So a little break from the daily blog posts with this disturbing image, an image of a man taken by emotion and levels of desire unknown to most mortal beings. Gregg’s thirst for excitement led to him humping literally anything and everything that couldn’t run away screaming. Below is a record of some of his conquests during the epic 17 days we called Dash4Dosh!
I woke up on the floor, why? Well the night before Paul had “won” the Sofa in a draw a straw competition so I was relegated to the floor along with a bunch of rather smelly motorcycle boots which after days of hot riding were pretty toxic! The plan for the day was to head to Arvid’s home town where we would be a guest at one of his friends from the local Motorcycle Club. On the way we would visit Lysebotn and ride the 27 hairpins down to Lysefjord and back up. First though a quick shower followed by unpacking the bike, today we ride with no luggage on the bikes as we would be coming back to get it later in the day!
The “naked F650” and the guys catching up on the world via Social Media!
I walked over to the shower block, the place was dead probably due to it being early in the year. All I saw was a sheep wandering around looking for Gregg, she looked very lonely without him. The shower was going to be very welcome, I certainly appreciated the chance to freshen up as we travelled over the last couple of weeks. As I was about to shower I noticed a strange sign on the wall so I moved closer to read or should I say view the image.
Now I have to be honest, I was a little surprised, there are many things in life I have considered doing, but never taking a dump in the shower!
I finished my shower and walked back to get changed and unload the bike, oddly there was no sign of the sheep or Gregg at this point! The bike looked tiny without the panniers, tent and other luggage strapped on. We climbed on and headed off for a day of fun riding and exploring, back along the roads we came down the day before. The bike felt light, a bit too light and I struggled to get used to the handling without all the additional weight. I actually found myself not enjoying the ride very much as I was tense and not getting on with the handling. The bike was really snatchy and at speed it was a bit wobbly! (I later discovered the chain was way too slack and needed replacing which did not help the riding at all)
As we headed across the mountains we found a place where people had been stopping and making cairns. We pulled over and took a look around, taking in the view and the clean mountain air. I collected a bunch of stones and made a little dedication to Caroline back home, a bit soppy I know but I knew she would appreciate it! We finished looking around and headed on our way once again, through snow banked roads and stunning views.
At the top of the hairpins we came across a car park and viewing area which had a café that looked down over the fjord below. We had said we would stop here but Roy was on a mission and clearly enjoying the riding too much. He shot on down the hill whilst we had all pulled in! Arvid volunteered to shoot after Roy and bring him back up.
In the mean time, Gregg, Paul and myself parked up and used the time to take some photo’s of the view and each other. When Roy and Arvid came back we popped into the café for some tea and cake, may favourite pastime.
We then headed off down the hairpins, turn after turn down the steep mountainside. I was getting used to the bike again now and although not blasting down I was riding a good pace and enjoying the technical aspects of the riding, until we reached the tunnel that is. I headed into the tunnel and was riding along happily until I suddenly noticed a wall, in front of me! Right in the middle of the tunnel was a U-turn and I had to slam the brakes on hard and lean the bike hard to get it around. After a few moments of pant filling terror I emerged from the tunnel alive if a little shaken and carried on the ride down.
At the bottom at Lysebotn we parked up and sat looking up at where we had just ridden down from. It was a long way up and there was a huge waterfall pouring down the side I hadn’t seen from the top. The view up the fjord was fantastic and I would have happily sat there all day except we had a lot of miles to cover still.
We rode back up, a bit slower through the tunnel this time, heading back towards Arvid’s holiday home so we could get our gear and carry on our trip to Skudenshaven. The valley we rode through on the way was fantastic, reminding me very much of Jurassic Park. Gregg, Paul and myself hung back to take in the view whilst Roy and Arvid shot off for some hard core biking action.
On reaching Arvid’s holiday home we gathered our gear, loaded the bikes and headed off, the plan was to stop at a shop on route that sold good value thermal gear and compression tops ideal for under the bike gear. We stopped to fuel up and noticed the sky was looking darker, I was pretty sure a storm was brewing but Paul as adamant it couldn’t possibly rain (I should have learnt my lesson by now!) Just as we reached the shop the heavens started to open, there was a rumble in the distance and a sudden panic to get wet gear. To add to the situation, the shop had just closed! We headed off in the rain and I soon discovered my weatherproof textiles were no longer weatherproof.
We rode on for a while and when the rain eased we decided to pull over and put our wet weather gear over the top of our already wet gear! I slipped (struggled like crap to squash into) my Oxford Rainsuit, a bit pointless as I was already soaked but I guess it would help if it rained more (It did rain more.. a lot more). We carried on our way to Stavenger, the roads were damp and my visor was pretty dirty from the spray which made riding even harder. The traffic was building up as we approached the city, something we hadn’t had to deal with since the start of the journey back in Denmark and Sweden. To make matters worse we arrived during rush hour and there were road works! We edged through the traffic and eventually reached the Ferry at Mortivika which would take us across to Arsvagen. It was a short ferry trip so there was little time to relax after the stressful trip across Stavenger. Before we knew it the ferry started to slow and we all started to get back on the bikes. Unfortunately my waterproof gloves have a soft fabric lining which had become damp, along with my cold wet hands the combination did not lend itself to ease of wear. I could not for the life of me get my hands in the gloves and I couldn’t reach the summer gloves which were in my panniers. Suddenly the ferry clunked against the dock, I looked at Roy, indicated that I couldn’t get my gloves on just as the front opened up and the ramp descended. We were all lined up a the front of the ferry and the guys shot off like greyhounds after a hare! All I could do is stuff my gloves inside my jacket and ride, in the heavy rain, with no gloves. About 15 minutes out I was struggling to feel my fingers and I indicated to pull over. I managed to get my summer gloves out and put them on and although not waterproof they did stop the stinging from the rain. Everyone else had pulled over further up the road except Arvid who was so focused on the road he hadn’t noticed we had stopped.
Paul got his satnav out and programmed in a Statoil garage located in Arvids hometown and we headed that way with the plan to get hold of Arvid on route or when we got there. We rode on, riding through a number of tunnels including Karmøytunnelen which had roundabouts in it! This is part of the T-Link that connects a series of islands to the mainland. We finally arrived at the garage and Paul was able to contact Arvid who came and met us. His friend Hans from the Skudenes Motorsykkel Klubb lives literally across the bay from Arvid and offered to put us up in an annex to his house which was very kind. Arvid led us to Hans place and what a lovely location, on the edge of a bay, picturesque wooden houses on each side.
Hans came out to welcome us and we chatted for a while about the trip and motorcycles. Hans rides a 1200GS and he and Roy had a good chat about the bikes. The next day Hans would be joining us along with a couple of his friends as we head down to Denmark. They are going on a weekend trip camping which neatly fits in with our journey. Arvid invited us around for some dinner and beer later and then headed home whilst we all unpacked and cleaned up.
We headed over to Arvid’s and met Liv his partner and their huge dog! They had prepared us a lovely dinner and we ate that followed by a beer or two down in the “Den”.
We walked back to Hans place and headed off to bed, it was a great end to a long day!
When I woke up I half expected to hear the tent flapping in the wind but then realised I wasn’t in my tent! I hadn’t had slept as well as I’d hoped, largely due to being buzzed most of the night by a pesky mosquito. Gregg and Roy were still in the land of nod so I sneaked down to get some fresh air and see how the morning looked outside. I walked out on to the veranda and it was another glorious day, the reflection of the sun sparkling on the river, birds in the trees and a gentle breeze carried the smell of spring.
Gregg and Roy woke and started to get their gear together whilst I took a very quick shower. Arvid and Paul had wandered up from their tents by the time I was finished and discussions were going on regarding the plan for the day, sat navs in hand and maps at the ready.
The day was to take us to Arvid and Liz’s holiday home up in the mountains where we were going to stop over that night. On route we were going to take in some spectacular scenery and make a stop and the Norsk Industriabeider Museum (Norwegian Industrial Workers Museum) located at Rjukan in Tinn. Whilst the guys finished their packing I took a short walk around the campsite to grab a few last photos. Gregg wandered down and once again I pointed out a children’s swing which I felt would look much better with him on it.
We finished packing, mounted our iron horses and headed on our merry way. It felt good to be on the road again, something I was used to now, day in day out it just felt good. As we passed more fjords and mountains I really felt a connection with the country I was riding through and knew that one day I would come back with more time at hand and explore this amazing landscape. As we rode we came upon a fantastic view, a huge snow capped mountain in front and a big waterfall to the left. We pulled into a car park belonging to a garage that had a number of old trucks parked outside as well as a large American “18 Wheeler” carrying a caravan. The truck was all done up in the red, white and blue and looked very cool, I always wanted to be a long haul truck driver in the USA, breaker breaker 10-4 and all that.
We continued our ride and turned to head up a pretty steep hill which became ever more twisty. The turning for the museum appeared to our left and we pulled into the narrow road which took us through a couple of tight corners before heading down a steep hill into the museum car park. By now it was hot, very hot and my black bike gear was soaking up the suns heat like a sponge. We secured our bikes, taking the minimum we needed with us. I carried my tank bag with my camera over my shoulder but Still had to take my bike jacket as I had nowhere to leave it that was secure. We headed across the car park, over a small suspension bridge before realising that the museum was actually at the top of a windy road and we had to walk all the way up! Arvid and Paul had taken off and were well on their way up, Gregg was in pursuit a short way ahead and me and Roy were following up the rear. The walk up seemed to take forever and by the time we reached the top we were dripping in sweat, not a pleasant site. Here’s Gregg wearing his Arctic Survival gear in the 30 degrees heat, he looks a tad warm!
On entering the museum we bought the entry tickets and tried to cool down. Gregg was on the verge of meltdown and approached the lady behind the counter, a look of desperation on his face. What came next was one of the funniest quotes of the trip… “Is this the kinda museum I have to keep my pants on ma’am?”. She laughed.. we laughed… it was hilarious!
The site was the location of a hydro-electricity plan and has special significance in that during World War 2 the Nazi’s were producing “heavy water” at the site for use in producing atomic weapons. The Norwegians undertook a daring mission to sabotage the site and stop the Nazis from achieving that goal, if they had failed then the war may have ended a very different way.
As I came out of one of the sections in the museum I noticed Gregg had found is way to the reception and was having a “conversation” with the young lady there.
So I zoomed in for a couple of action shots, I’ve no idea what they were discussing, but Gregg’s expression certainly makes me wonder what she said to him!
We left the museum and headed into the snow covered mountains once again, stopping at a large Dam to do a bit of climbing and messing about. Roy and Arvid decided to scale the stone wall whilst the rest of us messed around in the snow!
We carried on riding with huge snow banks on either side of the road, some maybe 4 or 5m in height, an ideal photo opportunity!
We then descended once again into the green and mountain lined roads, with white water rivers and more crystal clear fjords. Our next stop was a small shop on the way to Arvid’s holiday home. Here we found an area with lots of curiosities, trolls, goats, weird and wonderful it was without a doubt.
Eventually we arrived at Arvid’s holiday home, up in the mountains with stunning views of a nearby lake and lots of sheep for Gregg to scare.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The view from the cabin was pretty special!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Once again our journey was interrupted by a ferry crossing, something we were all getting pretty used to by now.
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!
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.
We left the Atlantic Road behind only to have yet another ferry crossing!
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.
It was nice waking up in a bed, OK it was the top bunk in a pretty basic and not exactly luxury bunk bed but it was still a bed. The night had been a bit chilly, so much so that I had gotten up and taken the blanket off the bottom bunk in the night to stop the shivering. We were right next to a river and it was pretty exposed so I guess there was little to keep any heat from escaping. I looked over at the other bunk, Paul was curled up with his blanket covering his head. I climbed down from my bunk and headed to the toilet block half expecting to see Roy washing his bike still. By the time I came back there were noises from Paul’s bunk, turns out he’d been a bit chilly in the night but unlike me, he couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed to get another blanket and instead opted to freeze half to death.
I started to get my electrical gear together before going to my bike where the loading process once again started. Thankfully today there was no tent to put away.
We got our gear on and I coaxed the guys into going over the playground near the cabins to grab a few silly shots, my tripod once again coming in very handy. We took some shots on a couple of bouncy spring toys then I got paul to run up the slide and pose. I set the camera on timer and tried the same, only for my boots to slip and my head planted nicely into the slide with a bit of a clunk! Then it was time to leave and continue our ride south.
The main objective of the day was to reach Hell, yes I said Hell. It is a village located near Trondheim and was where we were to meet up with Arvid, a fellow IT geek and biker who was to be our guide for the last days of the trip. The main goal of reaching the Arctic Circle had been achieved and now we were going to be riding some amazing and dangerous roads, testing our skills to the limits at times. The day was going to be pretty much riding all day with no other stops on route to Hell.
As we rode, the scenery continued to amaze and delight us. At one point we passed a crystal clear lake backed by snowy mountains and we pulled over so I could go back and take a few pictures. I turned back with Roy and we rode back maybe 1/4 mile to a small turning on the opposite side of the road from the lake. I pulled over and put my side stand down but I wasn’t happy with the lean on the bike so I rolled a little further along but now the slope was worse. I climbed off as I couldn’t push the bike back whilst sat on it, the ground was too gravely and too steep to grip, as I tried to push the bike back it tilted back and once again I couldn’t stop it going right over onto it’s side although I did “put it down” gently. Roy came over and gave me a hand and we got it back up on 2 wheels. By this time I was a bit sweaty and frustrated! But I’d come for the photo and I was going to take it! I turned the bike around and parked up on the road next to the lake then climbed down the bank leaving the bike at the mercy of passing drivers hoping they didn’t clip it or knock it over. We got a few pictures before climbing back on and heading off once again.
We had a cycle of riding and refuelling, something that would probably feel like a pain at home, but not in Norway. The breaks gave us a chance to chat, eat and cause mischief, not only that but we stopped at the most scenic petrol stations you can imagine. During one of our stops today I looked up to see Gregg wandering around his bike looking rather puzzled, in his hand one of his wing mirrors. “Has anyone got a spanner” he called out which immediately launched Paul into action. I wandered over to take a look with the sound of Paul unlocking top boxes and panniers in the background. I took the mirror and looked at Gregg… “Why don’t you just screw it back on?” I said, so I took the mirror and screwed in back into the thread anticlockwise. “Oh.. ” said Gregg. Paul then arrived and continued to wrench the mirror so tight it was never going come off again, ever.
We sat and chatted, had a coffee and I took a “selfie” to satisfy Gregg’s needs which he clearly thought was hilarious.
We rode on, the roads continued to be great to ride but we were starting to hit more traffic now the further south we travelled. Paul rode off with an addition to his bike, Gregg had sneaked into the garage and purchased a “Flaming Christmas Tree” air freshner which he had tied, hidden from plain view, to the back of Paul’s bike. We stopped later in the day as the riding was hard work in the traffic at which point Gregg’s giggles raised Paul’s awareness to the item attached to his bike.
After what felt like an eternity we arrived in Hell (maybe it’s supposed to feel like that in Hell… who knows) We found a small petrol station and stopped to work out which way the main town was. We were looking forward to sitting down in a nice restaurant or coffee shop in Hell’s high street, looking around a few souvenir shops, seeing the sights and so on. Problem is we couldn’t find a high street, or shops or anything. Pauls magic Iphone directed us towards a road the way we had come from so we headed back down that road and took the first turning off which led to the train station, Hell’s train station.
We climbed off and had a good look around, not that there was much to see. A train rolled in but no one got off, guess Hell had no new souls today. We knocked on the door of the station and a young man opened the door, he wasn’t wearing a red lycra suit, he had no horns or tail and not even a pointy beard, instead he wore a rail ticket office uniform. We enquired as to where the main town was only to be told there wasn’t one as such. We looked at each other, rather disappointed and surprised that a place called Hell hadn’t taken advantage of that very fact. Any other country would have milked that!
We sat and waited for Arvid to arrive which very shortly after he did, a rumble across the car park from his VFR, a cloud of dust and there he was. We said our hello’s, none of us had met Arvid in person before so there was a lot to chat about over the next week. We took a few photographs at the station before leaving and heading off to a campsite that was about 10 minutes ride away.
Ertsgaard Camping was actually on what looked to be a farm, the owner must have seen an opportunity to make a few extra Krone by setting aside an area by the river, building a few huts and a toilet/shower hut and renting out space for tents and caravans. It was dirt cheap as well, about £7 for a tent for the night! Arvid sorted out the details with the owner and we then rode into the nearby town of Stjordal to get some food. Arvid had brought a portable BBQ with him and bought some sausages (much to Gregg’s delight) and chicken wings. We bought some drinks and snacks as well then headed back to the campsite.
Roy and Gregg once again slipped into a hut for the night whilst myself, Paul and Arvid all set our tents up for the night. Arvid setup his camping BBQ and we appointed Gregg as official cook (all Americans are keen BBQ cooks are they not?) I brewed up some tea and we sat around the tents, chatting and eating. As you can see Paul’s erection skills were still lacking as his tent collapsed once again… which Gregg thought was hilarious!
Below you can see our camp setup and Gregg lovingly tending to his sausages.
We then called it a day and headed to our tents/hut to get some well needed sleep. I took a few moments to read my Overland magazine at which point Paul decided to jump me from his tent!
The end of my day 9!
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.