World's toughest off-road bike race
The long version of Offroad Finnmark runs for 700 kilometres (435 miles) through the untouched wilderness of the Finnmarksvidda plateau. The race starts and finishes in Alta, but the track through the wilderness is different every year. The 2015 winner, the Norwegian team Team Diesel/Pearl Izumi with riders Stem-Are Harjo and Geir Lien, completed the race in 74 hours. There is also a shorter version of the race, which runs for 300 kilometres (185 miles) in a loop from Alta towards Suossjavri south of Masi and back. The 2015 winner completed this race in 18 hours and 49 minutes. No one is allowed to ride alone, so teams are made up of two to three people.
The route follows off-road tracks and trails across the Finnmarksvidda plateau. In some places there are no paths at all, which makes the cycling particularly demanding, and occasionally riders have to carry their bikes. Hundreds of streams and a few rivers, some of them big ones, have to be negotiated. On the 700 kilometre race, riders have to climb between 9,000 and 10,000 metres (30,000–33,000 feet). It would not be possible to complete the race without the midnight sun, but since there is 24 hour daylight, the race can take place over three full days and nights.
Checkpoints and distances
The participants cycle along the route by day and night. When they reach one of the checkpoints, they have to stop for a compulsory five minute rest period. On the 700 kilometre race, there are also three compulsory rest periods of three hours. The 300 kilometre race has one compulsory one hour rest period at a checkpoint of their own choice. In other words, Offroad Finnmark only stops when the last rider has finished; at any one time, someone will be riding. The checkpoints are mountain lodges, schools and community centres, and are places where the riders can get food, drinks, the chance to rest and technical assistance with their bikes. Participants are tracked via an app on their mobile phones, and it is possible to follow their progress directly on online maps or via a specially designed app.
From Denmark to Finnmark
Participants are extremely fit amateurs, and the typical rider is a man aged around 40 in peak condition. Danes will still dominate the 700 kilometre race in 2015, but there will also be Australians and Finns participating, with Norwegians outnumbered into fourth place. By contrast, the 300 kilometre race is dominated by Norwegians, particularly local riders.
Offroadfinnmark is proud of its high level of service. An impressive 170 volunteers are involved in ensuring that the event runs smoothly and that the riders are well taken care of. They work all along the route across the entire Finnmarksvidda plateau, and at the start and finish areas in Alta.
For more information and details about the event, see www.offroadfinnmark.no