donderdag 21 augustus 2014

SCA2014 Day 5 & 6: Elverum & Geiranger

Waking up in Vänersborg I'd noticed that in just 4 days of touring, I'd acquired the one thing you can only get with constant riding in sunny territory.

Wristbands. They develop simply because the bit of skin between the coat and the riding glove is exposed to the sun. I had seen them before last year, but hadn't expected to see them here quite so soon. I guess they were proof I had been pretty lucky with the weather so far, despite the two rainy days.

It's not too strange though, if you keep waking up to weather like this.

Time to pack up, and move on.

Today would be my first real experience with the foresty roads of Sweden.

One thing I immediately noticed was how wide they were.

I guess the Swedes know how perilous overtaking can be. As soon as you want to overtake, the car in front will swerve right a bit, often leaving you enough room to not even cross the dotted line.

Outside of the forest though, it was another matter. But no biggy.

The goal of today was to go to Karlstad, and turn left into Norway.

I knew this made my Swedish leg a tad short, but I planned to get back into Sweden later on anyway.

In the town of Amal, I rolled in for petrol.

The terminal of the pump read only in Swedish though, but thankfully the other bikers filling up (V-twin power!) were more than willing to help.

Amazingly, the were heading towards Karlstad as well. Alas, being as close to the city as we were it wasn't all too long until I'd lost them.

Time to head on Westwards!

On these roads, even being stuck behind a camper was not that big of a deal.

Just looking ahead, I could overtake the entire row of cars without returning to the right lane. Booyah!

Because of my quick progress, I could eventually hook up with two other bikers.


At the border town of Charlottenburg, I pulled in for petrol again...

...and headed for the border.

Right before the border though, I met two Norwegian bikers who had made a similar journey to the Balkans as I had. This to their own joy, as they inspected the collection of stickers atop my panniers.

Mind you, they had a fair collection themselves as well.

And after talking to the most endearing yet invisible border officer ever (she just made normal conversation rather than droning on formalities... but sadly, also just out of shot from the Drift)...

It was time to follow Road no.2 to Hamar.

I was following along that particular road, as my map told me it would bring me straight to Hamar.

However, eventually I'd come a long way already, and the city still wasn't on the signs. I decided to pull over in the next petrol station to see what's what.

This is where I discovered there had been treachery.

As it turned out, the road I was now on was, according to the map, not Road #2, but #20.

I guess the word 'misprint' doesn't translate that well into Norwegian. I decided to get to Elverum, and head for Hamar the next day.

The place I stayed at was quite posh compared to my usual arrangements, which was also reflected in the price of the room.

Once again though, I couldn't be bothered to make a fuss anymore. I was spent, and the camera's batteries needed recharging anyhow. 

Combined with the expensive camp site the day before though, I felt the Man with the Hammer hanging over me. When you're exhausted, little things tend to get blown up, planting the idea in your head you're an idiot for going on a tour like this. 
It happens every year, and the only way to counter it is to get some rest, and soldier on.

Speaking of blowing things up by the way: what do you do if you pay top-dollar for a room?

You let a bomb go off in it, naturally. Muwaahahaaa!

It took me a while to work out how that shower worked. The two doors swung open to make up the cabin, and amazingly, it worked.

The next day, after a glorious Norwegian breakfast buffet (which consists of an all you can eat bread-fruit-juice-milk-assault), I was all up and early to get cracking

But the Beast decidedly was not.

When loaded up, I decided for good measure to check the oil. I knew that even with a cold engine, there should be some fluid on the dipstick.

But there wasn't. There could only be one reason: a leak.

It was then that I spotted a wet patch in the sump guard. It smelled of oil, so somewhere underneath the engine oil was escaping. I feared it to be a main gasket of sorts, which would render the bike (and with it, the trip) unfit to continue.

Reluctantly I took out the tools, pulled off the sump guard, and had a closer look.

Long story short: the oil filter was loose. I could just retighten it by hand. 

The only problem with this particular operation was the location - you have to imagine, it was still about half past 8 in the morning, and to check whether the leak had gone I ran the engine for awhile. As windows were shut one by one behind me, I could feel the hatred from the hotel rooms putting pins in my voodoo-doll.

Also, retightening an oil filter is a delicate business too - you can't just put on a wrench, as it could destroy the threads. I decided to redo it by hand as tight as I could do it, ride a little, and should any oil still come out, I'd just put on a spanner and tighten it a quarter turn at a time.

In the mean time, I was wondering how the filter could've shaken loose, as normally I never have problems with filters like this. I guess it was just the Beast throwing me another curveball.

It was demotivating starting a day like this, but once on the way to Hamar, I felt good just being on the move again.

And once in Hamar...

...I just had to visit the Vikingskipa (or Viking's ship) - the international ice skating stadium used in the 1994 Olympics, and still in use today.

Quite the cool building it was to see.

Here I checked up on the filter (I'd done about 10 miles), and a tiny bit of oil was still coming out, so I tightened the filter a bit further. This seemed to be enough - the leak had finally gone after this.

And wouldn't you know it, the weather seemed to be clearing up as well.

As well as the scenery, which was improving with every turn.

Welcome to Norway, where the scenery is awesome and the petrol is expensive. 

A litre often goes for 16 Norwegian Krones here, and about 8 Krones go into 1 Euro. I guess it's not like it's an oil-producing country or anything...

When asking some Norwegian riders about this they explained to me that Norway exports alot of its own oil, and imports oil from Russia. Combined with alot of taxes to deter people from using the car too much, this leads to the most expensive fuel in Europe.

This was also the first time I encountered one of these - a sign pointing me towards a camp site that also had cabins (or hytter, as they're called locally) up for rent.

But I was still too busy thinking about that. The overtaking was just way too much fun.

And, being in Norway, it started raining....

...only for the sun to start shining again half a minute later.

I guess this also was Norway.

Turning off to the road leading to Geiranger, I got my second surpise of the day.

Up until Norway, the Beast had always done about 1L every 20km... but here in Norway, the fuel consumption had gone to 1L every 25km. I first thought the pump was broken, until I checked the receipt.

Whether it was the Beast's awareness of the local price of petrol or just the low speed limits is open for debate.

Meanwhile, the scenery just kept getting better...

....and better...

...and better.

After some time though, I got the impression we were slowly climbing up a pass, as things were getting quite nippy.

The vegetation was also getting sparser by the minute...

And before I knew it...

...I was at the southern end of Road 63, the one leading through the Geiranger pass as well as the Trollstigen.

If the start was any indication, this would be one helluva road.

And the start of it already blew my mind. See for yourself.

I halted after this, took a breather as well as some pictures...

...and then went on, because this was ofcourse not all... as soon enough I had to descend into the valley which lay before Geiranger.

(Oh and please excuse the yelling, I hadn't seen one of these in a while...)

After scraping my throat, I set up camp at the bottom of the hill. It truly was one of the most beautiful locations I've ever pitched a tent.

My home away from home. 

I looked on the map to find out that if I made it to Trondheim tomorrow, I would be an entire day ahead of schedule. 

Save the detour to Elverum progress had once again been really good, and I knew that tomorrow, there'd be once again some amazing feats of scenery to see as, amongst others, the Trollstigen was upon me.

It was quite overwhelming how different this all was compared to what I'd seen up until now... and, despite of the expensive fuel, it certainly left me hungry for more.

Oh, for your viewing pleasure there's a movie reference in today's randomness vid. See if you can guess from which movie!