Misc

14 December: Top 15 cities to visit in Norway

RideNorway is counting down to Winter Solstice with trip planning tips and trivia!

14 December: Top 15 cities to visit in Norway

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Ålesund. One of the – or perhaps THE – prettiest town in Norway. (Image: RideNorway.com)

It may be a bit over-ambitious to call our cities for “cities”. They are rather small compared to those in the continental Europe. Maybe Oslo falls within the city framework – other than that, we mostly have towns. Anyway: Here is a list of the 15 best cities – or towns – to visit in Norway. It’s compiled by the travel web site Touropia, but it’s actually quite good, and hence recommended by RideNorway. Would probably put Ålesund on top – its architecture is simply astonishing! – and we’re not too sure about a few of the contenders at the lower end of the scale, but anyway: Here it is, the Top 15 Cities to visit in Norway.

Disagree? Let us know in the comments below!

Categories: Misc, norway, Routes, Trips | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

3 December: Top 3 craft beers of Norway

Norwegians celebrate “Jul” (from old norse Yule) on 24 December. RideNorway is counting down to Winter Solstice with trip planning tips and trivia!

3 December: Top 3 craft beers of Norway

These tips are only to be followed when you have parked your bike for the day. Remember: Norwegian highway police enforce (for all practical purposes) a zero tolerance in DUI. Whatever you do in your home country: Do NOT drink and ride while in Norway.

Apart from that, you are always more than welcome to enjoy proper Norwegian beer. Whereas Norwegian cuisine – you know, lutefish, smoked sheep head and the lot – may sound questionable at best (even if it tastes wonderful, at least to Norwegians), the beers we have to offer are top notch! For many, many decades, Norwegians and everybody else thought Norway had no beer brewing tradition, and that beer was best brewed in the UK, Germany and Belgium with the traditional lager, ale or wild yeast. A few years back, the prominent beer conoisseur Lars Marius Garshol started to investigate Norwegian farmhouse ales. Lo and behold: An all Norwegian, fourth class of yeast was discovered – the Kveik. Kveik is very special, as it is fermented at really high temperatures (up to +42C), making the beer ready to drink in just a couple of days. Each kveik has its own characteristics, depending on where in the country it is from. Some have really citric flavours, others more earthy, others again more floral or fruity. But we can assure you that the beer is top stuff, and the yeast itself has become an export article to the beer brewers of the world.

You simply must sample this beer when in Norway, even if you thought you didn’t like beer. Assuming you’re not seeking out local brewers of traditional farmhouse ales, you have to buy it. Here’s RideNorway’s top 3 list:

1) Voss bryggeri – Jolabrygg

Jolabrygg

Voss Bryggeri – Jolabrygg. Image: Vossbryggeri.com

This is a brew for celebration of the Winter Solstice, or “Jul / Jol”. But it is so good that it deserves to be drank all year. It is not like the traditional dark ales served at this time of year. Rather, it is a golden, slightly sweeter, but oh so fruity beer. If you cannot find it, look up “Vossaøl” or “Kveika Rugøl” from the same brewery. They are almost as good, and are usually easier to source in the summer.

2) Haandbryggeriet – Earthkveik

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Haandbryggeriet – Earth Kveik. Image: haandbryggeriet.com

A slightly lighter kveik beer with more earthy flavours, and more hops. It is perfect accompanied by something to nibble after a long day’s ride. It is sold in 0.33cl flasks, so a bit more awkward to transport in your pannier – but it is wort(h) it. Perhaps the best beer to get you introduced to kveik beers.

3) Ego Brygghus – Helt Rått

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Ego Brygghus – Helt Rått raw pale ale. Image: ego-brygghus.com

The wort in this pale ale has not been boiled, as is customary with beer elsewhere, which is why it is called a raw beer, or “rå”, hence its name “Helt Rått”. It is double dry hopped, instilling slightly more bitterness to the usually fruity kveik brews. It has the full body of a raw beer, while retaining the juicy flavours. A good thirst quencher after a day in the saddle!

You might have to seek out the Vinmonopolet which is a state owned and run monopoly for sales of alcoholic beverage above 4.7% vol to find these (except Helt Rått, which may be found in well assorted groceries or at Gulating). The Vinmonopolet outlets are found everywhere. If you have trouble finding one, ask any local. They know where to find one.

Oh, and if you are into beer brewing and want to learn more about kveik and how to brew with it, seek out kveiktraining.com. Maybe you’d like to make a stop-over out West to learn the trade while you’re in Norway anyway?

Do you have other favourite beers? Let us know in the comments below!

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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

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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Papa’s got a brand new bag!

I am in happy circumstances. I’ve got a new bike!

Papa's got a brand new bag: A KTM 690 Enduro R.

Papa’s got a brand new bag: A KTM 690 Enduro R.

Those who know me well knows that I’m a Guzzi-fan. I’ve had many of them, and still have a few in my garage. Unfortunately, Guzzi doesn’t have a contemporary offering in the gravel hooligan class. The Stelvio, which I used to have, is way too heavy and is by all measures a street bike. For some reason, Moto Guzzi has yet to respond to the plea of its die-hard followers to make a proper lightweight gravel adventurer based on their V7 model. Until that happens, those of us who love to do gravel touring are forced to look elsewhere. A couple of years ago, I bought the Yamaha WR250R, which is very capable, but a bit on the lean side power-wise for longer trips. Hence – enter the KTM 690 Enduro R! I’ve only had it for a very short while, but I must say it is a very capable ride. Except for the extremely uncomfortable saddle, it seems like it will be my prime choice for my upcoming gravel trip to the North Cape. I only need to do some smaller adjustments: A new seat, as mentioned, a larger tank, maybe a fairing of some sort, wider foot pegs, soft panniers and rack, a GPS – and that’s about it, I think.

If there is such a thing, I think the 690 Enduro is close to the ideal bike for riding in Norway. Then again – people are touring on all kinds of bikes over here, so maybe it’s true what they say: It’s the mindset, not the tool, that makes the adventure.

Let’s see how it goes.

There is something pristine and clean about an odo with all zeros on it.

There is something pristine and clean about an odo with all zeros on it.

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If there is such a thing, maybe the 690 Enduro is close to the ideal bike for riding in Norway?

If there is such a thing, maybe the 690 Enduro is close to the ideal bike for riding in Norway?

A quick how-to by the garage guy.

A quick how-to by the garage guy.

Yep. A happy chappy!

Yep. A happy chappy!

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Time to lose weight

It’s still a couple of months until we depart for this summer’s great gravel road expedition, and I need to lose some weight. Off the gear. Here are 6 weight-shedding items.

Aiming at max comfort, I packed my WR250R way too heavy for gravel riding on my test trip. Now it's time to lose some weight!

Aiming at max camping comfort, I packed my WR250R way too heavy for gravel riding on my test trip. Now it’s time to lose some weight!

 

A couple of weekends ago, a buddy of mine and I went for a weekend gravel trip into the Forest of the Finns near the Swedish border. This was some sort of a shakedown trip, as I packed the bike as I thought I would for the upcoming gravel expedition from South to North of Norway, paying special attention to bring along stuff that would make the nightly stay-overs more comfortable. You know – a bed AND a mattress, a big roomy lavvo, fat sleeping bag, et cetera. Heavy, but comfortable and cozy.

Ingenious design on this table.

Ingenious design on this table.

The incredibly light and small-packed Helinox chair. And it actually works!

The incredibly light and small-packed Helinox chair. And it actually works!

Not particularly surprising, this focus on comfort also meant that the bike behaved like a pig on the loose surfaced and quite muddy gravel roads. It became far too heavy overall, and particularly in the rear. I could not imagine a ride like that for some 5000 kms return. So I need to lose some weight. Off the gear I’ll bring.

So here is parts of my weight shedding plan:

A down McKinley sleeping bag. Being stuffed with down (90%) and feather (10%), it is light (1 kg), packs really small, have a decent rating of 0C, and is – above all – on sale for half price at the local outdoor gear store.

McKinley Enduro Ultralight.

McKinley Enduro Ultralight.

McKinley Enduro Ultralight tent. Weighing in at 1.3 kgs, it’s very light and not very expensive. The downside is that it’s only a single sheet tent, so it’ll probably not be 100% dry in case of heavy rain, which is why I’ll also bring along a tarp.

Dovrefjell Tarp 4. This 3×4 m tarp is very light, packs very small, and provides extra shelter in case of foul weather.

Exped Downmat 9 sleeping mattress. It packs quite small, and provides all the sleeping comfort I’ll ever need.

McKinley sleeping bag

McKinley sleeping bag

Helinox chair and table. These collapsible camp furniture are extremely light and also packs unbelievably small. I’ve tried them in the field, and they really work! They’re a bit on the pricey side, though, but lightness costs.

I haven’t checked the total weight yet, but I’ll think it’ll be around 6 kgs, which seems quite good.

Now all I have to do in addition is to bring lightweight food, cooking gear and clothes. Oh, and let me know if you have any tips on lightweight gear!

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Spring!

I think we officially can declare that spring finally has arrived!

My Guzzi California 1400 is too ready for a new season, as spring finally has arrived.

My Guzzi California 1400 is too ready for a new season, as spring finally has arrived.

At least here in the south-eastern parts of Norway. A nice sunny weekend brought bikers out from their hibernation, ending the PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome) that has ridden them through a long, dark winter. I looked over my Guzzi California 1400, which now is ready for a new season.My Yamaha WR250R is currently at a workshop where they’ll put in new, stiffer springs, but it’ll be ready by next weekend. My wife’s Guzzi Breva 750 is due for service this week, and then I think we’re ready to take on the 2015 season.

Of course, planning the new season has been going on since long. Here are a few happenings on my list: In April, we’re heading towards Evje in the southern parts of Norway, to meet up with biker friends at the Evje Rally. May will see us at the Moto Guzzi Spring Rally, whereas we in June will have a bunch of Finns over for a ride through an extended weekend. In July we’ll do a gravel road trip all the way up towards the Nordkapp – maybe the single trip I’m looking most forward to. The latter part of the season has not been planned yet, but I suspect it’ll be mostly gravel riding for my part. You’ll read all about it on this blog.

Yep, it’ll be a great season!

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Go to a rally while in Norway!

Want to visit a motorcycle rally while in Norway? The Rally Calendar is here!

Go to a bike rally while in Norway! It's great fun with great people.

Go to a bike rally while in Norway! It’s great fun with great people.

While riding around in Norway, it might be nice to have a chill weekend at a bike rally to wind down and relax. It’s a good idea in number of ways, as food and beer is a lot cheaper at rallies than anywhere else. Besides, you get to meet great people with the same interests as yourself. There are many rallies all over Norway in the summer months, and you will always find plenty of enjoyable, social fellow bikers who’d be more than happy to chat with you over a beer or two. Maybe they’ll even tell you about their secret, favorite road if you offer them a wee sip of that nice scotch you brought.

Rallies in Norway are not that big in attendance as the ones you might be used to.The largest ones, Rally Norway and the Troll Rally, typically attracts 1500-2000 bikers. Usually, the rallies are all from 100 to maybe 400 attendees. Smaller, but far easier to be social with all.

The Norwegian Motorcyclists’ Union publish a booklet, the NMCU Rally Calendar, with most interesting rallies posted. There is also an online version, although not all details of the rallies are disclosed here. The best option is to download the NMCU app, which includes maps showing all rally sites and route you directly to them. It will cost you a few bucks, though, as the app and full calendar are for NMCU members only. The good thing is that it cost only some 40 euro to join, and you pay your membership simply by downloading the app. It’s a small fee for a great service to make your trip to Norway even more enjoyable. Search for “NMCU” on AppStore or Google Play. The app is even in English, however most rally descriptions are in Norwegian. But by using Google translate and asking your fellow Norwegian riders (whom you may also get to know by posting your question at the Ride Norway Facebook Page) you will easily get by.

If you have questions regarding NMCU, the Rally Calendar or the app, contact NMCU.

The map routing feature is worth every penny!

The map routing feature is worth every penny!

You will find most of the rallies in Norway in the NMCU app.

You will find most of the rallies in Norway in the NMCU app.

The descriptions are mostly in Norwegian, but should be possible to decipher.

The descriptions are mostly in Norwegian, but should be possible to decipher.

The app is in English too, although most rally descriptions are in Norwegian. It bolsters a lot of other useful info too, also in English.

The app is in English too, although most rally descriptions are in Norwegian.

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Candy store

Our biannual motorcycle fair is a big thing for riders in Norway. It’s drooling time!

A not so new bike on display at the M/C Fair.

A not so new bike on display at the M/C Fair. Still droolable, though.

It is estimated that there are some 130.000 riders in this country. Not so many compared to – say – Italy, but enough to fill the biannual fair. Besides a few small, local shows, this is actually the only motorcycle fair to be reckoned with here.

It’s hard not to be tempted by all the sweet bikes that are on display, even though I must confess I have a soft spot for older bikes. At the Guzzi club stand, for instance, I saw this 250 Airone with the classic Guzzi design.

The Road Administration touted their National Tourist Roads project at the M/C Fair.

The Road Administration touted their National Tourist Roads project at the M/C Fair.

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A sweet Moto Guzzi 250 Airone at the Guzzi Club´s stand.

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In cooperation with the Norwegian Motorcyclists´ Union (NMCU) the Road Administration presented a brand new strategy for motorcycle strategy in Norway. Good also for you who will visit us.

For the first time I also spotted the Road Administration’s booth where they touted the National Tourist  Road project. They have realized the obvious that those particular roads are extremely well suited for motorcycle travel. Check out this link for more insight.

On a more political note, the Road Administration presented their brand new Motorcycle Strategy, which includes 21 concrete actions for improving the safety of motorcyclists in this country. The Norwegian Motorcyclists Union, which played a key role in the making of the strategy, had a stand from where it was presented to a huge audience. Norway is already the safest country to ride a motorcycle in, according to statistics from the European Motorcycle Safety Council. With this strategy, it will be even safer. Good thing!

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