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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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

Gravel goodness

The other weekend I couldn’t resist the urge to get more gravel under the tires. So I headed for Tynset.

The Osendalen area is really, really a pearl for gravel riding!

The Osendalen area is really, really a pearl for gravel riding!

There was a hotel based rally going on at the Savalen Spa this particular weekend. Not my usual cup of tea, but it proved ideal to bring my wife, daughter and dog along, as neither of them are particularly fond of staying the nights in a tent. But to here they could drive in my wife’s convertible, bring along the dog, stay in a comfortable hotel room and even have a spa treatment. In return, I could ride my Yamaha WR250R on as much gravel as I could find to the same place. Not a bad deal, after all, as I was looking at some 10 hrs ride each way.

I was glad I chose the Yammie as it was light enough for me to manhandle around a few obstacles - not on this road, though.

I was glad I chose the Yammie as it was light enough for me to manhandle around a few obstacles – not on this road, though.

I did some route planning on my Garmin Basecamp software, and decided on a route that was some 70-75% gravel, which is not half bad. It’d take me through some magnificent areas in the midst of Southern Norway, and even across the Birkebeiner road. Yep, I was looking forward to this one! I opted for the Yamaha as it is quite a bit lighter than my KTM, and also had Garmin Zumo 660 already in place. I thought that as I was riding alone, I wanted as light a bike as possible, just in case of spills or other incidents where I’d have to manhandle the bike.

I was glad I chose the Yammie, as I encountered a couple of areas where I’d need to get around a few obstacles in the roads by going along the ditches. Some of them were quite stoney, and having meager enduro skills I was not able to ride through it: I had to walk along the bike to get it through. It was an ordeal – I’m glad I’m in good shape (well, round is a shape, right?)

Apart from these couple of less dignified moments, the ride up through the route was quite nice with even a few high speed gravel roads to choose from. As I came to the Birkebeiner road, I encountered a sign saying it was closed – which was strange at this time of year. I asked the couple who are running a small cafe and collects road toll in the middle of the forest why the

Sometimes, when I go motorcycle riding, I opt to stay in a hotent...

Sometimes, when I go motorcycle riding, I opt to stay in a hotent…

road was closed. “Because there is still some 2 meters of snow on the top, and they haven’t cleared it yet. Maybe next weekend”, was the reply. I was a bit astonished, but then again not really: It has been the coldest, wettest and snowiest spring in Norway since 1946, and there is still a lot – A LOT – of snow in the mountains. I had no option but to find an alternative route. As I was running a bit behind schedule and I needed to get to the hotel in reasonable time, I called it the day and went “high speed” along the tarred roads. It was only the last 150-160 kms of a total of 555 kms anyway, so it was fine.

Very sweet gravel roads on the route I found.

Very sweet gravel roads on the route I found.

I arrived at Savalen some 10 hours after my departure, and I suddenly felt that I had been riding all day: All stiff and a wee bit sore here and there. A nice dinner and a glass of wine later I was sound asleep, even with my dog yapping all around the place.

The rally in itself was ok, I guess. Not too many attendees, but nice folks and good music on Saturday evening. I opted for a ride-free day to recuperate and get ready for the return ride on Sunday, so we had ourselves another great dinner, some wine, music, a few laughs and hit the hay in due time for an early-ish departure.

Nice old cabins decorates the area.

Nice old cabins decorates the area.

The return was not so gravelly as the trip to Savalen, but some 200 kms in total wasn’t half bad. I know several of the guys in the Offroad Touring Club (OTC), which I am a member of, know these neck of the woods pretty good and know the good routes. But I hadn’t had the time to consult The Elders, so given that I think I fared pretty well. Besides, I heading back to the area in August, when OTC has its annual “Bukkerittet” – a four day gravel bonanza with plenty of roads to enjoy.

I’ll save the best for when I go back🙂

Nice scenery by the lake at Savalen.

Nice scenery by the lake at Savalen.

My dog Diesel enjoyed the stay at Savalen.

My dog Diesel enjoyed the stay at Savalen.

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A tradition is born

9 people, 7 bikes, 4 days, 3 nationalities – 1 brilliant ride! Actually so brilliant that we need to do it again next year. 

The crew from Finland: Antti, Mia, Jaana, Reijo, Ilpo and Timo, flanked by Danish Andreas.

The crew from Finland: Antti, Mia, Jaana, Reijo, Ilpo and Timo, flanked by Danish Andreas.

Ilpo (FIN), Andreas (DK) and myself (NO) are working for the same company in our respective countries. When we learned that we also loved to ride motorcycles, the plans for a joint ride in Norway took shape rather rapidly. So when the day arrived for a proper Tour de Force in the tenderloin of the Southern and North Western Norway this Thursday in June, we were no less than six Finns on four bikes, two Norwegians on each of our bikes, and a Dane on his. A pretty good set-up for an extended weekend.

Even though the bike models were spread from my rather off road biased KTM 690 Enduro via my wife Sølvi´s Moto Guzzi Breva 750 and Andreas´ Honda SP1 to the Finns´Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Heritage whatever, the route we chose was suitable for all. You can find the majority of the route here.

We had decided to go for a more luxurious accomodation than I usually prefer. Tents and self catering was substituted with hotels and multi course dinners with a fine selection of wines. Very comfortable and dangerously addictive…

Therefore we chose to meet at Nermo Hotel just north of Lillehammer. I met up with Andreas as he pulled off the ferry from Copenhagen on the Thursday morning, and we set off for Nermo. My wife had some work to do first, so she would join us later in the evening. The Finns – Ilpo, Mia, Reijo, Antti, Timo and Jaana – arrived by ferry to Stockholm the very same morning and set in for a 700 km ride towards Nermo. Andreas and I tried to find all the smallest roads towards the hotel, just to extend the trip a wee bit in the warm and sunny weather.

At Nermo, we found that we had the whole hotel to ourselves, so when the rest of the crew arrived in the late afternoon, we had our riders´meeting and dinner quite uninterrupted in the hotel´s library. The Finns even brought the necessary ingredients to make “salmiakki-kosso” as a gift: Koskenkorva vodka with bon-bons which you soak in the spirit to flavour it. Apparently a Finnish speciality which we will try out in due time. Oh, and they also brought Moomin cups from which to drink the stuff. Very posh.

Friday morning was as sunny as the previous day, so when we set off for Venabygd mountain and Rondane, we couldn´t have asked for a more scenic friendly weather. The Finns and Dane, more accustomed to the flatness of their countries, seemed pretty satisfied with the scenery. Mia was even a bit sceptical when I told her that this was just a warm-up for the scenery ahead of us. But as it would prove later, it was.

After Oppdal, heading towards Sunndalsøra, Kristiansund and the Atlantic Road, the Weather Gods decided to test our spirits. They opened all the showers and sprayed us thoroughly. The Atlantic Road, which usually is quite an experience to ride across, was now cold, wet and something we hurried across to get to our chosen accomodation for the night, the Hustadvika gjestegård. My KTM´s speedo decided to call it the day at the last tank stop before the Atlantic Road, presumably getting tired of all the water. My wife´s Breva had a small oil leakage through a brittle valve cover oil seal, but none of these were serious faults and did not hamper our trip.

At Hustadvika gjestegård, we dried ourselves, seeking refuge in a wee drop of Jaloviina, and had another wonderful dinner as we watched the skies clear up and hoping for less rain the next morning. When Saturday morning broke, it was still raining. It eased off after breakfast, allowing me to fix the Breva´s wee oil leakage, so when we set off for Trollstigen, it was only raining a bit here and a bit there. The scenery as we neared Trollstigen was very dramatic, with the low hanging clouds and wet road. But the pay-off when we got to the top (and the souvenir shop where mandatory Trollstigen regalias were bought) was no less than awesome. The rain kept easing off, and we started to feel the heat from the sun as we set off towards Geiranger.

When we settled for lunch at the Jordbærstedet cafe, the sun had returned, and the ride got even more joyful. We could not have asked for better circumstances as we entered the Eagel´s Bend to look out on the Geiranger fjord. Mia now realised why the Venabygd and Rondane mountains were only warm-up. Reijo decided that the view was unreal and had to be created by special effects, smoke and mirrors. Andreas on his Honda was just a big grin inside his helmet, and Antti couldn´t get enough of video taping it all. Indeed a fantastic ride and a fantastic view. Even if we had to negotiate our bikes through a rather tourist crowded Geiranger to get to the mountain top on the other side, we were quite a happy band of riders when we met the intersection of the Stryn mountain road, which would eventually take us back to Lillehammer and our final stay-over for this trip.

Reijo, a seasoned rider who as taken his bike to most parts of the world, including the Americas, Myanmar and Africa, concluded that parts of the road he had ridden today was all the way on the top of all he had ever enjoyed on a bike. Quite a statement, and quite an endorsement of Norwegian motorcycle roads.

The trip was a success to such an extent that we decided to repeat it next year, only then we´ll go to Finland. It will not be like this trip – but it will be different. And in the end, that is what it is all about.

Andreas and yours truly on our way to Nermo Hotel.

 

Andreas and his bike, although not for rent.

A KTM 690 Enduro works fine in Norway, I´d say.

Cheers to the Gudbrands Valley!

Ilpo (left), yours truly, and Andreas. We are working for the same company in our respective countries.

My wife Sølvi´s Moto Guzzi Breva 750.

Well, the Finns have their regalias in order.

Even flying flags from their Harleys🙂

Sølvi at Venabygd mountain, Andreas in the background.

Taking in the view of the Rondane mountains

A wee stop on our way to Trollstigen. This is at Bolsøya.

Parked at Trollstigen, watching over the bikes while the rest of the crew takes in the view.

Sølvi (left), Mia and Ilpo at Geiranger.

Final dinner at Hvelvet Restaurant in Lillehammer.

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Norway Bike Weekend

Tomorrow, a band of Finns, a Dane and a couple of us Norwegians are joining force to do a Norway Bike Weekend. It will be a blast!

The Rondane Mountain Range

Actually, this is a trip that has been planned since last October, as one of the Finns is a colleague of mine. He has never ridden in Norway, and when I suggested to do a spring trip he was all in. He has invited some of his riding buddies from Helsinki and area, also bringing their wives riding pillion. From Denmark we are having one guy, whereas my wife and I are representing Norway. Some Swedes and Icelandics would have completed the Nordic set-up, but maybe next time.

We are doing the Tenderloin of South-Eastern and North-Western Norway, including the Venabygd Mountain Range, the Dovre Mountain Range, the Atlantic Road, Trollstigen and Geiranger. Quite an extensive route for a weekend, even for an oval one, but these guys are used to riding long and hard. They are Iron Butt Masters, so they know the drill.

I had to adjust the riding comfort of my KTM 690 Enduro with a comfy seat from Seat Concepts.

This evening, prior to our departure, I have prepared my KTM 690 Enduro with a more – shall we say – touring friendly seat from Seat Concepts. The standard one is not made for long hauls – not for my butt, anyway – so fortunately it arrived this afternoon, just in time for our departure. A while ago I bought a similar branded seat for my Yamaha WR250R, and I am so satisified I didn´t have to look further for a comfy seat. The pannier rack for my KTM didn´t arrive in due time, though, so I have to use some packing space on the Mothership.

     

The Mothership is my wife´s Moto Guzzi Breva 750, which also got its Krauser panniers mounted today. They fit very nicely, and is a breeze to install. It is one of those C-Bow thingies, and looks and feels pretty sturdy, even for being semi-rigid panniers. We will se how they fare in the debut this weekend. The only worry is the weather forecast. It has been the wettest, coldest and most snowy spring since 1946. It has become a tad warmer, though, so let´s hope the Weather Gods will treat us nicely.

 

Stay tuned for pics from the Norway Bike Weekend trip 2015!

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