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Old 06-12-2009, 04:41 PM   #1
Ola M OP
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Talking Three days through north western Norway, the must-dos and more

The main idea of the trip was the visit some of the most spectacular places in north western Norway, namely Trollstigen (the troll path, or troll ladder) and Geiranger. And of course make the most out of getting there and getting back. It was also going to be a proof-of-concept run for a summer holiday tour of Europe, the concept being me eating lots of miles every day and sleeping/eating on a budget.


The trip took three days and you'll get the story in three updates as it takes such a long time to do all the pics and mash out all the words.


I have done many of the pics as panoramas, they are all clickable for a larger (900 px height) version. So if you see a wide but short pic, mash that pointing device, blow it up in a new browser window, scroll from side to side and pretend you are there. Captions under pics.




So here's the route for day 1, from Bergen across the Vikafjell pass, over the Sognefjord, over the Gaularfjell pass and over Byrkjelo to Stryn. I'll refer to the letters as we go along.



And here's the trusty '86 GSX 750 ES all packed up and ready to roll.

The first part of the journey goes on the E39. The E-roads are the main roads, similar to American highways or British M-roads. Around the bigger cities they are wide, straight and somewhat boring, although in western Norway you rarely find any piece of asphalt that doesn't please you in some way. But this first stretch is starting to grow old on me, Bergen - Voss (point B), autopilot on and just munch the miles.





I had been refreshing the weather site furiously the previous week, they had forecast slight rain which commences in a not so slight manner as soon as I reach Voss. So I stop to put a sweater on, stow the non-waterproof GPS (just distracts me anyway, I know where I'm going...) and ...



Refresh my visor with Raincoat and Fog Tech. I don't mean to plug a product other than to say it works really well. The Raincoat goes on as a wax, dries a little, you buff it clear with a cotton cloth and...



... the sun comes out! Amazing product. The coat might have been a bit thin as only a few km past Voss the rain comes back.



And it stays wet as I begin the climb across the mountain to Vik. Mountain passes are going to be a recurring theme in this report.



Some careful switchbacks later, I'm on the top looking down the valley.




It's pretty cold up there, highest point is about 1000 m / 3200 feet. It's wet, but not icy. The roads are pretty fun but my wet and cold fingers are not amused. I need better gloves.




It's not that far across, I suddenly pop out of this hole into greener land and warmer air. No rain either on this side, excellent. I have a cigarette and warm my hands on the engine.



The trees here stop growing at about 700 m / 2300 ft.




Finally down to sea level, a quick run past this village brings me to today's first and only (!) ferry at point C.



I have good luck with ferries, as soon as I've parked she comes chugging in. Appropriate behaviour for motorcycles on Norwegian ferries is to cut in front of the cars. The reason why is simply because we can get to the front and off to one side, parking where we don't take any space away from the cars. However I jump the gun a bit and ride on too early. The ferryman gives me a stern comment about waiting for the signal, I apologize and he directs me to the corner on the end of the ship where I just entered. Huh? Ah. The ferry has three stops, so we board on (as seen by me) the stern, it docks on the first stop with the bow, all the cars drive off and back on again and finally it docks on the third stop with the stern. Weird.



Accompanied by a middleaged man on a BMW. The first of many...



Break, break! They're gaining on us! The sister ferry does the same complicated triple dance route, only in clockwise direction.



Ashore and across the Sognefjord without further complication, I start heading up the Gaular mountain pass. That is, I start heading up, realize there's 80 km to the next gas station, turn back, go for gas, then head back up again.

Across the plateau is much like Vikafjellet. Cold, wet and miserable. I don't stop for pics until the descent where the sun makes a welcome appearance.



Excellent roads in the descent, I start increasing the lean angle as it finally seems I have dry roads and warm tires. But the fun doesn't last, it's on to the E39 for a while. In some places here the big E-road doesn't even have a yellow dividing line so you know you really are some distance from the biggest cities and the biggest county budgets. Lots of big trucks, but not really dense traffic. I expect traffic police armed with laser weapons to enfore the speed limit around every corner, but see none.



Finally at Jølster, point E, it's time for some lunch. I go for about 200 m in the wrong direction (stowed GPS...) and find a terribly unsuited spot for eating. Oh well, a cup of coffee and a few minutes out of the leathers to dry the one leaky spot...you can guess where it is.





I realize my mistake and ride about 400 m to the town, hard to spot them in these flat U-valleys... I find a supermarket, get some good cured sausage and have lunch on a bench. Nice.



Then it's back on the E39. At least for a while, I turn off at Byrkjelo to cross over into Stryn.



At the ski resort there's a flock of reindeer.






Finally at Stryn, point F. The sausage is too good to resist, I need a second lunch and more coffee. Cars are central to the culture in places like this. You either talk about cars, like the guys on the bench next to me, or drive your car around (and around), like the 3-series convertible that passes my spot about 5 times. Stryn isn't that big so lap times are low even if you're just cruising.



Then onwards. I stopped for some pics and noticed this French camper van. I passed it three times from Byrkjelo to Stryn, they caught up with me every time I stopped. They notice me and stare a bit, I snuck this pic in when they weren't looking, although their dog didn't let its eyes off hehe. Sacre bleu zeese bikeurs are crazy!



The fjord tightens up real nice as we near today's final destination, the old road up to Stryn mountain (gamle Strynefjellsvei).





It was the main road for many years, a proper mountain pass. It's getting late and the only ones on the road with me are sheep. The surface is excellent most of the places and a real gas to ride on.



Finally at the top, at least as far as road is open. This is just past the barrier at approx 1100 m / 3600 ft, and I had to try a darth peach pose.




The summer ski resort. Yes, this is June 8th.




Heading down again to look for a suitable camping site. I find one just below the snow limit.



South side of the valley, featuring my parked bike and a Dutch couple who were travelling for three weeks in their camping rigged pickup truck.



North side with my tent, pitched as best I could. Davy Crooked, the IT-boy in the wilderness.



Hmmm, what's that in the stream?



Hmmmf! A plastic bag! How can someone be so inconsiderate and leave their trash behind like that? I wonder what's in it...



COLD BEER YAY SURPRISE!




Ahh, sausage, beer and the roar of the river. This is it. (ok, the bag was mine)




Some fancy cloud effect as the wind rolls over that valley.




And into the Polyethylene Ritz and the sleeping bag rated for tropics. Wait, what altitude were we at again? Stay tuned for day 2 tomorrow...
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Old 06-12-2009, 04:48 PM   #2
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Norway is amazing.
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Old 06-12-2009, 05:15 PM   #3
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Fantastisk! Looking forward to the rest!
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Old 06-12-2009, 05:17 PM   #4
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Kjempeflotte bilder. Bergen,,,,,,,regn,regn,regn. Var født og oppvokst i Nord-Norge, så jeg vet hva regn er.
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Old 06-12-2009, 07:06 PM   #5
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Laugh

Cold beer delivered by the Gods!

Looks like my dream trip. I'd probably do it in August though. My ancestors are from Trolatysdal...
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Old 06-12-2009, 07:16 PM   #6
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Spectacular Norway!! Thanks for sharing your ride and pics of your lovely country Every Norway report is superb!
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Old 06-12-2009, 07:25 PM   #7
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WOW

Thanks for sharing these.
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Old 06-12-2009, 10:01 PM   #8
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cool pics!
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Old 06-13-2009, 07:02 AM   #9
Ola M OP
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Day 2. Stryn - Geiranger - Trollstigen - Romsdalen - somewhere to sleep



I had to split it in two as google maps thinks Trollstigen is closed. It is in winter. The top one is the first part.

Day 2 began really cold, and when I say began I mean at just past midnight. My camping site was near 1000 m / 3200 ft and the damp air from the river and the marsh sucked all heat out of my poorly isolated body. By 3-ish AM I was fully clothed and shivering like a leaf. Then it started raining. And it went on and on. I got maybe 2 hours of decent sleep.

Got up at around 9 when the rain had stopped and fired up the little milsurp camping stove. I couldn't get a proper flame on it so it put out the BTU equivalent of a good fart. I managed to bring a tiny cup of coffee up to about body temperature and eat two sandwiches before ...





... uh oh, the mist was rolling up the valley with ominous speed. There's 4 minutes between those pics. The rain started again, I retreated back to my tent and slept in my gear for another hour or so. This time it wasn't going to stop and I knew I had to get going at some point. Eventually feeling sort of rested, only wet, cold and tired instead of soaked, freezing and delirious, I packed all I could pack inside the tent, got in my gear then tore that thing down as fast as I could and just stuffed it right in the bag.

The bike was reluctant to start, of course, but I got moving. Down the old mountain road to around 400 m and on to the new mountain road and up again. The tunnels were a blessing for once, they were dry! Coming out on the plateau I'm welcomed with 5 degrees C, dense and low overcast and SLEET. I thought this was June 9th!

Even with the dark skies, all the snow around is still blinding to the eye and I had to ride with the sun visor down, which fogged a lot. The Raintech coating didn't properly deal with the sleet and when it turned into rain I had probably rubbed most of it off with my glove. So... near freezing temps, dark cloudy skies yet blinding to the eye, visor fogged on the inside and wet on the outside, hands wet and cold, body wet and cold and I don't know if the weather will get better. Turning around did cross my mind, stopping for photos did not. At least it was just warm enough for the sleet to instantly melt, so the roads were not slippery. Just wet and cold and miserable.

Thankfully, I didn't have to go that far until I saw an oasis in the wilderness. A tourist cabin! (point B in top map)





Misery...




Ooooh-oh-oh-yeeaahh...piping hot coffee and a waffle with sour cream and strawberry jam. Almost as if attached to the neck of a St.Bernhard dog on rescue duty.




I give the visor a proper cleaning, reapply some Raintech and coat the sun visor with Fog Tech. And of course...




... the sun comes out. This product really works.




Apart from survival essentials like coffee and waffles, the café also sells trolls and other tourist tat.



Four German middleaged men on BMWs (one R1150R out of the pic) came up from Geiranger and said the weather was terrible. Bad luck, I hope the change is permanent. After a drying my gloves and warming my body I'm ready to go, spirits are way up!





Yup, looking great!





An authentic "seter" on the way down, it's a sort of summer farm where the livestock graze in the warm season. A very iconic thing in Norwegian folklore, completed by the chanting of the milkmaids, calling for the cows to come home.

http://www.boksasp.no/lyd/hulderlokk.mp3

But all I can hear at this point is the four japanese pots gulping down denser and denser air as I descend, which is perfect music for the moment.




After some great switchbacks and sweepers down the valley, I met several busloads of tourists.



Geiranger, finally. Point C.



I talk a bit with the driver of this bus, he rides an FJ1200. I ask about the route to Dalsnibba, which is a peak accessible by dirt road and supposedly a spectacular view of Geiranger. But he says the road starts at the cabin where I stopped and is all soaking mud by now. I can do firm gravel, but I'm not doing mud. Some other time maybe.



Coffee break at sea level. There's several cruise ships here every day, the coastal express also makes a visit in the summer season. Shuttle boats carry the tourists and their precious foreign currency towards the troll shops, ship horns echo throughout the valley. It's nice to feel like a meta-tourist, coming to see the tourists.

But I got a late start today and have quite some distance left to go, gotta saddle up...





...and ride for aboout 10 mins before I stop again. The Eagle Bend is unmissable.



Panorama schmanorama. There is no way you can convey the depth and scale of the view through a jpeg. It's not that it's very high, it's just the sheer steepness of it. Made me slightly dizzy.



If you have decent vision you should be able to make out some yellow lines near the far shore. Kayakers.

I take in the view as far as it can be taken in. That is a problem sometimes, taking in the view I mean. When have you seen it enough? Your mind can't store the memory of every photon striking your retina, your compact flash card can't store anything close to that. Keep riding or keep looking? How long do you have to stay to feel like you've been there and haven't missed it? I'm sure many other riders feel like this. Being solo it's easy to say "yup, it sure it's purty, let's roll". That's exactly what I do.

It's another climb, another plateau and another descent. Traffic is low, the foreign camper vans are polite and let you pass, there are ample opportunities to pass even if they don't. Even a tourist bus flashes his indicators to the right to let me know it's safe to pass, he knows I can't see past him. I've perfected the throttle hand "thanks buddy" wave by now. Pull through 2nd gear while passing, clutch in, big ol' wave with the right hand while shifting into 3rd, then hand back on and clutch out.



Today's ferry ride, quite short trip across the narrow fjord at point D.




Norwegian ship naming conventions leave something to be desired. What job does it do? It puts cables in fjords. What do we call it then. The Fjord Cable. C'mon now, some imagination? In England this would be the Illustrious Champion of Electricity, Communications and Prosperity, motto "Damn the Deep Fjords, Full Speed Ahead".



At least we get proper ferry food. Coffee and svele - a thick pancake raised with baking soda, cream and sugar inside. No staff at the counter, just put money in the box. I convince the four middleaged Austrians on BMWs to buy svele as well.



WAIT WAIT there's two Japanese bikes travelling with the Beamers! What happened at the border control? I kid I kid. The Beamers obviously make great tourers and they're within the budget of someone who can afford three weeks of Norwegian touring. But there's all kinds of bikes touring, KTMs, Transalps, Japanese sport tourers, Harleys, even an XL thumper with pillion at the Eagle Bend. The only sport bikes I see are in the villages where the local squids are doing their laps. And strangely enough, I can only remember seeing one Goldwing.



Along Valldalen.



Here's Gudbrandsjuvet, a very narrow canyon where the sides have resisted erosion and only the riverbed eats its way into the ground. The route from Geiranger to Trollstigen (part of the "Golden Route") is being developed as a national tourist road (see more here: http://www.turistveg.no ) and that involves some fancy architecture and construction. There's been some minor protesting against this, in favour of leaving nature untouched. But this isn't untouched nature, this is much touched nature. The road has been here for a century, people have lived and farmed here for many centuries. If you want untouched scenery, put on your boots and walk up into the proper mountains, let the busloads of tourists get something developed as well. There enough to go around.










It's up another valley...



...and into the steepness.




Finally reaching the construction site at Trollstigen.




Excited by the view soon to reveal itself, I immediately drop my helmet and scratch the hell out of the visor. Oh well, it's a wearing part.



This traditional digger was used by the milkmaids to shift national romanticism onto the steam boats bound for museums around the country.




Godspeed little water molecule.



You've got a really long way to fall.



A really long way.




This platform is going to be amazing when it's done.




I exchange "take-a-pic-of-me" with a Swiss guy, hope his pic came out with less pot belly. I am thinner than this! :(


Now let me introduce the vertical panorama. Came out pretty well I think, just take sequential pics in portrait orientation and let the software sort it out. What's a good name? The pitchorama? Vertorama?




West side of the valley with mount Bispen (the Bishop) towering at 1462 m / 4796 ft. It's not very high as far as mountains go, but since the valley floor isn't far above sea level, it really does tower.



East side. Those with an eye for geology will notice how the bottom third of the wall is all landslide material. After the glacier had carved the valley and melted, the sides were unstable and from time to time rocks will crumble off and fall. I've seen this formation referred to as a "landslide fan" in Norwegian, but not sure what the correct geological term is in English. Rock nerds, feel free to chip in.



No angle trickery in this one, it really is pretty far to the rocks below my soles.



The tiny toy cars and toy buses negotiating one of the 11 switchbacks.








Photons absorbed, memory burnt in, flash card filled, start up and roll out. My diet of sliced bread, sausage and cheese needs some change. The village of Åndalsnes is just through the forest to the north, point A in the second map.



Someone else needs a nutritional refreshment too. Gas, chain lube and a swig of 10W40.



Nice little café on the docks, you can just see it between the phallic tree thing and the Royal Norwegian Navy Battleship.




Nice Jag. Bad parking. I can't remember the last time I saw an expensive car that was parked well.



Now that's what I need.



SHOO! NO! You're not gettin' any! Allright, have some of the crust. OH GOD here comes a hundred of them!




Belly full, tank full, oil sight glass full, it's on to the E136. Hazardous to my license this road, gently sweeping, almost empty, I go way too fast. Of course, only for about 5 minutes. There a sight you can't miss.




The mighty Troll Wall! Lots of BASE jumpers have left wet spots up here, even after it was banned in 1986. Helicopter rescue is pretty difficult, as one could imagine, with 50 m / 150 ft overhang in some places. From the surface of the river Rauma to the highest peak it's 1700m / 5500 ft, with around 1000 m / 3200 ft as pure vertical fall. And speaking of avalanche fans...just look at it! Millions and millions of tons of rock sitting there as rubble, you can see the wall curving inward from all the stuff that has fallen out. The last big rockslide was in 2007 I think, although "slide" is a misnomer. It's a rock fall! The locals live well with it though, I can't remember hearing about injuries or property damage due to rockslides.



This is what it looked like in 1998 (I think...) when 200 thousand tons of rock fell 900 m / 2900 ft straight down, registering 2.2 Richter in Finnish seismic stations. Barely adding to the huge avalanche fan already there.



An awesome mountain, in the true sense of the word.




The other side isn't exactly ugly...but definitely less photographed. The glacier made a right turn here, heading north west, so it ground softer against this side leaving it more stable and harder against the Troll Wall, leaving it steep and unstable.

But yeah, the E139. I notice the trucks aren't slowing down in the 60 kph zones but keeping 80, so I assume they know there's no cops. I assume right, but I would be taking the bus home if they caught me at certain moments...dumb really, as I don't need to save time. It's nice to eat a big chunk of distance anyway. Only thing I stop for is...





OH MAN now I've really done it, missed my turn and ended up in South America. :( Yup, that's a llama, many farmers have them. They fit the climate perfectly.



E139 goes on eastwards...



Enough dead bugs for a decent protein shake, stopping for a smoke at point B in the second map, trying to figure out where to spend the night. I decide on Vågå at point C.



Sun setting very slowly, this is around 9.30 PM. I get to Vågå just before 10 PM and since I have good time before dark I get to pitch the tent properly, exactly by the manual.



There we go, looks sturdy.



Inside looks much better too. Didn't even notice the bathroom and TV first time. Cold beer and leftover pizza from Åndalsnes, Band of Brothers on TV, ah the life of the rugged outdoorsman is sweet after all.

Day 1 was 12 hours and about 480 km / 300 mi, day 2 was 11 hours and about 380 km / 236 mi. Still a day left, still a few mountain passes and amazingly, still room on the flash card - although I had to drop down to 4MP. Day 3 as soon as I get it done!
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Old 06-13-2009, 07:55 AM   #10
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Great Thread.

At first, when I saw the odd vignettes in some of your photos, I was intrigued, thinking you had some incredible helmet cam that shot through your visor (thus the bit on keeping it clean). I realized later that you were stitching photos together for panos. Nice touch with the panos.

How are those Givi E21's working on tours like this?
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Old 06-13-2009, 08:35 AM   #11
Ola M OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhotoBiker

How are those Givi E21's working on tours like this?
I had more than enough stuff with me and I had room to spare. But now that the expense is far behind me, I wish I had splashed for bigger ones. Would be pretty hard to do this 2 up with tent and spare clothes for both.
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Old 06-13-2009, 11:08 AM   #12
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Trans Scandinavia 2009: San Goes To North Cape

Yeah, Norway is a very beautiful.
Next week my 8500 km adventurous solo journey will also be begun

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Old 06-13-2009, 11:32 AM   #13
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"TSCC"...Don't see those four letters on many bikes photographed here on ADV. Norway is AMAZING!!!!! Your pics are incredible, but one thing is missing: a few close ups of that ole Suzy!! GS/GSX Suzukis rule....the BMWs are just posers, trying to leach off the greatness of the REAL GS I mean really.... Why take the moniker of one the classic old school superbikes and stick it on the side of a tractor?


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Old 06-13-2009, 11:53 AM   #14
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Fantastic pictures and nice commentary. Thanks.
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Old 06-13-2009, 01:02 PM   #15
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Great report again, thanks
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