So – you want to ride your motorcycle to Norway?

Photo: HansP@RideNorway

Tony and I toured the southern parts of Norway one year. You can see fantastic scenery even if you have only a few days to spend.

You have seen all the classic images of Norway. Of the Geiranger fjord, the Atlantic Road, the Lofoten Islands and the North Cape with its midnight sun. And you wonder: “What if I took my bike there? What if I let myself see all this in the best way possible, which of course is from a motorcycle?” Then you start worrying about everything from weather to costs, and in the end you dismiss the whole idea, even though you know you will regret that you didn’t follow your dreams.

Fortunately, you have stumbled upon this blog, which is here to tell you that is far easier to experience Norway by bike than you perhaps imagined. Here you will find everything you need to know about how to ride Norway on a budget, where to go and what to see. You will read other riders’ experiences, learn who to contact if you have a bike breakdown, and even get advice on how to ride in Norway during the coldest depths of winter, if you are of the really adventurous type.

Come on over, and be amazed. Norway is truly motorcycle heaven!

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Postcard living

Last weekend I went to Olden in the western parts of Norway to join my Guzzi friends at the annual Guzzi Spring Rally. People in that part of Norway are living in surroundings of stunning beauty. It must be like living in a pic postcard…

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The Oldevatn lake is filled with melted glacial water, making it green – and coooold…

I took my new (to me) 1990 Guzzi SP3 for its inauguration trip to meet fellow Guzzisti at Oldevatn camping, not very far from Geiranger. This part of Norway is famed for its stunning beauty, and this weekend it certainly showed off in all its splendour.

I took Friday off from work, so I left for the rally on Thursday afternoon. It´s some 500 kms from where I live to Olden, so I opted for a stay-over at Lom. I chose a route which is not the fastest, but nevertheless pretty: Up to Fagernes, Road 51 over Valdresflye, the Stryn mountain road to Stryn and onwards to Olden. The bike ran flawlessly, apart from showing signs of a worn clutch boss, which of course is about to be fixed.

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Valdresflye mountain road is one of the 18 National Tourist Roads.

The Valdresflye mountain road – Road 51, one of the National Tourist Roads – is closed during winter, and opened for the season not many weeks ago. There is still some snow up there, but not on the roads, of course. It gets a bit chilly up on the top, so when you ride there – use your extra layer of clothes under your riding gear. In the summer there tends to be quite a few camper vans and other slow-moving tourists on the road, but as there is no vegetation to hamper the view of any oncoming traffic, they are easily overtaken.

After a rather unspectacular night at Lom, I did the last leg down to Olden over Stryn mountain road – Road 15. This road meets Road 63, which takes you down to the famous Geiranger fjord (also only open in the summer). But I kept following Road 15 towards Stryn.

The Stryn Mountain Road is tried to kept open also in the winter, but it´s frequently closed due to heavy snowing combined with tough winds. In the summer, it´s usually a tranquile, nice piece of mountain road with spectacular views. Be aware, though, that the tunnel starting the downclimb towards Stryn is VERY dark! Do not use sunglasses or tinted visors when you enter! The trick is to close one eye before going into the tunnel. When you´re inside and open it, your eye should have adjusted somewhat to the darker surroundings. There are three longer tunnels leading down to Stryn. Take precations when entering them. Just in case.

Stryn has a slogan – “Beautiful Stryn” – which is somewhat generic, but in this case it fits the area. The Stryn area IS beautiful! As is Loen, Olden, Utvik Mountain Road, et cetera. You cannot go wrong wherever you choose to point your front wheel. The roads may be considered somewhat narrow, but on a bike this is not a problem. Be aware of the many coaches carrying cruise ship passengers to sightsee the Briksdal Glacier. Or what´s left of it. Also – if you really want to part off with some cash, try the newly opened SkyLift cablelift in Loen. It´s some 50 euros, but those who do it says the view is awesome at some 3000 ft above the sea level.

I have stayed at the Oldevatn camping several times, and prefer this to any over-priced hotel accomodation: Due to heavy tourist traffic, accomodation prices tends to be in the higher end of the scale in the summer. But the camp sites are usually set at wonderful sites, and renting a cabin for a night or two shouldn´t break your budget.

The return ride was a rather uneventful ride in poor weather back home. But still – it was a day on the bike, which is always a good day.

Categories: bikes, Images of Norway, norway, Rallies, Routes, Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Checking out the Cali

Last winter I bought a 1999 Moto Guzzi EV 1100 California with the intent to build a sidecar rig. Today I celebrated spring by taking it on its maiden voyage (in my ownership, that is). Still without the sidecar attached – but what a ride it is!

HP Calif Guzzi

Even though I owned a Moto Guzzi California 1400 for a couple of years, I have never been too keen on cruisers. However, late last year I sold my trusty winter comrade, a Moto Guzzi 850 T5 with a Watsonian sidecar, to a buddy who had crashed his own sidecar rig a couple of weeks earlier. My T5, after serving as a winter rig for more than a decade, was up for a major overhaul, and my buddy was more than happy to take the job as long as he could buy my rig.

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Me on my 2013 Moto Guzzi California 1400 (top) and my trusty winter rig,
a Moto Guzzi 850 T5 with a Watsonian sidecar (under).

Hence, I needed to start looking for suitable objects to build a new sidecar – and there it was: A nice, blue 1999 EV 1100 California, available at a very good price. So I bought it, and started looking for a sidecar which I could attach to it. I ended up with an old Dnepr tub which will need some refurbishing, but all in all it might become a good rig.

Today was a marvellously splendid and sunny day. One of those days you just cannot stay indoors. So after servicing my wife’s Moto Guzzi Breva 750, I took my “new” California for its maiden voyage. And lo and behold! It is actually a very capable motorcycle! It is pulling strongly (which will make it ideal for sidecar pulling), and is rather comfy. I actually enjoyed my little trip in the spring sun to such a degree that I will take the Cali for another spin tomorrow on my way to work.

Who would have thought that?

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Right then – spring is (nearly) here!

So we’ve been through the New Year’s Rally 1st weekend in January and the venerable Primus Rally the last full weekend of February. Now it’s time to plan for this summer’s escape!

From this year’s New Year’s Rally, 1st full weekend of January. It was cool, and I debuted on my new Yamaha Tricity scooter with studded tires on a winter rally. Worked a treat!

This summer I will do all of Norway. Top to bottom. But in two legs: First, I’m having a bunch of biker friends from Finland coming over in July. My wife and I are spending ten days with this excellent crew. It’s their third time riding in Norway, and I’ve rigged a route – The Social South Bike Tour, Norway 2017 – for us. It’ll take us to Trollstigen and Geiranger (of course), Olden, Hardanger, Road 13 down towards Stavanger, Suleskard mountain road including the Lysebotn serpentines, Dalen, ending the trip near Oslo. It’ll be a hoot, especially since a couple of my Guzzi friends in the West are considering throwing us a barbequeue party to remember, with pit roasted suckle pig and plenty of home brewed ale (so maybe we will not remember after all…). But I cannot reveal the whole thing here – in case some of my Finnish friends reads this.

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The Svartisen Glacier in Nordland county. I took this pic last year while guiding a bunch of Finns to Lofoten along the Coastal Road 17.

The second leg is with my 81 year old mum. We have since long planned a 14 day long trip from Finnmark far north, where she lives, all the way down south with her riding in the tub of my sidecar. Her recent osteoporosis scans forced us to alter those plans, however, so we’ll take the car. It’s a convertible, though, so we will get wind in our hair anyway!

So start planning, people! There are miles and miles of splendid roads and fantastic scenery awaiting you here in Norway. And a trip here doesn’t have to break your bank.

 

 

Categories: Misc, Uncategorized, Winter rides | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kjerag by drone

Check this out. If this doesn´t tingle your wish to bring your bike to Norway, nothing will. Sit back and enjoy while planning your bike trip here 🙂

 

Kjeragbolten by drone

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We’re thawing up

Norway is thawing up, and spring is near. If you haven’t already, it’s time to plan for the upcoming riding season. And to get your bike ready.

While others might find bird chirps and melting snow dripping from the rooftops to be the ultimate tell-tales of spring, I am looking for the first few bold riders who couldn’t wait any longer to bring their bikes onto the roads. Even though there are spots of ice and snow on the back roads, I know they are there. And sure enough: A couple of days ago, while commuting to work, I heard the magnificent sound of a bike while inside a tunnel. He roared past me and opened up the throttle going uphill towards the exit of the tunnel. THAT is the sound of spring!

Riders from parts of the world where you can ride all year round might not quite understand the agony Norwegian riders are going through these days. We are looking at the weather forecast, waiting, getting disappointed when it suddenly starts snowing again, hoping for higher temps, waiting, waiting…

But while we’re waiting, we can plan for the season. Myself, I am getting my KTM 690 Enduro ready for action. I bought this rally kit from Italian Alberto Dottori and have spent a few weekends in the garage with my buddy Tor to make it ready. I wanted more fuel capacity and range from my KTM, which originally has only a 12 l tank. With the Dottori set-up, I am looking at close to 30 l, which probably will make those hard-to-get-to places more inviting.

I am also planning for trips and tours, of course, and will try to make some videos from the more exciting ones. I have even invested in a Lily drone, which will be delivered in June, to get some cool aerial shots. Hopefully.

So, what are your plans?

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Norway from the saddle

How does Norway look from the saddle of a bike? Swede Markus Vikberg rides Norway quite frequently. This is a couple of videos he shot on a trip he did on his Triumph Tiger 800 last summer with a couple of friends. Enjoy!

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Tourist roads actually worth riding

Many are put off the “touristy stuff” – but the Norwegian National Tourist Roads are actually worth riding.

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) has its own department for the National Tourist Roads. The 18 very special roads have been updated with nicely built viewpoints and some arty stuff, but the most important thing are the roads themselves. They are narrow roads, cutting through some of the most scenic landscape in all parts of Norway. The NPRA has even commissioned an Architecture Council to, as it is stated, “ensure high visual qualit of scenic viewpoints and picnic areas along the routes”.

Fancy. But check out their homepage to see where the roads are, plan your trip, and see what you can expect when you find them.

Hardangervidda. (Image from www.nasjonaleturistveger.no)

Hardangervidda. (Image from http://www.nasjonaleturistveger.no)

Gaularfjellet. (Image from www.nasjonaleturistveger.no)

Gaularfjellet. (Image from http://www.nasjonaleturistveger.no)

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Video: Let the chilly season begin!

The winter season is hereby inaugurated! The Woodgatherer Rally did what is was intended to do. Let the chilly season begin!

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Embracing winter

These days, most riders are parking their bikes for the winter in our part of the world. Not so with a handful of die-hards who have their winter season inauguration rally 16 – 18 October.

Ivar and Knut enjoys the early Saturday morning at the Woodgatherer Rally.

Ivar and Knut enjoys the early Saturday morning at the Woodgatherer Rally.

Some 40 years ago, a handful of guys established the Primus Winter Rally, which is held in February each year at Fjorda in Bjoneroa, some 1.5 hrs riding from Oslo. In preparation for this rally, some of them went to the site in October to – well – chop some wood for the upcoming event. In a matter of a few years, this turned into a rally in itself – The Woodgatherer Rally. Even if there is not much wood chopping these days, the rally in itself has become an inauguration of the winter season for a handful of die-hard winter riders. Not accepting that motorcycle riding should be restricted to the summer months, they venture into the cold on two or three wheels, adapting to the winter chill with proper gear for both man and machine.

The Woodgatherer Rally is always held in the first weekend after the first winter day, which is 14 October. So if you want to come and join some 50-60 fellow riders, you are most welcome. Be aware, though, that you need to bring everything you need yourself: Tent, a proper sleeping bag, food and your preferred paraffin/kerosene stove. There is no bar, showers, restaurant or hotel rooms to be found at the site (although most camps turns into some sort of bar during the evenings).

What can be promised, though, is an experience you’ll remember! Check out the videos below for more info and inspiration.

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On gravel from South to North

This year’s great escape was a gravel tour from Oslo in the south to Kirkenes way up north in Norway.

Stuck in the mud somewhere in Sweden.

Stuck in the mud. I was glad I had opted for the relatively light Yamaha WR250R…

I am from up north and had planned to go there this summer to do a few preparations for my mum’s 80th anniversary. I could of course go by plane, do my stuff, and return in a couple of days. But then again – why bother doing it the easy way when I had got hold of a GPS route that would take me and my bike by gravel through all kinds of “roads” in a week? Plus another week for the return trip?

I invited a couple of riders from the local Offroad Touring Club who knew about my plans and wanted to tag along. On a trip like this I thought it would be better to be at least a couple of riders to back each other up – just in case.

A spectacular crash on day 1, but no harm done to neither man nor machine.

A spectacular crash on day 1, but no harm done to neither man nor machine.

So Nikita, Arne and myself set out 20 July. None of us had done that trip before, so we guesstimated that it would take us some 5 to 7 days to complete the trip one way. We had already agreed that the official part of the trip would end at Kirkenes, and that every man was for himself for his chosen mode, route and speed of the return trip. We set off from just outside Oslo, heading for Os in Hedmark county, where we would spend the night at a friend who’s an accomplished enduro rider, and whom had done the trip a few years earlier. But drama set in on this first day of riding: Nikita, the freshman in the trio, misjudged a right bend, locked all wheels and went off the gravel road in quite a spectacular manner. We all thought this would be the end of his trip, but luck was on Nikita’s side: No harm done neither to man nor machine, except a few scratches on the side panel of his Africa Twin and a broken indicator. A very steep learning curve indeed for our man, who learnt a lesson or two with regard to paying close attention to the road especially when riding on gravel.

Entering Finland from Sweden.

Entering Finland from Sweden.

At our friend Inge’s place we were treated with a great meal and sauna, plus some advice on the route ahead of us. Arne, who was by far the more experienced gravel rider among the three of us, took care of the navigation. We had decided to go through Sweden and Finland in search of gravel, as it is shorter (but not necessarily faster) to go through our neighbouring countries. Besides, especially Sweden has a great selection of gravel roads in a variety of qualities.

Day 2 took us from Inge’s place to another friend of ours, Fredrik. His family has a summer house in Sweden, so we were to meet him there for a stay-over. We were again met with a full meal and an outdoor spa-like mini pool with amenities such as Jägermeister and beer. Needless to say, we had to have a slow start the morning after.

The trip through Sweden was fun, and at times rather exhausting – especially through a “jungle” with muddy tracks pretending to be roads. The heavy rain in the days prior to our trip had turned it all into a swamp, and – of course – the air was quite .packed with mosquitos and midges. At least they served as great motivation to get us as fast as possible out of the swamp.

A roadside fix. A few mozzies helped on the motivation to get going...

A roadside fix. A few mozzies helped on the motivation to get going…

The northern parts of Finland had plenty of gravel roads – but not so many that went all the way through. They tended to go in to a cabin or something, and just end there. So we were forced to do quite a few miles on asphalt. Not so much fun, but at least the area is pretty to look at.

After 7 days of riding we crossed the border from Finland back into Norway and finally arrived at Kirkenes. Even though many have done this trip before, we had a high sense of accomplishment. Before we split, we toasted in coffee and ice cream and decided it had been a great trip. Actually so much that at least a couple of us wanted to do it again sometime. But that will be another story.

Reaching Kirkenes after 7 days of gravel. We felt it like quite an accomplishment.

Reaching Kirkenes after 7 days of gravel. We felt it like quite an accomplishment.

Nikita stayed on in Kirkenes and did a trip to Nikel and Murmansk. He speaks Russian, so it was practically a must for him to go there. Arne and I went on to the Varanger peninsula to try out the gravel roads there, and made it for a fast return on asphalt down south after a couple of days. Whereas Arne aimed for a week at the Bukkerittet gravel bonanza, I headed home to have a few days off before starting work again.

What I can say, though, is that my Yamaha WR250R was a really good choice for a trip like this. I was especially glad for chosing that bike when I was stuck in the mud somewhere in Sweden, and could lift the bike out to get going. So if you want to do a trip like this: Choose your bike wisely!

 

Back home to wash off the mozzies...

Back home to wash off the mozzies…

 

Staying the night at a couple of good biker friends in Nord-Trøndelag county, Liv and Merete.

Staying the night at a couple of good biker friends in Nord-Trøndelag county, Liv and Merete.

 

Another ferry on my way southbound.

Another ferry on my way southbound.

 

Troms county had put on its finest colors to greet us.

Troms county had put on its finest colors to greet us.

 

Yours truly, Arne and my brother-in-law Fritjof awaiting for the sauna to get warm enough. Vadsø in Finnmark has the highest density of saunas in Norway - or so they claim.

Yours truly, Arne and my brother-in-law Fritjof awaiting for the sauna to get warm enough. Vadsø in Finnmark has the highest density of saunas in Norway – or so they claim.

 

Vardø in Finnmark county was the scene for quite a few brutal execution of people accused of witchcraft during the 16th century. They were all burnt, and this monument is raised to their memory.

Vardø in Finnmark county was the scene for quite a few brutal execution of people accused of witchcraft during the 16th century. They were all burnt, and this monument is raised to their memory.

 

End of the road. Hamningberg in Finnmark county.

End of the road. Hamningberg in Finnmark county.

 

Arne at a road crossing somewhere on the Varanger peninsula in Northern Norway.

Arne at a road crossing somewhere on the Varanger peninsula in Northern Norway.

 

Way to go! Finnmark county has plenty of nice gravel roads to offer!

Way to go! Finnmark county has plenty of nice gravel roads to offer!

 

Yours truly giving the end-of-the-trip speech in Kirkenes...

Yours truly giving the end-of-the-trip speech in Kirkenes…

 

Entering Finland from Sweden.

Entering Finland from Sweden.

 

We saw this beauty at a stay-over in Finland. A Guzzi California 1100.

We saw this beauty at a stay-over in Finland. A Guzzi California 1100.

 

A river we chose not to cross due to depth and rocks.

A river we chose not to cross due to depth and rocks.

 

Getting to know the local beer.

Getting to know the local beer.

 

A wee bit posh eating style...

A wee bit posh eating style…

 

Break by the lake.

Break by the lake.

 

A Road Warrior rests whenever he can...

A Road Warrior rests whenever he can…

 

Kebab lunch.

Kebab lunch.

 

Nice view over the waters.

Nice view over the waters.

 

Nikita at a break somewhere in Sweden.

Nikita at a break somewhere in Sweden.

 

Arne packs his new-to-him KTM 690 Enduro.

Arne packs his new-to-him KTM 690 Enduro.

 

Chillin' out after a day's riding at a camp cabin.

Chillin’ out after a day’s riding at a camp cabin.

 

A few scares on route: A close call to riding the front wheel into the hole in this broken pipe in the middle of the woods.

A few scares on route: A close call to riding the front wheel into the hole in this broken pipe in the middle of the woods.

 

Fredrik (left) watches as Nikita packs his Africa Twin.

Fredrik (left) watches as Nikita packs his Africa Twin.

 

Arne (left) and myself prior to departure

Arne (left) and myself prior to departure

 

My weapon of choice for this trip: A Yamaha WR250R. More than capable of a trip like this.

My weapon of choice for this trip: A Yamaha WR250R. More than capable of a trip like this.

Categories: Images of Norway, norway, Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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