we have always done groceries at main (preferably big) supermarkets, mostly purchasing generic brand articles. I myself wouldn’t spend money on a restaurant meal since I can cook with a stove and almost always have access to a supermarket (which saves me a lot). It’s a pretty general thing amongst long distance touring cyclists not to eat out in restaurants (unless you’re somewhere in the world where it’s considered cheaper than cooking). Throughout Europe I’ve also been invited into many homes and the people I’ve stayed with have in most cases offered dinner and breakfast, if we didn't cook something up together. Here in Norway, Belén and I rely mainly on our gas stove, simple pans and a decent selection of food from local shops as there are not so many cyclist-hosts around!
What part of Norway so far has stood out the most?
That’s definitely been Senja, the island up north. We entered it by ferry from a route out of Tromsø and tagged onto the northern route, that takes you along the most spectacular fjords, beaches, climbs and descents on smooth roads with views that make you feel so tiny. One of the most famous mountains on the island is called Segla and hiking up to the mountain north of it offers a very unique view on Segla itself. Besides it is a ridge that curves down to a straight, one kilometre drop that makes you realise how powerful nature can be. The town below the mountain is called Fjordgård and has about two hundred very friendly people living in it, which is another thing that really stood out. The towns have tiny populations, are far spread from each other and tourism isn’t as massive as in the Lofoten Islands. There’s plenty of Rasteplasses (resting places) along the roads and as almost everywhere in Norway it’s perfectly ok to camp out in the wild. All those things have turned it into a place we wish to return to some day, to stay longer and explore even more of this magnificent island.
What's your favourite Nordic destination?
I think my favourite destination in Norway (besides Senja and many other places perfect for adventure cycling) is one that’s still coming up for us; the Jostedalsbreen area and it’s surrounding fjords. It isn’t really ‘one’ destination but for me, ever since I got to visit it briefly last year, it’s been the area I’ve been looking forward to cycling through most. The jewel of Norway, if you will, lays there for me. Big and small roads rising from sea level to thousands of meters above gives such a thrilling feeling cycling them, especially now that high season is coming to an end and there’ll be less traffic around. Can’t wait to film, photograph and ride every corner of it!
What do you have planned for your return back from your trip?
I can give you a little sneak peak into our upcoming project, which is a collaboration with a Dutch company called Interrail. They sell train tickets that allow you to travel through Europe for extended amounts of time, and we are wondering how this experience is when you combine it with cycling. Take the train to the mountains… cycle the passes… take another train to skip a buzzing city and end up on another peak… it sounds sweet to us! We hope to share the adventure with a bit less gear trouble than we have here in Norway and will be doing it this October. If we make it to the south of France after all that, we’d like to cycle to Belén’s home city in Spain; Valencia!