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Old 11-18-2008, 07:25 AM   #1
Ola M OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Bergen, Norway
Oddometer: 139
First summer of riding in western Norway

Here's two trips I did in July as a very fresh rider. I posted them on other forums back then and have since been encouraged to join up and post them here. I've lurked for some time and have enjoyed both far flung and local ride reports.

My previous riding experience was a Honda CB 100 in my late teens. Cars were more exciting for a while, then urban student living took over. But I always wanted to get into proper bikes, so I finally took the plunge. MC license in Norway is complicated and ridiculously expensive, but the training is good. I bought a sound 1986 Suzuki GSX 750 ES, replaced the ghastly fairing with a round lamp and did some small maintenance work while waiting for my license. I finally got it on a Tuesday and set off on this trip on Saturday, after gradually expanding my horizons in my local area.

This is where we are.

And this is the route. 260km/165mi. I found the road between B and C on google maps, never really heard about it before. The road from A to B is part of the main route between Oslo and Bergen, so while the scenery might be nice the traffic is dense. It's also known as "the land of a thousand tunnels". I frequently found myself sharing a dark, damp cave with oncoming Polish semis who probably haven't rested since Gdansk. But I made it to B without incident and a great sense of adventure came upon me as I let the GPS coax me off the E16 main road and up into the hills. Things got interesting right away.

The road was narrow, winding and bumpy. Many blind corners too, so I certainly wasn't carving up da twystz. Sedate pace and enjoying the scenery was the mission.

Straying too close to the low wall will introduce you to about 150 feet of fresh air mountain and the cold stream below. If you are lucky you land in one of the deep, dark pools below the waterfall and local parents will use the story about your ghost to scare their children.

Winding yet upwards through narrow and dark holes in mountain carved by ancient dwarves.

And finally reaching flatter terrain at this dam. The area has several hydroelectric plants. This particular one has been keeping it green and carbon neutral since 1922.

While parked overlooking the dam, the heavens roared open. I fell to my knees...

...and the Lord appeared before me.

God: "Verily, nice bike my child. What year is it?"

Me: "It came to be in Thy Year 1986 My Lord. Upon my purchase it had travelled nearly 79,000 km across Thine Land."

God: "What's that in miles?"

Me: "Just over 49,000 My Lord"

God: "Nice. Looks clean and well kept. Runneth it well?"

Me: "It runneth strong and true Lord. But it doth have a stumble under load at low revs and 1/4 throttle. Once hot it will also backfire when launching or coming up from idle at low speed. I fear it runs too lean in that transition and that my valves and plugs will suffer the Inferno."

God: "I see my child. You shall have no fear, for the people of the Shinto - strayed from My Path they may be - buildeth strong engines. Treat her well and she will reward you similarly. But it doth seem a bit heavy and powerful for a first bike. I wish not to see you at my gate before your time."

Me: "Yes My Lord. I shall refrain from squiddery and needless risks. Thine gravity pulls at it from a low point so it handles very well. The powerband is also very peaky and one must pass 6500-7000 revs before Thine Angels pushes greatly at my back. But about the stumble, could it be simply dirty carbs? Could My Lord in His Omniscience see if my jets have gunk in them?"

God: "I see all, know all and am all. But it is for each man to see into his own carbs. The Path from thine airbox to thine combustion chamber is one you must travel yourself. Only then can the heart truly bind with the right wrist and verily the fuel will flow in exacted amounts."

Me: "Thank you My Lord. I shall travel with this securely in my heart."

And he was gone. I continued along the valley.

There were several bridges like this along the river.

The wood seemed old and a tad dry rotted. With just me it creaked and sagged like 15 inches in the middle. It's probably solid as hell but I didn't do any further research into its stress limits.

Pocket size powerstation. Built in 1964.

Plenty of farms around. I'm a fairly girly-handed city slicker but I could perhaps see myself toiling at the earth with the right fair haired, big bosomed country girl. She'd put right my urban ways.

The locals are very docile and friendly...

...but their crude bathroom habits reminded my that we are some distance from civillization. But the peaceful clink from the bells and lazy bleeting is a wonderful soundtrack to such scenery. I smiled and waved at the young ones, hoping their trip to October and our annual feasting on their tender flesh would be happy and free of cares. Great peace came upon me as I contemplated these simple and gentle beings and how close they live with man. What do they thi....AaaAAAAAAAAAaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaAA

Big animal. Big big animal. Looking straight at me. I don't know now if it's a cow or a bull but at the time I was thinking yearling bull, 1000 lbs of muscle and teenage testosterone just aching for someone to step up and bring it. I was not about bring it in any way, but I decided against attempting to communicate my friendly intents.

Maybe he was just looking after his ho...cows and protecting them from city boys. I zigzagged his pride and his dung-smeared turf which looked very slippery indeed.

The calves were hopping around in the water, romping and stomping in the bushes and just having a grand old time in the sun.

All the while the road twisted, bumped, rose, fell and undulated. Always keeping me alert and entertained. There were many cattle grids to look out for, I locked up my rear wheel after one caught me by surprise. Dumb really, as it's not that big of a deal to ride over. At least I know how and when it locks and I learned so without further incident. The old Zuke definitely needs application of both for quick stopping and I use the rear brake as primary in low speed corners.

Eventually the valley turned into hills again as I descended back towards the E16. I had stopped many times for pics and wanted to stop many other times too. There's just too much to see and wonder at. I decided I couldn't bring it all back on my SD card and that the many great impressions would transfer poorly to JPEGs anyway. Such as the smell and cooling shade of dense pine woods, the refreshing mist near a waterfall, the thrill of a sweeping corner and the puckered braking before a sharp bump created by a stream under the road freezing in winter.

The dwarves had been carving on this side too.

I snapped a self portrait should they not be able to identify me after the drop.

I reach the E16 at point C in the route map and the wide and swift road carries me into the village of Voss where coffee and ice cream beckoned.
I evacuated my damp leathers and could conclude that the advertised TFL Cool System on the Halvarssons outfit really did have some merit. Although I was hot I was still well inside the zone of comfort even at slow speeds. I was only wearing a pair of shorts and a t-shirt under the back protector, heavy boots, leather jacket and pants + helmet. Starting late in the day also helped. I left Bergen at about 5PM
and reached Voss at about 7.30.

Coffee, ice cream, a smoke and a reprogramming of the gps which will only accept one destination and one waypoint. Which is perfectly fine since the more advanced ones with routing capability are so much more expensive. It does suggest some weird routing now and again, so I definitely learn the route in advance and then use it more for checking my progress instead of primary navigation. Pre-trip planning is something I'm going to have to get good at before the longer trips I have in mind.

Between Voss and Granvin (D and E) I find myself on the main road again, but it's no boring highway by any means. It's old, winding and extremely good motorcycle romping grounds. Traffic was very sparse. I got to practice on smooth curving and tried to remember all the tips my instructor gave me. About midway I find this stunning valley.

I refuel at Granvin, noting about 44 MPG which I guess is about expected. No frugal money saver, but no guzzler either.

Back down to sea level.

Camping trucks, the scourge of Norwegian roads in summer. They get a lot of hate for slowing down traffic, but I guess only by people who are in a real hurry to get from A to B (i.e. everyone). There are not many opportunities to pass on the winding road, but for a bike it's no big deal.

Finally, at the [7] mark just after point E on the route map, the Hardanger fjord reveals itself. The region is famous for its apple orchards and although my leathers could probably take a salt shot from a shotgun I decided not to attempt any rogue sampling of the fruit. They're not ripe yet anyway. The traffic denses up a bit as this is one of the routes between Oslo and Bergen, but it being a late Friday evening it's no bother at all. The road keeps being narrow, winding and bundles of fun and I decide to quit stopping so much for pictures and start eating miles so I get home before dark. A picture of a bend will not convey the experience anyway.

As we near point F, the fjord widens.

A narrow bridge with weight-triggered lights lets only one direction pass at a time. Thankfully the heavy Nippon steel is enough to set it off.

At point F I stop for yet another bug splatter wipedown and the oh-so popular hot dogs, the primary income source for Norwegian gas stations.

A bit further down the road there's a dramatic waterfall and a café which I've noted down as dinner destination for some other day. Even though I passed here many times in a car, I've never considered travelling here for a (probably sub-par) meal with excitement. The motorcycle definitely makes you look at your surroundings in a different way.

The road between F and G proves to be the absolute best in riding. Some bumps, but no problem. It's all sweeping, undulating wide roads with farms, cabins, woods, mountains, waterfalls and misty marshes whereever you look. Steep climbs with multiple hairpins into parabolic straights following the contours of lakes or hills. Traffic was non-existant. There was literally no single vehicle driving in the same direction as me for almost 40 miles. The only thing in my lane was about fifty thousand mosquitos and flies, so visir was down all the time. I'd hate to take a fat fly in the eyeball at 60 mph.

Eventually I find myself back on the E16 at point G for the home stretch. My arms are tired but not uncomfortably so. Maybe it's actually a comfortable sort of aching, like after a workout. The seat is very soft so my butt is perfectly happy and has been so for what is drawing near to six hours. It could easily take another six, but my arms and brain probably not. No need for get-home-itis to do me damage, so while the pace increases a bit I keep it within reason...

...and allow myself one more photo-stop for the sunset I was riding into. It's 11PM and the camera lies quite a bit about how dark it is.

This is taken right after in the opposite direction, looking at the Osterøy bridge.

20 minutes later I'm on my couch, enjoying a cold beer and the previews from the camera. 165 miles, over 6 hours and yet not more tiring that a quick shower left me ready for a night out with my friends who have to suffer my motorcyclist yapping. I figure I could safely do legs that are 3-4 hours longer and start planning a slightly longer trip.

Ola M screwed with this post 03-19-2015 at 09:04 AM
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Old 11-18-2008, 07:35 AM   #2
Ola M OP
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Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Bergen, Norway
Oddometer: 139
For my next trip I wanted to visit Lyseboth a bit east of Stavanger. I had heard about the area before as it is famous for hiking and basejumping, but only learned about the road on I had planned for a bit shorter trip to the east, but I took the plunge, packed tent and sleeping bag and planned a route that would keep me off the newer E39 (main North-South coastal highway) and in the scenery. Boy was that ever a good decision.

It's about 300 miles so I realized if I were to have a chance at reaching Lysebotn before dark (started at noon) I would have to forego photostops and keep eating the miles.

Here's the first ferry, at B in the route map. This particular area has been (in)famous for all the ferries. If you are travelling between Bergen and Stavanger on the E39 you only need to take two of them, total travel time between the cities is like 3 hours less than the route I decided. So everyone takes that road. And my road only had the tiniest smattering of locals, tourists and the occasional bike.

Coming down from a mountain pass between Kvinnherad and point C. I'd say it was twisty, but I think by now you've figured out there aren't any other type of road here. Some hairpins too, I'm starting to get the hang of them but I don't want to cut a blind corner and end up clogging the radiator of Helmut und Helga's camping van.

In some other areas the road snakes along the waterline (too expensive to cut away the rock to make it straight) and you can cut between both lanes as you can see maybe 1/3 of a mile ahead. Excellent fun.

Chugga chugga chugga.

Board, pay up, enjoy the smell of sea and heavy oil. Suit up, disembark, burn some miles...

...then wait for the next.

The road goes over mountains, through dark tunnels (and I mean DARK! no lights and curvy tunnel so no sunlight is in the middle. pray your bulb doesn't blow), 10 ft from the rocky seaside, through deep forest with huge pines (which smell very nice) and even through farms where you might need to dodge the odd cow.

About half way between E and F the terrain flattens somewhat and I reach the farmland of the south west. The farms get bigger, tractors more tricked out, lawns better cut and the cows act all hard to get.

The final ferry crossing is past the mouth of the Lysefjord and hints at what terrain lies inside...

To the west the sun is starting to paint pink across the sky and my previous optimism gets a tad dented. It's 8.30 PM, my arms are getting a tad tired and I still have 2 1/2 hours left. Alone on a bike in the mountains at night...meh, screw it. I have my tent and I can stop at any time and sleep there, even if it's a single mile from Lysebotn.

I need to detour 20 minutes for fuel, which throws the game even further in favour of the nocturnal carnivores, but let's do this!

This is the only pic I took between F and G. 10:20 PM and many miles yet to go. The ridge across the lake is riddled with cabins, but as I kept climbing towards Sirdal at point G, the cabins grew fewer, trees grew shorter and my engine started stumbling. I have a low rev stumble which I at the time thought could be valve clearances, it would definitely respond better at lower altitudes. (I've since done the valves. Some were off tight, some were off loose, afterwards it ran better but still the same stumble. I cleaned the carbs and I measured one coil slightly off on resistance. I was about to order a new set until I realized I was missing the airbox snorkel. One quick deal at a breaker and she's been running true ever since.)

I get one scare along the way. In the corner of my eye I see a deer racing towards the road. They might be cute but they are damn idiots in traffic, always set on the greener grass on the other side and anxious to cross the road before those scary lights get there. Seeing its trajectory was like that feeling you get when doing a perfect football kick. Just as the ball leaves your foot, there's some weird sensation that immediately lets you know the ball will go exactly where you aimed. And in that split second that's exactly what the deer looked like it was going to do. I went on the brake firmly but progressively, it would be dumb to arrive at the accident scene already crashed. My mind was already set on crashing and I remember thinking clearly that the cell coverage is probably good due to all the cabins and an ambulance won't be a problem to get.

But it never showed up. Poor thing ran straight into a fence in the hedge and as I pass I could just make out its big, disappointed Bambi eyes before it shot off in the other direction. Cute but stupid. I sped up again. I should send some flowers to that farmer.

Eventually I reach a sign pointing left that said 'Lysebotn - 22 km'. 13 miles. The sky is pretty dark, but through the overcast I glimpse pink sky and figure it's ok to go. The road turns out to be utterly amazing. No potholes and not one single piece of the road is straight and level. Once you look at the view posted below, you can imagine how I felt when I finally arrived at the descent into the valley. I'm tired, it's dark and on turning into hairpin #1 I could see the valley floor almost 3000 feet below. Exhilarating!

I reach the camping site without incident, pitch the tent, break out beer and laptop and browse the internet, as you do in nature.

Good morning!

Truly spectacular. A popular destination for base jumpers and sightseers alike. Amongst the many bikes I notice I am the only street bike. There's big Harleys, Goldwings and BMW GS adventure types. Bah, asphalt is asphalt whether it's in the city or in the mountains.

The sun is shining and it's a great morning. I eat breakfast, shower, lube the chain and pack all my stuff back together again. Got to get back to mile munching.

The route home. Google maps thinks the first roads are closed so point A is actually midway across the mountain from the red square to B.

27 of these! I didn't get any shots of the tunnel, but it does a 340 degree turn inside the mountain, two corners at each entry with long steep straights in each direction connected by a ~200 degree hairpin. The openings are almost above eachother on the hill. I bet the engineers loved to cut a hole like that!

I pull over here mid way through the climb to get some scenery shots. I see a patch of deep gravel and before I can think clearly my front wheel is over it and getting caught up..."oh no problem, let me just pull slowly out of it while steering sharply to the left". Idiot. Down goes the bike. It sort of just slowly settled while I had both feet on the ground so no injury other than pride and bruised thumb.

And a scratched up alternator cover. Hot and sunny, full leathers and loaded bike. Picking it up was as easy as giving birth to twins. I let it idle for a few minutes to see if any fluid were leaking. It turned out fine, not even the typical mirrors/turn signals were damaged. Lucky lesson.

Finally at the top. Motorcycles have their own free parking space! There were lots of cars parked here as this is a starting point for a popular hike. I had planned to do so, but didn't have time. No worries, I'll be back for sure.

If you squint and scroll you can pretend you are looking left/right.

Haha, just look at these! I didn't attack them at all, just getting a perfect line was fun enough. It's dumb to cut too much as about half of them have blind exits and you don't know what's coming the other way.

This ferry does a daily run catered specifically for sightseeing. Supposedly a great trip and some Swedes I met the day before were on it and could recommend it warmly.

Time to head out and see if I hit any sheep last night...

I wasn't kidding. It's like a team of engineers and mathematicians devised a formula to cross the plateau without constant grade and curve. You can bring a ruler and a water level to it, you will not find a straight and level spot. And there's 13 miles of it.

Wish I'd delayed the shot a bit, the people in the cars were waving and smiling like crazy.

At the top. In auld tymes when you climbed a mountain, you'd build one of these small rock formations to let future visitors know that people had been there. Looking around there were thousands of them and looked kind of eerie actually.


The descent begins and the grass starts growing again.

A tiny corral for sheep. Doubt there's been any gunfights here.

Finally I leave the Lysebotn road and start climbing east towards point B. I drive for about 90 mins before I break out the camera again. By that time I've descended close to sea level and into the inland valleys. Like the Lysefjord, also carved by the mighty glaciers.

The glacier has brought minerals from the mountains and created very rich soil. So there's a river with fish, tall trees and great land for farming.

The mosquitos love it too. Driving past marshes or ponds was like listening to jazz drums. The mosquitos created a steady hihat smattering accentuated by the odd snare hit from a fat fly (note the smeared goo). I had a roll of paper and a spray bottle with window cleaner in the top box, had to pull over for wipedowns quite often.

Got myself a wholesome meal here. Moose, potatoes and brown gravy god dammit.

The glacier not only carves, but polishes as well.

Finally a reach point C and the fun factor drops. It's onto the E134. Going from twisties with friendly tourists onto a major traffic machine with cynical truckers, angry dads and aggressive pacing. People driving here are so obsessed with making progress you often see hairy passing and other acts of stupid commited from some sense of rush I don't understand. Instead of trying to make sense of the lack of appreciation for the fantastic views up in the mountains, I join in the speed frenzy and try to keep a kid in an Audi Q7 at bey while I use every straight to pass two or three cars. Up here the GSX is very asmathic indeed. The difference with different air is very well demonstrated when heading into a long tunnel. The first 1000 yards is a straight ahead with ample opportunity for passing. As I twist the throttle, the cylinders take a big gulp of the moist, dense tunnel air - almost at fridge temps. They respond with a solid kick in the read side and pull from 3K revs with no hesitation whatsoever. It runs much smoother too. Changes back again to stumbles and wheeziness when I exit.

Finally, at point D, the madness ends. I leave the E134 and find myself back on a quiet road. The pulse drops 20 points, the IQ climbs 30.

I stop at this waterfall. How could you pass it?

Fill the trusty water bottle up. Ice cold!

The roar of the water is amazing and kids entertain themselves by standing on the bridge. The wind and spray is like a small storm. At this point I decide to go pee.[/img]

I talk a bit with a Swede (on yet another BMW GS with Touratech bags :) ) and we take eachother's picture. Instead of looking macho in my leather pants I seem to have thrown the teapot stance.

Let's find out where this river ends.

This drop was next to a steep wall and created some weird sonic effect. The water sounded like jet turbine.

The river keeps on rivering...

...before settling into a big freshwater lake...

...and finally joining the sea to make a proper old fjord.

I carry on up to point E and while starting on the road to point F, which I at the time regretted since it was a major detour, I notice the road is one of (as of now) 4 official tourist roads. Info and good pictures here

It turns out to be absolutely amazing. Through tall trees, steep climbs and drops, down to the sea and through tiny villages with farms and cherry orchards. Here and there the locals were selling cherries out of wood stands with advertising in white paint and local dialect.

I reach the day's one and only ferry 10 mins too late and have to wait an hour for the next one. I get myself a big piece of the local brand thick lefse which is so rich and sweet I have to save most of it until I can brew myself a big pot of coffee.

Finally across he fjord, a few mins north gets me to the same place as I went before, where I took the pic of the waterfall in one of the last pics in the previous trip. From there on it was straight home without stops and when I finally got off the bike I was stiff as a log. At that point it was 35 hours since I left home and I had spent 22 of them on a bike or a ferry. Epic for sure. Apart from the stumble which the airbox snorkel later would fix, the bike was utterly reliable.

However, in my later daily commutes I've had a chain master link snap and I've had the stator and regulator stop statoring and regulating. Electrics are already done, this winter the repaired chain is getting swapped along with new sprockets, new brake pads, new fork seals and new tires. Then as next summer comes along, I'll hopefully have saved enough cash to realize my plans of touring in England and Europe.

Plans for now are first two weeks in England, Scotland and Wales, seeing as many cats, fiddles and Brunellian bridges as possible. Then maybe two weeks in Europe, visiting friends in Provence, a pilgrimage to Stelvio, a Porsche rear-ending on the 'Ring and who knows what else.

It's easy to pass time in winter with all the wonderful planning and dreaming inspired by sites like this.

Ola M screwed with this post 03-19-2015 at 09:36 AM
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Old 11-18-2008, 08:45 AM   #3
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I didn't realize just how beautiful your country is. Thank you for the RR. Really good job.
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Old 11-18-2008, 09:25 AM   #4
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Beautiful Norway! Thanks for a most entertaining narrative and great pictorial essay of your summer ride!!
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Old 11-18-2008, 09:28 AM   #5
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Norway always beutiful, love your writing.
But no rain? I thought it did always rain in Bergen.
Mvh Jens on a big black Goldwing
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Old 11-18-2008, 09:30 AM   #6
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Great roads and beautiful views.

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Old 11-18-2008, 09:50 AM   #7
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Thumb Fine greier

Alt for få rapporter fra Norge tatt i betraktning hvor stort landet er. Så stå på, kjør mer, skriv mer.

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My Riding in Tuscany-thread is here.
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Old 11-18-2008, 10:21 AM   #8
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Dream land!
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Old 11-18-2008, 10:43 AM   #9
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really enjoyed the report and the great photos.....thanks for posting.
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Old 11-18-2008, 11:22 AM   #10
East Coast Rider
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Great pics, and an even better bike!! love old GS's!!
Txt msg with Dan right after he was paralyzed:
Me: Hey Dan-O. Just wanted to say howdy and Love ya!
Dan: Howdy and Love you too. Doin' good and feeling good.
Me: Give 'em hell, little Bro!
Dan: Roger that.
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Old 11-18-2008, 11:54 AM   #11
Ze Red Baron
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Laugh Stunning photos

and what a great way to kick off your new motorcycle license. Those roads look awesome.
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Old 11-18-2008, 11:59 AM   #12
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Great report. You have a good future here. Keep coming back and sharing with us.

"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." - Oscar Wilde
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Old 11-18-2008, 12:03 PM   #13
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superb debut, ola. it's admirable that there are still riders who actually post a ride report before going to jo momma.
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Old 11-18-2008, 12:06 PM   #14
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Great report! Your country is incredibly beautiful. I love your landscapes, such a change from my little corner of (flat) north american swampland and tidewater.

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Old 11-18-2008, 12:11 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Ola M
Instead of looking macho in my leather pants I seem to have thrown the teapot stance.

Thank you for a very entertaining and interesting look at a corner of the world very different from my own.

Outstanding report!

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