Explore a Dreamy Mountain Bike Park at Hogevarde, Norway

What would you say are the most significant innovations in mountain biking? Most would agree on the invention of full suspension; then there is the dropper seat post; more recently, we have purpose-built trails and bike parks and, of course, e-bikes.

The Rise of Purpose Built Trails

Hans Rey has been a huge advocate for both purpose-built trails and e-bikes. To him, this is the next level of fun with boundless possibilities. He feels strongly that developments have opened up the sport to more people of all ages and demographics than ever. They have made mountain biking inclusive to families, the young, the old, people with physical challenges, and those who already love the sport.

Before purpose-built trails, people were grateful for a hiking trail or fire road where they were tolerated, but sharing trails has limits. Now, there are trails for all levels of riders, entry-level to allow novices to find their feet and learn basic skill sets, and more technical trails for those who want to shred. But they must be built sustainably and adequately so they don’t erode with use and abuse, safe and predictable, so there are no nasty surprises. Riders can relax, emerge into the flow, and have fun.

Mountain Bike Park at Hogevarde, Norway

Hans Rey on his GT e-Force with Shimano EP801 drive unit in Norway
Hans Rey sending it over a slick rocky ledge on Norwegian trails

World Trail, led by Glen Jacobs, has built some of the best trail networks in the world. Hans’s old friend Glen invited him to taste his latest European venture, creating a cycling Utopia at Hogevarde, Norway.

Norway is a land of lakes, fjords, and mountains, houses with rooves that look like wildflower meadows….and  Vikings. To the north is the Arctic Circle, and closer to the south of the country is Fjell Park Trail Center at Hogevarde in the Hallingdale Valley.

It is here with its expanding trail network, and for now, lacking an uplift, that Hans found the e-bike perfect for climbing the mountain without any pain, to be then able to enjoy a huge network of trails. Berms, rollers, and flow carved through the natural landscape of pine trees, stream crossings, and huge granite boulders become part of the experience. Whatever the World Trail crew builds is both eye candy and ride candy.

Hogevarde itself is an example of a relatively new concept in mountain biking. It is a community that is very much geared towards bikers’ needs and desires—not just a place to visit but a community where people want to live and work. Although a ski resort, they put summer first, which means mountain bikes first. 

We have seen examples like this with Blue Derby in Tasmania and Oztrails in Bentonville, Arkansas. This town is being developed in an environmentally sympathetic way to become a community for like-minded people who love to ride.

Testing New E-Bike Technology: Free Shift and Auto Shift

Pedaling up the mountain in “trail mode,” Hans was also testing his new GT e-Force with Shimano EP801 drive unit; this system has more power and torque and is smoother and lighter than before. What he is really excited about is testing the Free Shift and Auto Shift. 

Free Shift technology enables you to change gear multiple times without pedaling, and Auto Shift intuitively knows when a gear change is necessary by tracking the cadence and torque.” Hans explained. To demonstrate that Hans rides uphill no-handed, you can hear the gears switching, but he isn’t doing a thing with his hands. “It’s like an automatic car.” He says. The E-Tube app has a lot of adjustability in customizing the system to a rider’s style and needs.

Once at the top, Hans notices a giant rock. Since he loves to “play” on his e-bike, pushing his skills, he has to climb and roll it.

“I really am impressed with the Linkglide drivetrain,” said Hans. “It is strong and robust, enabling me to change gears smoothly even under high torque, which is invaluable for my kind of riding.”

Flowy Trails and Technical Challenges

We drop and roll down the flowy trails. The scenery is exquisite, the dirt is smooth, and the A and B lines offer options for every level of rider. Do you want to wall ride the rock face? Sure, go ahead. Do you want to ride along the top and gently roll down? You can do that, too, or hit a jump to the side. 

The following day, Glen Jacobs joined us and invited us to meet the trail building crew and test the next super trail, still under construction: Blueberry Jam. This 16-kilometer trail starts at the resort and ends in the valley below.

Named after the wild berries that grow prolifically here, the flow is endless, except when it’s not because of the tumble of boulders beside the waterfall that Glen promises will be a “blue trail” when finished. Right now, we struggle to clamber over these massive rocks at the construction site, struggling with our bikes and what Glen describes seems unimaginable. But having said that, we have seen what they achieved at other places, so we don’t doubt him.

A Backcountry Epic: Summiting Hogevarde

Hans Rey In Norway:  Hogevarde Bike Park
Hans Rey on his GT e-Force with Shimano EP801 drive unit

It was hard work making our way down kilometers of work in progress; the recent rain meant lots of mud and bugs; it was squelchy underfoot, and sections were unrideable…. Unless you are Hans. But then, out of the blue, a mirage appeared.

The most perfect, beautiful berms, like a serpent, sprawled on the landscape. Golden, groomed and smooth, with rollers between and endless flow. This was a giant pump track that only nature could provide, with the skilled help of the builders. Riding this already-finished section was worth the bug bites.

The next day meant time for the big adventure, a backcountry tour from Hogevarde village up to the summit of Hogevarde mountain (1,459m); from the top, we are afforded a vista that displays just how beautiful Norway is, they say on a clear day you can see 15% of the country from here.

We rode along the rocky ridge, hung with the reindeer, had lunch in a hut, dodged a storm, did the big descent, and rode home in a boat along the fjord. It’s not a fjord, but it looks like one, and the locals affectionately call it that. It was an epic ride, a fantastic day and having e-bikes made it more viable.

Extending the Norwegian Bike Park Adventure

There is already a trail network in the region, Hallingdale Rides, consisting of 6 bike resorts scattered along a long valley. Nesbyen is one of them.

A short drive from Hogevarde, the small town has firmly established infrastructure for bikers, including bicycle-friendly breweries, bike shops and rentals, coffee shops, a bike wash, shuttles, and plenty of trails. This center for biking complements Hogevarde, adding variety and miles more opportunity to shred, and it was a perfect destination to conclude our Norwegian adventure. Skoll!

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