OF300 - "the toughest 300km mountain bike race in Europe if not the world" 2015

By Michael Bottom, England
Mike Bottom, Offroad Finnnmark, Foto: Jon Vidar Bull
Sitting in the airport counting mosquito bites to pass the time (already over 100 just on my arms.. which had long sleeves all the way!) it gives me a time to sum up the race;
As some of you will have seen on strava, unfortunately no we didn't finish the race. We successfully completed 265km of the route in 42 hours but at 12:00 on Saturday, while climbing one of the the last plateaus up came a Norweigen man from race control on a quad bike to basically to say "time is up"... seems harsh with only 35km to go, 10 of which is all downhill to the finish but it is a race and all races have cut offs.. and at the pace we were going, we were looking at another 4 hours.. so it is what it is.
Its worth mentioning that the organisers are very proud of the fact that the race is incredibly difficult and because there was a high percentage of finishers last year, this was the hardest course they had ever set! typical! We simply didnt start quick enough, too busy enjoying the adventure and then we just got slower and slower with fatigue and all the aches and pains that come with 2 days of continuous cycling.
With my competitive mind, it does feel like a disappointment in terms the of the race, that we failed to reach our goal. They hold this race very highly in their thoughts and are very strict about who earns the rare finishers jersey, our chance was there to have one, I have no doubt we would have finished, (even with Paul's tantrums 😜 forgive me...there was a period of time he was in too much pain to even get on the bike for a few hours, body broken he soldiered on like a true warrior) but we simply ran out of time.
In terms of an adventure however, this is up there with one of the best I've done... we got to see Norway in a unique way, I have never seen wilderness like it. We cycled for 2 days and only saw people at the checkpoints, and we cycled for up to 8 hours between checkpoints, amazing. At points it was so remote that looking for hundreds of miles in every direction was nothing but mountainous plateau and forest, no sign of manmade things whatsoever and 24hour sunlight to enjoy it all!... its probably a good time to mention the fantastic race support.. being out in such a place would be incredibly dangerous if something went wrong, but knowing that we were being tracked and there were locals with all terrain vehicles willing to drive out there to support us, gave us that relatively "safe" feeling to enjoy the place. Even when our GPS died 30km from the next checkpoint we were able to speak to control and arrange for some batteries to be brought to us in the wilderness, thats why this race is so highly recommended.

Offroad Finnmark, foto: Steinar VikI cant do justice to what it felt like mentally and emotionally to keep progressing through this one, certainly tougher than the ultras I've done at home, one way of putting it is that after talking with lots of other competitors, im not the only one who saw animals and people that just turned out to be rocks, even from a few feet away. maybe its the 24hr sun, but you can definately relate to stories of trolls and things!
A great memory I already have is sat on a very comfy couch in Jotka checkpoint (250km) after a 9 hour section through our second "night" over a infamously endless wilderness section we reached a beautiful little farm house only accessible by boat across the lake or all terrain vehicle, cut off completely in the winter, I sat eating amazing soup with 250km in my body, struggling to keep my eyes open...chatting to the home owners, friendly as ever, even after 3 days of supporting riders...its those times that confirm why we do this kind of thing.
It has helped me to realise that you can't win them all in this game.... no matter how hard you try, some things are just out of your control.. all you can do just is remember how much fun you had while doing it.
My hat comes off to the 700km riders... You know a race is insane when they measure the finish times in days rather than hours... saying that, part of me does wonder what it would be like. Uttrykksikonet wink

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