We are Calum and Owain and we’re the Teuchters on Tour!
Our humble beginnings date back to 2009 when we met as students at Edinburgh University. Both being mad keen on outdoorsy stuff, we pushed each other to pursue more and more adventurous challenges - anything from Scottish mountaineering to paragliding.
Then we graduated and started work and our lives became decidedly more boring. Although the time we could devote to adventuring was sadly reduced, we’d often reminisce about the old student days of disappearing into the hills for days at a time or spontaneous bikepacking trips (in those days it was cycling with rucksacks, no fancy Alpkit bikepacking gear!)
After 3 years of work, we decided that a grand adventure was required.
After much deliberation of where to go we decided on Norway. Vast areas of remote untouched wilderness, mountains, fjords, rivers, glaciers, reindeer, moose, trolls… what were we waiting for?
We love cycling, so rather than just visiting Norway we decided to cycle. Naturally our starting point need to be the farthest away possible: Nordkapp in the north of Norway. At 71°, this is at a similar latitude to Northern Alaska, Greenland and Siberia and is around 6,000km from Scotland (according to our extremely thorough Google maps check). 100km a day with rest days and a few detours … 3 months seemed about right. And thus, the plan to cycle from Norway back to Scotland was born. What could possibly go wrong?
At the suggestion of our friends, most of whom thought we were a bit on the mad side, although they were envious too, we decided to find a cause to support...
Calum had previously benefitted from the Alpkit Foundation (AKF) funding whilst at University when he and a group of students undertook an expedition to research the effects of altitude exposure in Bolivia. This was a fantastic opportunity, providing the students with a diverse range of new skills and a great experience in the wilderness and leading to the publication of a number of science papers.
We want others to have the same opportunities and so decided we would fundraise for the AKF. (To borrow an awesome hashtag, we want people to #goniceplacesdogoodthings! )
We’ve been cycling now for over a month, but instead of regaling you tales of the trip so far we thought we’d share some learning points we've had…
1. Always test your equipment thoroughly before going on an expedition
After a few setbacks owing to technical issues, Owain arrived in Norway without having cycled his new touring bike more than 20 miles. He had also rather naively bought a brand-new Brooks touring saddle (which takes around 1000 miles to break in). With the benefit of hindsight, he has now realised that this combination can lead to a very sore bum indeed. Despite generous latherings of chamois cream, it took several weeks before the leather softened and he stopped waddling.
Re-assembling the bikes when Calum and Owain arrived.
2. Check the weather forecast
Norway is synonymous with sweeping mountains and dramatic fjords and prior to arriving we had mentally prepared ourselves for the hills and the beautiful sights we would see. However, what we hadn't fully anticipated was the weather. It rains a lot in Norway! On average it rains 15-17 days per month in August, September and October. That makes for a lot of wet cycling, wet tents and general sogginess! Our daily drying of the tent has become ritual. However, when the sun does shine we appreciate it all the more and the cloud and mist give the mountains and fjords a deeply mysterious atmosphere. We know now that glaciers carved these mountains during the last ice age but we can understand why the Vikings believed the fjords were carved by ice giants… it seems much more plausible!
3. Budget appropriately
Norway is the 4th most expensive country in the world, after Bermuda, Switzerland and the Bahamas. We knew this in advance and in fact this influenced our decision to cycle tour here as this is one of the cheapest ways to see a country. However, this has meant we had to be extremely careful with our budget.
On arriving in Tromsø, the closest major city to Nordkapp, we decided to head out for a burger and a beer to celebrate both us and our bikes surviving the long and arduous journey. We chose a fairly modest looking establishment and declined the “double patty” option on our burgers despite our rumbling tummies. When the bill came, we struggled to hide our disbelief. 650 krone, around £65 for 2 burgers and 2 beers. Needless to say we've been cooking our own noodles ever since otherwise we’d be bankrupt way before the 3 months are up. Luckily our accommodation costs are zero thanks to the legal right to roam in Norway, as in Scotland. We wild camp pretty much the entire time - England please take note!
Despite the challenges, the trip has been absolutely incredible so far. We're really excited to be raising money for such a fantastic cause and really believe in the ethos behind the AKF. Anyone can get outdoors and have a fantastic adventure; you don’t have to be an ultra-athlete or professional to see and do incredible things!
You can support Calum, Owain and the Alpkit Foundation by donating through their MyDonate page here.