Posts Tagged With: bike

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

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!

Categories: Misc | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Viking biking destinations

Why not turn your bike trip in Norway into a Viking theme trip?

Norway is famed for its viking heritage, and here you can find the Top 5 picks where you can learn more about a culture that was far from as savage as it has been portrayed especially in popular culture. More importantly: You can get to drink proper honey mead!

The Oseberg ship. (Photo: Grzegorz Wysocki)

The Oseberg ship. (Photo: Grzegorz Wysocki)

Categories: Routes, Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

23 more reasons to ride Norway

If you still need reasons for visiting Norway on your bike, here are 23 more.

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Image: earthporm.com

The website Earthporm.com has posted these stunning images of Norway. Alright – a few of them are of taken in the winter, but still they should give you more reasons (if you need them) to pack up your bike and get over here. Not entirely unexpected, a majority of the images are from the Lofoten area. Of all the scenic pearls you’ll find in Norway, Lofoten is probably the most shiny of them all. Come see for yourself!

 

Categories: Images of Norway | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

9 useful things to bring

Beside your bike, riding gear, passport and credit card, there are a few things that makes out the mainstay of every riders touring set-up. These are the 9 things I can’t do without.

A lavvo is the ultimate compromise between enough living space and pack size. A mainstay in my touring set-up.

A lavvo is the ultimate compromise between enough living space and pack size. A mainstay in my touring set-up.

Categories: Good to know | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nordkapp – not the Top of Europe

So you want to ride to the top of Europe? Nordkapp isn’t it – but you can still reach it.

The classic North Cape pic, as my buddy Jon and I saw it. Photo: HP

The classic Nordkapp picture. But you are not on top of mainland Europe when you’re standing by the Globe.

After many adventurous miles on your motorcycle, you finally reach your goal. The North Cape – Nordkapp. You park your bike and wander along the path leading to the plateau and ask a fellow tourist to take a picture of you beside the famous Globe. You are on top of the world. On top of mainland Europe. Only – you aren’t.

Contrary to popular belief, Nordkapp is not the northernmost point in Europe. Some argue that the fact that Nordkapp is situated on the Magerøya Island in itself disqualifies it from being the northernmost point on mainland Europe. But for some reason, Nordkapp has gotten away with it, especially after they built the under sea tunnel connecting the mainland and Magerøya Island. Heavy marketing has also led most people to accept that the Nordkapp plateau IS the northernmost point.

But even if we accept that Magerøya is a part of the mainland, Nordkapp (N 71° 10’ 21”) is still not farthest to the north. Actually, it is Knivskjelodden (N 71° 11’ 08”). Knivskjelodden is a small peninsula west-northwest of the Nordkapp plateau. It is nearly 1.500 meters further north than the plateau itself, and you can see it when you stand by the Globe.

The good thing is that Knivskjelodden is reachable – but you’ll have to walk there. Some 7 kms south of the plateau,along the main road, you will find the starting point of a marked walking path leading to Knivskjelodden. The path is 8 kms long and will take you some 2 hrs to walk.

It might seem like quite an ordeal, but hey – how often are you on the real Top of Europe?

Standing by the Nordkapp globe, Jon is pointing at Knivskjelodden, where he actually has been.

Standing by the Nordkapp globe, Jon is pointing at Knivskjelodden, where he actually has been.

Categories: Good to know | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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!

Categories: Misc | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Categories: Good to know, Misc | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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!

Categories: Misc | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heavy Water Sabotage Trip

One of WW2’s most famous sabotage actions was against the heavy water plant in Vemork, Telemark. You can – and should – visit the plant on your motorcycle trip.

Yours truly selfie with Asle, Håkon and Geir-Olaf by the sabotage memorial monument.

Yours truly selfie with Håkon, Asle and Geir-Olaf by the sabotage memorial monument.

The Norwegian telly broadcaster NRK recently aired a highly popular series depicting the quite astonishing sabotage mission against the Vemork Heavy Water plant in 1943. Dare-devil Norwegian commandos, trained by British SOE, managed to get into the plant and detonate explosives – without casualties – to stop Hitler from getting his A-bomb, for which he thought he needed heavy water, or deuterium oxide. When you get there, you realize what a stunning feat this was, as the plant is on the other side of a deep, steep canyon – and especially since earlier failed sabotage missions had led the Germans to strengthen the security and placing some 3000 troops in and near the facility. SOE later reckoned this mission to be its most successful during WW2.

Although the building which housed the plant itself is no longer, you can have a tour in the older, now decommissioned power plant building, and have the story told. It is a great ride to get there. This route takes you off the main road at Kongsberg and leads you along the twisty Road 40 and 753 until you reach Vemork, which is some 200 kms west of Oslo. And if you’re in a really adventurous mode, you can do bungee jumping from the bridge that crosses over to the plant. I didn’t, though…

Have fun!

 

This is the actual building where the sabotage took place - Vemork Hydroelectric Plant 1935 by Anders Beer Wilse - Galleri Nor

The actual building where the sabotage took place, Vemork Hydroelectric Plant 1935 by Anders Beer Wilse – Galleri Nor

 

You can have a guided tour at the plant, and get an insight to the many sabotage actions that were launched against this plant during WW2.

You can have a guided tour at the plant, and get an insight to the many sabotage actions that were launched against this plant during WW2.

Categories: Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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