Masterclass: Tips and advice for completing Styrkeprøven
19. May 2023
By Thomas Svane Jacobsen
Styrkeprøven from Trondheim to Oslo is a long ride and a real challenge. It is not without reason that it was originally called The Great Styrkeprøven . It is therefore important to be both mentally and physically well prepared for the Great Styrkeprøven . We have collected some good tips and advice for implementation:
- Make sure your bike is in perfect condition at the start. Feel free to have the bike serviced at a specialist shop. What might be good to change before starting are especially brake discs or brake pads if you don’t have disc brakes. In addition, we would recommend that you change to new tires (and possibly tubes) on the bike. Check that the bottle rack, pedals and seat are screwed on. It might be a good idea to take a short trolley ride in Trondheim to be absolutely sure that everything is as it should be.
- Eat a good dinner in the afternoon. We like to eat pizza, pasta or something similar. It may not be very wise to eat a huge steak that you will spend many hours digesting. Drink regularly throughout the day. We ourselves prefer to drink some Farris and milk. For supper, you can fill up on some wholemeal bread, a cake and some popcorn. Popcorn is good as it adds a little extra salt and low fat.
- Go to bed early in the evening. Relax in bed with music, an audiobook or just peace if you prefer. Keep a bottle of water on your bedside table so you can drink a little when you’re thirsty. Make sure you don’t drink so much that you have to go to the toilet every hour to pee.
- Sleep is always in short supply for (almost) everyone who is about to start Styrkeprøven . It’s no big deal. The most important thing is that you lie and relax in bed without using up your energy. Everyone lies in bed the night before the race and sweats. So this is normal. The body feels the tension. The strange thing is that as soon as the start goes, this excitement disappears and you are suddenly focused only on cycling. It is therefore important that in the last week before the day of the ride you go to bed normally at home and try to get as much sleep as possible.
- Make sure you have time to eat a light breakfast at least an hour before your start. We prefer to eat a few slices of bread with chocolate spread, honey or jam. You must not expect the appetite to be particularly large now just before the start of the ride. Please drink some water and milk. Our tip is that you avoid coffee now. Coffee will only mean that you have to pee a lot before the start and quite quickly after the start.
- My two cycling bottles from the start are made ready the day before, where one bottle is a mixture of apple juice and water, while the other is thin red juice. There are many possibilities here. Use the drinks you are used to, but remember that at the organiser’s food stations you will get yellow and red juice and sports drinks, as well as water.
- From the start, we fill the pockets of the cycling jersey with two bananas, two slices of bread with, for example, chocolate spread and/or honey and a packet of pre-greased Vestland lefser. This is enough food for us until we get to Oppdal and our first stop. It is always important in such long rides that the body is supplied with food and drink steadily. Drink a little every 20 minutes and eat every half hour. Vestlandslefser is a real snack on long bike rides and very easy to tuck into. That is why we are going to send several packages of pre-greased Vestland Lefser in the bag freight to Oppdal, Kvam and Hamar. Very good that from 2022 it became possible to send such bags of clothes (and Vestlandslefser) to these three places. In the next Masterclass, we will say something more about what we put in these bags.
- Have a plan about which food stations you need to stop at! It is not certain that you need to stop at all of them, but maybe you only need to refill drinks at one or two? The most important thing is that you always think through what you need to do at the food station before you turn off the road and stop your bike. This helps you to have the shortest possible stop at the food station. Every single minute at the food station counts for the total time, but also for how tired you get. Long breaks only mean that it becomes harder and harder to get started again. Always remember that as long as you’re on the bike and rolling forward, you’re getting closer and closer to your goal!
- As we wrote in the previous Masterclass, it is important to break down the long distance from Trondheim to Oslo into different milestones. Henning and I have divided the distance in recent years according to where we stop to replenish food and drink. Thus, our intermediate goals are as follows: Oppdal, Dombås, Kvam, Hamar and Minnesund.
On the trip to Oppdal, our focus is on getting started; set a decent speed that is not too high, keep a suitable distance from unknown riders and fields that may pass us, eat and drink properly and get into a rhythm with the food intake. From Støren to Oppdal, we encounter the first real headwinds. We cycle these uphills at a leisurely pace. Make sure the pace is kept down here and that we don’t burn off too much gunpowder. There is still a long way to go, so it doesn’t matter if we keep our speed low on these uphills.
From Oppdal to Dombås, we will only enjoy the trip and the view. Is this perhaps the nicest stretch of the trip? We always cycle very calmly on the slopes in Drivdalen. Take it easy and talk to those around you. If someone is a little extra quiet, make sure you give them some attention! It motivates both him/her and you. Remember that you must look to the right when you approach the road’s highest point on Dovrefjell. Then you can get a view of Snøhetta – the queen of Dovrefjell. There is almost always a head and/or side wind blowing over the mountain. Stay close to the wheel of those you ride with. Then we pass Fokstua and then it’s only downhill to Dombås.
The first part of Gudbrandsdalen goes down to Kvam and suddenly we are halfway to Oslo. This is a section where there is a lot of downhill and we can maintain a high speed over long distances. It is therefore important to take care to drink and eat on this stretch as well. Now we’re starting to notice that we’ve been riding for a long time, so we can get a little lethargic. Again, we need to focus on helping each other: chatting, patting each other on the back and giving each other a thumbs up when we look at each other. Often, both Henning and I notice that if we talk to each other a little about everyday things, the next hour suddenly goes by unbelievably fast. Everyone will have “up’s and down’s” along the way on the Great Styrkeprøven . When the downturns come, it is important to challenge yourself. Tell yourself how lucky you are to be allowed to experience this bike ride and that you are actually here right now. You are allowed to be proud of yourself sitting in Gudbrandsdalen and cycling all the way to Oslo!
After Kvam, the well-known towns come in quick succession: Vinstra, Harpefoss, Hundorp, Ringebu, Fåvang and Tretten. There are many nice places and often there can also be a bit of a crowd along the route. Lift your head and catch what’s going on! Also look at the farms that are high up in the valley sides. The view is formidable and beautiful. Make sure that just before you rush down to Frya, you see Sør-Fron church in Hundorp, a beautiful octagonal stone church.
After Tretten, we will no longer cycle on the E6 until we approach the finish line in Oslo. Before we get to Lillehammer, we pass Hafjell and Fåberg. Then we encounter a bit of a tough uphill again when we work our way from Lillehammer to Brøttum, but now we are so well underway that we can do it easily. It is possible that there will be a quick refill of drinks at Brøttum since it is still a long way to Hamar.
From Brøttum to Hamar it is slightly hilly here and there, but never so that the slopes become very long and heavy. It also applies on this stretch that we talk together, support each other and ensure that your friend eats and drinks enough. Now it’s starting to be a long time since we started in Trondheim, but we can’t be sloppy with our nutrient intake now. After Hamar, we quickly work our way across Stangeland. Then we are suddenly all the way down at Mjøsa’s edge again a little before Espa. Now we cycle quickly and easily to Minnesund without the big challenges.
From Minnesund we begin to realize that this trip from Trondheim is also approaching the finish line in Oslo. But once again we have to make it clear that it is not possible to be sloppy with either food or drink also on the last section. You have to make sure to give your body some energy even in the last few miles.
- If your schedule breaks due to weather, wind or any other unforeseen circumstances, live with it. There is nothing that matters less if you cycle for 18, 20, 25 or 30 hours. We are all the more impressed by those who cycle in 32 hours than those who cycle with a team in 14 hours. Just think how tiring it is to maintain the connections for over 30 hours. What matters is that you cycle to the finish line and do it for yourself. Styrkeprøven is a tour for happy amateurs like us. Our goal is always to deliver. Follow the traffic rules all the way as we are going on tour. Remember that there is someone waiting for you at home!
So how’s the training going?
Like most people, it is not easy for me to set aside enough time for the training one would like. A mainstay of my basic training has been and still is using a bicycle to and from work every day. It will be under 7 miles for me and in addition I try to get in one or two trips at the weekends of about 12 miles. These weekend trips are usually trips that I would otherwise have used a car, bus or train to get there anyway.
In May, I would like to include a couple of longer trips of over 30 miles. These trips often go over the mountains so that I get good climbs from Eastern Norway to Western Norway or Trøndelag. In connection with work, I have been given trips where I can spend the night and have two to three day trips in a row, for example north along the coast. These are trips that would otherwise be completed by plane or car. These long trips can preferably start early in the morning or go into the night so that the head gets used to using the day without fatigue taking over.
As many have probably experienced, important adaptations take place in the body after long bike rides; it applies to heart function, kidney function and metabolism with the build-up of energy in muscles and other storage sites for glycogen such as in the liver. During such trips, the body “learns” to recover while the trips are underway. During the trip from Trondheim to Oslo, you will then have a solid platform that you can use to maintain a basic speed without becoming particularly tired or worn out.
Ideally, my training should have several hard interval sessions when Styrkeprøven approaches in order to build up the ability to maintain a higher speed so that the time will be “usable”. However, I have become more restrictive with my interval sessions as the years have gone by since I find that interval sessions stress the heart in a way that increases the risk of heart fibrillation and, in turn, a host of medical problems that come from it later. If the time is to be good in the Great Styrkeprøven , I need a couple of interval sessions a week in the last month before the race. It has been a number of years since I prioritized this. In any case, I do nothing except for light walks to and from work in the last week before DSSP.
I have cycled a lot to and from work, but also completed some good long trips on the bike. As we wrote in the first edition of the Masterclass, at least 2-3 trips should be up to 200 km. I have had a trip of around 180 km and a trip of 250 km. In addition, I have a few trips of over 100 km on record. So right now, my feeling is that I am exactly the same with my plan ahead of this year’s trip from Trondheim to Oslo. Hopefully, in the next two weeks, 2-3 trips of 120-150 km and one more trip of well over 200 km will be included. Then I continue to cycle to and from work three days a week and put in a few short evening sessions on a roller in the basement.
In the next Masterclass , we will say something more about clothing on the bike trip and what we pack in the three bags we send to Oppdal, Kvam and Hamar.