A Travellerspoint blog

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Between a rock and a hard place...

But every cloud has a silver lining

sunny 23 °C

large_DSCN4165.jpglarge_DSCN4137.jpglarge_90_DSCN4104.jpglarge_DSCN4163.jpglarge_DSCN4096.jpglarge_P7131322.jpglarge_P7131320.jpglarge_P7121288.jpglarge_P7121308.jpglarge_P7111271.jpglarge_P7111261.jpglarge_P7101249.jpgIt's been a while and a lot has happened, so hereby a brief update on what's been happening:

Wednesday we still hadn't heard about the bike so we mosied around the sunny Horsens a bit more and visited a museum. In the afternoon we were close to the bike shop so I said we should pop in, just to get an idea when it might be fixed. We we're surprised, and super excited, to find it was ready to go! So we rode back to the campsite and decided to pack up and head towards Hirtshals once more, so we could get the ferry to Norway on Friday.

Our joy soon turned to dismay as we discovered the other fork seal, the item we just got fixed, was starting to leak! We got to Hirtshals, in the north of Denmark, around 22.00 and headed straight to the ferry terminal: to book our ticket for the following day and to get online to make a plan for the fork seal. It was turning out to be one of those days... the cheap tickets had gone and could only be booked online, the internet was acting up, we couldn't find the campsite, ect. We eventually set up camp around midnight, hungry and overly tired.

The ferry to Norway was busy and choppy, kids were vomiting left right and centre which made us feel queasy too! And we were still feeling deflated because of the fork seal problem. Luckily it was sunny and beautiful in Southern Norway, we got the tent set up in a place called Mandal and headed out, exploring to quaint town centre and the busy beaches, it seemed half the town was out soaking up the sun. Despite the wonderful weather and scenario, we didn't fully enjoy ourselves as we were still fretting about what to do with the bike...

The following morning, Friday, we found the much needed silver-lining: on the ferry we got speaking to a Norwegian Moto Guzzi eccentric, who had given us the details of his 'guzzi guy'. Greg called him and low and behold, he had the part in stock, could book us in on the 22nd and is along the route we are taking... Hooray! And to top it off, the leak isn't too bad at the moment so we should be okay until we get to the garage.

With the good news in tow, we decided to stay in a sunny Mandal for another day. We rented some bicycles and had a fun, care-free day out.

Today the weather has been a bit cooler with light showers. We are in Lysebotn, as we will hike up to Kjerag tomorrow (if you're wondering what that is, google it!). The ride here took us high up, through the thickest mist we have ever encountered.

The little we have seen on Norway has been beautiful, this place is so scenic. Not sure what I was expecting but I clearly underestimated the rough and rocky beauty.

The sun has just come out over the fjord, it is delightful...

Posted by The Minion 09:18 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

Living it UP in Lysebotn fjord

Hike to the Kjeragbolton

rain 9 °C

]large_IMG_20130715_104551.jpglarge_IMG_20130714_204918.jpglarge_IMG_20130714_204211.jpglarge_IMG_20130714_210842.jpglarge_IMG_20130714_210318.jpgThe ride to Lysebotn fjord was extremely misty, the road ludicrously twisty and around a 10 degree decline, so it was fog lights on and first gear the entire way and down the 27 or so hairpin bends. We got to sea level and setup camp below the clouds. Early next morning we awoke and headed back up to the 600 metre mark to begin the 12km round trip hike. We had our hiking gear on and waterproofs, gloves etc. We read the safety warning before heading off. The hike is classed as hard and not to be attempted in strong wind or mist. It was both misty and windy. We started the climb. Straight away it went vertical and we had to haul ourselves up on the chain railings, on it climbed up rocks until levelling out at around a thousand meteors above sea level. It took us two hours each way. We could barely follow the markers as the visibility was only a few metres... with the drop down lurking somewhere to our right... or was it our left? We forged ahead, the wind was so strong we could lean into it. Lucky we had the correct shoes and gear as there was ice and snow and you wouldn't want something to go wrong here. Eventually we got some gaps in the clouds and could see the magnificent fjord below. It was scary trying to take photos from the edge. The wind so strong that it was blowing water up that should be trickling over the top and down! We fought our instinct to stay away from the edge and got some photos. Next we stumbled 300 metres west to the Kjeragbolton. Climbed down a small ravine and then suddenly there it was, would it be our nemesis? You can Google for the full stats. But it is basically a boulder suspended in between two huge rocks at the top of the fjord, with a thousand Meter drop each side. Within seconds Jennifer had disappeared round the rocks and was the first one on. The weather cleared for a minute and I took some snaps. She made it look easy. Next was my turn, I walked around the back where I was greeted with a slippery ledge about 30cm wide which I have to slither along and then climb out onto the boulder. No place to grip onto with your hands, wind blasting through the ravine, feeling a bit unsteady I started to stand on the boulder as I had been crouching. Then I looked down. Bad mistake, fear takes over and start to feel giddy. My natural instinct is to go into the foetal position, but that won't help here, I grimace for the photo and then try negotiate the ledge back. A few more glances down confirm the feeling of vertigo, I gingerly edge off the boulder and around the ledge, extremely happy to have survived this perilous feat, shew! Then Jennifer whizzes past me and prances around the boulder, haha, what a legend!
We then headed back down for another two hours. Our legs are aching today. We packed up camp and rode the 150km to Preikestolen campsite on the other end of the fjord, cheaper than the ferry, although more time consuming. The road was nice and twisty and the weather cool, I stayed in second gear for about 30km and raced through the mountains, dragging the centre stand on the corners. We arrived at camp and setup, I joked we should head up to the pulpit rock, another 12km hike that evening while the weather was OK. Well the rain has settled in for the next two days, so maybe we should have, but we were physically exhausted and ride just added to it as the speed limits here are very low, plus we were hungry and tired from the early start.
The campsite has a cafe with free internet so we are sitting here until our battery's run out. Stuff here is very expensive, 6 quid for half a dozen rolls, 30 quid for two steaks in a shop. Ten quid for a beer in a pub etc. Might be time to drink some of our Bowmore whiskey from the ferry from Iceland. We also climbed some extreme ladder up a boulder and some other fun things. I will try attach some photos, but the memory card is still in the tent, so will try again later. Hopefully we get a break in the weather this afternoon and then we can hike to pulpit rock, at 604m above the fjord. A good spot for base jumping...
Have a good Monday everyone ;-)

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Postcard picture of when the sun is out, checkout the road on the left hande side, Eagles Bends...so awesome we rode it four times :-)

Posted by XJR1300 01:52 Archived in Norway Tagged kjeragbolton Comments (1)

hike up to Preikestolen aka pulpit rock

8000km and two months on the road

semi-overcast 14 °C

large_P7161445.jpglarge_P7161435.jpglarge_P7161428.jpglarge_P7161429.jpglarge_P7171477.jpglarge_P7161444.jpglarge_IMG_20130717_125424.jpglarge_3ABC1FA42219AC6817B80374BCA6C7A6.jpglarge_IMG_20130717_125317.jpglarge_P7151401.jpglarge_P7151412.jpglarge_P7151416.jpglarge_preikestolen-cliff1.jpglarge_P7171482.jpglarge_IMG_20130717_114427.jpglarge_IMG_20130715_212555.jpgSo we awoke early to beat the crowd but it was still raining, heavily, went back to sleep as our legs were hurting from the day before. In the afternoon there was a brief pause in the rain and we rode to the start of the hike. It was steep from the get go. Big rock steps all the way up. Then had to climb up some little waterfalls as the rain started again. Then we hit cloud or mist, low visibility again. this was another tough hike, but after an hour and a half we made it to the top. It was easier to stand on the edge of the rock as we were surrounded by thick mist and could not see anything. I will post a PIC from Google which shows what it looks like when the sun is out. We then took some photos and took about two hours to climb down. Had a meal on our trangia stove, tomato soup then had a shower and hit our mattresses, mine being mostly flat, must have a hole somewhere!
Next morning still raining, we pack up and off on route 13 towards Tau. We found some cool rock art from the bronze age near the sea side then headed north towards Nesvik via a short ferry ride. We then took a detour on the 632 mountain road. I am sure the views were stunning, but alas we could only see a few metres ahead thanks to the mist and rain. We then connected with the route 13 again after descending via an awesome twisty mountain pass full of hairpin bends, as we got closer to sea level the mist began to clear. My exhaust suddenly got a lot loader with more backfiring, I now sound like a world war 2 plane. Something has come loose, luckily we have the bike booked in near Hornindals fjord on Monday to replace the other fork seal that has started to leak. We also stopped at an old stave church from the 1600s, which was splendid inside full of frescos. After passing through many dark tunnels we have got to Roldal and setup tent as it has stopped raining, just. A guy from a camper van came over as he had the same bike as me so we discussed the Guzzi way of how things work or don't! Soon after that he was pouring us brandy in his camper van, which is a luxury in these parts. This morning we even got a flask of coffee, us Guzzi people have to stick together you know! We awoke this morning with one of the aluminium tent poles split. So have tried a bodge fix with good ol ducktape, seems to be holding for now. We also found the leak in my mattress by submerging it in the lake, lucky only one hole was detected... unlike Jennifers mattress which had about twenty, she had to get a new one.
I think today we will just take it easy and rest before heading to a glacier just north of here. Also the weather is supposed to get better later during the week. There is a ten hour hike here I am keen to try maybe as well, but I want a good view at the top, maybe third time lucky?
Forgot to mention there is another old stave church in Roldal and a grave site with some old grave mounds by our campsite, plus were rode the MC on some old cliff road built before the new road when they still used horses and wagons... not sure if it was just for walking but we made it on the bike anyways. Its going to be sweet when the sun comes out, we are looking forward to it...

Posted by XJR1300 03:42 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

Firing on all cylinders

sunny 24 °C

On Thursday morning, after two relaxing and fun days in Roldal, we packed up in the rain to further our journey north. As Greg fired up the Guzzi, the engine grumbled erratically but wouldn't get going. Gulp. Greg tried a second time, a third, a fourth... Something was wrong. This was confirmed by the 'Service' message which popped up on the screen. Could this really be happening?

We found the error code (injector error) and got googling, hoping to find a solution. We found a few long shot options and tried to work our way round the bike. Unfortunately our efforts were fruitless. By this time we knew we were stuck in Roldal for another day so decided to rent a cabin on the campsite, we needed it! We got back online to try find a garage in the area, not easy when you're looking for something relatively specialized in a foreign country. The closest mc workshop appeared to be 150 km away. We searched, and searched, and searched. Eventually we found a number for the Norwegian Motorcycle Association and Greg gave them a call, hoping they could point us in the right direction... The guy who took the call noted down some information and advised he would call back.

Within no time he had arranged for roadside assistance, but all this guy could do was tow the Guzzi to the nearest garage for £700-£800. What the...! As we were contemplating our options, Greg got another call, this time from a local Moto Guzzi rider, he said he would come have a look at the bike after work, but that we shouldn't get our hopes up. We told the tow-truck guy we would get back to him tomorrow.

At five the Guzzi guy pulled in and started looking at the bike. It was instantly obvious this guy knew way more than us and he had the tools to prove it! He started by fixing the damaged exhaust, even though he didn't believe this was causing the problem. He methodically continued narrowing down the cause of the problem and established one of the fuel injectors had corroded due to leaking (that's Italian engineering for you). The fault meant the bike was running on just one cylinder. Great, the problem had been established. However, the part couldnt be fixed but would have to be replaced. Goodness, how long would this take... He contacted his Guzzi guy, which is the same guy we had booked the bike in with on Monday the 22nd after getting the number from another Guzzi rider on the ferry to Norway! We would have to wait til the next morning to see if he had the part in stock. With some thank-you beers in hand we bid our new friend, Auden, goodbye, in disbelief of the help and kindness a stranger had given us.

That evening we checked if we could source the part online if required. To our horror this part was not readily available, so what we're the chances a random dealer in Norway would have it? We didn't get our hopes up. Friday morning we were stunned to find out they had the part and would send it over by next day delivery! Our run of luck was continuing. Our Guzzi friend organized everything, and said he would pop back and fit it as soon as it arrived on Saturday.

Luckily Friday and Saturday were sunny as we waited for the replacement fuel injector. In the afternoon Auden was back to fit the part. Within minutes the Guzzi was roaring like a lion on heat! We were firing on all cylinders again. And an hour later we were packed up and back on the road.

Despite the misfortune of the faulty part, we have been so unbelievably lucky and grateful. Firstly because of the Norwegian Motorcycle Association, within minutes they had contacted several potential leads and got them to contact us as well as confirming back to us themselves. Also, during our mishap, so many fellow campers approached us with kind offers: food and drink, tools, a ride, their help, ect. Lastly but most importantly, the amazing help given by a stranger, a fellow biker, a Moto Guzzis fanatic. Not only did he live in Roldal, not only was he used to tinkering with bikes, but he was willing to spend his valuable time helping two foreign strangers fix their bike for nothing but some beers and a ride on the Guzzi. Our gratitude is endless, we hope we can repay him someday.

It is the unwritten biker rule to always help a brother out., but these Guzzi guys are another class. As Auden joked, you wouldn't get such service riding a Suzuki!

We are now in Grodas and will be taking the Guzzi in for the scheduled fork-seal repair tomorrow. Fingers crossed it won't take too long to fix.

The mc issues have really eaten into our travel time and budget. Sadly, after careful consideration we have made the decision not to ride all the way up to the Nordkapp as originally planned. This hectic ride would take over 5000km up and down, on slow roads. On the up-side we will see more of Sweden as we'll cut through on our way to catch a ferry across the sea to Finland, continuing on to Russia as planned.

Hey, it's all part of the adventure...

Some pictures of the past few days:
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Posted by The Minion 13:54 Archived in Norway Comments (1)

Exhausting Norway

Just kidding, we love Norway and highly reccomend it

Monday 22nd of July, took the bike across the road to Haugen motors to get the other fork seal replaced, as miraculously they had the part in stock! The gravel and volcanic ash in Iceland had taken its toll and destroyed them. At lunch time we picked the bike up and happily headed off to ride the trolls highway, Trollstigen aka highway 63 which snakes up a huge fjord and then down to Geringer, which if you see a tourist brochure for Norway is where they take the photo, the road then snakes up the other side and past some extremely steep peaks. It is truly spectacular and we had good weather so could admire the stunning views and many huge waterfalls. It took a few hours to complete the ride and we camped when we reached the north coast at the end, in a town called Andalsnes . Now about half way the exhaust gasket that had been temporarily fixed with some graphite and glue was no more and the bike was making a deafening noise again but worse there was an engine knocking noise at slow speed. A text from our new friend in Roldal confirmed this was not good and could possibly be fatal on this model of Guzzi if not corrected. We were pretty miserable for an hour or two as these bike problems were starting to become routine and cause constant worry. We decided to not let it get us down after having a good moan and instead bought ourselves an expensive beer each and admired the view. We decided to head back to Haugen motors in Grodas early next morning and get it fixed once and for all.
The ride early the next morning was good fun, no traffic and we road the trollstigen again and then took a shortcut and a ferry. There was constant worry in our minds that something else would now break and I kept hearing the knocking sound, not good, it was starting to ruin my day again. We made it to the workshop where the mechanic took a look, he didn't have the part in stock but tried a fix as best he could and also said the knocking sound was caused by the missing gasket and that it should go away once this has been fixed. We thanked him for not charging us for this. Thumbs up to Haugen motors. He wished us well and we headed off after a quick swim in the fresh water lake, which was great fun as it had a spring board into the icy water.
We headed off down route 15 which is breath taking...we rode for a few hours and then pulled into a campsite by the river. It was owned by a cool French guy who told us a story about when he went on a Moto Guzzi around Spain and how much he had enjoyed it. He was building some sweet cabins with fire heated outside hot tubs. I swam in the freezing river and then we had a braai with steaks and a cider each, to keep the moral up. As the bike was making a horrible noise again and was not only worrying us but it was also causing fatigue, spending the best part of 8 hours in the saddle with that noise. The roads in Norway are extremely slow going. Speed limits of 50 km are the norm. So even to do 250 km in a day can take 5 hours. Norway is spectacular and the people friendly and helpful, but for us its time to move on.
Next day we rode south to Lillehammer, saw a bike shop there and stopped to see if they could help. No parts and they couldn't do a bodge fix for us. They told us of another shop in Hamar about an hour away, maybe they could help. We rode to Hamar, same story, no can do, but there is a Guzzi dealer an hour away maybe he can help? Cool, where is he? Lillehammer! Haha we have just come from there...We then spent the night in brumuddal feeling pretty low. Nothing was going our way. The internet at the local shop was down, then the internet at the campsite was down. All we wanted was to find a bike shop that could help us, but none could. Next morning we awoke early and vowed to fix the bike one way or another.once the exhaust was fixed we could then see if there was still a knocking sound and how bad or good things were. We headed to a shopping centre and managed to get online, finally. I called some more bike shops and emailed some in Sweden. Sorry no parts, can't help. Surely someone can just weld it together? No can do. This is seriously starting to piss me off. I decide to fix it myself...
First find the dimensions of the required part...well need to know the part name or number first. In the manual it is number 6, gasket!? OK found the part number gu06123500. I dare you to try find the dimensions of this part.If you can do it in under two hours I will buy you a beer, bet you can't find it? Haha. So by some miracle we got the correct dimensions 55x49x30mm. Now all that is needed is maybe some pipe this size. We search the shops high and low, eventually find a piece of car exhaust with inside diameter of 48.5mm, curses its the closet I can find. Next we get a guy to translate the back of some glue tubes, aah this one claims to withstand 1000 degrees, mmm a bold claim. We buy a tube. Then a 2 inch clamp and a hacksaw. Things are coming together like an A-Team plan. I head to the bike in the parking lot. Its blazing hot outside, an old guy parks his car next to the bike and tools we had spread out next to it. Problems he says. Yes. He says a friend of a friend he knows rides a Guzzi and starts to call him. No answer, but thanks for trying. Back to the task at hand. First need to saw the pipe to around 30mm long. I had sneakily used a ruler in the shop and marked off the required length. Tighten the blade in the hacksaw and start cutting. The saw breaks in about 3 seconds. You freaking kidding me! I need something that has a bit more juice, I canvas the local shops, can you cut this for me? No, no and no. Undeterred I head to a hotel and see a man in a van doing some odd jobs. I ask him by any chance kind sir do you have an angle grinder? He shouts back in broken English, very busy, wait 5 minutes... he returns with the grinder and some safety goggles and says leave it by his van when I am done and disappears. Alright! No vice to hold the pipe, never used one of these before but I have seen them used on TV and in a Rammstein concert. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I plug it in and get in spinning while standing on the pipe. Hope I don't lose my big toe. In a few seconds the pipe in chopped down to size in a shower of sparks. Better cut a spare, just in case. I return to Jennifer and show her my handiwork. We start removing the header pipe from the bike engine and then smear the glue by the collection box and on the new 'gasket', bash it all in place and put the clamp on tight. Bolt the other bits back and warm the engine up for a few minutes. Test ride for ten minutes and all is good again. Just like new. Thrilled we pack up and headed east towards Sweden. Covered about 500km and all good. Also no knocking sound anymore. So we are happy as a pig in poo! We plan to order the part and get it sent to a friend in Finland and the swap it out to prevent further problems.
We camped about an hour from the border at a random campsite near a lake and had a smashing time, swimming, jumping on a trampoline, braai and just took it easy. What a good feeling, the bike was going sweet again and the sun was out, the worry was gone and we could just relax. It may sound lame but the bike problems have been around for the last 4 weeks, constantly fixing one thing for another to break and was starting to become an unwanted distraction. But we stuck together and tried to keep a good positive mental attitude most of the time and hopefully its plain sailing from here on.
So the next morning we got up early to beat the heat and set off for Sweden, we plotted a course of just going east towards Stockholm and followed random roads and signs until we ended up in Kil, thought it sounded like a nice pace to spend the night! Well it was and we survived! After swimming again and sleeping in the sun we left early morning again and covered some ground until we ended up on a big lake near Kristinaham or something like that. Very cool, secluded campsite with less people and more nature, we had to do a 50km round trip just to find a shop, got some nice steaks as things are cheaper in Sweden than Norway. We swam again, went for a walk in the forest and had a lekker steak braai. I then got mauled by mosquitoes and must have maybe 50 itchy bites, Jennifer maybe one or two. Even this could not upset me as the feeling of accomplishment of fixing the bike was still lingering.
Early start again the next day we rode to where we are now...another campsite by a sleepy lake, don't even know the name of the village, its somewhere about an hour and a bit from Stockholm. Spent the day sleeping in the sun then was about to take a dip in the lake, but the snake that came swimming out of the lillys kind of put me off. Made some toasties instead and then had a braai with some peppered bits of steak that only cost about two pound fifty but was so good it has probably been the best meal in the last two months on the road. It has now started raining on and off and we have a reasonable internet connect ion so will order the bike part and get it sent to Finland, the plan being to get the ferry to Turku then collect it in Helsinki before riding across to St Petersburg, Russia in a week or two.
So we are having fun again looking forward to our next destinations, everything else is going well and we have had awesome hot weather, although the next few days predict rain, it will still be averaging 20 degrees. We have spotted some wildlife here and Jennifer saw a wild moose. We climbed in a hide last night to try spot some deer, but made a hasty exit after discovering a beehive behind us! Hopefully post some photos of our travels later or tomorrow as batteries keep going flat. Have a good week everyone, I know we are looking forward to whatever comes our way ;-)P7221557.jpglarge_P7221559.jpglarge_P7231587.jpglarge_P7251622.jpglarge_P7251628.jpglarge_IMG_20130728_214356.jpglarge_P7271671.jpglarge_P7271644.jpglarge_P7271678.jpg

Posted by XJR1300 12:53 Archived in Norway Comments (3)

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