Monday, March 09, 2009

Alive and Well in Trondheim

My new home in Trondheim!

After being constantly badgered by Gary Robbins ;) , I had to finally get something together and update my blog to let everyone know how things are going. I've been in Trondheim for almost three weeks now and I finally feel like I'm settling in. The days leading up to the move were a bit of a whirlwind to say the least but I was able to complete everything I needed to and my flight out of Victoria went without a hitch. I actually flew to Toronot first and had a three day stopover to visit my friends and family; this was also nice in that it split up the trip into two segments. However, the late late nights in Ontario didn't really help with the 9 hour timechange that I was about to lead into.

It literally took me a week before I could sleep a whole night and even then, I would never feel rested in the morning. In didn't help either that I came down with a nasty virus that sucked my energy even further. I was able to get out for some walks but I think I was a little in shock from coming from Victoria, a place where the snow we had was gone and spring was on it's way, to zero degree tempertatures where everything was covered in ice. Because Trondheim is on the ocean, we get mild winters that hover around zero. This creates a perfect recipe for ice, ice and more ice. They don't seem to really plow the roads here either so when it snows, everything gets packed down from walkers and cars, and then the temperature rises slightly and everything melts slightly and then freezes. Thus, most cars you see all have studded snow tires and if you're on a bike, you better have studs or else your going down.

Speaking of bikes, there are many cyclists in this City of 145,000. This might have to do with a large student population of over 20,000 but I think it is just more the active lifestyles of Norwegians. On a morning walk you will see people walking and riding their bikes everywhere. This includes cyclists with baby chariots, cyclists with baby seats, husbands and wives pushing strollers up steep San Franciso grade hills, and little kids walking to school with their friends. Everything feels quite safe here and no one would think twice about letting their child walk to school alone. This is quite the change even coming from an active and relatively safe city like Victoria.

For skiing, there are literally hundreds of kilometers of trackset cross country ski trails within a stonesthrow of the City; this includes many fully lit areas for skiing during the long nights of the winter. It seems like every little community maintains some local trails that eventually, all connect together into a great network that allows you to go as far and long as you want. We are lucky enough here that Kim and I literally live 200m from the start of trackset that leads into a ski area called Strindamarka. Neither of us have been big skiers in the past, but with this setup and living in this terrain, you can't help but not join in. The only problem is that you'll have to share the trails with thousands of other skiers during the weekends! On another skiing note, there is some world class facilities here including a small and big ski jump and trails worthy of holding world cup events of which the biathalon will be taking place this next weekend.

Here are some photos taken over the past week to give you an idea of the landscape and place that I will call home for the next year!

Unpacking my bikes. After a week at customs and narrowly avoiding $4000 in import duties (yes, that is NOT a typo!), I finally recieved our four bikes and began to put them together. I fit two bikes into my hard case but in doing so, had to completely strip them down to the frame. I took lots of photos so that I'll remember how I put them in there!

There is a large communications tower with restaurant just down the street from our place. It can be seen from pretty much everywhere in the City which makes finding our way home much easier!

I've had a toe injury for over two months after an impact and crash in the Stewart Mountain 10mile challenge. After some great manipulation work by my physio, it has improved significantly and while it is not yet 100%, it is doing well and has allowed me to do some nice runs around the area.

A view toward the City, my home (the tower) the the fjord in the background.

Across the Fjord

One thing they do plow in this City is the artificial turf right across from our place.

A steep slope down into the heart of the City from our place.


Kim and I took the train last weekend to a small town called Roros; a nice two hour trip from Trondheim. The focus was just to explore and to get some skiing in with our new gear.

The Norwegian countryside

Farms and more farms all in red and scattered across the landscape in the valleys and up the steep slopes to the plateaus.

A small community just north of Roros.

Moving away from Trondheim, you gain elevation up the valleys until you come up to some high plateaus. Temperatures are colder, trees are fewer, and the wind whips through the landscape.

We haven't yet learned Norwegian although we are signed up for an intensive five week course starting next week.

Old chapel in Roros.

Since all the streets were ice or compacted snow, everyone had these very simple skate sleds which consisted of two metal rails on edge with small foot stands, a small chair/basket to hold stuff, and a wooden handle. All the locals had these as they were faster and safer to get around. We saw ladies as old as my grandma out sleding down the road past us as we slipped around on the ice and wondered where we could get one of these!

Mulit-coloured homes along narrow icy streets.

Through the town.

I could get used to this!

The old copper smelter and now current mining museum.

While in Roros, there were several music concerts going on.

We attended a folk orchestra which wasn't exactly what we thought it would be but it was good nonetheless.

Walk on the sides of the road. Otherwise, the black you see is pure ice.

Locals shovelling snow off their roofs.

The main shopping and cafe street.

The entrance to a small cafe.


Hot chocolate and applecake!

Small and quaint.

Finally out skiing in the barron highlands above Roros. They had quite a bit of snow and the wind was absolutely blowing for the whole weekend.

We found some lower trails that were more protected. Kim and I purchased some Norwegian style backcountry skis. These consist of sturdier hiking style boots with a wider binding than typical cross country (NNN BG). We both got all around skis that are wide enough for off trail use but are also narrow enough to fit in the tracks. No one useless waxless skis over here so we've been learning about how to use the different waxes for different temperatures, and figuring out what the best kick zone is for our skis. I must say, since the temps were around zero the first few times we went out (which is the hardest time to wax), it was definitely frustrating. Even though it was windy in Roros, it was good in that we could use some colder wax (blue) and really start to work on our technique. We didn't get out for very long on the weekend, but I feel that I made some good progress in get my diagonal technique down. Still suck at free skating though!

Kim getting ready to go.

One of the trails followed the top of a long glacial esker that provided views over the townsite and out of the valley.

Today, after weeks of not being on the bike, I got out on my good friend the Rip9 and did a nice countryside road tour this morning. As you can see, it was a very nice day!

Making my way around the Strindamarka ski area.

My good friend taking a break on the side of the road :)

I also put some short videos together of the wind in Roros, the music festival, and a happy biker.
Hope all is well with everyone back in Canuck land and I'll try to keep my blog more current so you can see what I've been up to.


Gary Robbins said...

Well it's ABOUT TIME!
Love the pics, especially how bright the houses are. Glad the bikes made it through customs, AND that your toe is feeling better and that you're running again.

Any word on Explore Sweden? Hope you get to experience some big races over there this year. Say hi to Kim for me!


Anonymous said...

Todd and Kim:

Greetings from Victoria - which, btw, looked a bit like Trondheim yesterday as we were the recipients of some snow. Didn't have to break out the studded tires for the bike tho'nor propel ourselves with footsleds. The Trondheim area is quite similar to the area of Sweden I was racing in a few years back (with the same red-painted buildings and other bright coloured homes) but you're a few degrees north of where I was.

Keep up with the news updates - after reading Garys' message to you, were you considering racing Explore Sweden? Michael puts on a great race.

Talk to ya soon!


ps - you had great Sh*t eating grin when riding your bike!

Jeff Hunt said...

Kepp the updates and the photos coming!

Kristenn said...

Great post Todd! Nice to see a bit of where you two are. Crazy wind! Reminds us of xc skiing in the Canadian prairies! Wind chill is brutal!
kmag & jeff