Far North Freeride: Riding in the Lofoten Islands

Far North Freeride: Riding in the Lofoten Islands

By Erica Kutz

Last Winter, we were approached by a friend at the local climbing gym to join in on a tour of the Lofoten Islands via mountain bike… the obvious answer was yes.

Like many others, I hadn’t traveled internationally since 2019, and had never flown with a bike. But the lure of the unknown, and promise of a damn good adventure was just too good to pass up.

8 months later… we were tearing our bikes apart, stuffing them into bike bags, and hauling them through airports across the Atlantic. The adventure began with loading up a rental van at sunset; we had arrived at the gateway to granite paradise.

 

 

Our first few days were spent punching through fog up and over some of the world's largest slab zones. Skirting blinds around cliff bands and algae that represented ‘black ice,’ we were rewarded with some epic views and a long descent back into the fjords.

The next day, we made a trip over to a Swedish waffle house nestled up high between two peaks, about 1228 meters above sea level just outside of Låktatjåkko.

 

 

Aside from waffles, our fuel consisted mostly of Circle K (if you know, you know) bulk-section candies (think salty black licorice and mushroom-shaped gummies). Our wonderful lodge in Narvik also served locally foraged mushrooms, hunted reindeer, and freshly caught fish.

We recovered in proper Scandinavian fashion, by alternating between sauna and ocean to keep tired muscles feeling fresh for the next few days to come. 

 

Between rain squalls and strong wind gusts, we took advantage of the weather windows. Being from the Pacific Northwest during a hot, dry summer, the ‘hydrating’ climate was more than welcome.
 
Plus, ridge-riding above fjords only gets that much more exciting with gale-force winds. Besides trying to avoid sheep droppings from getting flung up into your teeth while smiling so much on the ride down.

 

Our seasoned Tyrolean guide, Andreas Tonelli knew the terrain like the back of his hand and continuously pointed out the couloirs and lines we needed to come back to ski in the winter. His contagious stoke and knowledge were unmatched.

Throughout the rest of our time in the Lofoten island chain, we stayed in old-school Rorbus (fisherman cabins from back in the day) that are traditionally painted white and red with fish oil.

The terrain was a mix of natural singletrack, technical granite features, and hike-a-biking. Each descent truly felt earned, and just as challenging as the ascent. While we dried out and thawed our extremities between rides, we scoped out the cafes, surf breaks, reconstructed Viking archaeological sites, and museums.  

 

 

The best part? We saw a total of maybe 3 other mountain bikers throughout the whole trip. The local scene is few and far between, which seems to be the way Norwegians like to keep it. Natural and wild. 

Dramatic views, weather, and terrain were certainly inspiring for further exploration. After a full week of riding, soaking (literally) in the islands, and reflecting… I think it’s safe to say everyone in our group would do it all over again in a heartbeat and a half. 
Technical skills were challenged, overall endurance got a level up, and an appreciation was re-ignited for regularly maintained trails (thank you, WMBC!). We all left feeling grateful for the opportunity to travel, experience a new landscape through bikes, and come back home to such an incredible corner of the world.
 
Keen on doing a trip like this? You’ll want a guide (like Andreas) for sure.

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