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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by rtwpaul, Apr 14, 2019.
Its fantastic to see you are back, Paul. Happy travels.
Welcome back Paul!
And the adventure continues!
And where to go next?
As Jimmy Buffett laments "indecision my or may not be my problem"! So just ride where the road/track leads!
There needs to be a “SuperLike” Button for the return of RTWPaul to ADVRider.
Sorry to hear about all of your personal struggles and I hope that things are looking up for you.
Thanks for coming back to the asylum and sharing your pictures and travel knowledge. I greatly appreciate it… especially in the winter months in Idaho when my bikes are in hibernation and I need a fix.
Great news that you are back....Travel safe
Great to have you back! Looking forward to your travel reports and pictures.
F*CK yeah; haven't been on the forum as much as I've been out backpacking and doing the PNW outdoors thing trying to maintain my sanity.
Glad you're back brother, have enjoyed all the posts on IG and will always follow you there, but this is the real $hit.
Sorry for the myriad of crap you've had to deal with, I empathize.
Knobby side down man.
Effin' epic. This whole update made my morning @rtwpaul, well after realizing you'd posted an update in the first place...lol.
Seriously - getting to be part of a wedding photoshoot with a classic American muscle car...in frickin' Denmark. That's the type of story that puts smiles on faces and makes those of us deck jockeys yearn for the days when we're able to be out there doing it.
Look forward to what comes next man.
Sitting in Denmark, Europe is my oyster, I have a few choices in direction and countries from here, do I head south to Germany and ride western Europe, and maybe the UK, or into Germany and eastern Europe or north and hit more Nordic countries?
I decided on north, to ride more Nordic countries. Notice how I'm not saying Scandinavia here, the reason being if you understand this part of the world you'll know Finland often mistakenly called Scandinavia is not in Scandinavia at all, that Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are Scandinavian countries...and Finland is on my radar.
My brother-in-law is Norwegian and works for the government (remotely) but has his finger on the pulse of what going on. I'm thinking to take a ride back up to Hirtshals, to the same ferry port I arrived from Iceland, but take a ferry to Kristiansand, Norway where the family has a couple of houses I could use.
He tells me, "hold on for an hour or two before you head off, let me call a few people and see if there are any issues with you arriving by ferry!"
***reminder and a little Euro education - I have two passports UK and US, neither gives you any real rights in Europe and a max stay of 90 days in the Schengen area (90 in, 90 out) and remember Iceland is in Schengen, so I have already been 'in' for over a month already. so I have less than 60 days to play with!
...but as I am in Europe/ Schengen on the US passport I can, in theory, go to a non-Schengen country, swap passports, and be 'in' indefinitely as long as I swap every 90 days. ***
This is Schengen
So I get the call from the brother-in-law "DO NOT GET ON THE FERRY!!!"
He tells me that less than an hour ago (months ago now) Norway has restricted entry to persons only holding a QR code so they can be traced and confirmed that they officially were double vaccinated. The problem here is the US vaccinations, I have, don't come with a QR code, only a piece of paper that the Norwegians state could easily be forged, as there is no one single way it is produced and documented...good job America!
He follows on to tell me, it had been leading up to this for a while, and just recently a non-Norwegian arrived on this same ferry, without proper documentation so they accepted his entry, but didn't allow him freedom until he had completed a mandatory quarantine for 14 days.
The problem here was they didn't have any hotels set up for quarantine because they didn't expect anyone to come! Their solution, to put the guy in the first hotel that had space available and have security watch the room. That hotel was 500 euros a night, for 14 nights. The guy obviously complained, the Norwegian government responded...'we didn't ask you to come here!'
So, DO NOT GET ON THE FERRY!!!
I now get an invite from a friend in Central Finland, but he asks if I can meet him in Lapland so we can then ride south to central Finland. His point is, he wants me to experience the real Finland, and it sounds great!
I run the idea behind my Nordic logistics department (my brother-in-law Thomas, he does logistics for a living) and get the green light as Sweden is Ok for me to enter with my paper COVID proof.
So @Don T looks at eastern Denmark and he thinks it would be good for me to take a ferry - Helsingør, Denmark to Helsingborg, Sweden, that way we can ride some of the TET Denmark.
...and we're off...
Denmark is small but amazingly picturesque and a must-visit if you do head to Europe, but in a matter of a few hours we are at the ferry and one last shot of Denmark before I take the short ferry to Sweden.
I arrive in Sweden, they check my vaccination card and passport, all good and I'm in a new country, but not for the first time. I have ridden Sweden a lot, and I mean a hell of a lot in the past (90's - 2010), so it all seems very familiar.
Immediately I'm looking for dirt and find it a few miles out of the city
As I'm taking this photo my phone rings and it's Thomas (logistics). "You may or may not get into Norway at a land border on a motorcycle", he tells me.
He'd just read that someone on an ATV (douchebag) crossed from Sweden to Norway through a border road that was barricaded by going through the trees to get around it. This was caught on camera and when the ATV entered the nearest town the police arrested the person and impounded his ATV.
As he knows I'm riding dirt and could easily avoid any border crossing he advises me to use a specific crossing that is open and manned, but cautions I might still not be allowed in, but would be allowed to turn around.
So in the middle of nowhere in a forest on a dirt track, I lay my big paper Europe map down on the ground and try to find these specific border crossings that he had sent over by text.
One minor issue, all the names of the crossings don't match any of the border crossings I can find on my map by name!! I then figure out some are listed by county, some are listed by nearest big town and some just have a unique name. NIGHTMARE!!!
My phone makes a noise, but not text, it's an Instagram message. A guy who follows me tells me he lives in Southern Sweden and I'm invited, and his house is only an hour or so from this dirt track I'm on...great! I tell him I'm on my way and will message when I roll into town to meet him somewhere.
Simple right...wrong. He's out of town for a week, and it's an invite for the future, he's headed to Nordkapp, cause he can enter Norway easily right now.
I tell him thanks anyway.
"give me a few minutes I know lots of people, I'm sure I can find you a host."
At this point, I'm thinking of just pitching my tent right here and trying to work out a plan, and feeling like this 'can't see the wood for the trees'!
"ping" my phone rings and he has a friend who would love to host me, and he rides a 500 exc and is a truck driver so he will have very up to date info for Sweden on what roads/ tracks/ border crossings might be good for me to use, I get his address and head north to Växjö.
Somehow I forget to get a photo at his house, but we had a great BBQ that night with him and his family and they treat me like an old friend, this is Sweden, the people are amazing.
We talk for hours and he makes a few calls and lays out a suggestion of what he would do and what he knows is a viable option today, but could change in 24 hours.
He has three suggestions -
Red - I ride to Norway and enter the country at a legal crossing (if they let me in) then ride up north on the TET and then further using backroads in Norway, go to Lofoten (2016 photos below) and enter Finland from Norway. This is an interesting possibility, but I rode a lot of Norway in 2016 all the way via Lofoten and Nordkapp, its a great paved ride but crazy expensive and a lot further than it looks on a map!
Blue - I stay in Sweden and cross into Finland/Lapland without going to Norway
Yellow - go directly to Finland and ride to Lapland via Finland (cause Lapland is part of Finland)
I send these suggestions to my friend in Finland to see what he thinks and tell him to let me know by the morning. I then ask my host what he would do? His answer is, YELLOW, go directly to Finland!
In the morning I have another message from yet another rider on my phone
below that is a message from my Finnish friend, Antero, saying "come directly to Finland!" I send him the above screenshot, his response was, "Give me a few minutes..."
A few minutes go by and he's on the phone and telling me..."I just spoke with a friend in Finnish immigration, she said, certain border crossings are closed, probably the one these riders in your message went to. She suggested he (me) gets on a ferry from Kapellskär, Sweden to Naantali, Finland because that route is currently open but 'may close' in the next 48 hours.
...but remember I'm still in Vaxjo so have only ridden this much in mainland Europe so far, a little over 400 miles/ 670km
As I sit there eating my amazing Swedish breakfast, happy I have a plan and being ever so grateful for friends and friends of friends around the world and the amazing interactions and places it allows me to see., but hating Europe and all the restrictions.
I make a couple of calls to friends in Stockholm as I'll be passing by and maybe meet for lunch, the first one I call has just received a large inheritance and is in Spain looking at houses...nice! He tells me he also has other news but will call me in a few days about it.
The second has just won the lottery and is out looking at real estate as well, but on a different scale...looking to buy an island!!!
So scratch that lunch idea then, I'll just go directly towards the ferry and camp as close as I can get for the following day's early morning departure.
I am blissfully unaware that in the next 24 hours life is going to take a SERIOUSLY MASSIVE turn for the worse
Nice update, Paul
I've been enjoying quite a few videos of riding in Norway from @tshansen over the last few days. Looks like a magnificent place, as do Finland and Sweden. Looking forward to more!
Just wanted to stop in and say it’s great your back, this thread second to none. Also, anyone else here notice how great Paul is at cliffhangers?!
Ya gotta keep some sort of sense of humor trying to live a normal life during a global pandemic.
Ya baby, thanks Paul but hope it's not that bad!
We're here and following with baited breaths...
Hurry up Paul! I can't hold my breath much longer . . . . .
what a wild series of ups & downs, brother. Clearly by now you've survived, hope your friends & mom have too.
Following along in IG and F B of course... I too am a bit weary of these forum sites- although the full accounting of your travels (and travails) with pics is pretty hard to beat.
Thanks for posting.
I take a ride through rural Sweden down dirt tracks and country lanes, weather is perfect, what's not to like
Somewhere north of Stockholm I pass an entryway and it seems very familiar so I take a photo so I can research it later
This is Strul Motorcycle Club, I stayed here back in 2007, it was a lot busier that day
I had just flown in from Sturgis where I entered a bike I built for the AMD World Championships that year, and I bump into the guy who won. That year in all the shows that gained you entry there was something in the region of 3800 entries worldwide, and the final 100 or so were all in a big tent on Main Street
There were a lot of similarities to the bikes, I had been awake for 72 hours straight firstly doing the final build then driving to get to the show on time.
By the time I got there I was completely beat, I just went and slept, but actually slept through the most important part, the judging, and it was peer review. Each motorcycle builder had three votes, and obviously, the thing to do was describe everything that you had made or customized and impress all the other guys...I was snoring in my tent. My bike had to do its own talking, he, Stellan Egeland I was told went into great detail.
I returned later in the night for the awards, and virtually everyone I spoke with had me pegged as the winner of the show, by a very long way. I was awarded 6th place and the crowd showed its disapproval of the palcing, the amount of booing, shouting from the crowd claiming there was a mistake was overwhelming but I took my trophy, then Stellan was announced first.
Afterward and for the next few days in town it was a constant stream of people finding me to tell me I should have got first place, I just accepted the decision, but never did met Stellan to see what he had said to impress the other builders to place him first...
...right up to the night at this MCC where we bumped into each other and he joked he had my first place championship ring, and the $25k, but if I'd been there and had a chance to describe my bike I would have easily won, because he felt mine was better and had actually voted me in first place!
So as stood outside the gates 14 years later these memories flooded back, it seemed like a lifetime ago, and not too much later my motorcycle journey took this different path I'm on now
An hour or so later from the MCC I'm at a campground just a few minutes from the ferry terminal, and the following morning I catch the ferry and only one other bike is aboard, a Swedish rider and we chat for nearly seven hours on the crossing
about four hours in, I got up to get a drink and nearly fell over from a pain in my right foot that was so intense it made my knee buckle.
By the time the ferry docks I am struggling to walk and getting to the deck where my bike is pure torture, but I jump on, disembark, and do passport control and Vaccination proof and I'm in Finland.
My buddy Antero is waiting for me and we head to a campground close by and we chat the night away over Finnish hooch which pleasantly numbs the pain
The plan from here was to ride up western Finland to Lapland, be there for a week or so and then ride south on the Finnish TET to his house in Jyväskylä.
The morning rolls around and I can barely fit my foot in my riding boot, and I wear Gearne SG12 and they are the tightest rigid boot out there, purely designed for protection.
There is no extra give in them at all and I feel like I am trying to fit my foot in a boot that's five sizes too small, and at this point walking is impossible, riding just barely.
Antero offers to call the emergency room at the local hospital to see if they think I maybe could get an injection to reduce the pain and swelling, he asks me to describe it in detail so he can then describe and translate it in detail to the A&E.
...at this point, I may or may not have metaphorically done this
I tell him to tell them, I had been living in the very dry desert in Arizona for over a year then had spent a month in Iceland doing daily river crossings and had wet feet a lot, and I mean a lot...could I possibly have Trench Foot? I said this and didn't really have an idea what Trench Foot even looked like, but I knew it was painful to stand and involved having wet feet for days, after books I'd read about the First World War where it was happening in epic proportions.
They (A&E) asked if it was painful to the touch and swollen? Yes! Then it could possibly be that, and if so I should not be putting weight on it at all for a week or so, they suggested I try to make it to Jyväskylä unless I have somewhere to stay in Turku that is also safe due to the pandemic!
Well I didn't, so it looks like we need to ride north, but they do suggest if the pain is too much, and it will get a lot worse to stop at the A&E in Tampere, which is around halfway.
I squeeze my foot into my boot but only make it maybe 15 minutes out of the city until the pain is too much and I have to stop and take the boot off.
Coincidentally during this stop, Antero's phone rings, and it's the emergency room from Jyväskylä, they had been called by the Emergency room In Turku to check up on me...medical service in Finland is at a very high professional level.
They suggest the same, get there but if the pain is bad to stop halfway for treatment.
I ride the remaining way with one boot on, and a trainer on the other foot and grimace my way through the longest 300 km I can remember.
Drop my gear off at his house, just in case.
Now my new Finnish adventure is in a hospital, and like anywhere we sit and wait, for nearly four hours to be seen
Eventually, we get to see the Doctor, Antero translates because there are just a few things the Doc doesn't know the words in English for but he does. The opinion is yes it could be Trench Foot, but it could also be an unknown insect bite, but no idea from what, so I am given a concoction to hopefully fix both.
So if you are reading this and thinking this isn't really life-changing! Paul's last line in his last post was "I am blissfully unaware that in the next 24 hours life is going to take a SERIOUSLY MASSIVE turn for the worse"...well that is just about to happen.
We are told to wait outside for a prescription to be issued, so we do.
Sitting out here my phone rings, and it's my buddy Crilla from Stockholm, the guy who got the big inheritance and was in Spain buying a property (read the last post), he was back in Sweden and asking if he could come and join my ride?
Sure but, I tell him I can't ride right now and maybe not for a week or more until I can fit my foot back into my boot comfortably.
He tells me, "well I hope it's not too long cause I don't have too long!"
Just a week or so and maybe meet me in the Baltics might be a better idea cause I'm headed that way and entry into Finland is supposed to get tighter over the next week or so (Pandemic restrictions)
He follows on..."I guess I should tell you why I came back to Sweden, I had to see a doctor, he just diagnosed me, with terminal bone marrow cancer!"
I just sit staring at the phone, what do I say, we've been friends for years and are only a few days difference in age, we talk for quite a while longer and he is very matter of a fact about things, but is adamant regardless of how he feels he wants to ride a few places with me.
He assures me that a few weeks 'should' be ok to wait and to call him when I'm headed to Helsinki and the ferry to Estonia, then he will head that way too.
So over the next couple of weeks, I do very little but keep my foot elevated, take antibiotics and soak it in a strange solution that we find Antero's Russian mother just happens to have, not exactly how I'd planned summer in Finland to be!
A week or so later I can stand, but can't ride so I made a video comparison of our two bikes just to fill time
A trip to a Unesco Heritage site, Petäjävesi Old Church built in 1763, thirteen years before the USA was founded
and a walk around the graveyard shows just how difficult life was back 150 years ago, especially for young kids
Two weeks pass, my boot now fits, but Antero has to return to work, so all we get is a one day run to Helsinki down some of the TET and a night in a Lavvu, before I head further south and obviously in a rush to meet Crilla
If you aren't familiar with Lavvu, it is a temporary dwelling used by the Sami people of the northern extremes of Northern Europe. It has a design similar to a Native American tipi but is less vertical and more stable in high winds.
The modern Lavvu is slightly different, it's a free place to camp, and its upkeep is done by the local, city, or county, or maybe a local farmer. Normally it's a covered or enclosed building with free firewood and a fire pit or cooking facilities. A way to make travel in Finland very affordable, and there are literally thousands of them. Antero had waypoints for over 4000 and they were just in areas he like to travel to.
This was ours, and it's a first come first serve, type of deal
It came with a watchtower and a view and enough wood to make a fire for about a month
In the morning I head for Tallinn...
I can't remember how to upload a video from Smugmug to here, I know it can be done, can anyone enlighten me on what link I add and how??? DM me so I can delete this post/ question
Life is strange and we aren’t in total control. Glad your foot is better and sorry to hear of your friend Crilla’s diagnosis.
I’m in agreement with all who felt your entry should have won. Very nice looking!
Fantastic pictures of a great bike...
And the 500 looks good as well.
Nice video! I love my 640, I think it's still my favourite bike next to my R1100S. 2006 was the last production year but they sold models as 2007. The 640 has 625 displacement, the previous 620's might have been smaller. Gunnerbuck's 640 has something north of 220 000, km's on it now. Great bikes, mine has never left me stranded even with some major blowups such as the cam roller and the main bearing failing, it kept on going to a good stopping place both times. I'm lucky I have Bothe options with my 640 and a 525.