Monday, 5 August 2013

Norway is still amazing. But things haven't gone to plan.

First of all I promised photos of our amazing campsite in the glaciers. Here they are. Scanning around from left to right.. The weather wasn't great but it was still a great place. And I DID, in fact, have a sauna and then run out and immersed myself in  the icy cold river. It was actually quite an amazing experience (No photos though!)

Rubbish picture but campsite in foreground glacier in background

Another glacier finger in background but cloudy skies hides it

Enormous waterfall at the back of us

Just one tip. Don't wash your thermal underwear hoping it will dry before bedtime. It might not and you might have to wear it in order to dry it out!

Morning view from tent

Looks much better with blue sky doesn't it. This was just as we were leaving.

Continuing north

(is there any other direction?) we then rode through motorcycle heaven. First up to Dalsnibba. An £11 toll road that climbs from 1050 to 1480 metres to a fantastic viewpoint overlooking the mountain tops and down into Geiranger fjord.

What a road

The gravel toll road

Geiranger Fjord

Luckily BMWs don't have reverse

Heading back down the toll road

Then we rode down into Geiranger (where it rained, very heavily) and back up the hairpin pass over to the other side. 

I'm going up there!

Once we'd got through the rain...

with some hot chocolate

It looks like this but in the rain we saw little of it

The weather picked up as we headed on

Climbing to nearly 1000m again we then approached the famous Trollstigveien or Troll's ladder. With 11 hairpin bends and a 1:12 gradient this was some road. The view from the top was stunning. And it looked like the sun was finally coming out – having been in Norway for a week now we'd hardly seen it.

No words needed

We ended the day camping in a lovely site near Andalsnes.


Sunday saw us hit the coast and 'The Atlantic Road'. Voted Norway's greatest construction of the century this was a series of seven bridges connecting a dozen small islands over eight kilometres. Built between 1983-9. Some of the bridges were fairly normal bridges. But not all of them!

The famous 'Bridge to nowhere' in the distance

On my way...


Heading from Trondheim, Norway's original capital and home to Scandinavia's largest medieval building, we found a cheap (believe me £12 camping for two on a bike with a tent is cheap for Norway) campsite on the shore with a wonderful sunset.


Now I know this next sentence is going to please a lot of people.

I ran out of petrol.

I know, I know, but let me explain - it gets funnier ( for you - not for me)

I've always had a bit of front wheel wobble. That's not a euphemism, the front wheel rim on Heidi has always been a little bent. I can cope with it and don't really notice it. But on this trip I've felt it a little more, especially at slow speeds. I thought the wheel may not have been balanced properly when I had a new front tyre fitted last month. Being a bit of a worrier I looked online and asked on the Horizons website and found a BMW bike shop in Trondheim. If you read any of my blog when I went half way around the world you'll know that I like to stop off at the odd BMW dealership and give them lots of money. So why not in Norway.

The plan was to pop in on Monday morning on our way through Trondheim and see if my front wheel wobble was anything to worry about. All good so far. However, the day before I noticed that my computer was starting to play up a little. It always told me when I had 50 miles of fuel left – plenty of time to fill up - that day it wasn't working - I knew I was fairly low on fuel but it was telling me I was full. I made a mental note to tell the BMW people about this too.

So Monday morning we rode the eight miles from the campsite to the bike shop. They kindly said they would have a look at the wheel if I returned after midday so we unloaded the luggage and rode into Trondheim to see the cathedral.

On the way back we ran out of fuel. Of course it was my fault. I knew I was low on petrol and shouldn't rely on a computer, especially when I knew it wasn't working properly. But I still feel we were a little unlucky. We ran out on the E39 (main duel carriage way into Trondheim) in a set of roadworks, so there was no where to take the bike. I had to push her about a kilometre to find a lay-by with traffic piling up behind me. Tracy was walking behind me, I thought taking photos but the camera had decided to stop working (again) at this point as well.

When I got to the lay-by, exhausted, there was postman waiting for me! He'd seen I was in trouble and had pulled in to help. He gave me a lift to the nearest petrol station (which would have been a shattering two further sweaty kilometres down the duel carriage way) and back again with a jerry can of unleaded.

An hour late we returned to the BMW shop and I explained what had happened. We then settled down to wait. Tracy, happily reading her book, me writing up this blog... and whilst I was writing the mechanic came over, smiling – NEVER a good sign.

“You need a new front tyre.”

He took me into the workshop to show me my new front tyre which I'd had fitted just before leaving the UK. There was a worrying crack all along one side. Not good. The mechanic didn't know what had caused it but said it was serious and I had to replace it. But that wasn't all. The rear bearings were 'shot' as they say.

Look closely and you'll see a crack in the wall, all the way around.

He thought that the wobble I was feeling might be the rear bearings, the wobble coming out at the front as it was the weakest point???

Heidi had chosen the most expensive country in Europe to break down.

They checked the stock to see if they had the spare parts and Tracy and I talked through our options.

  1. Make the changes, whatever the cost to carry on with the trip
  2. Only make the changes if they are reasonable
  3. Keep the old parts and head home.

They had the spare parts. And I asked how much it would all cost. The estimate came back at around £750 for a new front tyre, fitted, and replacing the rear bearings.

I had no real idea how much more expensive this was than if I had it done in the UK. Probably £400 more.

As I type this Heidi is getting fixed and I really hope they have a Trondheim BMW sticker for me to add to my growing collection!

Dom sat in a BMW shop spending money repairing his bike. Where have I seen that before??

No sticker! And a final bill of £740. They were friendly and helpful and it was really good of them to fix it all in one day. But at £90 an hour labour Heidi really had chosen the most expensive country on earth hadn't she!

I'm angry with myself for not spotting the crack in the tyre and I wonder if I should have know more about the rear bearings. But at least I had the sense to seek help when I felt the wobble. Who knows what could have gone wrong further down the road? I feel a slight shudder when I think of all those twisty roads we'd just been down – with that tyre looking like that.

And Tracy? Well, she's not had the best of days and is, I'm sure, feeling a little fed up at travelling with an idiot of a husband. But tonight she's had a shower, some food and chocolate and is currently sitting outside in this lovely campsite we've found 100 miles north of Trondheim, sipping on her whisky.

Tomorrow we leave the main road and head up the R17 for the coast and about seven more ferries as we island hop our way across the Arctic and up to Bodo. (Incidentally, two things have amazed me recently. The total lack of midges/flies/mozzies and how warm it is. Today it was 22 degrees C and I'm typing this, outside, in shorts and a T-Shirt at 9:30 pm. We're at the same latitude as Iceland and central Alaska. That Atlantic gulf stream really has something to answer for.)

Al messages of condolence gratefully received. No gloating or smart arse comments please.

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