Posts Tagged With: guzzi

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.

HP Calif 140020130105_121606000_iOS

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?

Categories: bikes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Garage Mini Rally

The Guzzisti of Eastern Norway had to have a test run of the rally equipment before the Big Italian Spring Rally later in May. So they spent a weekend in a garage.

The Norwegian Moto Guzzi Club has several branches, covering different geographical areas. In the South East, the local Guzzi branch is named “Østenfjeldske Foroverlænede Guzzisters Forening”. This name is practically impossible to translate, but it goes in the direction of “The Forwardly Inclined Guzzi Riders East of the Mountains”. It makes your espresso go cold even before you’re half way through pronouncing the name…

Anyway: In only a couple of weeks, the riders of Italian bikes – predominantly Guzzis – will have their annual spring rally at Røldal in the West. The Guzzisti of the East couldn’t wait that long, apparently, because they threw a get-together in the garage of members Berit and Tor the other weekend. Tents were erected on the lawn outside Berit and Tor’s house, barbeques were lit, beer consumed and Guzzis discussed throughout the whole weekend. It was for all practical purposes a test run before the Great Rally. Here is a pick of the bikes that were there – quite a few belonging to the very garage in which the party took place.

This original Guzzi Storenllo 125 Scrambler is up for some careful restoration to get it running again.

This original Guzzi Stornello 125 Scrambler is up for some careful restoration to get it running again.

Rain didn't matter as the garage was turned into a party cave for the occasion. Yes - it's a garage of proper size...

Rain didn’t matter as the garage was turned into a rally cave for the occasion for some of the participants. Yes – it’s a garage of proper size.

This sweet sidecar rig, a Guzzi V11 and Mobec sidecar, is owned by Lars and is the envy of many Norwegian Guzzisti.

This sweet sidecar rig, a Guzzi V11 and Mobec sidecar, is owned by Lars and is the envy of many Norwegian Guzzisti.

We camped on the lawn and had a barbeque just outside Berit and Tor's house.

We camped on the lawn and had a barbeque just outside Berit and Tor’s house.

The Guzzi S3 is a rare sight. One of the few around was here.

The Guzzi S3 is a rare sight. One of the few around was here.

Another sweet sidecar rig, with a 1000 Le Mans engine and Hedingham sidecar.

Another sweet sidecar rig, with a 1000 Le Mans engine and Hedingham sidecar.

Il Presidente Bjørn (left), while Lars signals that there is something missing in this picture.

Il Presidente Bjørn (left), while Lars signals that there is something missing in this picture.

The Guzzi V35/65TT was an attempt from the Mandello engineers to make a dual sport back in the '80s. Not too successful, but popular among Guzzisti. Of course.

The Guzzi V35/65TT was an attempt from the Mandello engineers to make a dual sport back in the ’80s. Not too successful, but popular among Guzzisti. Of course.

It's a Guzzi bastard, looks dubious, and goes like hell. Eigil knows his way around engines.

It’s a Guzzi bastard, looks dubious, and goes like hell. Eigil knows his way around engines.

Beside a commuter Kawasaki 500, my Yamaha was the only non-Italian bike at the scene.

Beside a commuter Kawasaki 500, my Yamaha was the only non-Italian bike at the scene.

 

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

Fun in the Forest of the Finns

It was way past due to grind those off-road tyres on proper gravel roads. Last weekend, Henning and I decided  to do just that. 

We spent the night in one of the cabins which are available for free or nearly free. Peaceful and nice!

I am quite a newbie to proper gravel riding, even though I´ve been facinated by it since many years. Not until I bought my light, nimble and powerful-enough Yamaha WR250R did I dare to venture into the loose stuff for real. 

Henning, on the other hand, is a former motorcross, road race and enduro rider and instructor. Thanks to him, my learning curve has been pretty steep – although this particular weekend I felt like it was my first time on gravel: My riding was stiff, my cornering awful, and things just didn´t feel right. 

However, the area in which we were riding, Finnskogen (eng. “Forest of the Finns”), is extremely inviting when it comes to gravel riding. There are miles and miles of gravel roads, very little (if at all) traffic, and free cabins all over the place, which you can borrow for the night. In other words: A Mecca for gravel riders.

The first leg was all but muddy: The track was thick of slippery mud, so we admittedly had to struggle a bit to get our bikes through – Henning on his Transalp, me on my Yamma. Or at least: It felt like we had to struggle. I think I was the only one who did it, as Henning effortlessly steered his Honda more or less sure-footed through the slippery stuff. 

It did become a lot better when we arrived to the forest roads themselves: Dry to the point of dusty, vacant and available.

We spent a night in a small cabin, had a meal and just relaxed before riding back home the day after. A short burst of season debut for me, but it was good to shake loose a bit. I´ll even try to do better next time.

If you´re a gravel rider too, make sure you visit Finnskogen when you visit Norway. It´s well worth spending a few days on this area. 

Stay on these roads!

 

Henning (right) and yours truly. We´re heading for Kirkenes in the north by gravel this summer.

Henning and his trusty Transalp in the back and my Yamma in the front 🙂

There was no firewood in the cabin, but Rolf, who lives nearby, provided us with a couple of bags to heat the evening.

Pretty nice view by the lake Fjørsjøen

You just have to love this…

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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.

Categories: Good to know, 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.

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Frozen

The first pics and videos from last weekend’s Primus Rally is hitting the web. What a rally they had!

(Video published by permission of Roger Visser)

Roger Visser and his crew from the Netherlands rode some of the ca 80 bikes from several countries that rallied together in the Fjorda area of Bjoneroa last weekend for the annual Primus Rally. Alas, due to duties for the Norwegian Motorcyclists’ Union, I couldn’t participate myself this year. But the video from Roger shows some of the good things that goes on in the frozen period in Norway. Reportedly, it was a mild venue this year, only -16C during the night, and around 0C in the daytime. Nothing scary, in other words.

You can also see some pics if you tune into the Primus Rally Facebook Page. Enjoy!

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

In Norway, you are never trespassing

To pitch a tent wherever you want on uncultivated land is a right for everyone who roams this country – Norwegian or visitor. And it adds to the experience of Norway.

To find a nice spot and pitch your tent somewhere in the uncultivated land adds to the experience of Norway.

To find a nice spot and pitch your tent somewhere in the uncultivated land adds to the experience of Norway.

With a country such as Norway, with so many beautiful areas and scenery, you might think that the access is restricted or commercialized by someone. But that isn’t the case. To Norwegians (and visitors) it is a long-standing right to roam the land without restrictions. It is actually the law: It is forbidden to deny anyone access to uncultivated land. You can freely ride your bike onto a forest road, find a nice spot, and pitch your tent without the fear of doing something illegal. You can read the fast facts about this act here.

More often than not, I bring my tent when I ride around. It gives me the ultimate sense of freedom. With a little food and a stove in my pannier, I am totally independent – at least for a couple of days – and can choose my home for the night at my whim. To me, it adds to the experience of this country. Sure, it can be nice to book into a hostel, or rent a cabin or pitch your tent at a camp site. But to really feel the tranquility and vastness of this nature, a night or two in the wild is good. And that’s what we motorcyclist are all about, right? Wild and free and all that?

Besides, it saves me for a couple of hundred NOK each night I spend wild camping…

Categories: Good to know | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Yay! Soon Primus time!

I said to my Danish Triumph-riding friend Lars: You have to go to the Primus Rally to become a fully fledged motorcyclist. It’s not true, of course, because I just wanted to lure him over to Norway to join me for a rally because he’s a good guy. But besides that, the (in)famous Primus is due the upcoming weekend, if you need to grow some hair on your chest.

It’s been around for a while. Some say 43 years. Others 45. The fact remains: It’s by far the most popular winter rally in Norway. At least of the ones where you camp outdoors. Usually the attendance is anywhere from 90 to 120 bikes.

The Primus has always been organized the last full weekend of February. It’s never been advertised or anything. People know when it is and just turns up. A lot of Danes, some Germans, Norwegians of course, a few Swedes, and the other year we had visitors all the way from Scotland (thanks for the tin of haggis, by the way – it IS really good!)

The upcoming weekend is Primus Rally weekend!

The upcoming weekend is Primus Rally weekend!

It’s not like the Elefanten treffen in Germany nor the Dragon Rally in Wales. It is not even near being what the Krystall Rally is. The Primus is a very simple rally, where what you bring with you is all you have. A local merchant comes along with some firewood which he sells for quite reasonable prices, and there is a boombox – if you know what I am referring to – available. Other than these quite modern amenities, you have to bring everything yourself to camp for a couple of days out in the woods of Fjorda near Bjoneroa. The riding time is approximately 2 hrs from Oslo, if you’re considering to join.

You should.

Here’s a video from a previous year you can have a look at while you book your ferry ticket and scramble your gear.

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

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