Until now I never had a motorcycle of my own, they were all rented for relatively short trips. Finally this summer I managed enough to get one of the popular round the world motorcycle – Suzuki DR650 a humble single cylinder 45bhp old school dual sport machine. Being 16year old, it needed some care like any other, DR service manual along with DR forums I became the mechanic – it’s true that get to know you machine as you yourself start caring for it. Now we are best buds 🙂
Why Norway ? Initially I had fancied of going to Romania and other east European countries for they have quite a lot of undisturbed nature. But 2 weeks before the trip I happen to stumble upon some pictures from Norway. Holy f*k! it was so beautiful. Along with the Scandinavian law that one has the right to freely live in the nature looked enough adventurous to head North from Karlsruhe, Germany(where I live). From my past experiences, I decided not to make any meticulous plan which would be inevitably broken and then try to catch up the plan which was made even before I came to know Norway and feel bad at the end of the day for things which I missed out. As I write now, it think it was the best decision ever. Nevertheless due to time constraints, I knew when to return so the ferry tickets to and fro Denmark and Norway was booked. The tourist info webpage is very good and useful – shortlisted a few of the rewarding hikes I could possibly do, some twisty scenic routes and so on.
The gear – Pretty basic and budget. For luggage, there was a waterproof 70L roll bag and then a trekking backpack as a side bag – the shoulder straps were taken around the seat and all the free straps were clipped. It worked pretty well without any complaints, apart from the pain of mounting and dismounting the bag. On the other hand it made accessing the stuff inside quite annoying. Even though I knew the wind would be problem I decided to face it rather than buying a ridiculously priced windscreen. A USB power adaptor gave life to all my gadgets on the go – A GoPro, DSLR and mobile + navi. Then camping equipments like a tent, zero degree sleeping bag, cooking gas, burner, some food(Scandinavia is known to be expensive) etc. Then a few tools, puncture kit, extra tube, a spark plug, fuses, cables etc. Recently I turned into big fan of paper maps and they are so worth the money. I got Michelin maps but later on I found Cappelen maps in a petrol station to be even better with lot of off road trails mapped (I still love Michelin maps for sure). And finally my faithful knife.
On the Road –
Karlsruhe to Hirtshals, Denmark was pretty straight and flat. With 45 bhp, I’m not truly close to anything like having a great ride in the autobahn – now I’m so used to get blown off to the sides by a speeding Porsche or BMW :(. I surfed a couch in Hamburg and the host was very kind. The next day even though I had no plans for exploring Hamburg, she took me around the harbor and we had some fresh sea food. In Hamburg I also had to change tires and was delayed by many hours. The only way I could make it to the ferry in time was to ride overnight across Denmark. It was tiresome and as I crossed the 600km mark that night I was just too sleepy that I had to pull over into a parking lot and sleep on the bike. I laid with legs up on the handle bar and leaned back against the roll bag and as I gazed in the dark clear sky in some remote parking lot along the Danish motorway I saw a million stars like never before – I wish I had the energy to capture it on my camera. But sometimes you have to let that feeling go and enjoy the moment. And I did it!I managed in time for the ferry, sleep deprived and tired. I tried to get some sleep as the ferry sailed across the four hour section of the North sea.
I did couchsurfing the first day in Norway and stayed with Kristian in Kristiansand, the next day I was fed with a little bit of history of Kristiansand (another port town) and I happened to get an answer to one of the question I never really had patience to Google. Why are these house predominantly wooden, painted white ? Once upon a time white paint was expensive to produce so only the rich could afford them and eventually white symbolized prosperity even as cheaper white paint came into production decades later. Now the old city is being conserved as a heritage site. After a few cups of coffee and some funny conversations I proceeded along the western coast. The coast is mostly rocky but with few stretches of sand here and there. I took the road closest to the sea looking for swimming spot and I wasn’t disappointed, there are nice beaches along Rv507 near Sola.
The Southern coast of Norway has an amazing geographic feature called the Fjords. The landscape is breath taking! They are narrow inlets in the land caused by glacier erosion. You can even spot glaciers on few of this Fjords and their numerous narrow freshly melted streams. They fill these inlets making them feel more like a fresh water lake than a part of the salty north sea. Riding on the edges of these Fjords on narrow, well banked roads is shear riding pleasure. The sometimes the landscape turned so stunning that there were instances were I was almost crashing into the side rails.
Norway is not at all a flat country, there are several mountain passes and tunnels longer than 20kms! A technical glitch would be a disaster in these long tunnels, luckily my trusty DR never let us down. Sognefjellet National Tourist Route on Fv.55 is yet another beautiful road – you get to see snow, lakes and mountains all together! It is just impossible to point out all the beautiful roads because honestly you will never get tired riding in that landscape. And if you get tired riding on the smooth asphalt, there are plenty of less trodden trails to have some fun. I’m pretty sure that it will take you yet another exotic lake. There were days I kept the swimming shorts tucked under the fastening cables just to avoid repacking the luggage over and over again!
Apart from the first few days of couchsurfing, I did wild camping for the next few days. It was just incredible! You riding day long in this beautiful landscape until a little before the sunset, then find a nice location far away from the road near an lake and pitch the tent. Find some dry wood, start a fire, make a tea and some food. And finally to sit down by the lake all alone sipping tea, enjoying the food after a day long ride – tadaa! Trust me, it is happiness 🙂 I didn’t continue do this for long just because I didn’t want to spoil these lovely lakes with my shower gel! I’m not a camping ground fan, it is like a refugee camp 😀 a lot of people camping close together and it feels weird. On the other hand hot water and toilets are some huge plus points.
There are numerous hiking trails and treks with extremely rewarding sights that one will never forget in life, such was one to Trolltunga. The narrow piece of rock sticking out of a cliff among the Fjords. Hike was marked as tough, it took me 10hrs of continues walking to complete the trail, but the feeling you get while sitting at edge of this rock on a windy day is inexplicable! You know that you are so close to death, I had goosebumps 🙂
Two weeks of riding in this beautiful terrain, spending time in nature in its purest form, meeting other travelers and bikers was a truly amazing experience. I had wished to cross the Arctic circle but I couldn’t make it there. Norway was just to beautiful that I had to slow down tremendously. I crave for more!
Experience makes a man perfect, how true! Now I understand need a bigger tank, center stand, better lights and a more ergonomic luggage system!
– Video soon-