Part 2: Riding South
The Nordkapp is neither the northernmost point of Europe, nor is it on continental europe (it's on a island), some typical tourist trap. But anyway, it's the northernmost point in Europe you can ride to. That's at least something. ;-) But that didn't matter too much, the ride is what counts, and riding in northern Europe is terrific.
Although I'm technically heading home from now on, there were still lots and lots of nice roads in front of me. I made a loop through finnish Lapland. I found a long and lonesome gravel through the nothingness of the Taiga. A stretch of 200 km (125 miles) with only a small village in between.
Getting dirty as it starts to rain. These kind of gravel roads are fun to ride on. They are unlike the gravel roads I've seen around here. Under the gravel is firm clay, which gives you at least some
traction. The gravel and the vast hills make it interesting.
Sweden greeted me with sunshine. At a gas station I met a german couple on BMWs. Their travel itienary was pretty cool: Every morning, they would throw dices and let them decide the general direction of today. They started out in Oslo and had a lot of north and east "throws" but still plenty of time to play their game. Will have to try that out one day.
The Lofoten (Archipelago connected with impressive bridge constructions) are just at the right latitude to have the sunset all night long. I initially wanted to pitch my tent on the Lofoten sometime in the evening, but just couldnt stop myself from riding on. The sunset merges into sunrise seamlessly, so I ride through the night until 4AM and enjoy the empty roads and beautiful colours.
I finally settle at this beautiful spot on the beach.
Back on the mainland, I ride along the scattered coast, often the only way of getting further is taking the next ferry. I had to wait four hours for this ferry. No problem at all with a view like this.
Beautiful sunset on said ferry.
The captain mumbled something through the speakers and everybody got out with their cameras. I was no different. Apparently, we were crossing the Arctic circle.
And then the big rain started. Since I've crossed the border to Norway, there was rain every day, but the sun always came back. The dropped temperatures were ok, as long as it didn't rain all day. But it was different now. For days it has been raining 90% of the day. Only a few times I got some sunshine - this was when I mostly took out the camera. Unfortunately, I forgot my cheap point & shoot in a hut a few days earlier (got it back though), and I didn't take a lot of pictures in the rain with my new and shiny DSLR.
All this rain was too much for the spark plug in the front cylinder. A known problem with the SV - the only one I ever had in 62'000km! I ride slowly to the next gas station, where I can replace the spark plug. The clerk seems to have pity with the drowned rat and supplies me with free coffee. It takes a while until I figure out how to replace the spark - hey I'm a noob at working with my bike.
I'm riding late into the night, there's of course still enough light. I love the calmness. The rain stops for a few hours and I enjoy the sights.
This is what the motorcycle school looks like in Norway.
I don't really want anybody to influence throttle and brakes from the backseat.
Extremely expensive, but tasty burger from the gas station.
The atlantic road south of Trondheim
The next highlight: The Trollstigen (Trolls ladder). Not a lot of pictures - but I captured a lot of clips for the video. Had the road almost to myself. Ok it was about 10PM and raining, but it was fun.
Completely wet and cold I look for bed a and a shower. Temperatures of 6°C (42°F) and rain all day long for several days is extremely wearisome. No chance, I'm too late. Every hotel is booked, stupid me, it's main season in Norway! I catch the last ferry to Geiranger where I meet a fellow swiss, having the same problem. Our last chance is the small village of Eisdal on the other side of the Fjord. We're in luck, there's one small room with two beds available. He still has some bread and sausages left and I provide us with beer. Many hours and good travel stories later, we go to bed.
The next day, we ride over the famous Geiranger.
Being one of the prime tourist spots, it's extremely crowded, and we ride with a top speed of 30km/h (19 mph) over the foggy pass. Meh.
We separate later, as he rides towars Oslo, I want to take the western route.
Too bad about this cool road (see old road on the right)
Cooking at the bus stop.
My last night in Norway is in a fancy ski resort hotel. Looks expensive, but the price was ok. Too bad I awake to this.
As I check out, I hear about the attacks in Oslo and Utøya island. All the flags are on half-mast.
The rain is intense. If it weren't for the attacks, you would have probably heard about these floodings in southern Norway. I have to take some detours because of flooded roads.
I still have a lot of distance to cover, missing the ferry would be pretty bad. On the main road towards Oslo, all the traffic is stopped by the police.
Just in time, I arrive at the docks. The sun finally shows as the ferry leaves. I meet two danish riders who invite me to a beer in their clubhouse, and to pitch my tent. Joe (the swiss guy on the cruiser) joins in, he took the same ferry as I did. I love these evenings with good beer and interesting company.
Look how Joe still can't take his hands down from all the apehanger riding. ;-)
Denmark... Flat as a pancake. There is a lot of water, I like that.
Unknown to most, they have some wicked twisties, too! Look at the sign warning you!
Hmm ok, not that twisty, I admit.
The next evening, I arrive in the Netherlands, where I meet my aunt and her husband. We go for a ride with their oldschool BMW bikes. I remember, when I was a kid and always rode on the back of their bikes (or in the garage). Now I could finally ride their bikes!
Afsluitdijk, holding back the ocean from overflowing the Netherlands.
Some smaller roads through the countryside lead me to Germany...
...where I ride on the Autobahn to the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife.
The custom officials at the swiss border think I'm suspicious with all that luggague and want to know where I come from. They don't believe my story, but let me in anyways after a short check. I should clean my license plate as soon as I get home... Suuure, officer.
Arriving at home. Exhausted, happy, filled with new experiences and the will to do something like this again soon.
9501 km (5903 miles), 31 days, about 500 liters of fuel, 1 liter oil, 400 ml chain spray, 1 spark plug.
Thanks for your attention.