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23rd February 2011


By MZ to Nord Kapp Part 3
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Gavin Shaw continues his journey by MZ 250 into the land of the midnight sun, and crosses into the Arctic Circle...

On my trip through Norway I had intended to head to the west coast and the fjords but it's become obvious that this was over ambitious and will be extremely expensive. I knew that petrol costs in Norway are high and had allowed 50% extra, but every tankful is costing me £5 more than I'd pay in England. My budget just won't allow a run to the fjords.

On the road again...

Another concern is that the core of my body seems to be getting cold all too easily, yet my extremities are OK. I wonder if the elastic on the side of my 20 year old Weise jacket has finally had it, and a draught is getting in. Maybe a bungee around my middle might solve that problem.

I wake with 300 miles to cover and a bad case of the runs. The day is dominated by my need to answer the call of nature. However the countryside is just brilliant and Lillehammer is wonderful. The approach from the south is spectacular as the whole vista is dominated by the lake and the mountains reflected upon it: stunning. But even this beauty doesn't completely distract me, I'm feeling so ill…

Why have we stopped here? Don't ask...

The bike must sense my distress. It seems to take over the riding chores and I've very little recollection of the rest of the day. Eventually the bike gets me to Dombas and I spend a horribly uncomfortable hour looking for my hostel - eventually a passer-by takes pity on me and directs me to the right place. Thank you, sir.

The morning starts with more Imodium, but on the up side the weather is overcast but dry and not even too cold, considering the altitude and location. The first part of the day's ride skirts the Dovrefjel National Park; stunning scenery but very desolate and everywhere still covered in snow, right to the road's edge. Even the lakes were snow covered! The road itself was a rider's delight and there were extended periods when I was the only vehicle on the road, and seemingly the only vehicle on the move in the country! I certainly enjoyed myself and the dear MZ revelled in the bend swinging, even with its load.

I had mixed feelings about Trondheim. New development and infrastructure are appearing but when you turn a corner or crest a hill the coastal vistas are incredible. You really do run out of descriptive adjectives to use when talking about this part of the world and I know that it's only going to get more awe-inspiring the further north I go.

It starts to rain so I stop for lunch. I'm not one for hamburgers normally but it's the only section of the menu I can understand so - in for a krona - I order one and it goes down a treat. The rain falls with more force but I've no option but to continue. Shortly the road surface starts to deteriorate markedly. Until now, the roads can't be faulted; nothing like as bad as we have in the UK. Here the surface is cracked, potholed and subsiding. The adverse camber on some of the corners is enough to ground the pannier frames and the four-foot ditch on either side of the road tempers any enthusiastic cornering.

Are we having fun yet?... The author and his bike...
250 MZ bits on Right Now......

I resist the lure of an (expensive) hotel at Trofors and continue on to my cabin, which turns out to be sheer luxury. I wake at 1am and it's all but light outside. The nearer I get to Nord Kapp, the more 'midnight sun' I will experience.

Today will take me into the Arctic Circle, but first I have to contend with very misty conditions, the result of yesterday's torrential rain and the snow-covered ground. They combine to provide some 'interesting' moments on the road and some very atmospheric conditions. The road surface continues to be very mixed and challenging. There's probably no chance of ice but I'm not taking any risks because the tunnels are certainly cold enough.

The climb to the Arctic Circle is very cold, snowy and in places downright lethal. My long unused trials and enduro riding skills come flooding back, just when I need them. Phew! I'd been forewarned that the crossing point on the E6 into the Arctic is something of a tourist trap but there was almost no-one around, perhaps because of the five-hour blizzard of the previous day.

Who needs fancy metal panniers?... The Arctic Circle...

That snowfall had covered the already snow-bound mountains with an additional three to five feet of new snow, so at times I was riding through a tunnel of snow - fantastic. The weather improved dramatically with the sun bouncing off the snow to produce the most awesome views. However the road conditions continued to be variable and at times dangerous.

I hop a ferry to Narvik and arrive in time to check in at my hostel. The bike looks as if it has just done the Welsh three days trial, and it's blown a fork seal. There's nothing I can do about it so I tuck in to my first real meal in days.

The view from the ferry. Stunning...

The next day's ride takes me from a freezing mountain wilderness, covered in deep snow, and frozen lakes, to the warm coast roads with their 19+ degree temperatures and surrounding mountains framed by crystal skies. Local fishermen hang out the last of the season's herring while farmers prepare the land for summer. What a brilliant day, full of contrasts and stunning scenery, challenging roads and some history -- the Alta fjord is the final resting place of the Tirpitz.

The road to Alta. Stunning...

It's a day that makes me glad to ride a motorcycle.

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Next episode: North Cape. At last!

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