I woke up early, the room echoed with the sound of snoring and other noises men usually laugh at. I grabbed my phone and checked the social networks for updates, something that after today would become very difficult once we passed into Norway and we lost our inclusive data allowances. I heard some grumbles from Pauls direction and then stirrings from Roy on the bunk above me. I saw Paul’s head appear from under the covers, looking a bit bleary eyed he aimed a comment at Gregg which resulted in a grunt and strange noise from Gregg’s direction. The distant rumble that was Gregg snoring finally quietened to a soft rhythmic breathing and our ears had a chance to stop bleeding. Roy’s legs suddenly appeared over the top bunk and dangled in front of my head, thankfully his boxer shorts stopped anything else dangling in front of my eyes as I could well have needed psychiatric care otherwise. Gregg finally rolled out of bed and we all got up and proceeded to get ready for the day. After packing up our gear and a quick wash we sat in the kitchen with a cup of tea, which once again I made. It seems tea making duties had fallen on my shoulders now for the entire trip! A quick route planning exercise was undertaken including real maps and the use of a MacBook. For a brief moment it almost looked like we knew what we were doing. I actually think Gregg was simply looking for the next Statoil garage so he could get a hotdog fix!
By 9am we were all packed up, bikes were loaded and we rolled down to the petrol station outside the restaurant. I can’t imagine a more scenic petrol station with the frozen lake and snow covered mountains in the distance. We fuelled up and headed north west towards the Sweden/Norway border. I felt a little sad leaving Abisko, the place was just how I imagined an Arctic village should be, wooden houses, really quite desolate and picturesque with snowy mountains and clear blue skies. I imagine the Abisko National Park would be a fantastic place to explore, just not on this trip.
We rode along the road next to the frozen Tornetrask lake, the view continued to be breath taking. Eventually we reached the top of a hill and the border, it was time to leave Sweden behind and enter Norway and the next chapter of the trip. Paul got a little excited and decided to give us a short display of his pole dancing skills, we stuffed 10 Krone in his belt in gratitude… that he had stopped.
We stood with Sweden behind us and the memories of the last 4 days travelling from the bottom to the top of the country!
Unfortunately before we left, Gregg’s urges once again overtook him and he suddenly jumped up on the monument that was by the side of the road and.. well. see for yourself… my eyes hurt just looking at the photograph.
Once I had recovered from this distressing sight I took a moment to grab a bike pron picture of my BMW in no mans land with the Swedish mountains behind offering a wonderful backdrop. Roy had taken the opportunity to climb a small hill and take some pictures. Climbing up and down things seemed to become a common activity for Roy as the trip progressed.
One thing that became immediately apparent within a few hundred meters of riding in Norway was that the roads weren’t as good, the surface itself was worse and there were a lot of bumps. The roads in Sweden had been like riding on freshly laid tarmac all the time, putting England’s roads to shame! But suddenly the roads had become bumpy and twisty!
We rode through the mountains, the land around us baron, rocky and snow covered, both beautiful and foreboding at the same time. I found myself really enjoying the solitude that riding through this amazing scenery brought with it. Alone in your helmet for hours every day, your thoughts are your only companion and there is plenty of time to ponder the world around you and actually appreciate the world we live in.
We came down out of the hills and suddenly the first of the fjords I’d heard about appeared before us, I was blown away by the beauty and the scale of what was before us. I was also really jealous of the people who own the wooden house on the hill with the view, I wanted to live there.
We continued our journey, heading towards Narvik with our most northerly goal a town called Harstad where we would fuel up before we headed south west along the chain of islands leading to Moskenes. We reached the fuel station at Harstad, fuelled up, checked out the toilets for quality assurance purposes and I believe Gregg had a hotdog fix. We then rode south west until we reached the ferry at Refsnes which we used to cross over to Flesnes.
By now I was starting to feel tired and a bit frustrated with the days riding. It had started out great, the scenery coming up through Sweden and the mountains was incredible and the green tree clad snow peaked mountains and crystal clear fjords in Norway were beyond my wildest imagination, the problem was we were riding non stop and at pace to reach Moskenes in time to sort out a campsite for the night. There wasn’t much time to take breaks and certainly little time to stop for photographs, which as the resident trip “picture monkey” was a very frustrating scenario to deal with. In truth, I could have stopped over and over during the last couple of days to take pictures but we were on a schedule and I knew that time just didn’t allow for too many stops.
To make things worse we lost Roy, he had shot off and the satnav otherwise known as the “power of the Garmin” took him the wrong way. We stopped and Paul managed to get hold of him and it was agreed he would make his way to Moskenes and meet us there. The next few hours riding were tough as we went from Island to Island, over bridges and under long tunnels including our first “big” tunnel at 6.2 km. We rode around one side of a fjord then back along the opposite side, we rode up and we rode down. It felt like forever and sadly although the landscape was amazing there wasn’t really time to appreciate it or stop and take it in so I ended up feeling pretty frustrated really. We had been riding hours and my mind was drifting off to far away places, my eyes were zoning out as I struggled to stop myself falling asleep. What was supposed to be a rest day had become the longest days riding so far.
We were only maybe 20 minutes from our destination when we turned a corner and saw “road works” ahead. Now the term road works usually relates to maybe a bit of resurfacing of the road or a streetlight that needs repair, not in Norway. Road works actually meant full scale annihilation of the road and surrounding area. We drove onto loose gravel full of holes and larger rocks, with diggers, trucks and other construction traffic driving care free around us. Cars, buses and lorries coming in the other direction almost took us out trying to squeeze through the limited space available. We rode for some distance, probably kilometres, up and down on what for motorcycles was pretty treacherous conditions. If it hadn’t been so unbelievably farcical I may have let off a plethora of colourful language, instead I was laughing my head off, possibly a nervous reaction to the likelihood that very soon I would be killed by a rogue dumper truck or falling boulder. A video of this will appear in time when Paul gets around to editing them.
We left the road works behind and passed through a number of small villages, all of them wouldn’t look out of place on a postcard. We arrived in Moskenes and rode up the steep gravely road to the campsite. We were shattered by now and there was no sign of Roy yet which was a concern. Paul tried to text Roy whilst Gregg stumbled to the nearest soft verge and collapsed in a heap. As always, I grabbed my camera and started taking pictures! It was actually a fantastic place to camp, the view was pretty impressive out across the sea and along the coast. We had been there about half an hour or so when we heard the BMW R1200 roaring up the road to the campsite bringing Roy with it.
We set up the tents once again I was to suffer the fate of Gregg sleeping in my tent which clearly meant I would not sleep anyway. We cooked some food, and I use that term in the loosest way possible. Basically I made an instant pasta meal that just needed hot water pouring on it and Paul then cooked a boil in the bag rice. Sadly my attempt at making instant pasta failed as I’d boiled too little water! we had a cup of tea before retiring to bed at past 11pm, alarms set for 5am as we had to get the ferry to Bodø in the morning!