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Old 09-30-2012, 03:47 AM   #16
Thijs_B OP
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Thanks by the way to everyone for your comments, both in the thread and via PM

It is more work than I imagined to do this RR so keep 'm coming!
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Old 09-30-2012, 11:07 AM   #17
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Hey Thijs

Great rr so far.
I´m from Denmark, so a bit fun to see pics from here
The way you drove through Denmark, you most also have passed a bridge called "Lillebælt", which goes from Jylland to Fyn. It´s a lot smaller than "Storebælt" and "Øresund" bridge, which both are aproximately 20-21 km long in total.
The tunnel on the way from Denmark to Sweden is actually below waterline, and not below the city of Copenhagen. Just a minor detail.

Cheers

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Old 09-30-2012, 11:51 AM   #18
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I almost made the same trip 2 summers ago, so hell yea im in, what a trip, the trip!
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Old 09-30-2012, 12:20 PM   #19
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Reading this with interest. Finland looks like northern Minnesota.
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Old 09-30-2012, 02:02 PM   #20
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Really enjoying your report.

Great photos.

Thanks,

JM.
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Old 10-01-2012, 11:43 AM   #21
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Eh?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mart´n View Post
Hey Thijs

Great rr so far.
I´m from Denmark, so a bit fun to see pics from here
The way you drove through Denmark, you most also have passed a bridge called "Lillebælt", which goes from Jylland to Fyn. It´s a lot smaller than "Storebælt" and "Øresund" bridge, which both are aproximately 20-21 km long in total.
The tunnel on the way from Denmark to Sweden is actually below waterline, and not below the city of Copenhagen. Just a minor detail.

Cheers

Martin
After googling it I think I remember crossing the Lillebælt yes, but I didn't write about it in my journal. I crossed a bridge of comparable size going through Germany as well, but these big ones really stood out for me.

I remember seeing buildings on top of the tunnel's entrance, so I assumed it went under the city. Looking at google maps I think that must have been a different tunnel entirely (and not even a long one) . That part was written from memory, I guess that's the disadvantage of doing RR's after the trip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2712 View Post
I almost made the same trip 2 summers ago, so hell yea im in, what a trip, the trip!
I remember reading your ride report, didn't really used it for planning but ended up somewhat the same. There's only so many way's one can get up north I guess
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Old 10-01-2012, 11:47 AM   #22
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Laugh Day6 - Reaching the arctic circle

That day I would head to Rovaniemi, to cross the arctic circle at the Santa Park.

GPS track of the day:


I cannot believe how lucky I have been with the weather up until that point, sure I had a bit of rain now and then, but no complaints overall. That day however, the weather changed quite a bit, and I got in the region where autumn had really set in. Instead of staying ahead of the rain, as had been the case the previous day, it was all around. But since it all was very local the sun showed itself a lot as well.


Wearing the rain suit, still looking for children to steal though


After finishing the 843 road to Kuusamo I followed the nice 81 road through an area with more farmland than I had seen until that point in Finland, and it was clear I was getting near the 'city' of Rovaniemi.


Me somewhere along the 81, with the rain suit packed again, but still dodging rainclouds.
Still thick forests here though.

Rovaniemi itself is not that big, and as I drove around it a bit but I didn't stop and take pictures. Instead I found the Santa Park just north of it and stopped for the obligatory arctic circle crossing pic.


Nothing more, nothing less

Had a look in the gift shops, and bought some stickers for my panniers. The cashiers there didn't look very happy, which I can understand since they have to be around all these Christmas themed shops all day every day. There was also something kinda depressing about the whole place since the sun had gone behind some cloud cover, and there was no snow or many people around. There were some happy Christmas tunes playing all the time, and the whole atmosphere felt a bit forced because of all this.

But I like to have these kind of milestones anyway, they give a real sense of travel, and even though the arctic circle is nothing more than an imaginary line it felt great to finally cross it.


This line's probably way off, the actual line moves approx. 15 meters every year according to Wikipedia. Forgot to hold my GPS next to it for actual coordinates...
Looking back I can't remember if there's a specific reason for using the french 'Cercle' as center for this pic instead of the more familiar 'Arctic Circle' on the left



Still 680 km to the Nordkapp. 1972 km from Amsterdam, but I was 2060 km from home the night before. Going west actually brought me closer to home apparently… Time to change that

After that I just continued north, following road 79. Rovaniemi had been a decision point for me, as I first planned to go northeast towards Ivalo. I originally planned to ride to the far north east of Norway, but since the weather seemed to get worse every day I decided to cut that corner and go the Kapp directly. When the sun was out it was absolutely perfect, but when it was raining it seemed to get worse every single time. Guess that's the price for doing the trip so late in the year.


Autumn has it's nice moments, and the sun was as clear as ever since the air got cleansed every time it rained.



Refilling my bottles in the river. Here the sun was out, sky was beautiful deep blue and the autumn colors were starting to show (no color corrections in these pics),
in the distance the next rainclouds were lurking...

This was the last pic of the day, as I got drenched in the next hour. It got so bad and my boots had lost the last evidence of ever being waterproof. I therefore didn't want to camp and found a B&B in Kittilä to enjoy a nice shower and get warm for a change. There was even a television, but with only local channels it was hard to understand anything of it. Still, by watching pictures I got the big idea eventually, and weather-forecasting-people are never very hard to understand.

Daily achievements:
483 km traveled (more than I wanted, but took me some time finding a roof to sleep under), in almost 6 hours and averaging 83 km/h. 2090 km from home again

The next day would take me into the eye watering beauty of the Norwegian Finnmark plains, but also the first mechanical troubles started...
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:12 AM   #23
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Talking Day 7 - Leaving Finland into Norway

GPS track of the day:


Had some beautiful weather going north from Kittilä, and the occasional lake view made for some nice riding. I followed road 21 for a while, which hugged the Swedish border, but finally got on the 93 which would take me into the Finnmark region of Norway.


Yup, simply enjoying the ride. It was however colder than it looks from the pics.


Just before reaching Enontekiö I suddenly came upon this lake, and it was absolutely stunning. I parked the bike and after turning the ipod and engine off, there was a complete absence of sound. Absolutely nothing, not even birds. The peace and calm of the place was absolutely one of the highlights of the trip :


The lack of sound was absolute, and almost felt pressing on the ears.



‘Been there’-pic.

It felt almost like a violation of nature starting the engine again, and I waited a while before turning the music back on after continuing.

I met a German couple in Enontekiö at the local gas station, they were traveling on the big GS and a Harley Davidson. They even spoke some Dutch, can’t really get away from that language I guess. They had traveled north through Norway to the Nordkapp, and had been there the day before. Going south through Finland from that point. The weather report was not good, they had nothing but rain in Norway, and this was the first good weather they encountered. They also had to ride through a storm at the ‘Kapp, and had to lean the bike ’45 degrees in the wind’, with zero visibility. So I guess going to the Norwegian northeast was now definitely out of the question.
I couldn’t really judge the weather out there, still being hundreds of kilometers inland, but now I just wanted to get to the Nordkapp itself as soon as possible before the weather got even worse. It felt strange talking about that kind of bad weather when the sun was out and the sky was predominantly blue, but I had a sense I was really pushing my luck going this late in the year.

Had some showers the last bit of Finland, so I only stopped once to put on the rain suit. Lots of Sami houses spread all across the plain (the forests had gone), but no sign of life anywhere, also not in the reindeer pens. Guess the herds were elsewhere, as well as the people.

Then suddenly saw an abandoned small building, with a small parking area, and some hundreds meters later an insignificant sign ‘Norge’. I realized this was the border only after crossing it. The border was surprisingly insignificant, even more so since Norway is not part of the EU (it is part of the Schengen countries however, so free travel). The ‘inter-EU’ borders that I’ve crossed always seemed more noticeable with for instance changes in asphalt color/quality.


The Finnmark was covered with this stuff.


The landscape however changed over the course of a few kilometers, and opened up into massive plains. The utter scale of the Finnmark is hard to imagine, and I tried to capture it with pictures but I couldn’t get it to work, partly due to all the medium high vegetation next to the road. The closest I got was this panorama:


You can see the mountains in the far off distance, but the sense of scale is not really there. Autumn had really made the entire land orange!
Click on it for a better view.


The open plains had other advantages as well, I could see the weather changing all around, and could fairly accurate predict when I was going to get hit with rain. One time I stopped to get the rain suit out, and 200 meters down the road I got splashed with monsoon showers.


This was just off the road, pointing to a lake. I have a thing for airplanes, so seeing one up close like this is always nice.


Going further north some mountains started to show in the distance. These were still probably dozens of kilometers away, took me all afternoon to get there.


Even now I can hardly imagine how big the space is between me and the mountains over there. The shadows of all the clouds help though.


It had been getting colder with every kilometer I went north, and I really started to feel it. Combined with all these showers I started looking for a cabin (‘hytte’) to stay the night. Found one just before a military zone just south of Lakselv, so couldn’t camp there anyway.

Found out during the day that my xenon headlight had broken, and since it’s mandatory in Norway to run with headlights on, I fixed it before dinner. On the F650 this is quite a chore, as you have to unbolt the entire front end of the bike. So half an hour later the light was finally replaced by a regular halogen bulb, and the entire xenon assembly had been yanked out


Looks worse than it is.


After that went to the nearby lake and back in Zen mode, read my book on the pier while the sun sank behind the mountains and it got too cold to stay outside.


Another boat ring!


Don't know what this knot's is called


Mountain sunset!


Daystats:
Traveled 410 km over almost 5 and a half hours, averaging 78 km/h. Was now almost 2300 km away from home!

The next day I would finally be reaching the Nordkapp! Was looking forward to it, but hoped the weather wouldn't be too bed.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:23 AM   #24
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Ik geloof dat ik maar eens van m'n luie kont moet afkomen
Mooie plaatjes!
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:24 AM   #25
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Talking Day 8 - Getting to the 'Kapp

The day started out a bit wet, but I was optimistic about the weather. Had a chat with the campsite owner, and the weather should not be too bad. He said he advised other bikers who were there on racing type bikes not to go further north, because there had been snow up in the mountains. ‘But you should be ok with that one’, he said pointing to my bike. Inspiring confidence there, but I’m not sure if the GS like appearance of the F650 helps if I would find snow or ice on the road. Luckily it wouldn’t get that bad.

GPS Track of the day:


So finally getting to the cape today, the biggest milestone of the entire trip! Psyched I got on the road, and after filling the tank in Lakselv I got to the ‘final stretch’, which was still almost 200 km from there, following the edge of the peninsula.

I’m not sure if the bay at Lakselv can already be called a Fjord, it is seawater with mountains on either side (which is what I understand the definition of a fjord), but the water part of it was still vast!


Enjoying the view for a bit, just north of Lakselv.


Nice rim!


Stacking stones is a tradition in Norway, probably more popular with the tourists than with the locals. A big one was standing out, it was about 3m high! It was also by far the biggest one I saw during the entire trip.


A lot of stones were marked with the names of the people who had been there. I could just about reach the top, so looked around for a nice one to add as my own (it’s the little square one top left)

Just before reaching these stones there was a tunnel with a very sharp corner at the exit. This was the first time I misjudged a corner while on the trip, and I went in way too fast. Luckily the road was dry, but braking wasn’t really an option, as I was already leaning the bike in too much. Bailing out was also not an option; there was an ocean on the other side of the fence. Only option left was to just go with it, so I leaned in more and more. Back home getting my steps on the tarmac is not problem, I often do it just for sport, but I never risked it on the trip. I even had to lift my foot of the step, and at the same time got the left pannier down :P. It’s a long way from home crashing here, but I luckily got through it.


Resulting ‘wound’, but still waterproof so no biggie.


Going further north the landscape kept changing. The road followed the contour of ocean; on the left were steep mountains, on the right the cold sea, and at one point most of the vegetation stopped. It eventually was like riding on the moon, it is an extremely beautiful but bare landscape. Even though the weather was almost perfect, I didn’t stop to take pictures, I just slowed down a bit and enjoyed riding through this amazing country.


Taken just one corner before entering the Nordkapp tunnel, the mountains in the distance on the left are of the cape island.

The tunnel itself is free to pass through as of June (or something like that). Apparently it was only a toll tunnel until the costs of its construction had been covered. The ride on the island itself was also very beautiful, but after Honningsvåg the weather got very rough. The wind really got up to storm force and it started to rain a bit (almost horizontal because of the wind) which started to really get the temperature down. It was hard to keep the bike in a straight line, and combined with some very steep parts while climbing the island I think these were the most difficult riding conditions I have ever been through (up until that day, they got even worse 2 days later)

Then finally I saw the buildings marking the Cape in the distance. The road split up in multiple lanes just before a small booth, where a bike was parked with the front towards me. I stopped, the guy in the booth was busy on the phone, so I asked the bloke next to the bike if I had to pay. ‘Off course, this is Norway’ he said. So I had driven thousands of kilometers, almost toll free, and had to pay for the last 100 metres of gravel parking lot. The biker asked me where I was from, having not seen my plate. ‘Netherlands’ I replied. ‘Oh dan kunnen we gewoon Nederlands praten’ he said with a Flemish accent, ‘In that case we can just talk Dutch’. It was strange talking in my own language, considering where I was, but why not.

Berti had been traveling all along the coast of Europe from the southern tip of Spain on a BMW R1200C (the chopper cruiser from James Bond Tomorrow Never Dies!). Not a single mechanical problem, and on the parking lot of the Nordkapp he got a flat tire. Had to wait there a couple of hours for help.

Anyway, after (carefully) parking I was finally here!


It was windy, rainy, and very cold. Don’t care!


‘Been-there-pic’ taken with my phone, to send home to my family.
Contrary to some reports I've seen, I had full cellular coverage up there.


Notice the bad weather leaving in the distance on the right, and the sun appearing on the left.


After walking around a bit I went into the building, and bought stickers for my panniers in the (very big) gift shop. Walked around for a bit, making sure I didn’t miss something interesting. There was a corridor going down into the rock, where there was a small church and a tiny museum honoring a Korean(?) emperor who travelled here 100-something years ago. Going further down I found some sort of café / restaurant, which was completely deserted.


Advantage of going out of season, you got the place all to yourself. Could be a disadvantage, depending want you want out of travel.
The Nordkapp monument is right above this ceiling.


The big window looked on ‘King’s view’, which was a balcony carved out of the rock overlooking the icy ocean.


Looking north from King’s view (and west, and east). The panorama stitching along the horizon is crap, and should obviously be completely straight.


Guess that’s it! Chatted with Berti some more, exchanging stories and then just left as there was nothing left to do. I left just in time, a gazillion tourists suddenly flooded out of three tour busses. They were literally running towards the monument, trying to get a picture of it while there was still no one there. I felt sorry for them with their bags and jackets flapping all around while clumsily trying to run with their cameras in hand. Luckily I don't travel like that...

Since I had a SPOT gps tracker in my topcase, my parents knew I had reached the Cape, even before I called them. My father found a webcam which is taking 360 degrees panoramas every 10 minutes. I got shot!


Since every panorama is made up of multiple shots I’m in there multiple times!


Going back the weather had improved quite a bit, so I could enjoy the sights more than I had when I arrived.


Definitely open this one full size! In the middle of the shot you can see the road curving its way through this almost Martian scene. There’s even some snow on the left!


Even though the weather was better on the way south, I was now riding into the wind which was even more cold than before. It took me almost all afternoon getting down again, and at Olderfjord I finally took the intersection towards Alta. I was starting to look for a place to camp since I had been under a (expensive!) roof for two nights in a row. The landscape was however very barren with hardly any trees or bushes for shelter from the road (but still very beautiful!). The rain was also getting worse, so I decided to go all the way to Alta to find a cabin. Soaked and very cold I arrived there and found one.

I felt like I finally did it, completed the 2 year dream! I was still however not even halfway, both in distance and in time. The trip had only just begun!

Daily achievements:
Travelled 451 km, in just under 6 hours on the bike with an average of around 80 km/h. These are almost the same everyday...
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Old 10-03-2012, 01:15 PM   #26
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A very interesting report, well written and with some great photo's. I can sympathise about the mosquito's having been in Alaska this summer
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Old 10-04-2012, 10:27 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Packer View Post
A very interesting report, well written and with some great photo's. I can sympathise about the mosquito's having been in Alaska this summer
Thank you! I've heard the mosquito's in Alaska are also very bad, but can't compare experiences yet

I expected them to be less annoying in Finland though, since it was September already. WRONG!
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:09 AM   #28
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:01 PM   #29
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Eek Day 9 - Lots of rain and some polar lights

GPS track of the day:


Because the weather had been getting worse in the afternoon and night of the previous day, I was surprised that the day started off dry. It didn’t last long however, leaving the Alta fjord the rain started immediately while entering the next. Every fjord seems to have its own weather, and it was a 50/50 guess if it would be dry in the next.


Pretty much the mood for most of the day.


View looking back over Saltstraumen. I came from the wet part on the left. The bright area on the right was completely dry and the first break in the clouds for some time.


I was now climbing out of the fjord, and riding up the 'Kvaenangsfjell'. This is basically a mountain pass, and it was there that I hit the most difficult riding weather of the trip.
It started raining HARD, and the wind was blowing HARD as well. I ducked behind the small windscreen and faced the wind almost head-on. Because air intake of the bike is on the rear, just below the right panel and facing back, the bike was having difficulty to keep running because it simply couldn't take enough air in. It was already hard enough not getting blown in the fjord, but with a semi-stalling bike and no visibility because of the fierce rain this was just insane

Luckily, after I managed to pass the highest point of the pass the wind suddenly got down and I had a chance to catch my breath. It was still raining though, so still getting wet.

Going down in the fjords again, and the sights were stunning all around. I was now in the Lyngenfjord, and the view was somewhat obstructed by trees and houses. I finally saw a small peninsula getting away from the main shore. I followed a small road to get as far into the fjord as possible, and the resulting panorama is reminiscent of another stunning highlight of the trip:


You can see the changes in weather between all the mountains. On the left (direction south) the sun is breaking through the clouds, and the right (north) is clouded with rain. The sheer scale of this country is very hard to imagine.

Because off all this weather I was ready to call it a day, but it started to clear as I was looking for a place to camp. Didn't want to waste good riding weather so I just continued. Later in the afternoon the skies almost cleared, and despite of the sun I could feel the cold in the air. It was surprisingly difficult finding a nice sheltered place for the tent close to the road. I think this is because the E6 up north is basically the only road going anywhere, and most side tracks in this area are either 'occupied' by houses or fenced off.

I finally found a nice looking free side track near Bardufoss. It was a bit muddy and slippery, and while riding it the rear tire was suddenly gone and before I knew it I was down and my right ankle was stuck under the pannier I managed to somehow lift the bike with my left foot and got it up again. I have hardly any offroad experience, and am absolutely not used to losing control of the bike like this. Combine this with the shitty weather for most of the day, and the fact this track was leading to some used toilet paper and garbage (it wasn't even worth it!) I instantly switched from 'wild camping tonight' to 'need a hot shower tonight'.

It was getting colder and colder, and after about half an hour I found a camping. The smaller cabins were taken, but the owner was kind enough to let me haggle to a 70% discount on a 6-person cabin, with shower included! It still was the most expensive cabin of the trip, and the fourth night in a row of sleeping luxurious in a bed, but screw it.

Later that night, some fog came over the camping, and I went out to snap some shots. It was very cold, the moisture had covered the bike in a small layer of ice. I was glad I had a warm cabin


I get cold just looking at the scene.

Looking up the sky towards the west I suddenly saw it; the aura borealis! It was nothing more than greenish mist in the sky but I knew what it was the instant I saw it. I even managed to take a picture of it!


I tried to get a better shot after this one, but as I was adjusting the settings on the camera it was suddenly gone.


It was one of my high hopes for the trip, to see the northern lights. One more box ticked!

Daily stats:
Traveled 420 km, in a little over 6 hours on the bike. I averaged 70 km/h and was still 2059 km away from home.
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:43 PM   #30
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I love reading your reports Thijs, it is just like we are there with you.
And you have posted some astonishing pictures!!

How's the Funduro doing? Is it up to the job? Enough power, can it handle the luggage?
How are prices in Sweden at the moment for things like gas, food, camping or cabins?

Don't feel bad about tipping over or falling with the bike. As long as you yourself are OK, things are good. Things become even better if the bike is also OK. This all goes with enduro/off road driving. I have done A LOT of off-road driving when I was younger, and I tumbled over the earth literally every week. There was always something that got you off the bike .
You learn from it. You learn how your bike reacts, what it CAN do, and what it CAN NOT do. That's good (as long as no damage to person or bike). Most enduro's are build to last and to take the falls. Don't worry about it.
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