Updated: Jun 18, 2020
As luck would have it, we got a week of vacation together this year! Our plans were pretty open. We knew we wanted to ride out motorcycles somewhere, and visit some friends in Oslo. The weather forecast was, well, a bit too wet. But there wasn´t much to do about that, was there?
There’s something very liberating about not having a set program to worry about. Spend an hour here? Why not. Meet some people with an interesting story? Brew a pot of coffee and sit down for a while. No deadlines, no alarms ringing, no line of people waiting to be helped or served. To know that we can enjoy that stunning view for another ten minutes if we choose - or ride for another hour if that seems more tempting.
Camp sites. Every evening we would search for a place to put our tent up. Riding along the road, eyes perched for the appearance of a detour - a narrow gateway to the forest. Free to choose any route, but longing for a solitary place in the woods, undisturbed by traffic and other people. We found some pretty good spots, with very little effort. With a bit more planning, we could have picked some amazing view points to settle down for the night.
Bugs. There’s gonna be bugs. Prepare! The bugs weren’t bothering us much during the day, but in the evenings things would get pretty crowded. Every evening, while setting up camp, we would be certain that there would have either mosquitoes or spiders en masse. While making dinner and getting ready for the night we would hide behind a mosquito net. It wasn’t entirely effective though, the mosquitoes seemed to love us and every night we had the itchy and scratchy show - it was still worth it though!
There will be rain. Be prepared to keep both yourself and your baggage dry. A wet motorcyclist is a cold and miserable motorcyclist. If your gear isn’t Gore Tex you’ll need to keep your rain suit handy. For baggage, we chose to use waterproof pack bags and secure them to the bike with straps. We brought a backpack for hiking, it didn’t fit in one, so two black trash bags kept that dry - not an ideal solution, but a solution none the less.
There were, of course, some challenges along the way.
Communication. Our PacTalks allow us to stay connected while riding. Or listen to music, or both. Map lady, our helper along the way, would also chime in every now and then. One challenge would be to predict when she would speak so as not to interrupt her. For the first couple of days, we would both use Google Maps to determine our route and guide us along the way. The only problem was, she would give different directions simultaneously. Telling one of us to take the third exit in the roundabout, and the other to take the second surely kept us confused.
Getting a tank bag to keep the phone or GPS might alleviate this problem on later occasions.
Inexperience. For one of us, being a new rider, brought some challenges of its own. Kenneth has been driving since he was 16, and I (Pia) only recently took my license at the age of 33. Maneuvering through traffic is not an automated task yet, and thus required a lot of focus. This meant I had less energy to carry on a conversation, and felt mentally tired a lot of the time.
“What’s the speed limit here?” Speed was also an issue. I have a tendency to slow down when insecure, which every experienced rider seems to find very annoying. What can I say, I’m not heavy-handed with the throttle.
Helpful people. Everywhere we looked, there were people looking to help us if we were lost or stuck. Customer service in the rural areas was generally a bit better than in the cities, but we were happy in the cities, too. Kenneth took a tumble down to the ditch and brought his bike with him. We were very pleased to see two guys pull over and help get it out!
In Gothenburg, Kenneth´s bike was complaining about a dry, rusty chain and our attempts to secure the back wheel evenly failed. We feared our trip had come to a sudden halt, but no. We made a quick stop to the Yamaha shop, where we met a really nice mechanic who fixed it for him. We were free to go! Thank you so much, we really appreciated it.
Where did we park again? We settled in a parking garage in Copenhagen so we could explore the city. Ten minutes after we had started walking, one of us said “how funny would it be if we lost track of where we parked?” That’s when we realised we didn’t actually know the name or address of the garage. What saved us was a picture we had taken of the bike in the garage. We knew we were likely to lose track of the bikes within the garage itself, but didn’t think of not finding the garage. The geolocation of that image saved us!
Now that we've learnt a thing or two, our most pressing question is: When can we go back to the road again?