The Arctic Circle Part 1Posted: September 1, 2014
Saturday 23rd August
The big day has finally arrived! We had 200 miles of mixed A roads and dual carriageways to ride on our way to Grimsby. It should have been a nice relaxed ‘soft’ introduction to our adventure. We started well enough. Well, for about a quarter of a mile. Then a couple of bungees flew off Martin’s bike. Luckily no kit flew off with them. “Just a couple of loose spares” according to Mart.
Sunday 24th August
Arriving at the prescribed postcode did not bring us next to a friendly looking check-in office of any kind. No, we were definitely at the Immingham freight terminal and not a ship in sight! I had just passed a bunch of security guard looking types so I whizzed back togo and ask them for help. I had assumed the team were right behind me so I had already parked up with my bike lights off by the time Mark came whizzing past looking for me. So, we were now in the wrong place, without a clue where to go and our little four man team was split into three. We hadn’t even left the UK yet.
Monday 25th August
The upside (or downside depending on your point of view) of the 0230 wake up was to leave the ship at 0400 – 0500 is local currency. It provided yet another first – sunrise seen from the bike. I’ve certainly driven through many sunrises but this might well be the first ridden one. It is definitley, my first 0500 start. But I am not complaining. The rest of today was really about reaching Hirtshals and getting over to Norway where we all feel the true adventuring starts. 420 miles today of mixed thunderstorms, light drizzle and blazing sunshine.
Tuesday 26th August
Yet again we have been playing havoc with our body clocks today. Because officially the day started before yesterday finished. Confused? So are we. Our ferry from Hirtshals in Denmark to Larvik in Norway left Monday at 2230. Arriving Larvik 0200 today. Are you with me? Ahead lay 210 miles to the Olympic Park at Lillehammer, followed by a further 200 miles to Trondheim. I don’t think I’ve ever taken 5 hours to ride 200 miles. But we did today on our way to Lillehammer. The Norwegians are famed for their intolerance of speeding and all the citizens were sticking right on the rules and so did we.
Wed 27th August
There are some days on these types of adventures that are just about the riding. Today was one such day. No rainfall was a good starting point. But then it finished. And so did the traffic. Only an hour or so into the 300 miles ride to Mo I Rana the road took a couple of twists up a mountainside and all the trees disappeared along with the traffic. And that was pretty much the sum of it for the next 260 miles. Glorious sweeping roads, no cops and we could keep up a steady and enjoyable speed. 40 miles down the road was our first major objective. The actual Arctic Circle. We took the obligatory tourist photos and made an adventure biker’s stone cairn to add to the hundreds already there. We felt far more like we’d got past the Arctic Circle when we set up our first wild camp and settled down to see how cold it would get.
Thursday 28th August
What a start to the day a few miles north of the Arctic Circle, 700m high and snow topped mountains glinting in the early sunlight. Poetry.
Much, much later we were once again treated to the indisputable fact that the best stuff to happen on these adventures is that which is not planned or expected. When we came around a corner halfway up a mountain we saw at least 150 bikers gathered for their weekly meeting. Lovely bunch of folks that made us foreigners feel very welcome.
Friday 29th August
After our surprise meeting with the 150 bikers last night, we’d found a great ‘wild’ camping spot nested up close to a fjord. The plan today was to reach Nordkapp. In theory, that could have been done by 3pm but we were as usual confounded by the speed limits and the need for filming. This included a brief but necessary dip in the Arctic Sea. If we thought it was a shock to the system, it was nothing compared to the shock it gave the camper van occupants who got more than they bargained for when seeing four semi-naked Englishmen diving into the sea was not the scenic view they expected.
We have made it to our northernmost objective and seen the edge of the world – well, of Europe anyway!
Saturday 30th August
We were through what remained of our stay in Norway within 100 miles. It has been our best and most frustrating friend for 4 days. You’d never think that mountains and fjords could have so much diversity. Finland is as flat as Norway is mountainous. And the roads were as straight as Norway’s were twisty; a little more boring to ride but a heck of a lot quicker.