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.
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.
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.