Tucked deep in the Moors of Telemark lies a place where you’ve dreamt of riding. Except it’s one of those elusive dreams; the kind you can’t recall when you wake up in the morning.
It’s a place where ancient battles were won and lost. Where pilgrims made their journey for a thousand years. Listen to Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and you’ll know the place. A hidden retreat on a tiny isthmus, surrounded by over 100k of legitimate, undiscovered, flawless singletrack. After a decade of meticulous planning, Norwegian adventurer Jan Fasting’s vision has culminated in the birth of this dream. A real mountain bike retreat.
“We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow.”
– Led Zeppelin, The Immigrant Song
In May of this year, I walked off the jetway in Sandefjord, Norway and into what I would soon discover was a singletrack Valhalla. Following a two-hour car ride among rolling hills, atop flawless pavement and down a rugged, 10-mile gravel road and I was on a bike. Jet lag had set in. My heart-rate was around 130. Excited, tired, a little nervous.
Granite domes the likes of which I’d only seen in the eastern Sierra were all around. Hundreds of crystal clear streams and small lakes akin to those found high in the Wind River Range of Wyoming sliced and dotted the landscape. The familiar strong scent of giant conifers that blanket the slopes of the Cascades of Central Oregon overwhelmed my senses. The trail crested a hill. And there, all alone in a tiny valley, was a collection of canvas, Mongolian style yurts. Colorful doors. Tiny oil lamps. A giant fire ring.
We shared saunas, drank beers, talked music, and brainstormed ideas. Ultimately, we rode. We dreamt. We planned.
My hosts for the week were renown adventurer, TV producer, epic storyteller and Canvas founder Jan Fasting and Vebjørn Haugerud, a local rider, trail builder, family man and Canvas Hotel co-owner. Of course, the cast of characters that I’d get to meet, ride, dine and dream with for that 10 days included a number of other passionate, talented folks: our professional photographer/in-house mechanic Thomas Svendsen, Canvas’s own reggae-jamming, Zimbabwean chef Desmond (he smiles 24/7 – probably in his sleep), and two new amazing friends from Trek Norway – Eivind Martensen and Knut Lonnqvist. I was introduced to families, and taken sailing. We shared saunas, drank beers, talked music, and brainstormed ideas. Ultimately, we rode. We dreamt. We planned.
Over the course of 10 days, with the help of my new friends, strong coffee, a full notebook and over a dozen rides, we stitched together a true Trek Travel mountain bike experience. Combining perfect, 18” wide singletrack and the charm and authenticity of my new Norwegian friends, with the Canvas Hotel at its heart, I boarded the plane back to the states with something we’re proud to share.