Posts Tagged With: mc

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?

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

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.

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

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…

Categories: Trips | 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

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

It’s good to be a rider in Norway

Riders in Norway enjoy a freedom that is actually quite impressive.

It's good to ride a bike in Norway. This is from near Byrkjelo in the west.

It’s good to ride a bike in Norway. This is from near Byrkjelo in the west.

Riding a bike in Norway gives you advantages that other vehicle drivers can only dream of. Just listen to this:

– Bikes can filter in traffic queues.
– Bikes are exempt from road tolls.
– Bikes are allowed to ride in the bus lane (not with a sidecar, though).
– Bikes are for the most part exempt from bridge and/or tunnel tolls (the exception being where a bridge or a tunnel has substituted a ferry, where you’d pay anyway)
– Bikes have free parking in designated areas.
– When approaching a ferry queue, you are expected to move all the way to the front, passing the queue, so that the ferry crew can stack your bike in spots where a car can’t be parked. So you’ll always be first on board.
– Automatic speed cameras do not recognize bikes (but let not that trick you into speeding).

Bikes are for all practical purposes exempt from road toll in Norway.

Road toll? Bikes are free. Naturally.

These benefits, if we can call them that, are all firmly based on reason. If we cannot use public transport, it is good for traffic that we use two-wheelers instead of congestion-creating cars. As we also are “soft” road users, we need extra protection, e.g. allow us to ride in the bus lane. And so on. Nothing of this has come by itself, though. The Norwegian motorcyclists have through their own organisation, NMCU, fought for these rights. And now you, who are coming to visit us, can enjoy exactly the same benefits.

Nice, or what?

Categories: Good to know | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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