Mountain bikes, midnight sun and white beaches – a road trip to the North of Norway

Almost ten years have passed since I visited the beautiful mountains in the North of Norway. The midnight sun seems to have put a spell on me and ever since, I have felt the urge to go back. With the van packed with bikes, gear, food and expectations, we started a 24 hour drive up towards our first stop. In this article I will share some of our stops and rides.

Words by: Helena Shill-Werner
Photos by: Helena and Jason Shill-Werner

Our initial plan was to drive straight to Senja and travel down through Lofoten, but the weather looked very wet in Senja and it was sunny in Lofoten, so we changed our plans and set our goal for Bodø. After a long drive from Gothenburg, we arrived at Moskenes covered in clouds and rain. Luckily, we found a fantastic camp spot by the beach and had a lovely first evening with the midnight sun.

Mountain biking up North

Last time I was in Lofoten I had just had surgery after a crash on my downhill bike, so I couldn’t ride. Now, eight years later, I’m actually happy I didn’t try it back then because it would have been too hard for me.

The North is majestic and demanding and it requires experience, strength and guts. Or it forces you to develop those traits!

I loved riding in the North, the views are breathtaking, the midnight sun, mountains and the beaches are just stunning. There are so much more to do than mountain biking and we will definitely go back for more!

First ride – Justadtinden, 738 masl, 6,1 km

After recovering from the long drive, we decided to do Justadtinden. Usually when we go somewhere, we’ve had friends who’ve been there and can help us out where to go. But for Lofoten, we were a bit on our own. With the help of some apps, we decided to start with Justadtinden. We always set a goal for our rides and for this one we wanted a nice day out with our little family and just enjoy the views and being outside. 

After a couple of hours of pedalling, pushing bikes and lots of stops to enjoy the fantastic views, we both felt like that goal was achieved. After enjoying our lunch looking out over the Atlantic, we had a great descent with lovely views and battled some very techy trails with lots of rocks! Even if you’re experienced, an “easy” trail in the North of Norway is a massive achievement that takes guts, strong lungs and legs (and chocolate).

Change of plans!

The next morning, as we get ready to go ride Vetten in Lofoten, the weather apps for the upcoming days had changed again. As we were limited in time, we had to make a decision on where to ride in good weather… Lofoten or Senja? After some consideration, and a great lunch at Henningsvær, we decided to leave Lofoten and drive straight to Senja! We once again camped out by a beautiful beach and enjoyed the midnight sun.

Second ride – Husfjellet, 634 masl, 6 km

After hearing about Senja from my friend (and Norrøna ambassador) Joline Johansson, we asked her where to go and she said Husfjellet! We also had another look at the movie that Norrøna made with Joline and Tomas and it had us very excited to ride it. 

In our experience, most rides in Norway are the same way down as up, with a lot of pushing and hiking-a-bike up things that you will ride down later. It’s’ like a reversed track walk. Sometimes this is fantastic, as you look at the trail below you and get stoked and think “yaaay!” and sometimes you walk up something and think “yeeeez, will I survive this?”. Remember that the trail usually looks a lot worse walking up it than it is riding down it, so just keep pushing and tell yourself you can do it. 

Husfjellet is a fantastic mountain with magnificent 360-degrees views, and it requires strong legs as it is a very steep and long push to the top! We did this on a very hot day and physically I wasn’t feeling great from the start. After two thirds of the climb a mental fight against the lactic acid in my thighs started. It was rough! This did not mean I didn’t enjoy the climb; it just took a bit extra mentally from me to deal with the new obstacles on the way. I think most people can relate to this, so it is important to share! As we reached the top, we had some lunch and I got super excited about the descent and just like that, my legs felt strong again! 

The descent was steep, fun and beautiful, first riding down a fantastic ridgeline and then going into boggy and fun trails in the birch woods. The stoke was real and high on the ride. We cooled down with ice cream on the beach!

Fishing in Fjordgård.

After Husfjellet we had decided that the next ride would be Astridtinden. The next day, we drove to Fjordgård and stopped where Jason could fish. As recovery, I read my book and had a glass of wine while Jason caught us fresh mackerel for dinner. 

Third ride – Astridtinden, 742 masl, 6,5 km

My favorite ride in Northern Norway so far! What a beautiful and versatile trail. Very quiet place, in our 4 hours out we only met four hikers. Bedrocks, tight singletrack, steep rock sections, open areas with lots of fun pedalling and fantastic views. Astrid sure is a beauty! And also, the parking lot had a hose, so we could clean both the bikes and ourselves. Pure luxury for a vanlife mountain biker!

On our way home, we met up with lovely friends and made stops to ride in Riksgränsen, Sundsvall and at Järvsö bike park. 

What did I bring?

During summertime, my kitbag looks mostly the same for every trip. I packed a warmer baselayer, the Norrøna pure wool long sleeve top, two synthetic and wool mix; the equaliser round neck long sleeves and two wool t-shirts, the fjørå wool T-shirt and the svalbard T-shirt. I also packed the falketind wind jacket and the falketind paclite gore-tex waterproof jacket. Two pairs of shorts, the fjørå and the skibotn shorts, three pairs of fjørå flex1 pants (I wear them every day, not just for biking), and the falketind paclite waterproof pants. My black fjørå shorts and black fjørå flex1 pants are in their fourth year now and still feel fantastic! I only brought the 6L Norrøna hip bag, it fits everything I need!

pureUll Long sleeve

equaliser merino round Neck

wool T-Shirt

wool T-Shirt

Gore-Tex Paclite Jacket

aero60 Hood

flex1 Pants

flex1 Shorts

Gore-Tex Paclite Pants

6L hip Pack

Other than the gear I ride in I also packed falketind thermo60 jacket as a warm jacket, falketind down vest, svalbard cotton anorak, beanies and warm hoodies and falketind octa hood and a two very old but still fresh lofoten fleeces. Packed it all (and some other stuff) in the 90L Norrøna duffel bag!

thermo60 Hood

down750 Vest

cotton Anorak

fisherman Beanie

warm2 Octa Hood

90L Duffel Bag

About Helena

Helena is a mountain biking life and sports coach that loves going up and down mountains. She has been working with stress management and how to perform under pressure within the police for more than 10 years and also coaches athletes and sports enthusiasts how to reach their goals.

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