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Thread: Nordkapp via Adversity....

  1. #1
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    Nordkapp via Adversity....

    This is a report of our recent three week trip to Nordkapp. The plan was to take eight days to get the top via Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Finland... then a more leisurely 2 week ride back down through Norway's western coast.

    Here's a bit of background to the trip. We first visited Norway in August 2014, when we rode our Harley to Andalsnes and did the Atlantic Highway, the Trollstigen and Geiranger fjord. Whilst researching this trip we kept coming across references to Nordkapp (somewhere we had never heard of before). The more we found out about the location, the more we wanted to do this ride.

    So when we returned from Norway, we decided we would do Nordkapp the following year (2015), but not on the Harley.... we would buy something a little more adventure based. Then in November 2014, Phil had a serious industrial accident which almost severed his left arm. Nordkapp would have to wait.

    2015 went by waiting for what was left of the arm to heal and learning to ride with the injury. In 2016 we brought a 2002 1150GS from dcarvoss of this parish, and then in the September rode it to the Hardangerfjord region of Norway....basically to make sure the arm would manage the bike, two up with luggage. There were no problems so the Norkapp trip was on again for 2017.

    Thursday evening after work we rode to Ashford, Travel Lodge had KFC for tea, then off to bed, with an early tunnel crossing the following day.

    3 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    4 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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    Day 1 Friday Ashford to Wallenhorst, Germany

    Day started early with a bit of unscheduled weight lifting. Managed to tip the bike over whilst packing it up, missed the bike next to us by inches. We were just a little pleased to get it upright ourselves before anyone else saw us, hard luggage and fully loaded for 2 people for 3 weeks.......We did and without any hernias.

    Unfortunately, the Garmin lost the signal in the tunnel and was having problems showing the planned route. We stopped at a rest area, where we managed to drop the bike reversing out of the parking space. Both on it at the time, Roz was lucky and rolled clear but Phil's leg was trapped under the bike. Luckily a couple of French guys ran over and helped Roz lift the bike up. Not an auspicious start to the trip.

    When we got to the hotel, we had a few beers and a think before making some adjustments to the luggage which we hoped would do the trick.

    We had stopped at this very good hotel before but do not like the route through Germany via Essen to Osnabruck. So this year we tried an alternative via Antwerp, Utrecht and Appledorn which turned out to be loads better.

    7 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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    Day 2 Saturday Osnabruck to Malmo

    The weather was lovely today, reasonable traffic even round Hamburg and through road works, incident free ferry crossing from Puttgarden to Rodby - there were only 3 bikes on the ferry. We arrived at the hotel in Malmo late in the afternoon after crossing from Denmark by the Oresund tunnel and bridge. This is one of the smallest hotel rooms we have seen, although it did have a bathroom that was 1.5m x 1m !! There was nothing near the hotel for miles so made do with beef and tomato pot noodles and hot dogs, coffee and cake.

    This was the first of several nights that our one cup boiler provided a hot meal in a hurry. This was bought for our 1st trip to Norway 4 years ago and cost £15, at an average of £6 for 2 cups of coffee over that 2 week trip it proved its worth and now goes everywhere with us.

    We had also managed to keep the bike upright all day today, so that was good.

    9 by Phil Perks, on Flickr
    Waiting for the ferry at Puttgarden...

    13 by Phil Perks, on Flickr
    Inside the Oresund Tunnel.

    13a by Phil Perks, on Flickr
    The Oresund Bridge (Google Image).

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    Day 3 Sunday Malmo to Stockholm

    We set out in brilliant sunshine along the E4 towards Varnamo, rode past Husquvarna and Lake Vatenen in the dry. However, the weather changed half way through the day, over jackets went on as heavy rain started to fall and we arrived at the hotel in Stockholm in rain with blustery wind.

    The hotel car park was on the top floor of a multi-storey car park with direct access for guests from the hotel and a steel shutter that closed the car park at 21.00hrs. Once inside the hotel there was a decent warm room and a reasonable restaurant.

    13b by Phil Perks, on Flickr
    Lake Vatenen (Google Image)

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    Day 4 Monday Stockholm

    This was our first disappointment, we had booked 2 nights here with the intention of going sightseeing around the city waterfront and museum. However, Monday morning arrived even stormier than when we arrived on Sunday, after watching several commuters fighting to hold on to umbrellas and branches being ripped of trees we did not fancy walking around all day in wet textiles, decided to give it a miss and have a rest day instead.

    18 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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    Day 5 Tuesday Stockholm to Umea

    We knew we were not going to see much of Sweden off the main road on this trip, it was a means of getting as far as we could quickly. However, what we did see has made us think that a trip to see Sweden would be worthwhile. Trees? Yes, there are lots of them, but you occasionally get a sneaky peek through the trees at countryside and rural roads that look inviting.

    The weather was absolutely lovely, with blue skies and warm enough to be comfortable.

    We had pre-booked a cabin at Umea which was spot on for a one night stop over, we arrived early enough to sit in the sun for an hour and air our textiles before the mozzies drove us indoors. Another simple tea tonight.

    20 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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    Day 6 Wednesday Umea to Kittila Finland.

    Cannot fault the weather, we have been so lucky, just an edge to the air and Roz made the decision to put the lining back in her bike jacket. Have to say the ride through Sweden was relaxed, the passing stretches on the road allowed us to pass lorries and get on at a comfy pace, the miles soon rolled off.

    The high point of the day... we passed into the Arctic Circle yahaay!! There was just us in a layby with a sign declaring this fact. Shortly after we saw our first reindeer, standing just a few feet off the road. The roads are long, straight and fairly traffic free. We arrived at Kittila to a nice cabin that had a bathroom and kitchen for only £35 per night.

    Low point, we had started to notice a vibration on the bike at the back wheel/axle end and spent a lot of time checking everything we could think of. There was no visible oil leak from anywhere, took all the luggage off and put the bike on the main stand. We could not find any adverse movement of the back wheel and as we had changed the crown bearing and seal the week before we left, we did not think this would be the problem.

    At this point Phil put a message on UKGSER, to see if anyone had any suggestions, a big thank you to those who offered theirs.

    The only thing we did notice was a mark on the wheel rim which could just be where a balancing weight may have been, this could certainly account for the problem. The choices were limited, change direction to get to Tromso and get the rear end checked, which could mean not getting to Nordkapp on this trip. Or carry on and see if the problem develops into something we could identify. We did after all have the backup of breakdown cover. After a lengthy debate, which we must admit got slightly heated for a while we got up the next day packed the bike and set off……for Nordkapp.

    At this campsite we met a German couple with two 250cc MZs who had been to Nordkapp and were travelling back to Germany via St Petersburgh. These were the first motorycyle travellers we had since Ashford.

    32 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    33 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    35 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    37 by Phil Perks, on Flickr
    Sunset was a bit special....

    38 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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    Day 7 Thursday Kittila to Repvag.

    Weather was still bright and clear, but without any cloud at all the temperature was now getting down to low single figures in the day and minus at night with ice on seat first thing this morning.

    This turned out to be one of the hardest, and most rewarding, days riding we have ever done together in 40 yrs of riding. The majority of the mileage through Finland was on either packed dirt or gravel surfaces or poor quality tarmac. One particular long stretch of the 955 between Kongas and Inari was hard packed dirt and would have been a whole different ride had it been wet/raining. As it was the good weather stayed with us and this was certainly a bonus.

    Further on the 92 from Kaamanen to the Norwegian border had sections of brand new tarmac interspersed with stretches where the road was being built which were still hardcore and various grades of gravel. Those roads works must have been a nightmare for anyone who went earlier in the year when there would have been more traffic but for us there was very little traffic at all. On one occasion we did have an enormous articulated lorry that came into view some way behind us on a particularly rocky stretch of road, there was no way to get off the roadway and we were not going as quickly as he was. Thankfully we reached the end of the rocks with only yards between us. Phil did a great job of instilling confidence in his passenger today.

    Lapland was amazing despite the roads/tracks, it made us realise how strong the indigenous people living there all year round must be and left quite an impression on both of us.

    We had booked a motel at Repvag which turned out to be one of those memorable experiences. Rustic charm would not do it justice. We thought we had a few Norwegian phrases to start a conversation, but these drew blank looks from the lady in the reception. So we checked in with lots of smiles, waving hands and gestures.

    It turned out to be a Russian community in the small village that is dependent on fishing for the Red King Crab. We had a Sea Otter come right outside the motel room door and were able to watch him from our window. One of the fishermen called us down to look at the HUGE red king crabs they catch here. As we were the only guests staying, we told the owner that we would be happy to have whatever he was cooking for himself for dinner. This was a plate of boiled rice and fried fish that was straight from the sea and one of the enormous crabs from the afternoons catch. Lovely.

    The room was good, although the electricity did turn on and off frequently, with lovely blue flashes when we plugged anything in. Great bed, hot shower, friendly owner, fresh food.

    No change in the way the bike was performing today, no oil or wheel movement. So all was ok there.

    39 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    40 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    40a by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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    52 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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    Days 8 Friday Repvag - Nordkapp - Alta

    More sunshine to start the ride from Repvag to Nordkapp which lived up to all its expectations, we were treated to stunning views across miles and miles of Arctic tundra and out across the sea thanks to the glorious weather which could not have been any better. The reindeer are characters, standing at the side of the road waiting for a vehicle to come and then jump out in front of it.....LOL

    On arriving at Nordkapp we were pleased to see that the toll booth was unmanned so no charge.

    We posed for the obligatory photo at the globe two very, very, happy people to have got there. Phil also drank a toast in memory of Trickytree who had Nordkapp on his bucket list but sadly did not get to do it.

    We were surprised to find only 2 other bikes as well as ours in the car park, we had expected to see a few more travelers.

    After coffee and cake we set out to ride to Alta. We did spare a thought for everyone who made it this far only to see fog, cloud, rain, wind or other poor weather conditions that reduced visibility off the road to just a few yards. We were blessed with completely clear blue skies and uninterrupted views in every direction as far as the eye could see.

    At this point our plans were about to change, a little vibration became a knocking and vibration that quite rapidly got very much worse. We carried on slowly to the first petrol station we came to which was in Olderford. It was clear now that the problem was not tyre related. Still no movement with the wheel but for the first time we now had oil leaking from the rubber gaiter. The bike was definitely not going any further. Never mind, we bought a coffee and called trusty breakdown cover.

    Whilst waiting for the call from the breakdown cover, an R80GS pulled in for petrol on route to Nordkapp. The Italian rider came over and had a coffee with us telling us this was his second attempt to get to Nordkapp, having crashed on his first attempt earlier this year.

    Two hours later breakdown cover ring back to say we cannot recover you without an additional payment from us of €4000. We were on our own.

    It was now getting late, Roz asked a helpful man in the petrol station where the nearest hotel was, we limped the bike there and booked in. We spent an enjoyable evening with another Italian guy who was riding a 150cc Lambretta who was spending 6 weeks to travel from Munich to Nordkapp and back again. Each day averaging 200km per day with a top speed of 40mph.

    58 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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    60d by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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    63a by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    63b by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    64 by Phil Perks, on Flickr
    Toast to Trickytree (R.I.P.)

    65 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    66 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    67 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    68 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    72 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    75a by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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    Day 9 Saturday

    The hotel owner was very helpful and rang a few people to see if they could help. However, a check in the light on Saturday morning and it was clear from the amount of metal fillings in the black oil from the rear housing that the bike needed more than road side first aid. We located the nearest bike shop which was BMW/Harley in Tromso nearly 300 miles away by road. If we could get onto the Hurtigruten Ferry at Hammerfest on Sunday we would be in Tromso in the early hours of Monday morning. Some more phone calls from the hotel owner found a local man called Terryja who had a trailer and agreed to take us to Hammerfest on Sunday morning, for a fee of course but a lot less than the commercial recovery quoted us. So by Saturday afternoon the ferry was booked and the bike loaded for an early start.

    We also sent an email to the dealership which was closed Saturday and Sunday.

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    Day 10 Sunday

    Our plan for this trip, that had taken over 12 months to put together, was now scrapped. So new plan…… no plan really. Get on the Hurtigruten Ferry heading for Tromso, go to BMW shop and take it from there.

    The Hurtigruten Ferry is not a car ferry, it is a passenger and freight vessel. Vehicles are loaded via the freight lift. Once in the hold the crew told Phil where to park and they proceeded to strap the bike down.

    We only had “deck space” tickets but managed to get nice seats in a viewing area that had a glass roof. On the plus side the views of the coast from the ferry were lovely.

    We settled down for the 12 hour trip and were pleasantly surprised to find that there were heaters along the roof that came on when the temperature dropped later in the day. It did get a bit choppy after about 4hrs but it calmed down again, was not rough enough to make Phil sick About 8hrs into the trip our names were called over the tannoy asking us to go to reception.

    What now.........you may have guessed. “Your bike has fallen over please come and inspect the damage”....can you believe this. It's tipped forward off the main stand and now has a scuffed beak and no screen. Our fault says the crewman, we completed paperwork and unhappily went back up on deck. Neither of us feeling particularly sociable so it was good most people had gone to their cabins.

    We arrived at the hotel at 1.00am Monday morning, fortunately we had booked one with 24hrs check in.

    77 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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    85a by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    86 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    87 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    89 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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    Day 11 - 17 Tromso

    First thing in the morning we took what was now a very sick bike to the dealership. Tad worrying riding through a long tunnel at 20mph sure that at any moment that big seize moment was going to come. Dealership was very good, within 5 mins the bike was on a ramp in the workshop and the rear wheel was out.

    The problem was quickly identified, the final drive bearing had collapsed again, damaging the inside of the housing.

    The dealership recommended fitting a new final drive and would not recommend just fitting a new bearing and seal as the casing was too badly damaged, Germany had stock of the final drive but it would be at least Friday before they could get it to Tromso. As expected the cost was high but a lot cheaper than the €4000 the breakdown cover wanted just to transport the bike home.

    No point getting depressed, we are on holiday, we came to see Norway, so we spent the next few days relaxing and seeing what the city had to offer which was fine, but not quite the trip we had planned to do on the bike and we were definitely feeling strained. We did see the Northern Lights, twice, this surprised us both by raising our spirits, and was amazing. We were pleasantly surprised by how relaxed Tromso is even late at night. There was very little traffic but we did see lots of bikes in the evenings, mostly custom Harleys. We spent the days taking in the tourist hotspots with visits to various museums and the Arctic Sea life Centre.

    However Friday was not so good, the shop called to say that the parts had not arrived on the shipment and now would not arrive until Monday. The shop were clearly disappointed at not getting the bike ready for us. We were a little unhappy to say the least, back to the hotel for 2 more nights.

    Rather than wasting the time we started planning how we were going to get back home. Our original plan was to have 14 days riding back down through Norway in easy 200-250 mile stages with 2 two night stops along the way, ferry from Stavanger back to Denmark. We realised over the weekend that assuming we got the bike back on Monday we would now only have 6 days to get back home in time to be back at work. We would have to do at least 200 miles on Monday no matter how late we got the bike back and we would have to do some high mileage days after that to get to Stavanger. We were able to move the Stavanger ferry by two days and the tunnel crossing to the Sunday. It also meant we had to cancel accommodation we had booked and would have to book from day to day.

    92 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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    95a by Phil Perks, on Flickr
    Cracking Norton parked up with no security.....

    100 by Phil Perks, on Flickr
    Arctic Sea Life Centre....

  13. #13
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    Thanks for posting this barak.... enjoyable ! Great photos .

    (Sorry about the bearing hassle ... but anything with moving parts can ....)

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    Day 18 Monday Tromso to Ballangen

    We checked out of the hotel piled our gear in a taxi and went to camp out in the bikeshop showroom. Have to say the shop was really good, the minute the delivery arrived the mechanic started to work on the bike and by mid-afternoon we were ready to set off again, both very glad to be back on the bike and travelling again.

    Given the time constraints we now had our route was the E6 down to Dombas, and then head west to Stavanger via the 55, E16, E134.

    We made a good 200 miles to a cabin at Ballingen, not thinking properly we forgot to stop for food and had to make do with dinner from the reserve supplies, so gourmet dinner was pot noodle followed by instant apple and cinnamon porridge and a packet of chocolate biscuits LOL. On the plus side tonight the Northern Lights were amazing and we sat outside totally mesmerised by them for over an hour. This night will remain one of the highlights of the trip, which ironically we would not have seen if we had been on our original route.

    109 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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    110c by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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    Day 19 Tuesday to Nyheim

    It was cold day today, woke up to find a good layer of ice on the bike seat. We followed the E6 and have to say we had a really enjoyable ride. We had read several reports that said this road was boring or dull and even suggesting it should be avoided. Why? It was far from dull, with sweeping bends, stunning views and a decent surface for most of the journey. The big bonus going in September was how little traffic there was, we repeatedly rode for 20 mile or more without seeing another vehicle going our way.

    We had a close encounter with an eagle, it took off from the ground at the side of the road just a few yards in front of us and flew along at about head height following the road in front of us, we managed to get a photo of it with the Garmin Virb.

    Strangely the temperature was dropping the further south we travelled, with a positively bitterly cold wind when we stopped at the Polarcentre crossing back over the Arctic Circle again. It was the first day that we have both felt uncomfortably cool and we decided tomorrow the fleeces we had been wearing up until now would be changed for the duckdown filled jackets. It was nice to get to the hytte we had found for the night at Nyheim Camping, have a hot drink and plan the route for tomorrow.

    112 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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    112a-2 by Phil Perks, on Flickr
    The Eagle we almost hit....

    112b by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    113a by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    113b by Phil Perks, on Flickr
    View from the Bognes ferry....

    113c by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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    115 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    115c by Phil Perks, on Flickr

    115d by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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    Day 20 Wednesday Nyheim to Mogard

    Today was a great day to be sitting behind somebody else. The wind was cold and we rode through a big area around Dombas were it had been snowing earlier in the day. It seemed a long day, not helped when it started raining about midday near Trondheim, it was so nice when the owner of the hytte had put the heating on before we arrived. However despite how cold the temperature has been neither of us was uncomfortably cold on the bike so we may have got the riding gear right, and we have not needed the heated jackets yet.

    The owners of the site told us that the main route we had intended to take the next day was closed due to a heavy snow fall in the afternoon and was unlikely to be open. We had to look at alternatives, one route was about the same mileage but over a lower rated road, the other option would take us at least an additional day which was a luxury we did not have.

    116 by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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    117d by Phil Perks, on Flickr

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