Ready. Set…

Only a few days before this year’s Norseman. Are you all set to go? We are ready, and this past Saturday, at 5AM, a group of us jumped in the fjord to break in the Norseman course in this year’s crew race, while other crew drove along to inspect the route. Here’s a brief report of our experience on the way from Eidfjord to Gaustatoppen on Saturday. You might find a few useful tips as you finalize your own preparations.

By Jonny Hisdal (7 black Norseman-shirts as of Saturday), Jørgen Melau, and Frøydis Jaren 

(Photo: Jonny Hisdal, hunched tightly over his aerobars, big smile on his face, thrashed competition up Imingfjell on Saturday. Their hour of revenge, of course, came later.)

The swim

This year’s crew race swim leg was a great experience. Currently, the water in Eidfjord is a very pleasant temperature, and on Saturday, our previous cautions about cold water swimming didn’t appear all that relevant. Apart from a school of porpoises that surfaced regularly to draw air, the only movements stirring the fjord surface as the sun rose, were our own quiet swim strokes. If the water temperature remains stable, you can look forward to a pleasant swim. But, as we have stressed before, the water temperature in Eidfjord can change very quickly. Release into the fjord of glacial temperature waters from the surrounding hydro dams can cause a sudden drop. Therefore, remain prepared for a cold experience, and if it isn’t, take it as a pleasant surprise.

The bike leg

The bike leg is every bit as amazing as always. The ascents are as long as they are plentiful, and you’ll probably encounter headwinds somewhere along the way. Some places have brand new tarmac that is a delight to cycle. In some areas the surface is old, worn and coarse, throwing vibrations into your arms and legs.

Along the way, there are a few stretches of road construction, where the tarmac has temporarily been stripped and replaced with packed gravel. You’ll encounter the first short stretch of construction at the bottom of the first descent after Geilo. At this point, your speed is not too high, and you will spot the stretch of gravel well in time before crossing it. The next major construction is at Imingfjell, where there is ongoing work on the hydro dam, with temporary traffic lights. On these short stretches, you should have no problems if you cycle in the tire tracks, but outside of the tire tracks is not as comfortable a ride. However, this is a short stretch, where your speed will be low anyway, so safety-wise it is not a problem.

Once you have crossed Imingfjell, you can look forward to almost 30km of descent. Please be aware that the first part of the descent is steep, with sharp curves. You most certainly need good brakes to descend this stretch safely. In case of rain, the surface can also be slippery, so please be careful. After the first steep descents, the road surface holds a lot of small bumps. Stay alert, and you’ll be able to avoid them. Over the final 12km you’ll encounter several short stretches of gravel surface construction, as well as some very bumpy stretches where you most certainly will not want to be riding in your aerobars. A moment’s lack of attention and you may lose control over your bike. So be smart and alert as you approach T2. As you know, your head and mind are your most valuable assets in a competition like this, and you’ll soon have ample opportunity to apply whatever force your legs have left in the run. The recent fatality in this year’s Ironman France reminds us how fragile a cyclist is in a crash. We want to see you at the Norseman t-shirt ceremony on Sunday, so don’t spoil your race trying to shave off a few minutes by taking foolhardy chances on the descents.

The marathon

The first 25km of the run is a fairly flat section of highway along lake Tinnsjø and the river Måna. The road is narrow, so plan on wearing bright colors along this stretch so that cars can spot you easily, and always run on the left side of the road, close to the curb. When you see Gaustatoppen looming ahead, you find yourself approaching Dale, where the flat stretch gives way to switchback curves up the mountainside. As you start the infamous “zombie hill” at Dale, you can lean into the final hours of uphill before reaching your finish line at Gaustatoppen or Gaustablikk.

The fourth event

You’ve heard us say this before, but it bears repeating: Nutrition is Norseman’s fourth event and key success factor. Plan your intake of food and drink ahead, and stick to it as best you can along the way. Imprint on the mind of your support that although you may seem reluctant, you will need to eat and drink, and you’ll love them even more afterwards for reminding and coaxing you through the day.

Finally: The Norseman course is as ready as will be, as are you, and as are we. From all of us, to all of you: Best of luck! We can’t wait to see you in Eidfjord.

July 29, 2013