This is only what I remeber of Norway and quickly wrote
down during the trip. I'm sure I've missed some details here and
there. Sorry! It's chronological, mostly.
I was psyched when I saw the Norwegian coast. It reminded me of New
Zealand. And I was only two and a half days from home. Kristiansand was
covered by a thick blanket of black clouds and it started raining when the
ferry docked. My plan was to head for a camping site in Lysebotn and set up
camp for the night. With this weather I wasn't looking forward to it.
Leaving Kristiansand I immediately headed north, half the time looking at the
scenery and the road, half the time checking my speedometer. If there's one
thing people have told me about Norway, it's that the speeding tickets are
ridiculous. Getting fined might possibly hack your budget in half.
The first two hours of Norwegian roads were scary, to say the least. Because I
wanted to stay away from the main roads, in this case the E39, the Garmin sent
me through some of the most challenging motorcycle rides in my life. I was
used to German and Danish roads, which were fun and easy to navigate. You can
always see what's ahead of you. In Norway that's simply not the case. There's
just a cliff on both sides of the road and it's never level. You're constantly
climbing, whizzing down steep roads and braking hard for unexpected
hairpins. The cold, hard truth became apparent after an hour or so of being
scared shitless. I can't ride properly. I'm a newbie. And there's nobody
around to teach me how to ride these twisties.
I pressed on. The scenery was simply too mindbogglingly awesome to scare me
enough to turn around. I had to see more. And it stopped raining to boot. Two
hours in I noticed a dramatic change. I was smiling like never before. This
was, without a doubt, the best thing I've ever done in my life. Even jumping
off of the 134m Nevis high wire wasn't this much fun. Every corner became
faster, more flat than the last one. Every gear change quicker. I balanced on
the edge of the grip the tires gave me every time I twisted the throttle out
of the corners. This is what riding is all about. Only now I understood. And
this is just two hours in!
Hours went by. I hated that I had to stop for gas every 200km or so. It was
five minutes less in the saddle. Five minutes less of the best thing
ever. Eventually I reached the beginning of the road to Lysebotn. There was a
sign in Norwegian, warning about the dangers. I laughed in the face of
danger. Nothing could stop me now. I felt like I could do anything.
Now that road presented a good challenge. Proper hairpins, tight bends and the
narrowest pieces of asphalt yet. I'd hate to come across a camper van on that
road. That could only end in tears. Luckily for me I only came across some
goats on the entire way to Lysebotn. I never sing, but on that road I was
singing the very first song that came to me. Can't remember which one it
was. If I ever look for a definition of happiness, it's racing down to
Lysebotn on my Alp.
The camping site was nothing more than a cabin with a bar inside, a terrace
with some chairs and a field full of tents and cars. I paid the bartender for
camping there one night and went to set up camp. The field held the most
international group of people I've ever seen. Almost every country in Europe
was represented. Every age too. The site itself was, well, heavenly
really. Smack in the middle of a valley at the very tip of a large fjord,
cliffs all around us. A huge waterfall not even 100m from where I set up my
tent. The sun was shining, I was at one of the most beautiful places I've ever
seen and I had a cold beer and a hot dog. Life was good. Later that evening I
met a few interesting people, talked about motorcycles and drank some more
Norwegian beer. Life was awesome.
The following morning I woke up with a familiar feeling. Soaked, cold and
aching all over. Poking my head out of my tent, half the field was gone. Fog
again. And thick fog this time. It was much worse than what I had endured in
Germany. The sun wouldn't come out for the hours that followed, so I had no
chance to dry anything before packing up again. I joined the camper vans
waiting for the ferry at the docks.
The ferry seemed to appear out of nowhere. We didn't hear it coming and
because of the fog we could only see it just before it docked. This trip to
Forsand was awfully touristic. Just before we departed a bus full of Asian
tourists unloaded its cargo onto the ferry. I don't mind, but I do mind people
yelling at each other in a serene place like that. I spent the entire journey on
the upper deck, taking pictures. Most yelling tourists preferred to stay
inside. It was starting to rain. I was already soaked, so I couldn't care
That morning I configured my GPS to take me to Utne. It was ridiculously far
away and I didn't expect to get that far at all that day. I just picked a town
at random on my roughly planned route up north and I would find a place to
sleep by the time I got tired.
From Forsand I followed the road up north to Sand, where I had a choice. I
could take the western road, the E134 along the coast. That was the original
plan. I could take the middle road along Sauda or I could stick to the eastern
road, which promised to offer more twisties. The choice was quickly made and I
went north following the eastern route. I picked up the E134 at Røldal and
headed for Odda. I still wasn't very tired and the days were growing longer,
so I decided to push for the last bit to Utne as well. The roads were
absolutely magnificent. Riding twisties all day isn't very tiring. It's
exhilarating, even if it's raining all day.
By the time I arrived in Utne the exhaustion kicked in. I entered the first
hotel I saw; the Utne hotel. Now this was an experience in and of itself. It's
been there since 1722, apparently. And because of that, of important historic
significance. Everything looked authentic. And it probably was. The lady
behind the counter was dressed appropriately authentic, cute as a
button. After I picked up my jaw from the floor I asked for a room. Upon
hearing the price it dropped again. I could have stayed for four nights at the
most expensive hotel in Hirtshals for that money. But who could pass up an
experience like this? Being a bit of an amateur historian I handed over my
credit card and cursed below my breath. The smile I got in return was worth
it. She invited me to join for dinner with the rest of the guests. My room was
luxurious, but not very spacious. I can't blame them. The hotel wasn't built
by modern standards. I didn't care, because there was a collection of
Norwegian history books! A treasure trove of recent history, most of it even
translated into English. I lost track of time and completely missed
dinner. The most expensive dinner in my life, served by miss cuteness, and I
missed it because of history books. D'oh.
Breakfast was something special. A huge collection of foods I've never seen
before. Most of it looking very expensive. I finally had the chance to try
this sweet goat cheese everybody's raving about. I didn't like it, to be
honest. While I was busy munching away at the few things I did recognize, I
noticed two children entering the dining room. A boy and a girl. No older than
nine, maybe ten years old. The boy invited the girl to a table, pulled up a
chair and let her sit. He sat in the chair in front of her and started a
conversation about something Norwegian. After a while they got up and started
filling their plates with food, sampling some of it and complimenting the
quality. And not just the sweet stuff either. A healthy selection of what was
offered for breakfast. They were calm and civilized. Way more than most adults
are. I checked real quick, but there were no parents around. It was just me
and those two children in the dining room. They got back to their table, the
boy did the gallant chair thing again and they started eating. I was
awestruck. I have never seen children do that. They usually run around,
screaming and kicking things over. I finished breakfast, but before I left the
dining room I said "goodbye" to them, just out of curiosity. The boy
replied, in perfect English, "Goodbye, sir. Have a nice day." and
continued his conversation with the girl in Norwegian.
Outside it was raining. A lot. Again. After packing up my things I waited in
line for the ferry. The route I had planned for that day would take me up
north, via riksvei 13 and bits of the E39 to Molde. Especially the 13 was
something I shouldn't miss according to some Norwegians.
And boy were they right. The route led me and my Alp through some of the
nicest scenery yet. With some snow in the heights, wild rivers of melting
water and roads that were made for one thing, and one thing only. It would
have been an absolute joy to ride if it wasn't raining that bad. And high up
in the mountains the rain was simply exchanged for dense fog. Not only does it
make the scenery go invisible, it also fogs up the Alps mirrors and worse, my
glasses. I had to reduce my speed quite considerably for large parts of the
Luckily, sometimes, the rain would stop for an hour or so, giving my gear a
chance to dry. With every downpour I was getting colder and colder and was
even considering wearing winter gear for the rest of the trip. It was the
middle of summer for fuck's sake. And changing gear on the side of the road
wasn't what I was looking for. Especially not with everything soaked like
Because of the bad weather and my endless shivering the last few hours up
north weren't enjoyable at all. The scenery was splendid, I bet. But I had to
make sure to stay focused on the riding. Because of the cold I was getting
sluggish. Things were getting dangerous. In Sjøholt I decided to call it a day
and find a place to sleep. I found a motel. Or at least a building with a sign
that said it was. It was deserted. Just when I decided to leave and head
further up north, in search of a place to sleep, a camper van rolled up. It was
the proprietor. He just came back from Sweden and was happy to rent out a room
for the night. It was pretty expensive for what I got but I was glad I had a
roof over my head and a working heater.
As the only guest I had the entire breakfast hall for myself the next
morning. The weather was better. Well, it wasn't raining anyway. So I decided
to keep the summer outfit and head further north.
The plan for this day was to follow the E39 to the E6 north of Trondheim, with
a little detour across the famous coastal route. The Rv64 is that iconic piece
of asphalt you see on TV as the prime example of Norwegian roads. So I took
the ferry to Molde and started the detour from there. Before I could embark
though, the weather gods started urinating their cold contempt down upon the
earth, making me instantly regret the choice I had made that morning.
Yes, this road is quite beautiful. I have to admit the bridges connecting the
small islands result in a very scenic ride. Too bad most people chose a
camper van as their vehicle of enjoyment. Because of the rain the tourist spots
were all but deserted, save a few German camper vans having their lunch break
or something. That allowed me to sit back and relax on the side of the road,
making sure I wasn't going to kill any of those slow camper van drivers mostly
blocking the road clearly made for those people who do know how to properly
enjoy asphalt like that.
After meeting up with the E39 past Kristiansund the road was boring
again. Well, boring compared to the awesome ride of the few days before. I
couldn't see anything because of the rain, I was cold and my left boot sprung
a leak. The latter was a true mood killer, I assure you. Not being able to
properly shift gears takes all the fun out of a ride. I felt horrible for most
of the day.
The long term plan was to follow route 17 along the coast. Since hotels on the
E6 are expensive tourist traps, I decided to press on to the first hotel I
found on the 17. What I found was the Namsen Motor Hotell in Namsos. With a
name like that it had to be good. Again, this place seemed to be completely
deserted. I called the telephone number on the front of the building and soon
enough somebody showed up. He had to unlock the place because I was the only
guest that day. Again. I got an entire cabin for myself with enough room to
house a large family. The guy told me these were normally used by Norwegians
during the winter, when the pistes were opened. I didn't even know this area
was a popular winter sports destination. No wonder all the hotels seemed
Having finished breakfast the next day, I set out to follow the 17 north as
far as I could. In winter gear of course. And that did wonders. Riding was
comfortable again and the wind didn't cut through me anymore. The road was
wonderful. People following the E6, which is almost parallel, may be faster but
damn. They'll miss out. Tunnels, ferries and twisties all day long through
proper Norwegian scenery. Even the weather gods helped a little by stopping
the rain every now and then.
During the afternoon, I was overtaken by a group of Harleys going way past the
speed limit. Norwegian number plates. I met up with them at the next ferry,
they laughed at my bike and I at theirs. And that was it. Or so I thought.
At the next ferry there ware a few dozen bikers waiting. Most of them on
choppers wearing the classic leathers, embroidered with logos of different
motorcycle clubs. Proper vikings, the lot of them. As a self proclaimed pirate
I was naturally a little weary. Outnumbered and by far outgunned. Eventually
things got a little less awkward and we started to talk. Apparently, there was
a large motorcycle club gathering up in Lofoten. Motorcycle club members from
across Norway were going to meet up, right when I was planning to visit the
peninsula. They also made sure that I understood the traffic rules in
Norway. Basically there's no speed limit for motorcycles. Especially not off
of the main roads. Just make sure there's plenty of room for other people,
better skilled, to overtake you. Of course, legally speaking, this was pure
nonsense. But that's how things worked. There's no police to speak of anyway
so the risk was acceptable.
I quickly got used to this new riding style. It was even more fun this
way. Maybe the little Alp doesn't pack as much oomph as your average Harley or
Beemer, it sure as hell was keeping up. Easily. Most of the time I was riding
in the front of the group, from ferry to ferry. I met a nice fellow with a
brand new K1600GT who enjoyed the same high-paced riding. We quickly outran
the rest of the bikers and waved them goodbye from the ferry they just missed.
If my new friend hadn't pointed it out, I didn't even know we had crossed the
arctic circle. The ferry sailed past a steel globe, similar to that one on the
Nordkapp. The rain was cold enough to be arctic, that's for sure. What I also
learned is that the ferry at Bodo, which I originally aimed for, was fully
booked by hundreds of motorcyclists heading to the Lofoten meet-up. I might
have better chances in Skutvik, if that wasn't fully booked either.
As the evening set in I started looking for a place to sleep. I didn't mind
riding for a few hours more, so I decided to call it a day at the third place
I saw. After two hotels I saw a cabin in Glomfjord. Well, it's number three,
so I went for it. I was greeted by a curious cat and a closed door. I called
the phone number of the cabin's proprietor and he told me to open the door and
make myself comfortable. He'd be right there. Oh, and the key was in the
mailbox. Lowe and behold, it wasn't a joke, the key was in the mailbox. Just
when I got settled in the guy I had just spoken on the telephone walked
in. Compared to several hotels before this was dirt cheap. He also told me I
had to share the cabin with a Norwegian couple who would arrive later that
evening. Hopefully I haven't bothered them too much. The cat wasn't bothered
at all. It had made friends with my Alp's warm engine.
After giving the cat a chance to say goodbye to the Alp, we left for another
day of twisties. To Skutvik it was then, since Bodo was out of the question.
The last bit of the 17 was absolutely lovely. With the scenic views you would
expect. The trip was plagued by frequent rainfall and cold winds. The Arctic
was living up to its name. With the newly learned riding style I was making
progress like never before. Before I knew it I reached the end of the 17,
followed Riksveg 80 and joined the E6 towards Skutvik. The E6 wasn't that bad
north of the Arctic circle. Road wise anyway. Even with my winter gear the
cold started affecting me in a bad way.
I arrived in Skutvik early in the afternoon. I had no idea if the ferry was
fully booked or not, but the parking lot was nearly empty. That was a good
sign. Kind of. It meant that there was a chance I might still get a boarding
ticket. But also that I had just missed the last ferry, which in turn meant a
four hour wait in the rain.
I got lucky, together with about two dozen other motorcyclists. Because
motorcycles are allowed to embark before camper vans, like it should be all
across the world if you ask me, we had to leave a few of those huge white
plastic annoyances behind. It was a good day.
We sailed towards Lofoten. The promised place of utter beauty and
fairy tales. Like in the stories, the clouds parted over the peninsula and I
saw the first few rays of sunlight in more than a week. The place looked
majestic, glistening after recent rainfall and bathing in sunlight. There was
even a rainbow at the horizon. I couldn't wait to disembark and leave a fine
line of rubber across the place.
It was getting late by the time the ferry docked. Because of the midnight sun
I still wasn't feeling very tired. I decided to go for a little ride and find
a place to sleep along the road. I wanted to see all of Lofoten, but because
of the different ferry I was already half way up the peninsula in
Svolvær. There was no other option than to head back down south again, towards
the tip of the peninsula.
Because of the great weather I found excuse after excuse not to stop at every
accommodation along the E10. By this time it was getting really late so I
settled for a place in Borg. I'm a Star Trek fan, so yeah. There you go. The
place looked like a school building, utterly deserted. And just like before,
the proprietor pulled up in his car just when I was about to leave. He told me
the school was available if I wanted. The entire building. Normally it was
used for a youth camp during spring, teaching the kids about the local viking
history. With a viking ship and everything. During the summer it's available
for just about anyone looking for a place to sleep. I received the key of the
front door and the owner told me to just leave the money at the front desk and
close the door behind me the following morning. He just gave me the key to the
entire building. And he didn't even know my name and I didn't pay for anything
just yet. Wow.
The inside of the building was exactly what you'd expect of a school. Class
rooms upstairs and dormitories downstairs, filled with classic bunk beds. The
walls were covered with murals made by the kids along the years. Quite an
amazing place, that. Especially being all alone in the middle of the night
with the sun shining outside.
The following morning I left, leaving some money and the key on the front
desk. The owner was right. I didn't steal or destroy anything.
The sun was shining over Lofoten. The last few clouds were drifting away,
showing a bright blue sky. The E10 towards the end of the peninsula begged to
be explored. So I went for it. Everything you've ever heard about Lofoten is
true. It is, by far, the most beautiful part of Norway. Rolling green hills,
white tipped mountains and white beaches. Yes. White beaches north of the
Arctic circle. A camper van ban would make this place absolute heaven.
At the end of the road there was a parking lot. That's it. A parking
lot. Filled with, you guessed it, camper vans. Some even had the audacity to
fire up a barbecue. Sigh. German tourists and their sausages. I didn't want to
stick around for too long and returned the way I came.
I had the entire length of Lofoten ahead of me, smiling all the way. And
before I knew it, I rejoined the the E6, leaving Lofoten behind. The sunny
weather too. Dark clouds greeted me with occasional drops of rain as the road
rejoined with mainland Norway. Luckily it wasn't too bad and the road wasn't
bad either. I was thoroughly enjoying myself. Hours passed. The sun never set,
so I kind of lost track of the time.
By the time I was thinking about stopping for the day, I was riding for twelve
hours straight. I wasn't hungry or tired. This factory Honda saddle is
surprisingly comfortable. I settled for another hotel, the Best Western in
Alta. The weather looked like proper camping weather, but the previous camping
experiences were still fresh in my memory and I thought the better of it.
It was time for me to do the laundry, so I asked the lady behind the counter
where the laundromat was. She pretty much told me outright I wasn't supposed
to even touch the laundromat, let alone do my laundry. I don't know what I've
said to change her mind, but somehow she offered to do the laundry for me. For
free. In her own time. My rain soaked, stinky underwear.
And yes, the next morning her colleague brought a bag smelling of flowers and
detergent to my breakfast table. All my clothes were there, neatly folded. It
completely made up for the annoyance of hearing a couple of old Dutch tourists
bickering over how they didn't have any chocolate sprinkles at the table in
front of me.
There was one day of riding left in Norway. Today's route would, if everything
went according to plan, take me to Mehamn and back south again across the
border into Finland. The sun was shining, all the clouds seemed to have
evaporated over night and a the temperature was up considerably. Only a little
bit of the Nordkapp route left. Soon I wouldn't be bothered with pesky
camper vans anymore. I was about to follow the E6 and skip the Nordkapp all
together. In your face, tourism!
The northern most bit of the E6 was an absolute delight. Whereas the south of
Norway had some forests and streams, the north is a lot rockier and worn
down. Twisties made place for rolling hills and long, straight roads. I met a
lot of motorcyclists along the way. Many of them doing the boring E6 Nordkapp
route I suppose. I kept thinking those poor bastards don't know what they're
I soon left the steady stream of Nordkapp tourists behind and went east,
towards Russia. Instead of the E6 along the Finnish border I followed the 98,
allowing me to eventually end up in Mehamn. The 98 was in pretty bad
condition. Large parts were just made out of really rough gravel and the bits
that had asphalt were littered with pretty deep potholes. Exactly the type of
road the Alp has been made to deal with. The only other traffic I met on that
road were construction traffic and a couple of KTM 990 Adventures shaking
their plastic orange bits off.
The road north up to Mehamn was brand new. The 888 started off as a narrow,
ill maintained road but suddenly turned into a wide, beautiful black ribbon
across the landscape. With nobody on it. Not a single living soul. The most
perfectly smooth piece of road. For me alone. With the sun shining brightly. I
assumed there was no police around, because I didn't see any since
Kristiansand, and went for it. Full throttle, racing north towards Mehamn.
Mehamn itself wasn't much. I didn't expect anything, just a gas pump. Luckily
it did work after the little Alp went thirsty on the 888. The weather was at
its best here though. It was the northern most place I've ever been and it was
the warmest of the entire trip. The irony.
The way back over the 888 was just as much fun. The second part of the 98 was
even worse than the first. The stuff that made up large swaths of the road
wasn't gravel anymore. This was debris. A collection of large rocks and
potholes. I was worried I might end up puncturing a tire, but those Heidenau
K60s held up perfectly. Rejoining the E6 meant I could pick up speed again.
I almost died on the E6. There was a strong southern wind since earlier that
afternoon across the wide, open plains. I was overtaking a long truck when all
of a sudden we went downhill. The truck picked up speed and was going faster
than I was. At the same time I could see a car approaching. Several hours of
no traffic at all and now I find myself staring down a pair of headlights? I
yanked the throttle and slowly crawled in front of the truck, which was still
picking up speed. When I passed the truck the southern wind kept me on the
left lane. I leaned and I leaned, but the Alp didn't want to go right. The car
was coming closer at a pretty high speed. With only a few meters to spare I
managed to push the bike against the wind, in front of the truck, which was
still picking up speed. This truck driver must have fallen asleep or
something, because we were both going well over 130 km/h. I lost sight of the
truck in my rear view mirrors after the road went uphill again.
I left the E6 to follow the 893 into Finland. The
old border post is quite an interesting sight.