How do the Norwegian cyclists cope with winter?

I have been a part of Hitec Products since 2010. There have been different groups of riders and I have fond memories of all of them, but this year I met a new group of girls and I believe Hitec Products has never been stronger.

When we met in Nice, France for our first training camp, we started to work as a group from the beginning. We shared the house work and each night two girls made dinner for the whole team.

The ‘Hitec cuisine' was varied and a great reflection of how diverse our team actually is; we ate everything from Norwegian salmon to Italian gnocchi.

The 2013 team is a mix of different riders and nationalities; two Italians, one Swede, two Australians and seven Norwegians.

We have the all-time-summer-riders from Australia and in contrast we have the Norwegian girls who do the majority of their winter training on snow.

This contrast became a major talking point throughout our camp. For the first few days Nice wasn't so nice. It was 5 degrees, partly cloudy and rain.

The Norwegians said: "It is okay, no problem, we are Vikings. Back home it is snow. This is great."

Meanwhile, the Australians looked out of the window and opted for the rollers. One of the Aussies, Rachel, hadn't had a winter — in Australia or Europe — for five years. For us Norwegians that's unbelievable. Not having winter?

Chloe and Rachel couldn't believe that we rode in minus-twenty-degrees some days: "How do you even ride in that!?" Chloe even said she has positive-fifteen-degree rule (she wont leave the house unless the mercury tips above that)...

So, how do Norwegians cyclists survive the cold winter?

When it is minus degrees and snow we still do some of the training on our bike, but we use a MTB or a cyclo-cross bike and just to be safe we use tires with spikes.

We buy things like electric heating soles for our shoes, put on double layers of wool and fill our bottles with hot drink.

Unlike the southern hemisphere cyclists, stopping for a coffee during training is not an option.

But sometimes it is just too cold to go out on the bike; last week our teammate Cecilie Johnsen hit a cold patch of -21.4°C on one of her training rides, for me this is pushing it!

That's when we get creative. I put on my cross country skis or running shoes and head out training. I run uphills for sprint training or I walk in the mountains and slide around in the woods on skis for endurance training. Skiing is perfect when it's cold, you use your whole body, your heartbeat is high and you get extra core training. Bonus.

Let's get the facts straight: to survive a winter in Norway you need to love your rollers. I do all my intensity training on them and that's fine, but to do 4 hours on them is more of a challenge.

While we may love Norway, and rollers, we also love the feeling of our road bikes on actual roads. So to solve the slight problem of Norwegian winter we travel down south along with all the old people who have had enough of Norwegian winters. Read: We go to Gran Canaries.

Suffering through a Norwegian winter makes you appreciate riding your road bike. When you finally hit the tarmac you feel like you are flying compared to the MTB rides (with spikes) on snow. When you're suffering on the bike — like when Elisa was pushing the pace on the climbs at training camp — you just think about your alternative back home, and then you feel great.

Sometimes I ask myself why I still live in Norway when I want to be the best cyclist possible? Wouldn't it be better to move to Spain and just ride my bike the whole year?

The answer to that question is that I think I can be a really good cyclist by the way I live right now. I know that other top cyclists have done it (and still do it) this way. The best Norwegian male pros still live in Norway. I think I can develop as a rider as long as I do the right things back home and get enough hours on my bike on training camps.

I also love my family and my life in Oslo. Norwegians are a nationalistic people; we just love the Norwegian culture, and I am one of them.

To be on a Norwegian pro team that supports the choice of living in Norway makes it easier too. To perform at your best on the bike it is important that you have fun and are happy off the bike as well. I think as long as I have faith in what I do and am happy with my life situation it is possible to live in Norway and live the dream of becoming one of the world's best cyclists.

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