Well, we were somewhere around Burfjord on the edge of the fjord when the drugs began to take hold… Hah! Hunter S. Thompson, I owe you my prose.
Anyway, Ingrid’s house was a spooky and creaky place, and I was surprised to wake up with all my attachments still attached. A cup of tea and ham with cheese, hey ho let’s go. Zeg revved his Kawi to ten grand and beyond and threw a gravel rooster tail the size of the Eiffel tower. Que much amusement.
Some say the Japs build great bikes these days. Opinions. But I did spend 20 years in the dirt aboard mostly Honda, so I guess they deserve a fair shot. For Baz & Zeg, here’s two pics of Kawi flower.
That morning, the thermometer showed a full 3 degrees Celsius of the warm sort. We clattered teeth for awhile – but this was the last time we were cold. You could hear the South calling, or was it perhaps the humming army of mosquitos waiting for fresh juice? Hard to tell. Again we set off at ridiculous speed – some guy on the red bike out in the front felt it was absolutely necessary for some reason to go very quickly without reason at all. The roads were, like I have to say it, stupendous. And from where we stood, we saw the road on the other side of the fjord, about a fishing rod away. After a spot of mad ballet riding, one hour later, we stood on the opposite side. That’s the beauty of Norway. You get nowhere fast while going really fast.
I had been wise not to wear a backpack, because it dilutes riding and kills your shoulders and shuts down much needed blood circulation. At this point Zeg, who had a major camel on his back, had grown tired of his white fingers. At the next gas station he marched in and in fluent Norwegian bought two big tie-downs. Me and Baz laughed and speculated loudly on how many metres he would get before the rucksack fell off at high speed and killed innocent sheep. Amazingly, it was never to fall off…
As we were crossing heavy mountains, fog fell upon us, while snow was below, if not on the road. We chugged along at about 50 for an hour. We had zero vision. A Wile. E. Coyote moment was never far away. Eventually, thankfully, the mountain recessed.
Thrills and oil spills came next. It seems that the trucks that go up and down in this places tend to be a bit overfilled. So picture this: the road is somewhat damp, but you come around a corner hot to trot, leaning over and feeling fine. Suddenly you see a long fat snake of diesel oil right where your eyes were intending your line to be. Gulp. Up with the bike! Out with the foot! But how to turn an upright bike away from the incoming armco and outgoing drop to eternal sleep? Since I’m here writing, you may draw the conclusion that we made it, and you’d be correct. For me personally, it was the only heart-stopping moment of the whole trip, which is quite an achievement when you travel 3500km around the most challenging roads in Europe while rarely really letting the bike breath…
It proved to be a long tough day. The sole single and one regret I have, is that we didn’t manage sneak off to TromsÃ¶. It was simply too much to bite into. Meanwhile, Lofoten, the other end of the world and the first wonder of the world, was looming large on the horizon in our minds.
Lofoten. Well. L-o-f-o-t-e-n. Think. How to do it justice? Impossible. You have to see it. Words can not begin to describe the unholy beauty, practically Satanic, because the alliance of stone and water is laced with such furious black horror, danger and shadow, all while being cute as a purring kitten in your lap. I’m torn. I’m invaded. My head hurts taking it in. Lofoten is not from this world.
Ever since I read Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea as a little boy, this place has held my imagination in a vice. I’ve dreamt about the maelstrom many a time, falling into it, drowning, going to octopus hell. Unspeakable things. King crabs eat me. Pain. So much pain.
Captain Nemo came to Lofoten in Nautilus, via the ocean floor, threw his submarine into the maelstrom, committed suicide. The ghost rider came along the road, riding a red roaring Ducati, committed antisuicide. Yeah. I came in search of the extract of life, found it, drank it, felt life play pinball in body and soul.
We rode like demons to reach Sortland that day. We lost Baz on the way. When the road is narrow and coiled tight like a steel spring, and traffic plays tricks on you, next time you look back there is only Zeg there. We could have stopped. I wanted to stop and wait. But my body refused to wait. There was the scenery and road of a lifetime ahead, and in my egoistical supersearch of speed pleasure I felt I had to hunt down and knee every kink and bend in Lofoten. I am a weak man. I got swept away, seduced by the love, by the lust of life. In passion I just pinned it.
Sortland was halfway into Lofoten. In the evening, we eventually assembled our group again, sorted out some feelings, and rode as one entity the rest of the trip.
The next day was to be the last day of paradise riding on this trip. From BodÃ¶ on, it would be more civilized transportation than dirty rock n’ roll. Well, give me thunder and bells; this last fanfare was the finest day of the trip – and that’s saying some. The last half of Lofoten only confirmed that Norway is, undisputedly, easily, the most beautiful country in the world.
We got up late. We looked at our watches. We turned to the map. The Moskenes ferry, from the very tip of Lofoten, leaves in about four hours. We are at least 400 kilometers away, including one smaller ferry crossing. By now familiar with the utter insanity of the landscape, it seemed impossible.
We rolled into the Moskenes harbour on time. Like three kings, yeah, that’s how we felt.
Let’s rewind, for the road to Moskenes was… uh… perfect? I’m a lousy writer, abusing up all superlatives before the climax. Throw in the clichÃ©s to close the lid on my coffin. Just how many times can you say that you “rode like the wind through the Garden of Eden” and get away with it? But we did, dammit!! I’m stating facts! I’m under serious overwhelming here! Go see for yourself. Lofoten will steal your breath away, and if you don’t remember to ask kindly to get it back, you will die gasping for beauty. Norway is nature’s favorite son. If it only didn’t smell of rotten fish everywhere…
Last pic above, at the very end of Lofoten. The Gods of weather were, for once, on our side, at our table, on our shoulders. This is normally an angry spot…
Now, the images are very nice – yet I feel I’m ripping nature off and selling it cheap. These are sights to be enjoyed on site, in flesh. Besides, during our dash for glory from Sortland to Moskenes, we were not able to take any pictures. Not even crazy Baz let his handlebar go to snap pictures at the speeds we were hitting… but I carry these mementos inside my head. Blue lagoons with white beaches, green and grey mountains of steel soaring straight up, so far that you barely believe your eyes and hurt your neck. And the roads… ah… remembrance reduce me to tears. I may never again ride a ribbon of a road so spectacular. Once you’ve tasted a touch of divinity, everything else seems dishwater in comparison.
Ah yes. We pulled in to Moskenes with wheels on fire. Jiihaa. Sadly, our bravado soon paled when we learned that the ferry was already brimfull with busloads of fat lazy bastard tourists. We watched it take off, leaving us stranded.
You have to take it as it comes. Our amazing effort came up short, but, at least on my behalf, there is no denying I had a killer blast ripping past cars like they were going backwards. Bless us.
The next boat was to leave in the evening. We used the time to book the hotel in BodÃ¶, and ride around on the tiptoe of Lofoten in splendid sunshine. I came across some English Ducati enthusiasts on holiday, we chatted heatedly about the best things in life, and their eyes lit up as I revved the nuts of the Hypermotard as a parting gift. The small things count…
The ferry from Moskenes to BodÃ¶ was uneventful. We hooked up with a couple of Finnish blokes. We saw whales. We had beers and shrimp. I was too tired even to worry about the maelstrom. On the horizon, BodÃ¶ beckoned. It was the first sign of civilization since Rovaniemi many thousands of kilometers ago.
We pulled up to the hotel midnight, had quick showers. All those city lights corrupted us in seconds. We hadn’t seen the shape of women for awhile. Intoxicating. Then there was thumping music, nightclubs, lots of strong and exotic alcohol. Obviously, staggering home in the morning, we had big kebabs on the way. I’ve felt better when we woke up the following hour. For once only, I didn’t feel much like riding…
Down in Mo I Rana, we came upon a racetrack, and not just any old piece of cracked tarmac, but the Arctic Circle Raceway, a magnificent F1-standard circuit in the middle of the Norwegian forest. I had planned, naturally, that we would put in some hot laps here… unfortunately, fate disagreed, and the track was booked for racing. Pah!
After this bitter pill, we stopped for disgusting hot dog pÃ¶lse (Norwegian sausage). Then we hotfooted it over the Swedish border. In the evening a freaking weird food poisoning virus struck me – the pÃ¶lse? – I became weak as victor and could not hold anything in my belly. [This incredibly vicious virus was to keep me sick as shit for almost two weeks.]
In the coming two days, we did more than 1200km, tearing through Sweden like it was a job. During these 2 days I had the worst diarrea and was barely strong enough to twist the throttle. To make matters worse – as if they could be – my rear tire started peeling. Badly. I was now paying the price for my trigger-happy riding style…
We slept over in Wilhelmina. This is mosquito heaven. In case you are not an insect, or feeding on insect, this area is best left unattended. Escape.
On the highway from Sundsvall to Stockholm, while weak as can be, I kept waiting for the tire to explode. It is not a feeling I can recommend, when surrounded by big lorries, other traffic, and wire-connected armco sidelining the road – the kind that will take your head off if you go down and slide into it. Should the rear tire go boom here, you will meet your maker. We tried to keep a steady 90, altho Zeg teased us with happy sprints. I tried to kick him off his bike.
It was late when we arrived in Grisslehamn, after 700km of fear, to spend a couple of days in the ever-pearly Swedish archipelago, courtesy of Baz’ dad. I was very happy to step off the bike that night. Then I tried a sandwich. Tasted like heaven. And I shat all night long.
Good ol’ Ove treated us like kings. Sauna, cold beer in copious amounts, akvavit, and delicious food. For my part, I could neither drink nor eat, but Baz and Zeg certainly deserved the fiesta. And even better, the following night was to be the last time I would have to listen to Zeg’s by now legendary snoring. A pneumatic drill is like an angel choir next to Zeg at full blow. Incomprehensible, completely unbearable. Well, I was busy shitting, so I failed to strangle him.
All that was left was the EckerÃ¶ ferry to Ã…land, then a short ride across Ã…land – where I prayed that my gummy bear rear tire would last all the way home. All aboard the big ferry to Ã…bo. And hugs. Men hug too. From there on we split up, and I rode straight out to Nagu to nurse myself back to health.
It had been a momentous journey. We went to the ends of the world. My friends were awesome. My bike is the best. The scenery was second to none. Can you hear me pumping on the stereo? Bike rides are not for everyone – but for us, they are the stuff of dreams. Real dreams. You know, I still pinch myself when I think of Lofoten. I get goosebumps when I hit the Nordkapp GP in my mind. I’ve so many fantastic memories from this trip that I’m afraid to lose them unless I keep them fresh every day… and I don’t know what to say anymore. Let Zeg have the last word;