Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Lofoten

The Lofoten should be high on anyone's list for a visit. It's stunning beauty comes second to none. Even after being almost overloaded with incredible landscapes throughout our journey through Norway, the Lofoten still have a definite 'wow' factor. The Lofoten are a series of islands situated well above the Arctic Circle, no wonder then that it's cold there most of the year. In summertime it enjoys 24 hours of daylight for about 3 months… Imagine 3 months between sunrise and sunset! In wintertime it's almost total darkness. Arctic winter nights are long… summer days too!

We were probably too late to expect decent weather at the Lofoten. Late in August, one can hardly expect 35 degrees and glorious sunshine. The weather had already given us plenty of rain over the last couple of days as we went further north and now an icy cold wind was thrown in, in an attempt to make us feel pretty miserable. It failed though. First of all our Rukka gear is amazing. We had temperatures as low as 8°C, and with that a freezing wind, yet I still didn't need my thermal liner. The Alt-Berg boots kept my feet warm and the Barkbusters proved better than expected in keeping the wind away from my hands.

But it wasn't 'just' the gear that kept our spirits up. The landscape was so unbelievably beautiful that we just couldn't help but enjoy this part of the world. Having said that, a Romanian girl we met met in Å i Lofoten, reminded us just how much difference good gear can make. She was also on a motorcycle and seriously cold. The Lofoten are a series of islands, linked with bridges to make it one long peninsula. The ride along the islands is unbelievable. We are both keen photographers and could have easily spend months here. Another thing to put on our bucket list I suppose.

At Å with Alex and Roxanne from Romania
Just before reaching the end, aptly named Å, we ran into roadworks. All traffic was blocked for about an hour, in both directions. The reason for the blockage became quite visible after about 30 minutes when a big explosion shifted a lot of rocks! The weather had turned somewhat nasty by then, so I opted to ride to the front of the queue as that section was under cover from a big concrete construction they were building. The traffic controller looked like Olaf the Viking in the Asterix comic books, but was a very friendly guy. He clearly liked motorcycles as the before mentioned Romanian girl and her travel buddy were told to come too. The rain had made the roadworks one big slimy muddy mess, and she was riding a Honda Hornet on bog standard road tyres. She made it through though; well done! Her friend had it a lot easier on a Honda Transalp.

We waited at the end of the road for the rain to clear and then enjoyed Å, rode back to Moskenes and found a campspot overlooking a beauty of a bay. We spend a great evening with our Romanian friends, like I've said many times before 'You meet the nicest people on a Honda!' The next morning the 'plan' had been to stay a day. The campground had decent internet and Mike had been unable to upload his short helmet cam movie anywhere. Quite a few campgrounds in Norway have internet but mostly so slow that uploading even a short movie would take hours. He had been trying to upload his first ride into Norway for 2 weeks now but it just stalled every time.

Some people travel BIG!
I suggested to have a look at the internet first and see if it was working before deciding to stay or not. Normally a short movie will take something like 3 hours to upload, yes three hours! Quite often it's considerably more than that too. Here it took 6 minutes… we have never seen Wifi as fast as this! Great as this meant we could enjoy the day! The weather forecast had promised sunshine and it delivered too! 

We didn't get very far though. Our first stop was Reine. A quaint little fishing village. While I was taking a few photographs a Swiss guy asked about our trip. He had lived in Adelaide, in South Australia but had returned back to Switzerland. I can't blame him as the dry Adelaide hills are no match for the stunning Swiss Alps. He had ridden a BMW80GS around the world so we talked and talked and… talked! His friend rode a Yamaha XT660 Teneré and thus found a good 'talking' buddy in Mike! Before we knew it the morning had passed :-) Lovely people.

Just as we were finally about to leave, my T100 wouldn't start… Battery dead. Well, not actually dead but the computer had decided it didn't have enough energy left in it to turn the starter motor and thus refused to operate it. I had already noticed once before that pressing the starter button no longer operates the starter motor relay these days but 'tells' the computer to start the engine. The computer then makes several checks and if they are all within specs then it will start the engine. One of those checks is voltage and the chips decided it wasn't enough… they were wrong! With a set of pointy nose pliers I bypassed the relay and the starter motor spun the engine around just fine. The computer had the last word though as it simply refused to operate the injectors and sparkplugs…! Don't you love computers… and whatever happened to the dependable kickstarter? Out came the jumperleads I had made earlier and the bike started fine.

Riding away I realised that battery number 3 was now up for replacements on my Triumph… on a bike that is used every day and long distances too, that's more than slightly ridiculous. Three batteries in less than 5 years is a new record for me, normally I get 5-7 years out of one! It charges fine by the way and no there aren't any 'leaks'. The newer Bonneville has a bigger battery, so it obviously is a problem known to Triumph. Of course a bigger problem is where do I get one this far north in Norway? I guess I better keep the jumper leads handy :-)

With the Bonnie going again it was time to enjoy more of the Lofoten scenery, as you can see in the photos there was plenty to see! All in all our visit to the Lofoten had been much better than expected. The mostly good weather payed a big part in it as clear weather gives much better visibility! Being late in the season has its advantages too: not too many camper anymore and thus quiet roads. As you can read in the next post, there was only one small damper on the otherwise great Lofoten experience!