The alarm on my phone beeped loudly about 2 inches from my ear, not that it needed to as I had been awake most of the night due to a combination of being over tired, uncomfortable and deafened by Gregg’s snoring, which was loud enough to drown out the sound of a Rolls Royce jet engine on full throttle. I swiped the screen, rubbed my eyes and unzipped the bedroom door on the tent to reveal Gregg wrapped up in his sleeping bag and still out for the count. I unzipped the tent outer door and climbed out into the morning light. The morning breeze was fresh and I could smell the sea. I popped to the toilet which still had local radio blasting out of speakers in the corner of the cubicle. I had no idea what was being said but it was a Norwegian woman shouting very energetically about something or other, she was way too happy for 5am!
The tent, with Gregg still snoring inside and my “Why am I awake at 5am after zero hours sleep” look!
I walked back to the tent and could hear Paul rummaging around in his tent, Roy was also stirring and even Gregg was awake. We spent the next half hour or so packing up the tents and loading the bikes. Something we were getting pretty used to doing now. It’s not a fun activity, partly due to the fact we were always in a rush to get moving and partly because it’s a pretty repetitive task to do every day. One thing I had done which helped speed the process was to clip in the bedroom and the flysheet into the tent and leave them in when I rolled the tent up. This made life a lot easier as unclipping them every day was not only a pain but made your finger tips very sore!
I looked at my hands, they were stained black from trying to clean the stove the night before. The fuel I was using, Rodsprit, burned hot and nicely but it had one downside, the flame produced a lot of soot! The pans were covered in the stuff and would it come off? No! Except on to my hands, which were now covered in it.
We had to get the ferry to Bodø so that we could continue our ride. Luckily the ferry left from a port about 20 metres from the entrance to the campsite. But first we had to ride down the gravel hill from the campsite to get to the main road, not a lot of fun at silly o’clock in the morning on a fully loaded motorbike. But we all made it down without trashing our bikes although Paul mentioned he’d come down a little fast and for a moment he did think he might be in trouble. We joined the queue for the ferry which was just docking. We were all looking forward to a nice 4 hour trip, time to charge up stuff, have a coffee and grab a little sleep.
We waited for the ferry to empty before riding on and parking up the bikes. We grabbed the gear we wanted to charge and use and headed up to the passenger deck. It wasn’t a bad ferry, there was a café area with a few tables and chairs and rows of seats very much like on a plane. We grabbed a few rows and setup for the trip, Paul immediately yanking out a 4 way extension and plugging in his electrical items. I got my laptop out and used the time to upload the day images from my cameras from the day before. We grabbed a coffee and some breakfast before I headed off to the back of the ferry with my camera to shoot some photos, leaving Paul uploading Gregg’s Go Pro movies in to his MacBook and Roy settling for a nap. Gregg came out for a short look at the view before going back in a also settling down for a snooze.
I took a load of photographs then came back in and uploaded them to my laptop.
Paul was still uploading Gregg’s cam videos and was muttering under his breath, something about his MacBook hard drive filling up! We’d been on the ferry about 2.5 hours when I decided to grab a coffee refill. I’d been trying to upload some photos to social networks and chat with the girl at home but the wifi was terrible! We’d been travelling with fantastic views of mountains in the distance but now the land was closing in around us. There were buildings appearing and then an airport passed by. Suddenly the boat started slowing and I looked out the window as did Paul. We looked at each other and the sudden realisation that we were almost at the destination was clearly visible on both our faces. Paul was in a mess, wires and devices scattered all around him and he was just getting ready to take a nap! I left him frantically unplugging whilst I went and woke Gregg from his beauty sleep. His reaction was priceless, “Gregg…. Gregg.. wake up Gregg!” with a jolt he sat up, opening his eyes whilst trying to remember where he was. “What? What? Why? Noooo!” I told him we were almost there, an hour earlier than we expected and left him to get his gear together. Roy was already getting packed up whilst I quickly grabbed my gear and headed down to the car deck, followed by the rest shortly after.
We left the ferry slightly annoyed that it had arrived early! Not something we’d normally complain about but when you were hoping to use that extra hour to sleep and suddenly it was taken away it felt like Santa had nipped back and stolen the presents back. We rode on, all feeling a bit tired now but the show must go on and we had miles to cover. We stopped for fuel, once again the petrol station was a pleasure to use and the bathroom excelled as always. I even found the need to take a few pictures of it! We took some refreshments before heading south, the main goal of the day was to visit the Norwegian Arctic Circle Centre where we had numerous photographs to take. We rode through a selection of tree covered mountain ranges and valleys and steadily the roads headed south and to higher ground. It wasn’t long before once again we were riding through a snow covered rocky landscape and the temperature had once again dropped to a level where I was glad I had heated grips.
We arrived the Arctic Circle Centre around lunchtime, parked up and wandered around the monuments scattered around the car park.
There was a road sign that had over time been covered in stickers from top to toe, all sorts of clubs, daft jokes etc… It was actually pretty cool.
The snow surrounding the centre was still pretty deep and well compacted. Gregg discovered this when we was coaxed into jumping onto the nearest pile of snow only to almost bounce off and injure himself when it turned out to be the consistency of concrete.
The centre itself was a largely wooden building and was a little disappointing really. There was a shop selling clothing, cuddly toys, ornaments and other “Arctic” related memorabilia, toilets and a café. We went into the shop initially and bought a few bits and pieces for the folk back home before going into the café for a bite to eat and to plan the rest of the day. We realised that we wouldn’t make Hell before the end of the day so we aimed for a campsite Paul found on his magic Iphone called Bjerka Camping.
We finished our food, mine being a rather large and fairly tasty burger and fries with a diet coke, then we went outside to take the photographs we had promised our sponsors and also Macmillan Cancer Support. The next half hour was spent positioning bikes and people in front of the main entrance to the Arctic Circle Centre, with a number of changes of t-shirts also involved. I was really pleased I’d brought my old camera tripod, without it I wouldn’t have been in any of the photographs taken during the trip.
In our Macmillan Cancer Support t-shirts above and with our bikes below.
Gregg once again lost control and the Arctic monuments and my poor bike felt his love as he abused them leaving me emotionally scared for the rest of the trip.
We packed up and headed south and soon after we started to descend into lush green valleys surrounding crystal clear fjords, once again I was astounded by the beauty and diversity of Norway. As the day dragged on and once again I was starting to feel tired Bjerka Camping appeared to our left and it couldn’t have come at a better time. We pulled in, riding past a shop which would be our source of a much needed nutritional dinner that night. The owner wandered over to speak to us. Looking around there were lots of wooden lodges and some were being worked on with people up on the roofs hammering away. Another indication that this was still out of season for Norway. After a few minutes of discussion where the owner clearly wanted us to rent his biggest lodge for a million dollars a night we finally agreed to rent one lodge for Gregg and Roy and me and Paul would camp again. However the owner clearly felt sorry for us and let us have a second lodge (hut) for free! Not only that there was wifi, something Paul was so excited about he hugged the owner! The owner sat and chatted for a short while, telling us stories of his snowmobile trips into Sweden with his son and friends, the details I won’t cover here but it was an interesting tale.
We selected our huts and unloaded the bikes, I was looking forward to a comfortable bed and a good sleep. By the time I had finished unloading and plugging in my electrical items to charge Roy had already found a bucket and was happily washing his bike again!
Me, Paul and Gregg headed off to the shop to grab some food and drinks, returning a short time later with 3 boxes of pringles, some beers and diet cokes, the healthy dinner went out of the window once again. I uploaded the days photographs to the laptop and then retired to my luxury bed, otherwise known as the top bunk. Paul was already in the land of nod by this point so I spent a while chatting on social media to the girl at home before drifting off to sleep.