Russia-Scandinavia - solo riding for beginners

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by AlpineGuerrilla, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. miepiechief

    miepiechief Adventurer

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    Great RR :deal, loving it.
  2. AlpineGuerrilla

    AlpineGuerrilla Been here awhile

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    After only a few hours of sleep, I awake in the scorching sun. I quickly pack my stuff and ride to the ferry back to the mainland, stopping only for a pic at this town's sign.

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    After a nice ride along the coast I arrive in Jekvik, where I can see the ferry leaving. The journey takes 1.5 hours one way and there's only one ferry going in both directions. Looks like I've got some time on my hands. I climb a small mountain and enjoy the amazing view.

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    I also find the time to call the owners of the hut where I left my camera. Also, an inmate from Norway gives me some route advices and his whereabout so we can meet later on.

    While on the ferry, the captain starts to mumble something into the the mic and everyone gets on the deck.

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    Apparently, we're crossing the arctic circle.

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    Nice sunset over the ocean.

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    I have a good conversation with this nice chap from the Netherlands while on the ferry.

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    Tonight's campsite is at another beach. Burning skies and the sweeping of the ocean are my entertainment. Who needs a television?

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    This time I am awoken by the rain dripping on my tent. It rains the whole day, combined with fog and strong winds. The SV has enough and decides to protest by running on one cylinder only. When riding in rain for extended periods, water and dirt seems to find its way around the spark plug and kill it. Too bad I've had this problem before, so I have a spare one with me.
    Still, the mechanical beginner I am, it takes me almost 1.5 hours getting the old plug out and the new one in. At least the coffee is free, as the gas station clerk seems to have pity with me working on the bike in the cold rain.

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    After the storm comes sunshine. Not exactly sunshine, no. Way better! I sit there for half a while absorbing this view.

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    Another day, another gas station encounter. Motorcycle school.

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    What frightens me is how riding the bike would feel if the pillon can influence throttle and braking.

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    Norway has interesting weather. Weather is very local, it is possible to ride through a short tunnel or over a hill and you're changing from winter to summer in five minutes. Makes for some good spectacle in the distance.

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    But beware of their expensive gas station food! Pretty much every gas station sells fresh burgers and I get hungry every time I enter. Delicious but expensive stuff.

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    Famous bridge on the Atlantic road.

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    Waiting for the ferry in the rain to be brought to the other, sunnier side of life.

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    Trollstigen.

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    Freezing cold, I start looking for a hotel. Everything is booked, it's the main season in this touristy region between Trollstigen and Gerianger. I catch the last ferry to Geiranger, where I meet Joe from Switzerland. We find the last room with two beds and decide to share it. He's got some food and I provide us with beer and both enjoy good company. We talk about a lot of stuff, almost anything and everything. Except motorcycles. :lol3

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    Riding together over Geiranger.

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    Crowded place, lots of buses and cars.

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    Do you see the road on the left riding up through the cloud? This is torture. Riding this great twisty road through thick fog trapped between cars going no more than 30km/h.

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    We part ways, Joe riding towards Oslo and me taking the route south. Kjøsnesfjord invites me for a stay.

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  3. jetjackson

    jetjackson Been here awhile

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    Somewhere in Europe on a Motorbike :)
    That's that Bridge to nowhere yeah?
  4. *wookie*

    *wookie* Learning fast…

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    Thanks dude. I think, on balance, since this will be my first bike trip outside of the UK and Ireland I'll probably go up through Finland. I love the idea of going through Russia but the additional paperwork (visa, insurance, etc) and the fact I'd be travelling solo with literally zero mechanical knowledge (including changing tyres - think I'm gonna learn that before I head off!) going through Russia would be a step too far for me at the moment! Your trip, and the other ride reports you mentioned, have me waaaay interested though - so it's on the list for future trips. As it stands though I have enough on my plate finding out about wild camping across Eastern Europe! :wink:
  5. Chupas

    Chupas www.n69s54a.com

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    So beautiful! More please!
  6. shallowskiff

    shallowskiff Been here awhile

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    such a beautiful place. Nice work on the pictures.:clap
  7. TorontoDude

    TorontoDude Been here awhile

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    why did you seem to avoid Finland ?
  8. AlpineGuerrilla

    AlpineGuerrilla Been here awhile

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    Depends on your definition of nowhere. Sure, it's not connecting two big cities, but there are many many bridges and tunnels in Norway connecting Cowville with Sheeptown. :lol3 Norway has an expensive and well-built road network, and most of all they know a road is not only for connecting two points, but it also has to fit into the landscape. No wonder there are many marked scenic roads.

    There's plenty to see there for sure. Have a good trip and I'm looking forward reading about your trip here on ADV. :evil

    The same could be asked about Sweden. The reason is simple and has nothing to do with any animosities or the like. I just thought taking the northbound route through Russia is more interesting and different than in the western countries of Sweden or Finland. If you have fixed time frame it's always a trade-off trying to fit the "musts" and "wants" into your schedule and route.
  9. derrickb

    derrickb Been here awhile

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    wonderful story and images. Thanks much for sharing! :clap
  10. Straightedge

    Straightedge Skin Donor

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    Great trip report. Thanks! Now, do it again...
    And the pics of Trollstigen? Wow. That road past the waterfall... :eek1 I wonder if the local riders are bored of it.
  11. jetjackson

    jetjackson Been here awhile

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    Somewhere in Europe on a Motorbike :)
  12. Loutre

    Loutre Cosmopolitan Adv

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    I think you gave yourself a reason to go back to scandinavia there! :freaky

    Nice RR and what a bike to do it on!
  13. practicalshooter

    practicalshooter Posteriophobiac

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    I had the pleasuere of riding there this summer (on a work trip would you beleive) before the main season started. Full blast up that road on the 690 feels quite insane, especially when I looked down while leaning in a bend and discovered my upper torso where over the railing:lol3

    It was a LONG way down!:eek1


    /D
  14. CHAOSHUMOUR

    CHAOSHUMOUR THE UNSANE

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    I have enjoyed sitting here at work reading this instead of actually working!

    Your trip has blown my mind, and some who enjoys videoing and editing, your video is amazing.

    It also goes a long way to advocating travelling alone. Seeing the effort and time you have put into getting that footage and images, I don't think you could EVER do that if you had another rider or 3 with you.

    I think they would have abandoned you after your first trek off the road to set the camera to that amazing vantage point ande then telling them to turn around and do a ride through. I think you would have got a big load of :ddog & :boid & :bash & :spam (because everyone loves SPAM!)

    But it is truly amazing mate.

    Congrats on the experience and the sharing.

    CHAOS OUT!
  15. froden

    froden Adventurer

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    I can't decide whether I like the video, the photos or the words best in this ride report. They're all spot on what motorcycling is about to me. Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip with us. I'm hoping to ride St. Petersburg - Murmansk this year or the next myself.
  16. rattis

    rattis Long timer

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    Very nice pics of water in all shapes and colours, nice RR.:clap
  17. Dave J

    Dave J Still no Fi

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    Excellent ride report -inspiring!
  18. AlpineGuerrilla

    AlpineGuerrilla Been here awhile

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    Please bear with me for the delay. Although the most interesting part of the trip is over, I still want to finish this report. I have some closing thoughts that I'd like to add.

    ----------------------------

    Before I went on the trip I made contact with a few people for a possible meetup. Dagfinn aka practicalshooter invited me for a B&B (Bed and Beer) in the familiy's vacation house. I am quite a bit late on my schedule and to reach his place I have to do more than 600km today. Sounds easy until you think about the roads ahead: Twisty mountain roads with about 2-3 ferries in between that run maybe two times an hour. And they don't run all night.

    But today is going to be a great day. The sun is shining and I have a lot of twisties coming up.

    Monument in Sogndal commemorating the battle of Fimreite, 1184.

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    The road leads along a nice fjord which reminds me a lot of northern Italy. Only with less traffic. Riding these roads really gets you into a flow!

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    By now I am quite a bith south of the arctic circle again - no more riding all night long with daylight still there. Dagfinn led me over a mountain because the main road can be closed for a few hours at a time due to road works. A crazy mountain roads with a few tight turn and free roaming sheep awaits me.

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    After a wrong turn from where I had to backtrack to the correct road I arrive at the ferry port, just in time to see the ferry ride away in the distance. Damn, that was the last one today.

    But I am in luck, it's not the last after all. The really last one will go in an hour.

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    Since I've got quite a bit time on my hands I try to do some night shots.

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    Arriving at Dagfinn's house after some 650km on country roads, we put the SV in a barn - jay! Her own personal sleeping place! With all my luggage in hand and in full gear Dagfinn gives me a beer and says "First things first". Niceee. We talk about motorcycles, beer and african history. What a mix. :freaky

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    The house is on a small island but it is connected to the mainland by a rather huge suspension bridge, spanning 202 meters wide. The Randøy Bridge even has its own Wikipedia article, while the island itself doesn't. :lol3

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    My journey continues on a fun road which turns into a construction zone. The narrow and twisty road is straightened out and replaced by a wide two-lane road. Too bad, looks like a fun ride. But when this is the only road linking two town together, maybe it's not so much fun having a narrow and twisty road summer and winter.
    Norway invests a lot of money in roads - they have one of the biggest road budgets in the world.

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    The diggers seem to be high-fiving themselves over killing the old fun road.

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    When the rain starts, there is no place to find cover for a long time, so I have to use the bus stops whenever I can to eat and drink.

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    I'm not enjoying the ride too much. Tired, hungry and thoroughly wet it feels more like riding just to get somewhere than riding to ride.

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    The next mountain pass leads me through desolated and sparse landscapes. The athmosphere is almost apocalyptic, those two sheep are the only living things I encounter in quite a while.

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    Except for yesterday pretty much every day in the past week was a wet day. But today really takes the cake when it comes to rain intensity.

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    A lenghty shower and a nice warm meal make my day before I go to bed.

    While packing my stuff the next morning I notice the flag on half-mast but dismiss it as probably being about some commemorative holiday. It is July 23rd 2011, the day after the bombings and shootings in Oslo and Utøya by Anders Breivik and I am about 120 km away from there.

    The concierge then tells me what happened. It's difficult to describe what I felt at that moment. The events only a few hours away (both in time and geographical distance) felt like a huge contrast to the norwegian people and landscapes I got to know

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    With mixed feelings, I ride south to catch the ferry in the afternoon.

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    The heavy rains overflowed a few roads and I had to stick to the main routes.

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    After a road block and paper check by the police, I really have to hurry and catch the ferry right on time. Sitting on deck, the sun starts to come out as the ship leaves towards Denmark. Goodbye Norway.

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  19. AlpineGuerrilla

    AlpineGuerrilla Been here awhile

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    The ferry ride was uneventful and I use the time to lay down a bit. Arriving in Denmark, I head down to the bike. While waiting for the debarkation, I get into a conversation with a nice danish couple. Suddenly I hear a loud engine revving up - it's my swiss friend Joe I met on the ferry to Geiranger. Our fellow danish riders (unfortunately I lost both name and mail address) invite us to their MC club house.

    After many days riding with his ape hangers, Joe faces problems taking down his hands in the evening. :lol3

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    After many delicious beers we erect our tents on the grass many golf courses would be jealous of.

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    Joe and I depart. While he takes the eastern route I want to ride along the western coast a bit. Riding around rather aimless I end up on an island without realizing it. I don't even have a map of Denmark and hoped I could just ride west to the sea and then follow it towards Germany. Good thing the island is small or I wouldn't have noticed that I don't ride south anymore.:huh

    One of the many tiny and cute villages promises some twisties - jay!

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    But that's as twisty as it gets.

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    But still, Denmark has it charm. Not too much on a sportsbike though.

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    A day and many kilometers later I meet up with my dad who is vacationing in the northern part of the Netherlands. He is a dutchman living in Switzerland but he likes to go to the Netherlands for vacations. And like me, he has a knack for water and boats (or is it the other way round?), so he rented a houseboat for two weeks.

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    Navigating the tiny canals and open lakes really is fun.

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    I joined their cruise for two days. Then they dropped me off in a small city where I took a train back to my bike. From there, I rode back to the boat to get all my luggage.

    Aah, the simplicity of motorcycle travel and luggage logistics. :puke1

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    The next stop was just a hop - my aunts house. I haven't seen here for a while so we were both looking forward to this.

    She's got a cool Citroën 2CV

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    The last time I visited them in the Netherlands was in 2005, I was 17 back then and just started to ride a few months earlier. I sat around on their bikes and they took me out for a ride on the back seat. Now they let me ride them for myself. :clap I went for a ride with my aunts husband Ton and we switched bikes every here and then. The blue BMW was very comfortable but now I know why they call it a cow - the "ass lifting" when you accelerate is just too funny. The old(er) Beemer on the other hand was a really great bike to ride. Not comfortable or fast, but with an interesting and challenging way of accelerating, braking and turning. I want one of these old bikes one day.

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    Two days later I hve another invitation, this time in the south of NL. I ride from Groningen over the Afsluitdijk, the dam that holds off the ocean from overflowing half of the Netherlands.

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    And of course, you're quite a bit under the sea level. While taking this picture, a young guy in a pimped car greeted me and saluted me for being so far away from home on the bike. He just looked at me with that puzzled look when I told him I am just at the end of a trip coming from Russia and the Nordkapp. :evil I guess he didn't believe me, since he just shaked his head and drove off.


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    This is Hildebrand, a good friend of my family (and a cliché dutch caravan tourist). Whenever we meet, we can just talk and talk and talk endless. We can talk so much we bore out everyone in close proximity. :freaky

    We talked a lot about my trip and he told me about some travelling he did in Soviet times. Especially interesting were his stories of Armenia, where he went after the big 1988 earthquake on a redcross mission. It was that moment I knew one of these days I will ride to Armenia.

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    It's inviting just to ride main roads and highways through the Netherlands. But when you leave these routes there is a charming side of the country awaiting.

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    I never noticed until now that there are country specific versions of this sign throughout Europe. Can you spot the windmill?

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    On my way home I paid the Nordschleife a visit. Initially I wanted to ride around it. But my back brake is gone and my chain is in a horrible shape. Plus, there is some kind of DTM event going on. They probably wouldn't allow me on the tracks because they had no chance against me. :lol3 I was really surprised (and somewhat disappointed) at the commercialization of the Ring. Huge souvenir shops, go kart, events, etc. It felt more like an amusement park.

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    I didn't bother to stay around and decided to get going. Only a few hundred kilometers more until I'm home.

    The german Autobahn kiosk has some interesting lecture.

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    That was pretty much all I would see today.

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    I filled up my tank with my last russian 90 octane gas...

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    ...and before I knew it I was home. Thank you, SV, for being such a great bike!

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    ----------------------------------

    Some closing thoughts (aka sentimental rant) I have floating around my head...

    Coming home after four weeks on the road, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I was glad to have all the modern achievements back and to sleep in my own bed. But on the other hand, I was sad that it was now over. Apart from the normal adjustment like a regular sleep rhythm and focusing on other things, some things were really unexpectedly hard.

    Thinking and talking about the trip was one of them. Most people who knew about my trip wanted to know how it was - but usually not more than a 10 seconds answer. It felt quite hard to summarize four weeks of a trip like this into a few words. How do you cope with the question "How was it?" Do you just say "good" or what's the answer? It just doesn't do it justice.

    There's a saying, that you always come back as a different person from travelling. I didn't find this to be exactly true. I did make many experiences and got to know myself better, but the changes came after the trip. It was after the trip when I had time to think and process all that happened. So I did come back with a pack of life lessons that changed me in the following weeks.

    One of these changes was my focus. I wasn't exactly a career guy before, but now I definitely know that living a good life and doing some travelling is more important to me than having the bigger paycheck and a nice house. I started to save more money and have many travel plans (e.g. the above mentioned Armenia) for the coming years.

    What really surprised me though was how much the weather can afflict the mood. This is especially true when riding alone. On short rides I don't mind rain and also enjoy it sometimes. But when it's rainy and dull for days on end, it's just not the same as a laughing sun in the sky. And when you're alone, emotions tend to be a bit more on the extremes. On some days, I could have embraced all of humanity and on others I had to drag myself out of bed and into the rainy day.

    In the end, I think I grew on this trip and I wouldn't trade the experiences for anything in the world.



    Thanks for reading.
  20. Ghostyman

    Ghostyman Been here awhile

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    That was a great report! I just read it through from start to finish and enjoyed the entirety. The whole thing was very well done from the pictures and video to the writing. Thanks for including the final rant!