24th January 2011
On the second leg of his journey from the UK to North Cape, Gavin Shaw rides his MZ 250 through Germany and into Norway...
My route on this windy and overcast day takes me through the Elbe Tunnel at Hamburg. It's a very different experience from the Mersey or Dartford tunnels, multi-lane, very well lit, and no overpowering smell of fumes. I wonder why there are so many loaded up German cars, some towing boats and caravans, all heading towards Denmark. The sheer volume of traffic means that when I stop for fuel I'm immersed in a queue reminiscent of the petrol shortage queues we experienced during the fuel protests.Gavin's MZ ETZ250 before departure...
The rain starts again and provides a less than welcoming entry to Denmark where it also gets noticeably colder. Luckily, my campsite provides a free hot shower. After dinner I calculate that the bike has achieved slightly better fuel economy than I feared and the two-stroke oil consumption is spot on. I adjust and lightly lubricate the chain, more out of the need to do something than because it actually needed doing. Enclosed drive chains are a first-rate design.
I book a ferry crossing to Norway. It's 66 Euros for a three hour crossing; good value. The only trouble is that it arrives at 3.30pm which doesn't leave me much time to get some miles in before stopping for the night.
Another wet night means that the tent has to be packed wet again. I head onto the E45, surely one of the most boring roads in Europe, and head for Aarhus. It's even colder there so, instead of looking around the old town as I planned, I buy a very expensive coffee and fuel up. I feel a tap on my shoulder and am rapidly engaged in a conversation about George Formby and the TT. This gentleman believes that dear old George won the TT on a Norton Dominator. He did, didn't he?
Then just as I re-start the engine I get another tap on my shoulder. This time the chap has ridden an MZ around the Mediterranean coast. You meet the nicest people on an MZ!
On the road and so to Hobro. Hobro hosted the Formula 4 powerboat championship in 1985 and I was there - engineer to the winning boat. The town has changed a fair bit but the harbour is the same. As if to welcome me back, the sun comes out and there's wall to wall blue sky. By the time I reach the ferry port it is positively hot and I've got my sunglasses on while layers come off.
I book into a delightful modern youth hostel and dry the tent and get a decent meal inside me. I know it's going to cost but I convince myself that it's worth it. After studying the map and chatting with home I'm a bit worried about whether I'm going to be able to do the trip in the time allotted. Not only that, but if the weather remains bad then I'm going to have to use more hostels and at an average of £30 per night in Norway my budget is going to be blown apart.
Nevertheless I book a room at the Olso hostel for two nights. This means I will have to cram in 200 miles tomorrow as soon as the boat docks, and still won't arrive until 8pm. It will allow me time to see the viking boat museum and also the Kon Tiki exhibition on the following day.
In freezing winds the ferry carries me to Norway. What a difference to the vessels which cross the Channel; it's almost a mini-cruise liner. I meet an interesting German motorcyclist, the owner of three BMWs and previously an MZ outfit. Clearly a man with class!Blue skies over Oslo...
Everyone initially sticks to the speed limits in Norway, as there are cameras everywhere. It's still very bright and I've kept my sunglasses on, but it gets cold very quickly. By the time I reach Oslo I'm frozen through.One of Thor Heyerdahl's reed boats
After defrosting overnight I visit the Kon Tiki museum. As a child, Thor Heyerdahl and his adventure in Kon Tiki and Ra helped foster my adventurous nature. He gave me an understanding of just how much of the world is out there waiting to be seen. Nearby the Kon Tiki I discovered the new museum containing the Fram. This is the boat designed and built by Fridtjof Nansen for Arctic exploration which was subsequently used by Amundsen.The Fram, designed and built by Fridtjof Nansen
The viking boat museum is indeed a treasury and something I'm so glad I've seen. It's just astounding to see the quality of the workmanship, the design and execution of these vessels - especially considering the primitive tools they had to work with at the time. When you've seen these boats up close you can't help but be in awe of the people who crossed one of the world's roughest oceans in them. Unforgettable.
Next episode: tough decisions on the way to the top of the world
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