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Old 07-08-2012, 11:22 AM   #1
Funkster OP
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A lap of the Kattegat - Denmark / Norway / Sweden from the UK, June 2012

Hi all,

I wanted to write our recently-completed trip up for posterity, and this seems like as good a place as any. I'm not going to pretend that we pushed back any of the boundaries of adventure riding, and I dare say there have been many other ride reports like it but this one is mine!

Prologue
Before I get to the actual riding, a quick note on the inspiration for this trip. Sometime in ~2002, my good friend at university, Kenny Thompson, suggested doing a lap of the north sea on his bike, starting out in the midlands (we were at Warwick uni at the time), going anticlockwise through lots of countries after a dover-calais ferry, and returning via Kenny's various family in Scotland - in its compact form (i.e. cutting through Denmark and Sweden rather than also riding around the Baltic sea) something vaguely like this:



Sadly Kenny was killed in 2009 while flying for the RAF in Scotland, so he never got the chance to do the trip. I'd been keen to do it back at uni even though I didn't have a bike or licence, but it's taken me ~10 years to get a bike (well, got that in 2008), find some people to attempt something like this with, and have enough pocket money to make it happen.

In the years since, the available ferry crossings have diminished and it's no longer possible to get a boat from Norway to Scotland. I even put out feelers to try to find a fisherman who might be prepared to put a couple of bikes in the hold, but to no avail. Couple that with the size of the proposed route vs. people's available holiday time, and we ended up having to scale it back a bit - but I hope we still kept at least some of the original trip's spirit: we were still going to do a lap of a sea (albeit a smaller one), we would go further north than we'd ever been before, and we were still going to get a taste of some Scandinavian roads!

We still wanted to avoid going back over the same route as much as possible, so although we decided on a return ferry Harwich-Esbjerg, the rest of the trip would be circular. Also by cutting out the western european section, countries that most of us had been to on holiday before, we gained some time and could use that to get even further north and east than the original idea had suggested. Excellent!

Here's the route plan we ended up with:


I only managed to find one other biker friend to join in, but three others joined in a car and made the group up to a nice size. So, on to:

The team

Bikes & riders:

I'm on the right with my extremely stylish 1994 Honda Dominator (radio callsign TELSTAR), 17000 miles on the clock and probably not the smartest saddle to attempt this kind of mileage on, but it's what I've got! Note the storage space where the left-hand silencer would normally go, used to carry a foot pump / tyre levers / etc. but referred to as the Whisky Carrier as a bottle of malt fits in perfectly.

On the left is Chris, with his Yamaha FZ6 (radio callsign SPUTNIK). Two very different bikes but that just makes life richer!

The car & drivers:


An extremely capacious Megane, radio callsign LAIKA. On the left is K8, to her right is Anneley (my other half). K8's husband Mags appears to be invisible in this picture but I'm sure he'll show up later.

We basically cheated and carried lots of stuff in the car to keep the weight on the bikes sensible (plus I don't own panniers). This did however mean we could travel with all our camping gear, a selection of tools, and the occasionaly luxury, so I'm not apologising for anything!

I shall now proceed to do one post per each destination of the trip...

Funkster screwed with this post 07-10-2012 at 06:11 AM Reason: Bit more detail in a few places!
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Old 07-08-2012, 02:40 PM   #2
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Yo Funkster

Give's a shout when you come to Copenhagen. We're a little scarce on space, so having 4 people staying over night might get a bit crowded. But anyway, would be glad to show you around.
Ride safe and keep the shiny side up

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Old 07-09-2012, 01:27 AM   #3
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Hi Lars! Many thanks for the offer, however I should have been more clear in my first post as we have already returned from this trip - I didn't have the resources to write it up as we went around.

We had an excellent time in Copenhagen, which feels like a very cool city. Definitely planning to return there at some point (same goes for lots of other places we passed through) and spend some more time so you never know, our paths may cross someday :)

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Old 07-09-2012, 01:46 PM   #4
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Right, sorry for the pause - not trying to be dramatic, just lacking free time to go through photos!


Part 1: home to Harwich and ferry, 180 miles

I'm going to assume that no-one really needs to see photos of us riding through Milton Keynes, right? Good, because we didn't take any. The journey to the ferry port was a necessary evil, no particularly interesting sections apart from a little bit of the Cotswolds. It would also be the furthest that I'd ever ridden in one day! Sorted out a few radio issues along the way, and my bike failed to explode when subjected to a 60-mile section at ~70mph. Result!

Anyway, the main point is that we arrived in plenty of time for our ferry, got checked in with no bother, had a quick wander round and then got to the most important thing to do that day - have a beer to celebrate having made it out of the UK.





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Old 07-09-2012, 02:22 PM   #5
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Part 2: to Aalborg, 218km



Given that we were trying to fit a lot of latitude into a short amount of time, we didn't plan any sightseeing on the first Danish leg. Instead we just headed north out of Esbjerg (trying to keep from being run over by a gaggle of Audi TTs who happened to be on the same radio channel). Joined up with route 12 and stuck with it. Boy oh boy, what a boring road! It was like riding through a drawn-out version of Cambridgeshire. Oh well, this is just transport... we stopped off for a late lunch in Viborg:


And thence, onward to our stop for the night - Aalborg. We stayed in Hotel Hvide Hus, ate pizza at San Giovanni, had a walk across the bridge and at that moment discovered that in Denmark, you can ride a moped on the cycle paths. Odd!

View from the hotel:
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Old 07-09-2012, 02:37 PM   #6
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Old 07-09-2012, 03:18 PM   #7
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Part 3: to Hirtshals (70km) then a ferry to Norway!

A quick morning dash up the E39 to Hirtshals and we were on our way to our second (foreign) country of the trip! All aboard the sea cat:


The captain came on the PA to give a weather forecast, and predicted both rain from above, and heavy rain. Presumably heavy rain doesn't come from above?

Any road up, it was a fairly choppy crossing and a (Danish?) landlubber came to lie down near where we were sitting, and then proceeded to vom into several bags which he lined up on the floor. Classy. Mags wisely hid under his coat:


With the major deadlines (i.e. the ferries we'd already paid for) now met, we decided a somewhat more relaxed day was in order and rather than pressing on north, we decided to stick around and see some of Kristiansand. Not sure who this guy is but he's managing to stay dignified in spite of the wildlife's efforts:


We set up camp at Rolighelden campsite (58.147358N, 8.030694E was our plot). I was slightly concerned when approaching the site as you have to go through a somewhat crappy boat yard to get there, but it's actually very charming and has a nice little beach / coastal walk:







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Old 07-09-2012, 03:57 PM   #8
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I am looking forward to following this trip (I'm working most nights this week, please note).
It may be nothing much to you lot but a Scandianvain tour only happens every so often on advRIDER and this looks to be a treat with great pictures and nice commentary.
I like the sag wagon including the broadly smiling women, but I hope they are kind when sleet and rain strike and you are stuck out in the weather.
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Old 07-09-2012, 04:55 PM   #9
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Looks like a great trip! Thanks for taking us along

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Old 07-09-2012, 07:12 PM   #10
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Enjoying the report and pics.

Thanks.
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Old 07-10-2012, 11:17 AM   #11
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To the north!

Well-rested, we cleared up camp and took stock of the next major leg of the journey: a 1000+ km trip up Norway's west coast, a route that includes five ferries and many hairpin bends.

We (a term that definitely includes myself and Anneley and adds various other friends depending on the year) always celebrate the summer solstice by going somewhere with a view and staying up all night until the sun comes up. Not because we're (particularly) pagan, but because it's generally a good excuse to get some friends together, walk up a hill, and spend all night drinking beer. When planning this trip we made the dates cover the solstice so we could have the experience of more latitude than we normally had at hand in the UK.

However, bearing in mind that we're sat in Kristiansand on the morning of the 19th of June and the solstice sunrise is the following morning, we knew that we had no chance of reaching our northmost goal of Kristiansund in time. But, having done a bit of planetary maths before we set off, I knew that if we could get there only a couple of days after then we would still be able to celebrate the shortest night that we would experience on the trip whilst at our most northerly point. So, we gave ourselves four days to get to Kristiansund!

Should be easy, right?

Right!

Onwards...


Part 4: to Stavanger, 255km
Our GPS trace went wonky this day so you'll have to make do with the planned route, but I think we managed to stick to it completely:


We left Kristiansand heading west along the E39. As main roads go this is pretty spectacular, but we got our real first taste of what was to come when we turned onto the rv44 at Flekkefjord. A glorious, windy coast road! Hooray for wiggly-edged countries!







For no other reason than that it was the first hit on google when searching for campsites in Stavanger, we headed HERE and set up camp. A bit of a strange campsite, it feels like someone's put on a festival in a park. There's a fairly major road very close by and we all got woken up at about 3am by what sounded like a street sweeper passing within about six feet of the tents... oh well, all part of the experience.

There was a little bit of rain, and while we were cooking dinner a friendly local asked us where we were going, and assured us that there was lots more rain coming! Oh boy, hairpin bends in the wet? Hmm... well, let's at least try to stay dry for the evening and see what fortune brings us tomorrow.





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Old 07-10-2012, 02:31 PM   #12
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I'm heading that way in a few weeks, any tips?
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Old 07-10-2012, 06:10 PM   #13
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Telstar, Sputnik and Laika? You guys rock! I don't feel that old anymore.

Congrats on having better halves, who do not mind accompanying you in the adventure - riding cage is a great idea.

Looking forward to your report!
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Old 07-11-2012, 01:47 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OneBall View Post
I'm heading that way in a few weeks, any tips?
I think it's pretty easy to have a great time, and even the main roads are surrounded by fantastic scenery. But:

- If you're camping, maybe look out for smaller sites rather than the biggest one in town - you should be able to get a comprehensive catalogue of sites from any big campsite's main office.

- Don't ride with sunglasses on in areas with tunnels, they are dark. Chris' helmet had a flip-down sun visor of which I was very jealous; I developed a pirate-like technique of closing one eye as soon as I saw the tunnel warning sign to get more time to adjust :)

- Take extra pocket money if you want to eat at restaurants or have a beer!

Do you have a rough idea what route you'll be taking and what towns you'll pass through/near?

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Old 07-15-2012, 06:12 AM   #15
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Part 4: to Bergen, 210km

Quote:
Originally Posted by (unknown)
A traveller visiting Bergen asks a boy if it always rains there.

After careful consideration, the boy says "I don't know, I'm only 15"
Hokay, so, we appeared to be being lucky with the weather so far, something we're all very glad of since we'd left the UK during the wettest (period of time) in (all other periods of time). But the guide book says it rains on 270 days of the year in Bergen, so better expect rain at least on approach!

We decided to stick with the E39 all the way, since we needed the ferries on this route and anyway it looked like we wouldn't be wanting for scenery. All aboard again:





It appears that no-one took any pictures of the actual riding part of this leg, so you'll just have to use your imagination (and google streetview) to fill in the gap. Must get a bike mount for the camera!

Anyway, up we rock in Bergen to glorious sunshine! We have a whale enthusiast amongst our number so we visited Bergen University's museum where they have recently re-opened their whale hall (and have an extensive collection of slightly creepy stuffed animals). Museum guarded by this chap:



The university area is obviously very affluent, you don't get these kinds of houses round the corner from most universities in the UK... I felt a bit bad parking my heap in front of them (though it's obviously a huge improvement over all the bloomin' beemers and audis).



Sadly, no photos of the over-stuffed weasels :-/

Bergen centre has a really nice feel to it, not sure if it was just because it was sunny for a change but it seemed very relaxed. Definitely one to return to with a bit more time to spend!







We wanted a fish for tea, so a visit to Bergen's famous fish market was called for where we found plenty to choose from:



And thence onto a cabin HERE - still no rain, in fact conditions call for ice-cream! And also a handy opportunity to dry some laundry...





Time to check the next day's route plan...


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