Wheel doping, fårikål and other addictions

11 Oct

When I moved from France to Norway my dear French colleagues warned me that I would die from malnourishment. The Norwegians eat “caramel cheese”, they told me in such foreboding tones as to make you think the Nogs were guilty of crimes against humanity. En France on ne rigole pas avec le fromage!

And it’s true that Norway often fails in the food category. The Norwegian food aesthetic generally involves taking a perfectly good piece of fish and doing something unholy to it. Like burying it or soaking it in caustic soda (lye).

But when people who are generally bad do something good, we should encourage them. Case in point, Fårikål, a Norwegian recipe that approaches genius.

Fårikål means “mutton in cabbage”, and that’s exactly what it is. If you count strictly, there are only five ingredients. But simple can be good. Really good.

But the minimalistic brilliance of fårikål doesn’t stop there. It’s a lifestyle recipe. A ski-lifestyle recipe.

Let me try to explain.

It takes five minutes to prepare fårikål and five hours to cook it. And it smells so good that if you hang around waiting for it to cook you will surely go mad. So, the solution is to throw it on the back burner and then go out and (roller)ski for a LONG time.

Then, when you get back, cold and exhausted, your nutrient-starved brain will wonder who’s cooking such nice-smelling food as you approach your door. And, finally, when the warm embrace of fårikål goodness floods around you as you stumble inside it will dawn on you that you have made it. And that it’s ready to eat. Valhalla here you come!


  • Some cheap, fatty, bony cuts of lamb or mutton
  • A big, smooth-leaf cabbage (chou lisse, pas frisé)
  • Whole peppercorns
  • Salt
  • 50cl water


Put the fattiest bits of meat fat side down in the bottom of the pot. Cover them with a layer of wedges of cabbage. Throw a little salt and some peppercorns on top of that. Then add another layer of meat. More cabbage wedges on top of that with again a sprinkling of salt and whole peppercorns. Keep filling the pot like that. The topmost layer should be cabbage. Toss in the water and put on a low flame. (Roller)ski for at least five hours. Come home. Eat. Can be served on top of boiled potatoes but I like mine straight up.

This all leads me naturally to the subject of rollerski wheels. My new record performance Sunday on Grefsenkollen wasn’t achieved by pure, honorable hard work. No, it was doping. Wheel doping. But can it be cheating when it feels so good? My advice, come to the dark side and buy yourself some speed. Olivier from Roll’x is helpful and knowledgeable and can surely tell you what’s legal in a professional race if you’re going to participate in one. I’ve heard he has a secret, illustrious, mistreated-fish-eating pro client. But even as a humble amateur my experience is that climbing big hills is so much more pleasurable with fast PU wheels. While I just did my fastest time ever on rubber wheels this evening, the motivation was purely and simply the unpleasant feeling that I was standing still compared to the sensations I had going up Grefsenkollen on fast wheels yesterday.

But like any potent performance enhancer, there are side effects. Remember speed kills. I’ve seen my life flash before my eyes when going over rough asphalt at 50km/h on a downhill. And there’s a definite addiction factor too. Once you taste speed you don’t want to go slow. But you must. If slow rubber made you fast then abandoning it means becoming slow again, even on fast wheels. So there, you are warned. But it’s like ice cream on a hot summer day, so you’ll cave in.

Yeah, well, except that ice cream doesn’t take all the skin off your butt when you’re not careful with it…


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