Oslo tourist guiding done right!

Last week I got the chance as a tourist guide for the day. Not in the normal sense touring around the city taking in the usual sights. No – this was guiding tourists in the best possible sense! Two fellow Danes contacted me on Instagram and asked if I could suggest a ride in the Oslo area, since they were passing through on their way to the west coast where they were planning to ride some of the local monuments out there.

Instead of just giving them a GPS file I decided to simply join them for a ride. For me the alternative was yet another day at the home office on sunny day, so not a hard choice. A few friends wanted to join me and on Thursday morning, we took our two visitors out for a beautiful ride in Follo.

I had two key sights in mind for the day. First, Solbergfoss Hydroelectric Power Plant. There’s something about those waterfalls and power plants that is just stunning – and in particular when you’re from a flat country like Denmark 🙂

The second stop was Svartskog Kolonial for lunch. This place never gets boring and they never disappoint you for at lunch or coffee stop. And yes – they don’t fool around with just small pieces of cake. They take your craving seriously!

I’ll do this again anytime. Cycling never gets boring!

Oslo Gravel Grinder 2020

This weekend I completed my toughest ride to date! For the first time Oslo Gravel Grinder took place. A 261 km gravel ride with 5000 meters of elevation. That’s a lot! It was a rally – not a race. So there were no time keeping or numbers pinned to the jersey. 50 people had signed up (full booked) and we all started at 7 AM in the morning in one group. But quickly we were spread out and formed smaller groups. I had already agreed with few others that we would ride together, and a couple more joined us on the day.

For me it was the longest day ever on the bike. Not in terms of distance, but rather the amount of hours spent on the bike. And I’ve never done so much elevation in one ride. But I managed to eat and drink well all day, and the legs were pretty good throughout the ride. Obviously, I was very tired at towards the end but it would’ve been disappointing if I wasn’t.

My darkest moments were actually already after about 50 km, when we covered a section with some incredibly steep ramps. My Wahoo said 21% several times. You had to use all the power you could muster just to avoid falling off the bike. It was extremely exhausting, and when still having more than 200 km to the finish line, you really get the chance to practice positive thinking. I failed that a few times, but with moral support by the friends I was riding with I managed to survive this and could continue. For the rest of the day I never really doubted that I would make it all the way through.

Usually, I’m not into such extreme efforts. I’m not the kind of person that has any desire to tackle challenges just for the sake of it. For me it has always been about enjoying the ride. But with Oslo Gravel Grinder came also a huge social element. The organizers – The Vélo Experience – had arranged two superb food stops. Lunch after 85 km and dinner after 165 km. This made a big difference for most of us I think. It ensured that we all got proper food and it gave us the chance to sit down for half an hour or so to chat and just hang out. That was great!

Huge kudos to everyone who joined this. Not only those who did the full distance, but everyone who was out there spending time on the bike. It doesn’t have to be 261 km to be massive effort and a great day. Less can certainly do it. I’m gonna be back next year. For sure!

Midsummer Patrol 2020

On Friday I organised yet another Midsummer Patrol. This is the third year in a row I do this. One of the reasons I love the summer in Scandinavia is the incredible amount of daylight you have during the summer months. So roll-out was at 17.00 and then we headed out on a beautiful 153 km route around Follo south-east of Oslo.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions I had to be sure that I had full control over who attended and also limit the number of people That’s why I arranged three groups of 15 each. Everyone signed up via a booking page and there was even a waitinglist. Unfortunately, I had to turn down those on the waiting list that didn’t get a last minute spot after a few cancellations on the day.

DARE Bikes Norge was there to support us with a service car. That feels good when you’re our on 6 hour ride with 45 cyclists.

We all did the same route, but one group rode at a bit lower speed than the other two. This way I managed to make the ride attractive to most cyclists – though a certain level of experience will always be a requirement when doing a 150 km ride. A learning for next year is to be more clear on the level in each group so people don’t sign up for a group that’s too fast. But interestingly, it is those who suffered the most during the ride that has come back with most enthusiastic feed back. And they’ve done so without even being asked to give feedback.

After the ride a lot of us (at least 25) met at The Hub bar at Clarion Hotel The Hub in central Oslo. They had an out door seating area where we could be and have a good eye on our bikes. Out door was good for Covid-19 reasons, but also since we were pretty sweaty after 6 hours of cycling in 25-30 degrees 🙂

All in all this was absolutely fantastic. For sure a tradition that will be back next year!

Now hiring: Road Captains

In order to meet the demand for early morning cycling in Oslo in 2020, I’m looking for 2-3 people who can assist as road captains at Oslo Dawn Patrol rides. You will be responsible for organizing and leading Oslo Dawn Patrol once or twice every month. In addition you will be co-leading the group when the turn-out is high during summer.

The ideal candidate can say yes to the following:

  • Cycling is your passion!
  • Experienced group rider.
  • Never late but always on time.
  • Ability to verbally and clearly communicate important information to a large group of people (in either Norwegian or English).
  • Comfortable giving feed back and directions to less experienced riders on how to ride a bike most effectively.
  • Equally comfortable giving directions to riders who are much stronger and more experienced than yourself as well as tell them to shut up and slow down if that is needed.
  • Basic first aid skills.
  • And you can ride up Kongsveien in 6½ minute (7.45 with studs) without being pushed beyond your limit.

This is your chance to get to know a lot of great people and get well connected in the Norwegian cycling community, as well as developing your organisational and leadership skills. I’m also working on a compensation model, where you will be rewarded for your time and efforts. However, this will mostly be of a symbolic character, so don’t quit you day job just yet.

If you’re interested let me know by you preferred platform of communication. E-mail works fine (hello@hansflensted.cc). You can also go here: https://www.hansflensted.cc/contact/

Anyone who might be interested is encouraged to reach out, regardless of gender, race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, nationality, number of years you’ve been cycling etc. Nothing should hold you back.

And another thing: just because you might not think you fulfill all the points listed above doesn’t mean you aren’t the right person. None of us have it all.

The Service Course Oslo

Back in 2016 (I think) a guy called Christian Meier and his wife, Amber, started The Service Course in Girona. According to the website they give you a “world class cycling experience”. I’ve never been there, but from what I hear it’s a pretty cool place. And it probably doesn’t hurt that it’s in Girona, which is a pretty good destination for a cyclist. This weekend they opened up a branch her in Oslo as well.

I’ll admit that it’s not totally clear to me what exactly their business model her in Oslo is. It’s not a normal bike shop. Not a training studio. Not a travel agency. But a bit everything I guess. They have been pretty clear that gravel is the unique selling point here in Oslo. Attracting cyclists to Oslo to get the chance to ride some of the fantastic gravel routes we have just outside of town is certainly a good idea. But the season is short; the weather is not what Girona can offer; and Norway is an expensive destination for tourists. So it’s going to be interesting to see if they can actually get customers to pay the price for this.

In addition to the gravel tour guiding and selling insanely expensive custom built bikes they do actually have a Zwift training studio as well. For a place like Oslo with a winter lasting for six month and quite a bit of snow, I have no doubt that this is a good addition to the concept. I don’t just say that because the studio is fitted with bikes from my personal sponsor – DARE Bikes Norge. I honestly think its’ a good offer to the local cycling community for them to stay fit – as well as stay in touch – through the winter. Most have their own Zwift setup at home in a small pain cave in the garage or a shed in the garden. But being able to ride Zwift in more fresh surroundings is definitely attractive. It all depends on how much it’ll cost. Not everyone ride outdoor all year like myself. Even I could be tempted to sign up for that studio.

It’s not spinning. It’s Zwift training on Dare Bikes 🙂

The Sunday Salida

On Sunday they hosted the first – of hopefully many – open social group rides, Sunday Salidas. It’s something they do down in Girona as well. I had been looking forward to this. After I started Oslo Dawn Patrol I’ve been hosting a lot of group rides with large groups of people. That’s hard work so I was looking forward to join as one the riders and just have a good time. But obviously, I couldn’t stop myself from taking a few mental notes on how they did things and what I would have done different myself.

Let me be clear: It was a great ride! Around 35 people on a cold and snowy Sunday. That’s good. We did a 2-hour loop on what is normally gravel, but was snow covered roads on the day. It was a good route that wasn’t too long or too difficult – apart from the fact that it was soft snow. But that’s just fun.

That being said, there’s room for improvement. The pace was high from the start. We dropped people already on the way out of town and after about 8 km, we turned into the woods. Unfortunately, a small group had been caught by a red light (and we didn’t wait), so they missed the turn and continued straight ahead. Out of pure luck they found us half an hour later when our paths suddenly crossed. It was a coincidence that basically shouldn’t be possible. It was not a social ride. It was a tough ride. I myself got dropped a couple of times and only managed to catch up when there was a short stop in the front group. The sequence below from Strava Flyby is a good example of how a left turn was missed by quite a few people. Where were the road captain and the lantern rouge? As I said: room for improvement. But it’s actually just minor adjustments that will make all the difference.

The group was stretched out after a long climb. The front group turning left, without re-grouping.

But still, it was a good day out for me. I met a lot of people, which is always nice. And I’m always impressed when someone takes a chance and starts something up. No doubt The Service Course is going to be good for the entire cycling community in Oslo. And I hope they will make it. Kudos to the team at The Service Course Oslo.

Photo credit: All the photos in this post are from the Facebook page of The Service Course Oslo. Give them a follow.