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2006 Norway

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Shropshire County, with its rustic manors and pastoral settings is as nice a place as anyone would want to spend their languid summer afternoons. Crisscrossed with old canal routes and small farming villages, it’s the perfect getaway for city dwellers eager for some peace and quiet. Why would anyone want to leave?

Unfortunately, team orson is smitten with the wanderlust bug and can never stay in one place for very long. The fjords of western Norway beckon. We bade farewell from our English hosts and make our way across the Midlands towards Newcastle on England’s east coast.
Along the way, we pass through the walled city of York, the spiritual capital of northern England for over 2000 years. Here is the famous York Minster, sight of the famous Pudding Rebellion of 1612.

We also make our way past Richmond Castle, built by the Normans shortly after William the Conqueror’s victory over King Harold.

We finally arrive in Newcastle and after getting lost on the wrong side of the river, we finally make it to the ferry port by the 11:00 A.M. check in time for the 2:00 P.M. sailing.
Waiting in line to board.

After boarding and securing the bike, we make our way to our cabin. The ferry is quite nice with clean, well-lit cabins, several restaurants and even a cinema. We settle in for the 26 hour crossing to Bergen.

We arrive in Bergen under overcast skies at around 5:00 P.M. the following day. Surrounded by hills, Bergen is the former capital of Norway and its waterfront is a UNESCO Heritage site. Of course, team orson’s photographer neglects to take pictures of the waterfront. He will be severely disciplined. The next morning, we make our way inland to some of the surrounding fjords…

I lost count of all the waterfalls. There must be at least a bazillion of the things. This one was encountered on the way to Sognefjorden.

First sight of the Sognefjorden with the town of Vangsnes below. Notice the GS trying to horn its way into the picture. These guys were everywhere!

First of what would be many ferry rides. This one across the Sognesfjorden.

Now we’re talkin’. The sun was starting to make an appearance. The road along the western edges of the Jostedalsbreen Glacier was bliss for a motorcycle.

We head north, zigzagging our way through the fjords. The Norwegians are master tunnelers. I’ve never encountered so many tunnels before. This includes Europe’s longest tunnel at over 20 kilometers in length. I avoided this one though as the thought of spending 15 minutes droning along in the darkness wasn’t very appealing. I did encounter a few that were 8 or 9 kilometers in length. I loathed the idea of breaking down in the middle of one these tunnels. At a gas stop, I met an Italian rider who had a flat in the middle of one of these tunnels. He said he waited for 3 hours inside the tunnel before a tow truck could get to him.

Still alongside the Jostedalbreen Glacier…

By late afternoon, we were approaching the Geirangerfjord.

The Geirangerfjord is used in many tourist brochures for Norway. Despite being well inland, large ships can navigate it. You can just barely make out the road making its way up the opposite side.

A view from the other direction, looking down at the town of Geiranger.

We stay the night in Alesund, a charming fishing town along the coast.

The next morning we head out to explore some of the valleys near Alesund.

The famous Trollstein Pass…

Riding along another fjord. Traffic was relatively light. I seldom encountered another car and if I did, I quickly found my way past it.

We’d spent too much time lolling about the fjordland. We needed to start making tracks towards the north.
Heading out after a morning rain shower.

North of Steinkjer, we leave the fjords behind and the terrain turns to smaller but still respectable mountains and pine forests. After a full day’s ride from the fjords, we finally cross the Arctic Circle into the land of the midnight sun.

The main highway to the north is known as the Arctic Highway. Much like the Alaskan Highway, during the summer months it sees a plethora of motorhomes and motorcycles making the trek to the Nordkapp, the northernmost point on the European continent. Parts of the highway were built during World War II by the German occupying forces using slave labor. The road makes its way along glaciated rock formations, some of them resembling the domed rocks of Yosemite Park.
The road is an endless series of S-turns. There are very few passing lanes and with the constant curves, it can be difficult to find a safe place to pass. Fortunately, the farther north you go, the traffic decreases. Towns become fewer and farther between.

Norway is a long country. Oslo is closer to Rome than it is to the Nordkapp. From Oslo to the Nordkapp is about 2000 kilometers. Roughly the same as the distance between San Diego and Seattle or Miami and Boston.

It takes another 2 full days of riding above the Arctic circle to reach the ethereal Lofoten Islands. These are the true soul of northern Norway.

Even under rainy skies, the majestic beauty of the Lofotens shone through. Some might say that their true beauty is revealed in inclement weather. Just hope you’re not on a motorcycle.

After several days in a row with at least some rain, I finally needed a break from riding. I took a hotel room in Bodo and took the time to get my laundry done and look about town before heading south along route 17.
Route 17 can be compared to California’s Pacific Coast Highway if in scenery alone. The road itself is barely more than one car wide in places so, it’s not a road you’d want to rail on. There’s also several ferry crossings along the way to make you stop and smell the roses.
Heading south…

Still heading south…

Yet another ferry! They didn’t seem to run regularly. If you didn’t arrive just at the right time, you might be sitting for up to an hour.

More views of the Norwegian coastline along route 17.

Finally, after 4 days above the Arctic Circle, the sun began to fight its way through the clouds as we approached the fjordlands again.

Back in the fjordlands, we crossed the Jotunheimen ice fields…

before dropping down to lower elevations.

Cruising along the Lustrafjorden. The blue of the fjord doesn’t come out in this photo. It was the most vibrant glacier blue.

View of the Nærøy Valley from the Stalheimskleiva Hotel.

The road from Stalheimskleiva leading down to the valley below drops some 1,100 feet in 1 mile with an 18% grade (note to self: leave bike in gear before taking photo).

Heading towards Oslo finally…

The traditional turf roof of the Nordic homes.

Approaching Oslo, the terrain began to resemble western Oregon with scenic rolling hills. After Oslo, I headed down the coast towards Sweden. The part of Sweden I crossed resembled Pennsylvannia farmland. In Sweden, I came down with a terrible case of food poisoning. Thankfully, v11lemans.com member Soren lives near Copenhagen, Denmark and graciously took me in and nursed me back to health. I was laid out for a whole day before feeling well enough to continue.
After one last ferry crossing to Germany, I was running low on time so I Autobahned the length of Germany down to Munich. I was then able to enjoy a day in the Alps before arriving at team orson’s home base in Parma, Italy.

The Goose will now be fettled by our team of experts with all the loving care and respect she deserves after our arduous trip to the northlands.

18 riding days / 2 rest days
Days above the Arctic Circle- 4
Distance traveled- 8250 kilometers / 5126 miles
Ferrys- 16
Reindeer sightings- 0 in the wild
Citations- 0
Pucker moments- several
Bee stings- 0

Route map: