Lindesnes to North Cape in 6 days—by bike
Erlend Sundstrøm sets world record cycling the entire length of Norway in under a week
Jo Christian Weldingh
Norwegians are known for being outdoorsy. Hiking, cross-country-skiing, and cycling are common hobbies among Norwegians, but few take it to the extremes Erlend Sundstrøm did this summer. The 27-year-old from Laberget, a small village in Troms, cycled the 2,556 kilometers (1,588.23 miles) from the southernmost point to the northernmost point of Norway, from Lindesnes to North Cape, in just over six days. It took 147 hours, 40 minutes, and three seconds, to be exact—a world record. He arrived in North Cape on July 13.
Sundstrøm slept a total of about 11 to 12 hours on the weeklong trip and ate while cycling. His joints started aching within the first two days, and his hands and feet swelled from low temperatures and exhaustion.
Why would anyone put themselves through something like that, you might ask?
“I decided to do this to find out to what extent I can push my body, both mentally and physically,” Sundstrøm said. “I have been cycling on a competitive level for 12 years, where the races can last upwards of six hours, but cycling for six days straight was a different kind of challenge.”
Sundstrøm, as an experienced cyclist, has done training sessions upwards of 200-250 miles, but 2,556 kilometers was a very different experience.
“It was raining for the first two days, the temperatures were low, and my knees started aching pretty early on, most likely because of the cold. Surprisingly, it turned out to be more of a mental challenge than a physical one, as my joints were aching more than my muscles,” Sundstrøm said. “I’m content with not needing more than 11-12 hours of sleep, though. That was probably my biggest uncertainty heading into this.”
Besides joint and muscle pain, loss of feeling in his hands and feet, and food, were challenges for the young cyclist.
“The main problem is energy. Simply put, it’s very difficult to eat enough, especially without stopping for breaks. You find yourself using more energy than you take in and you’re forced to keep the intensity low. If you push too hard, you’ll find yourself struggling,” Sundstrøm said. “Besides that, your hands and feet swell up pretty early on, which can get very painful. I still haven’t gotten the feeling back in my hands and feet.”
At this point the journalist got somewhat worried and asked if he has been to see a doctor.
“No, it’s very common,” he said, laughing. “The guy who set the old record said it took him three-and-a-half months to get the full feeling back in his hands and feet.”
Even though Sundstrøm mostly concentrated on getting from start to finish as fast as possible, he was able to enjoy his surroundings, at least toward the end of his trip.
“I liked Troms and Finnmark the most,” he says, “I’m sure it’s beautiful farther south, too, but the bad weather prevented me from enjoying it as much.”
Cycling 2,556 kilometers in world-record time isn’t enough for Sundstrøm. If his body recovers in time, he’s toying with the idea of participating in the 6-12-24 Hour World Trial Championships in Borrego Springs, Calif., where the participants are competing to cycle the farthest in 24 hours.
Sundstrøm documents his cycling adventures on Facebook as Erlendsundstromcycling.
Jo Christian Weldingh grew up in Lillehammer, Norway, and lives in Oslo. He has a bachelor’s degree in archaeology from the University of Oslo and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from BI Norwegian Business School.
This article originally appeared in the August 9, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.