Month: July 2014

Day 12 – Flåm – Rollag

The next morning we woke up and walked back to the area where the pub was to get some breakfast at a small restaurant there. Having only seen the area the night before when the sun had set I had a renewed perspective of the area. It was clearly very much geared at tourists with various restaurants, bars and shops all nicely done. The breakfast was a buffet affair and very nice, a few plates of food, glasses of orange juice and mugs of coffee later and we headed of, stopping briefly at a tourist shop on the way where I coaxed Paul into trying on a nice sun hat.

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The day was to be largely riding for fun with the aim of covering less miles therefore trying to enjoy the landscapes and roads which were fantastic as always. The Sun was beating down with temperatures hitting 25+ degrees once again. We went back to the campsite and packed up the tents and loaded the bikes.

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We headed off late morning and continued south, hitting more and more traffic as we rode. Gregg had shown an interest in seeing another Stave Church and Arvid knew of one in Sundrevegan but had never been to. It wasn’t exactly on route but we decided to take a detour and take a look. The temperature was now nearly 30 degrees and we were struggling with the intense heat as we arrived in Sundrevegan. We spent almost an hour trying to find the church, at one point we were parked in the middle of the road in a residential road pouring over satnav’s and maps. (Selfie opportunity!) Eventually we gave up looking, all hot, hungry and thirsty.

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We rode back the way we came and headed up a mountain pass which was supposed to be a short cut. Unfortunately after climbing a few kilometres the road surface started to deteriorate with loose gravel and pot holes replacing tarmac. The front and rear wheels slipped around on the loose surface and I didn’t really feel happy at all. We turned a corner and ahead of use the road simply turned to a gravel track! We found out from a car driver coming the other direction that the road was like that for at least 10km and the consensus was that none of us felt totally happy with the idea of riding that road. So we turned back and carefully road back down the pass which in itself was a nerve wracking experience. The only choice now was to take the longer route, adding a few more hours to the days riding. We rode for another hour and stopped to refuel and grab a drink. We were all pretty tired by now, the heat and frustration from the days delays were taking their toll and after a discussion it was decided that we would ride a bit further and stop at the first decent looking campsite.

As we reached a place called Rollag Arvid signalled to turn off at a campsite. It turned out he had stayed there before and although a basic campsite it did have room for the tents and also some lodges/huts. I jumped off my bike and slumped onto the grass, feeling very tired and confused. I had been struggling again with tiredness during the day, zoning out from time to time and really struggling keeping focused on the road. I also wanted to charge my electrical items but this campsite had no facilities for tents to connect a lead. Gregg and Roy once again decided to take a lodge and we were going to camp but having not slept well for days I really needed to sleep properly. The lodge actually had 2 bedrooms and a loft room with a mattress so I decided to take that giving me a chance to sleep and charge my gear.

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The view from the cabin was pretty special!

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Probably the most luxurious cabin we encountered on the trip, my little loft room was very comfy.

The guys all came up to the cabin and we set out a little feast of crisps, nuts, bread, cheeses and beer. The beer cans had been in Arvid’s top box all day and as you can see from the dents and dints, he had been throwing his bike around the corners!

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Gregg was given the task of cooking the chicken, his skills clear to all. We watched as he expertly tossed the chicken on the BBQ and tended lovingly to it as it simmered over the hot coals.

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Whilst this was going on I had been washing some essentials as we’d not had a chance to clean clothes and I was running out. I only washed enough to “cover me” for the rest of the trip. I hung the wet clothes over the wooden bannister that went along the front of the porch to dry. Unfortunately by doing this my pants were clearly visible when looking out the window at the fantastic view, therefore my pants became the topic of much discussion and not the view. Thankfully Roy finished washing his underwear, strung a load of bungy chords across the entire porch and hung his pants at head height, thus the topic of conversation turned to his pants and not mine! We sat around chatting for a while before Paul and Arvid retired to their tents and we all headed off to our beds.

 

 

Day 11 – Andalsnes to Flåm

I woke up once again to the rumble of Gregg snoring in the front of the tent, I checked the time, 3.45am. The tent was gently swaying in the breeze and there was the now common scratching and buzzing of various insects crawling over and around the outside of the tent. I needed the bathroom so there was no choice but to climb out, trying not to wake up the human earthquake machine otherwise known as Gregg on the way. It’s funny how a zip on a tent at any normal time of day is almost unheard, but at 3am it sounds like you are dragging a metal pole along tarmac! However I managed to get out without waking Gregg and proceeded to walk over to the shower/toilet block. It was cool but not cold, the leaves were rustling, birds were still chirping as it was still pretty light but there was something else, a noise that haunts me now, the familiar yet mind numbing grunts and snorts of dozens of sleeping people in tents and caravans snoring away. It felt like there was a snoring conspiracy being organised by Gregg! I finished the task at hand and went back to bed where I fell into a restless sleep.

A few hours later and I was up and starting to pack up my gear in the tent before going for a quick shower. Once again the hot water was on a timer but there was a reasonable amount of time and enough time to soap up and actually rinse. I got back and the others were packing things up, loading bikes, the usual morning activity for us now. We finished loading then headed over to reception grab a quick photo before heading off.

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The day was to be pretty full and would tick some big boxes on the cool list. First stop was a Motorcycle Club event that Arvid had seen a sign for the day before. We were not sure what the deal was or whether we could actually get in but as we rode up we could see tents and bikes parked all over the place. The club had taken over a campsite for a couple of days and it looked like the night before had been a party night by the state of a few of the attendees. Arvid explained to one of the organisers what we were doing and they were happy for us to pop in and take a look around the bikes. There were was a real mix of bikes, from custom to sports, classic to brand new. I felt a bit out of place, most people where dressed up as typical custom bike riders, denim jackets covered in patches, leathers, adorned with tattoos on most exposed areas of skin. I was walking around in a black set of textiles!

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We left the motorcycle event and started on our way to Trollsteigen, the Troll Road to ride what is a world famous road that has a set of tight hairpins all the way up into the mountains. I tried to set my camera up to video the ride up and it seemed to be working fine except that when I reached the half way point and we stopped at a viewing area I saw the battery had died within about 30 seconds of starting the ride up, typical. After a brief stop to admire the view and take snaps we rode to the top of the road and stopped at the visitor centre.

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As we pulled in to the car park I could hear the roar of V8 engines and at the far end of the car park I could see a load of Corvettes lined up, probably a club out for a drive on a sunny day. We had a brief look around, bought some Troll memorabilia and then headed off.

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The ride was back in snowy territory for a short while before heading down again and catching yet another ferry. The next main stop was at Geirangerfjord , one of Norway’s most visited tourist locations and a really stunning fjord surrounded by mountains. We had hoped to take the ferry from there to Stavenger but it was full so instead we had to make do with a short stop to take in the views. The Fjord is a popular destination for cruise ships and is popular with climbers, walkers and kayakers. The tourist area at the end of the Fjord was rammed with people and we opted not to stop, it wasn’t what we were looking for on this trip and the idea of rubbing shoulders with hundreds of sightseers wasn’t appealing.

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We rode on and back up in to the mountains and the scenery once again changed to the harsh dramatic rocky mountains. We stopped briefly so Paul could do his business before he died which resulted in an impromptu snow fight between him and Gregg! I just hope Paul didn’t use the yellow snow.

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Next on the agenda for the day was something Gregg had on his list of must do’s, visiting a Stave Church. Arvid knew of one on our way at a place called Lom and what a stunning church it was. Built in the second half of the 12th century, the church is a triple nave stave church which are the oldest types of stave church and is actually one of just a very few stave churches of which the original medieval crest with a dragon head still survives. You can read more about it at the visit Norway website.

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There was still a lot of riding to do before we would reach the end point for the day, Flåm, a stunning location at the edge of Aurlandsfjord. To get there we had various route options but Arvid had a surprise up his sleeve for us. Roy and Arvid decided to blast on and meet us at a hotel further along whilst Paul, Gregg and myself took it a little easier, only a little. By the time we reached the hotel we had been having a bit of a blast ourselves and we weren’t too far behind Roy and Arvid.

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When we reached the hotel Arvid dropped his surprise on us, the quickest route to our destination was to go across the mountains using a privately owned road, Tindevegen Road (“peak road”).  The road is a toll road that had only been open a few weeks after the winter snow was cleared from the roads. Even so the road is narrow, windy and bordered on each side by high show banks. The road was quiet and we were able to really put ourselves and our bikes through the motions playing a high speed game of chase, Gregg leading, Paul then me coming up the rear. It was the most technical and fun bit of riding of the entire journey, leaning the bike right over fully loaded with gear all the while trying to keep on the tail of the rider in front. It was an exhilarating ride and when we reached the end of the road we stopped and had digested what we had just experienced with huge grins on our faces.

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We arrived early evening and found a campsite, once again without wifi. After picking a flat area to pitch we set up the tents and unloaded our gear. Gregg is a bit of a beer drinker and Arvid had been telling us about a pub 5 minutes from the campsite that had it’s own microbrewery. So Gregg, Paul, Arvid and Myself headed off for our first visit to a pub of the entire trip! Roy decided to stay and have an early night in his tent. The pub was a wooden building, really very nicely done with a comfortable selection of sofas and chairs. There was a circular area lowered into the middle of the room that circled a fireplace, not really needed at the time as the weather was unseasonably warm. We grabbed some drinks, not being a big drinker I stuck to the soft drinks, diet coke, the hard stuff. The place was pretty quiet, a small group sat near the bar, another small group sat around the fireplace and a couple of people were sat the far side of the room, it was in reality almost empty. We sat an on an empty sofa and immediately the tiredness kicked in and I realised how exhausted I was. I had been suffering from slumps half way through the days for the last few days. I’d suddenly get very sleepy, sometimes I’d zone out or my eyes would shut briefly. It worried me but I had no choice but to drink more coffee and keep going! We stayed for about an hour before walking back to the campsite and heading to bed.

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Collection Tins Counted!

Before the trip I made 4 collection tins and managed to get them out to 4 local locations, Costa in Kings Lynn, B&Q in Kings Lynn, Tesco in Heacham and Infinity Motorcycles in Norwich. We have now collected and counted each of them :

Infinity Motorcycles, Norwich – £3.86

B&Q, Kings Lynn – £1.77

Tesco, Heacham – £12.61

Costa, Hardwick, Kings Lynn – £66.34

The total was £84.58.

There was a large difference in the amounts collected and I was a little disappointed in 2 of the tins really considering they were sat for 4 weeks. The Infinity tin surprised me since the people buying stuff in the store were all bikers but I guess the turnover of people isn’t that great in there. The £3.86 raised doesn’t even cover 1/4 of cost of the fuel I used driving to Norwich to put it there, I’d have been better off chucking a £5 in the tin and not taking it but who was to know. B&Q was a real disappointment being a large major retail store, £1.77! Tesco did quite a bit better and really without Costa raising the £66.34 the collection would have been a bit of a waste of effort. However every penny counts and the £84.58 all adds to the total, thanks to everyone who donated via the collections tins!

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Day 10 – Hell to Andalsnes

It was nice to wake up to the sound of nature instead of the rumble from Gregg’s snoring. The birds were twittering and the sound of water rushing by could be heard from the river a few meters behind the tent. I had slept fairly well, considering I was encased in a sleeping bag on a 3cm thick sleeping mat, not exactly a memory foam mattress and feather quilt. The usual morning activities of washing etc… were taken care of followed by packing up the tents and loading the bikes. We rode up to the cabin Gregg and Roy had stayed in and as they were still getting ready me and Paul decided to ride back to Hell and get some postcards to send to family, friends and sponsors who had asked for them.

The tourist shop was a small rack at the back of a petrol station shop that had dozens of postcards and some pin badges with a genuine certificate of authenticity to proved you had been to Hell and survived. That was it, no theme parks, no men dressed up as Satan or scantly clad sirens to tempt you to sin. We grabbed a load of postcards and stamps before heading back to the campsite to write them so we could get them posted from Hell before we carried on with the journey south. The day was to be another long day of riding but with some memorable experiences along the way.

We stopped on route for a quick coffee and toilet break at a small café/restaurant up on a hill. The view was great with the snow covered peaks in the distance and sparkling lakes below.

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A patron of the café was outside sipping a drink, a rather odd looking guy, weathered and you could say eccentric in appearance. He took and interest in the bikes and us, wandering around us as we stood talking and drinking our coffee. Arvid was the only Norwegian speaking member of our team and got himself lumbered with the guy for a short while which Paul and Gregg found slightly amusing, actually Gregg found it hilarious!

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Once again our journey was interrupted by a ferry crossing, something we were all getting pretty used to by now.

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By lunchtime we were all feeling the heat and the need for food and drink so when we stopped to refuel we took the opportunity to grab some lunch in a pizza restaurant. The rather large pizzas were too big in all honesty and even Roy had to concede defeat which was very much out of character!

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Our route was to take us further towards the west and the coast, along what is a pretty well known length of road known as “The Atlantic Road“.  This road was a series of bridges and small islands full of twisty corners and spectacular views. Highly regarded as one of the best road trips in the world by many, including the Guardian Newspaper, with chances to see whales and seals if you are lucky. One of the highlights for us was Storseisundet Bridge, a fairly tall bridge with a twist that makes it appear to end in mid air from certain angles. We rode the bridge 3 times before stopping at a café so we could take in the view, after which we parked in a layby and took some photo’s for the blogs.

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We left the Atlantic Road behind only to have yet another ferry crossing!

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It was getting late in the day now and the conclusion was that we would camp at a place called Andalsnes that evening. We found a local supermarket to grab some food just before it closed then after a bit of a Garmin Sat Nav magical mystery tour we found our selves at a campsite for the evening.

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