Jotunheimen Super Randonnée – Johan Björklund

Jotunheimen Super Randonnée
Words and photos by Johan Björklund

In late July it was finally warm and dry in Sweden, so we decided to go to cold and wet Norway and ride the Jotunheimen Super Randonnee, 600km with 10 600 meters of elevation. We had been talking about it for the last two years when Daniel, Even and I suddenly decided to ride it without doing any real planning.

A Super Randonnee is a 600km brevet, but with a minimum of 10 000 meters of elevation gain. In return, you get a more generous time limit, from 2017 and forward 60 hours and before that 50 hours plus one extra hour per additional 1000 meters of elevation. They’re run as permanents, so you can ride it when you want with the permission from the local organizer. The regular brevet card for stamping at gas stations is partly replaced by awkward staged photos where the bikes of all riders with an attached plastic sign have to be visible at specific locations.

The Jotunheimen Super Randonnee is not a crowd pleaser. Unconfirmed numbers say that 10 people have attempted the route including us and two of them twice. Part of the reason for this is probably that a large chunk of the roads are only open from May to September, and the route is recommended by the organizer from early July to mid-August to avoid snow storms and the like. Our goal was 1) to survive, 2) to make it within the 60-hour time limit, and 3) preferably to make it within the old 50-hour time limit.

We drove up to Aurland on Thursday, feverishly put together our bikes and got a few hours sleep before our planned 6.30am start the next day. We woke up to rain and it would continue that way for a large part of the ride. The route is basically fjords and mountains and if you had hoped for a gentle warm up it starts with the Stalheimskleiva climb, a literal wall that ramps up to 20%. The mountains range from smaller “bumps” to hors catégorie climbs like the 27km long ascent to Sognefjellshytta or the dead end climb up Northern Europe’s highest paved road to Juvasshytta at 1841 meters above sea level.

After descending Juvasshytta in the dark, while the temperature sank and still wet from rain I got colder and colder and sleepier and sleepier and eventually ended up on the floor or an open shower at a camping site in Lom wrapped in a space blanket for an hour’s powernap, plus to even my own surprise a bit of snoozing. Definitely not the kind of information that will make regular people take up long distance cycling.

We all agreed that this was easily the most challenging ride we’ve attempted, including the 2100km Sverigetempot. The combination of the amount of elevation, the endless rain, cold nights and the desolate surroundings makes it very tough. We managed to reach the two most difficult descents at night and riding down Aurlandsfjellet in the dark foggy pouring rain while temperatures almost reached freezing and sheep were relaxing in the middle of the road is not the smartest you could do. I was very happy to finally see the street lights down in Aurland after braking until I couldn’t feel my fingers for 20 kilometers straight.

After 46 hours and 30 minutes, we reached the end of the final climb, a gravel road leading to another dead end in the middle of nowhere, and the descent back to civilization is of course not included in the 600km and one of the reasons I love this route. If you enjoy doing stupid things this is a ride for you.

The route: https://www.ridewithgps.com/routes/23184642

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Follow Johan on Instagram and at his Tumblr.

  • Total badasses. I love these stories.

  • Public_Parent

    “If you enjoy doing stupid things this is a ride for you.” Rad! Thanks.

  • Bil Thorne

    This makes me wish I lived in Scandinavia and could ride a bike that far.

  • Curly Moran

    Interesting bike choices. Maybe a little info on them?

    • Poolboy 1.0

      Focus Road, Canyon Road, Open UP…seem like pretty normal choices. Open would be the unique one.

      • That’s about right, Daniel is on a Open UP and Even on one of the carbon Canyon models. I was riding a Focus Izalco Max frame wtih SRAM eTap and Zipp 303’s. I don’t really enjoy “comfort” frame geometry, so it’s perfect for me even for longer distances. If (when?) I go back I would bring a shallow wheelset instead, the deep rims were a bit sketchy when it got windy on the descents. Hope that helps!

  • Andy Moore

    One more time on the Radavist when the images and story that accompany them are equally epic.

  • boomforeal

    WOW

  • Arekey

    Awesome photos, and the trips looks fantastic too! It’s a shame that the ride ended at the beginning/end of Rallarvegen tho’. Should have continued over Hardangervidda.

  • galavoxx

    So rad.

  • Nils-Erik Hilliard

    #goals

  • Tim Donahoe

    I love doing stupid things

  • Waltavista

    Great trip, great story. How did you manage to get back from Flam to Gudvangen? I can not see any road to cycle?

    • You’re right, you can’t ride between the two places. You can either take the very scenic ferry that takes two hours or the 20 minute car tunnel. We arrived back down in Flåm around 6am. We had left our car at the start in Gudvangen, so Daniel and Even took a taxi from Flåm to pick up the car while I stayed with the bikes. Then packed up and drove to our accommodation for a few hours sleep before heading home. Our combined intelligence wasn’t at a record high at that point, so this was one of the more challenging parts of the ride. Haha.

      • Waltavista

        I think you manage everything very good. I hope I can cycle your track next your. Not in your time for sure :)
        More and more (new?) tunnels in Norway are closed for cyclists. I understand the reasons, but it makes it more difficult to plan a route.

        • 99% of the new tunnels are closed and you will get fined (heavily) trying to go thru. up to about 1-2 km tunnels are oki – anything more than that is not recommended. However – most old tunnels have “closed off roads” bypassing the tunnels

  • Nealipo

    Incredible.

  • MrJustinPitts

    Gorgeous. And I’m kicking myself as I’m going to be in that area next week sans bike.

  • Oh hejjj Johan & Daniel! Great story & photography. You Swedes, hard as nails.

  • Sean

    Obviously Norway’s metal scene is a result of their churches

  • TJ

    Any of you fellows know the fender on the orange bike?

    • If I remember correctly it’s a $2 flea market find and it’s made by a Swedish company making cheap bike parts called TEC. I actually think both Even and Daniel used the same type, but the one on the Daniel’s orange bike is the wider MTB version. Not sure if they’re available where you live, but you can see them here (and if not, SKS makes a similar fender that should be available in more countries): http://teccomponents.com/product-category/accessories/mudguards/

      • Jouko Aroheinä

        TEC brand is owned by Cycleurope, same company owns for example Bianchi so their dealer network might have some. In my opinion a SKS one is a better option.

  • MrJustinPitts

    Such an amazing landscape. Was just near that area last week and was kicking myself for not bringing a bike though the hiking was also quite spectacular.