Hills and Thrills

Where I grew up there was plenty of hills and water, so it was a shock when I moved to Texas. It may boast a coastline on the gulf, but it’s not exactly convenient when you are living 250 miles away in Dallas, nor is it particularly pleasant to linger in mid August. A few years later I moved to Beijing. At the time, I was living on what was then the northwest edge of the city, close to the Fragrant Hills, where you weren’t allowed to ride your bike. I didn’t have a lot of time to explore what lay beyond before I moved south to Wuhan. When I first arrived, the city hadn´t been westernized, and boasted a generous selection of stagnant lakes, often with a topping of dead fish, and was punctuated with a few hills. These were located in parks and were out of bounds except for the early morning, but with the midday heat and traffic you wouldn’t really want to tackle them any other time, so that was alright. The view from the temple at the top on a summer morning, with the pollution trapped in the pockets of vegetation that hadn’t been sold to developers will remain one of my most vivid memories of the country.

And then there was Denmark. Lots of water but, in my opinion, rather too flat. The highest point is Møllehøj which, at 561ft, is some way shorter than the country´s tallest man-made structure. If you look up the place on Wikipedia, it points out that two other locations, Yding Skovhøj and Ejer Bavnehøj, were previously thought to be higher, but Møllehøj edged them by out 9cm and 51cm respectively. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of good things about Denmark, but it says a lot about the topology of a country when you are bickering about the length of a pencil to determine the highest point.

So, one of the many things that attracted me to Norway was the sheer bumpiness of the place, someone was kind enough to compile a list of Norwegian mountains that are taller than 2000m, 300 of them in all, although the heights are only given to the nearest metre. Even in Oslo, which is flat in the centre, is surrounded by mountains. My ride to work is only 5km as the crow flies, but it´s uphill almost the whole way, which is a bit rough at 6.45 in the morning. When I come out the house, I drop down the 20% gradient on the driveway, turn left, coast down 50m, and then I turn right on to a cobblestone lane that disappears into the clouds. It´s going to be fun in the winter after it´s been snowing.

One of first things I did when I moved to Oslo and had assembled the mountain bikes was to head out the door, and down the drive to go out for a spin. The first attempt was aborted when I realized I’d forgotten to attach any pedals. The second attempt saw me halfway down the drive and into the hedge since I´d also forgotten to attach the brake cables. You might get away with that in Denmark, but not around here. The third effort however was an absolute ripsnorter.

One Response to “Hills and Thrills”

  1. janh1 Says:

    Can you get snow chains for a mountainbike, I wonder?

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