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Tor Hovland

Tor Hovland

12:39 PM on Sunday, May 5, 2019   •   Edited

Trondheim 300 km brevet: Surnadal

Oh, how the weather can change. April was remarkably nice this year, allowing for a beautiful (but still a bit cold) 200 km brevet (https://www.strava.com/athletes/706298/posts/4932438), and also some proper summer rides (https://www.strava.com/activities/2325123633). May, on the other hand, has been wet and cold.

Heavy rain was forecasted for the 300 km this weekend. I could have chosen to do it next weekend instead, but that would give me just one week to rest and recover for the 400 km. Besides, I prefer to leave the later options as backups in case I have to abort a ride. Then there is of course Velominati rule #5. Some of the purpose with these brevets is to prepare oneself for all aspects of long distance cycling, including dealing with foul weather.

So I set out feeling rather excited, knowing this would be a challenging ride. The route can be seen here: http://www.randonneurs.no/brevet/trondheim/300-km/

Unlike all the other local brevets, this one is an out-and-back ride (except for the initial lap around Byneset), with the ferry pier at Kvanne as the turnaround point. According to the forecast, I could expect rain for the first 100 km as well as the final 50. In reality, it was much worse. I ended up with rain for most of the ride, and even a good helping of sleet, snow and hail. Sometimes the rain would hold up for a bit, which gave me some hope that the worst was over. But it never took long before it started again.

I don't have fenders on my Vendetta, and in my experience the spray from the rear wheel on to my neck can be a problem. Before the ride, I improvised a rain cover over the neck rest from a black plastic bag. It's not pretty, but it worked well. The sound it made was just like the sound from inside a tent on a rainy night. It constantly kept me aware of all the water it protected from seeping down my back, which gave me some satisfaction. The lack of a front fender never really bothered me.

Understandably, I didn't see many other riders this day, but from Børsa to Orkanger I rode near a group of 5 from Trønderekspressen, the very dedicated riders who are training to do a 540 km race from Trondheim to Oslo in less than 14 hours. They were nice and offered to join them at a waffle stop in Orkanger, but I felt I needed to press on to the second control at Storås at 92 km. When I got there it had started to snow quite heavily.

After some food and coffee, it was time to start the climb up to Rindalsskogen. At this time my gloves were soaking wet and my hands felt really cold. Luckily, I had also brought my winter gloves, which were packed safely in my excellent Exped Fold Drybag (http://www.exped.com/usa/en/product-category/packsacks/fold-drybag-m-terracotta). The feeling of putting on dry, warm gloves was indescribable!

The section through Rindal to Surnadal is following the northern edge of Trollheimen (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trollheimen), one of the many scenic mountain areas in Norway. On this particular day, there wasn't a lot of scenery to appreciate, but at least the general sloping downhill was nice, despite a slight headwind. There was only light traffic.

From Surnadal to the turnaround point, one has to climb over a hill (actually a short valley, with mountains on both sides). Finally, I reached the ferry pier and could begin the long ride home.

From Surnadal and up through Rindal the headwind had turned to tailwind, and this was also the part of the ride with the least amount of downpour. I was able to put on an audio book and just enjoy the ride.

As I reached the summit at Rindalsskogen, it started snowing again. Badly. Also, the temperature dropped. First below 1 degree C, then actually below freezing. I've been riding recumbents for over 10 years, but never in winter conditions. Needless to say, I was riding cautiously down toward Storås. As if that wasn't enough, the Garmin announced my phone was low on battery. Apparently, my audio entertainment had taken its toll. When I took out the phone, it said 1 % left. As I fumbled with my portable charger, the phone went dead. And it wouldn't charge either, due to moisture in the USB port. This was a problem, because I rely on live tracking to my wife for safety, and also because I still had two more control photos I needed to take and send to Olav Skundberg.

What's more, when I took off my wet winter gloves, one of them took the inner lining with it and turned it inside out. Getting this properly stuffed back so I could take it back on proved difficult. There was nothing else to do than to dig out the completely wet gloves I had used earlier. They were super cold, but better than nothing.

Luckily, it wasn't far down to Storås, and for the second time today I sat in the petrol station watching heavy snowfall outside. It turned out the phone had eventually started to charge, which was a relief. I was also able to fix my glove after a bit of fumbling.

I sat there with a cup of coffee hoping to warm up a little before heading out into the snow. I realized I was shaking and it would not get better until I started pedaling again, so I left.

At this point I only had a 75 km familiar home stretch left, and I was very eager to finish. After the final control in Orkanger, it was getting dark, and I discovered that my fancy Fenix BC30 light (https://www.fenix-store.com/fenix-bc30-led-bike-light/) was working exceptionally badly! No doubt the positioning on the handlebar was a problem, as it was illuminating my legs as much as the road. Still, I would have thought at least some of that immense brightness would find its way to the tarmac. It's a good thing I know this route well enough to ride blindfolded.

During these last stages of the ride, I also had the most intense rain. To be fair, that was actually as forecasted. But on the climb up to Heimdal the road was white with snow, and I got wheel spin if I stopped and restarted. I had to take it easy down to the finish in Trondheim, but I was very relieved to complete the brevet.

This may not have been my longest ever ride, but it was by far the most challenging.

As I'm typing this today, my fingertips are numb with light frostbite, and a local race has been canceled due to snowy roads.

Hoping that my upcoming brevets will be in hot summer air. I know I deserve it!

The ride is available here:
https://www.strava.com/activities/2342253393

Rain and sleet pretty much from the beginning.

Still raining beyond Orkanger.

Heavy snow started at Storås.

The view from the petrol station.

Climbing up to Rindalsskogen.

Crossing the county border.

Leaving Rindal behind (for now).

Down toward the turnaround point.

Almost there.

And here we are.

Still pretty wet.

A rare moment of sunlight.

Snack stop at Rindalsskogen.

Oh dear.

Just before freezing conditions down to Storås.