June 27th Scary hairpins on the coast: RV44

Tuesday 27th June. I’m still staying in my cabin in Ogna Camping, on the coast, south of Stavanger, and the cabin is very nice to have. Last night it was blowing a gale. It seems very windy here by the coast and it was wet again. I sat here and I luxuriated because I wasn’t in my little tent. I have paid for a second night here. This morning I thought I would take a short ride around here. There’s a place called Tondstad. Its about 50 or 60 miles from here and the road there is meant to be good to ride. I headed off, got some petrol, on route 42 up to Tonstad –  its quite high up. About 20 minutes into the ride I could see I was riding towards really quite dark clouds and the road started to look as though it had been wet and there was a fine drizzle in the air. I did not bring my waterproofs for some crazy reason. Maybe I forgot that I was in Norway. I thought, in a slightly defeatist way, ‘right, I’m outta here if it starts raining’ but it never did start raining. I got to Tonstad which is a pretty place and then I looked at the map and could see that route 42 carries on further. The question was, shall I go back the way I came or shall I take a slightly longer route? The GPS said that it would take 50 minutes to get to a place on the coast called Flekfjord and from there, it seemed there was a coast road back up to the campsite which is north of Egarsund. I did some spirited riding and there was not much other traffic. It was really enjoyable. I got to Flekfjord and then I was routed by the GPS onto the RV44 which is a road that hugs the coast. Its known as the North Sea Road. See this link on BestBiking Roads. And that’s when the excitement really started because it – well, I had no idea –  it’s a really twisty road full of steep hairpins going up, going down with lots of traffic, like caravans going both ways, though mainly going in the same direction as me which was good. It was the kind of route where you are asking – is this corner second gear, no, its first gear? Lets not go too wide coming out of it and there was just hairpin after hairpin. I would look ahead and see this line of caravans going up at some impossible angle, high above me but actually really close. The ride was on the borderline between exciting and really scary! And tiring because there was so much of it. Eventually the traffic came to a halt – on the flat – at some roadworks for five minutes or more. I turned off the engine and then realised that I did not have my helmet camera turned on so did not record any of that amazing riding. So you will just have to take my word for it.

Once the light changed I headed off, still quite a long way back to the campsite but on a much easier road to ride. I got back here about 3.15 or so exhausted. And now I must confess my mind is on packing for the morning and getting down to the ferry terminal by about 1.30. This seems a good time even though they have delayed the ferry from 3pm till 5pm (I think) but check-in still starts at 1. I am sure we can get on the boat early. We could last time. In the afternoon the sun shines into this cabin. Its beautiful and I have the curtain open. And its lovely and warm and the little porch is great – but as soon as you step out further you are in the wind (recording now includes wind noise) and it takes the temperature down by lots of degrees. My bike is sitting there in the sunshine looking a bit sad. Its covered in mud and the tyres look a bit worn, and the dodgy GPS connection needs sorting. But it has done me well.

Stavanger in the rain to Ogna

Monday 26th June. (Warning – this is transcribed from a rambling voice recording) I’m so relieved. I’m in – a cabin again. This one has two rooms: a kitchen without a sink this time unfortunately and a bedroom with four bunks. Its old school on this campsite in Ogna which is on the coast up between Egersund and the coastline going up towards Stavanger.

Rainy riding condensed

So that’s where it is and where I am. So what about the day? I woke up at 5am and I tried to get back to sleep but of course I couldn’t because it was broad daylight and I was also worried about getting off before this forecast ‘torrential’ rain with thunder and lightning. I eventually got out of the sleeping bag at 6am and did all the normal things you have to do to get going and made a coffee, had a super-sweet cereal bar and was on the bike leaving at 8am. Now, the forecast was 9am for when the thunder and lightning would start. By 9am I was boarding the next ferry going south on the E39 and it was still pleasant but as I rode down through the eastern side of Stavanger the sky started to look grey and I pulled over to get into rain gear behind the first garage that I stopped at. And headed off, but about 10 minutes later it started to rain heavily though there was no promised thunder and lightning so I pulled off the main road again and found another garage. It was one of the self-service garages (i.e. no bossy staff to tell you to move on) which had a canopy over it. It was nicely out of the way. So I put the bike under the canopy next to a pump, got off and stayed there, looking at the rain feeling quite miserable maybe for an hour. After that time I thought the rain looked as though it was easing slightly. I rode another 20 minutes or so but it started to rain heavily again. Luckily I saw a lay by, a truck stop with a toilet and another building. I pulled off there and used the facilities all the while the rain came down even more heavily. I sat under the porch of a disused café (with a for sale sign taped inside the window) and watched a few people come and go. Throughout the whole time one big truck was parked there. I think I was there, again, for an hour. (see youtube vid)  I was trying to fight off a spiral of negative thoughts and I worked hard on imagining the rain just slowly stopping, bit by bit, and the sky brightening, maybe a little bit of sun coming out. I imagined, pictured this. And after about ten minutes I noticed a little bit of lighter sky over there. The rain almost kind of stopped. I thought ‘fantastic’. I went back over to the bike (I was worried that it wouldn’t start having been in the rain for so long – but it was fine of course) and started off again down the road toward Egersund toward a campsite with the almost unpronounceable name of Steinsnes which seemed to have lots of good reviews and recommendations and they have lots of huts – so I thought OK! I got there and parked just inside the entrance but it was busy busy with some guys using power tools to fix things. The place was noisy and busy and the people running it looked in a book and said unfortunately we don’t have cabins but you can camp which surprised me. I asked whether there was somewhere else and they said yes there is. Its 15 miles down the coast road, the road that I would have spent some time going up and down to explore. The rain had stopped by then. There was no rain at all but the skies were still heavy. They said why don’t you find an Air bnb or rent an apartment in town because cabins can be just as expensive? That was not what I wanted to do. So, I climbed back on the bike and I rode up to this place in a little town called Ogna with its own camping and caravan site. The site is off the main road – the 426 route I think -. I got here and the woman working on the reception desk said that they had just two cabins left. One is a nice cabin for four people – and that will cost you Kr1000 a night about £100 similar though slightly cheaper than a hotel. And we have another one which is not quite ready yet. It does not have a sink or running water but you can have that for Kr500. So I eagerly said I’d love that cabin. I waited a while, chatted to a French guy who lives now in Norway and then got in. It’s a sweet place. Its like the inside of a sauna with a tall ceiling upto the pitch which reminds me of the place I built in my back garden in Cambridge.

Cabin at Ogna Camping

The only thing it does not have is a sink and water but there is a large water container here which I have filled up. The washing up and shower block is quite a long walk away, at the other side of the campsite, taking about 3 or 4 minutes to walk down there. Nevertheless I am really pleased to have it so I unloaded the bike, took all the wet stuff off it, plugged in all my electronics to get charged up. I got on the bike and again and rode one or so miles down the road to a Co-Op where I stocked up on some food, some more chocolate, some beers. That felt really good – and organised. It was slightly drizzly. I got back and fell asleep on the bed. I did some laundry down in the washing block and tried to dry some of my clothes under the hand dryer. There are some little electric radiators in here with signs that say ‘do not cover’ but I have covered them with my wet clothes. And now its started raining really nastily again. My bike is sitting outside by the window and thankfully I have the cover on it (definitely a must to take travelling) strapped underneath securely as its blowing and buffeting and the rain is falling on it and being thrown off. Its horrible weather and I think of the huge difference between sitting at this table in this hut and sitting in a tent when its blowing and raining hard. Its just miserable in a little tent but this is just absolutely fine (people say rather tritely that without the lows or hardships there can’t be the highs or at least a real appreciation of the highs or of certain states). I have decided to stay one more night. And depending on the weather – my best plan is to ride to one or two particularly nice roads which I want to spend time on but really the priority is keeping dry and relaxing. So, I will see what the weather is like tomorrow. I have plenty to do here. I have food, something good to read. I am so pleased to be in this cabin when it is raining like it is outside and it is blowing a gale and the sky is just grey. I am so pleased.

I have one more full day tomorrow and Wednesday, I think it is three hours from here to the ferry port at Kristiansand. You can stay here until 11am and I think the earliest you are meant to arrive at the port is 2pm. The timing should work out well and it will be good to get on the boat. These last couple of days have felt a bit awkward because – it is partly the weather, definitely, but also that sense of not wanting to be too far from the ferry on the night before I leave. It’s a juggle because I end up doing little bits of travelling instead of long days which do bring their own kind of satisfaction. Its been good. Getting to the Arctic Circle feels like a real achievement. I wonder whether I would ever come back to Norway and go to Nordkap? It means retracing a lot of the same ground. Do I want to do it? Its still there, something that could be done (perhaps via Sweden or back via Sweden or Finland – a thought from August).

25th June South of Stavanger: Norway on another Sunday

Sunday 25th June: In the evening. Its ten past nine though it doesn’t feel that late. I’m in my tent in a campsite just north of Stavanger. I don’t know where exactly I am. But I do know that this campsite is right next to the E39. Its next to an embankment that goes up to the main road. The road goes over a bridge over a fjord and I can see a little bit further is a ferry that crosses the fjord. Again, today was beautiful riding with a couple of ferries and on one of them two Norwegian guys riding motorcycles and chatting to them which was nice. After the ferry we went our separate ways with some really long tunnels going down towards Stavanger in fact I got a recommendation from Thomas Hansen for some places to buy food on a Sunday near Bergen. He had some good recommendations, but I had already found somewhere which was by a small harbour with lots of children jumping in to the water on a warm sunny Sunday morning. I had to wait there for quite a while for this small shop to open.

No beer to be bought on a Sunday

In the end what I bought there was not bad. Riding: It got to 3.30 or twenty to 4 and I thought I might as well stop somewhere rather than run out of road to enjoy for the rest of these few days. But I know that tomorrow there is rain forecast and in fact one of the bikers told me that torrential rain is forecast with thunder and lightning.  And it makes my heart freeze the thought of it tomorrow. Its forecast to start raining at 9am and rain until 2 in the afternoon. So that has put me in an anxious mood. On the way here I rode into one campsite, very slopy and gravelly which just did not feel right. It was packed full of families in caravans (it felt more like a holiday camp than a campsite for travellers) so I rode on and have ended up in this place. Even before I got off the bike in the parking area here at Austre Bokn Camping, I was looking at my Norcamp app for places that had huts because I could see that this place does not and I could not see any sites nearby that had huts. So here I am. It is one of those in transition places that was quite traditional but the new owners who have owned it since 2021 (I know that because they have written their biography and their ‘vision’ for the site in many languages and posted it up around the site) and are making the place slightly swanky so you have to pay for everything: you have to pay for a shower; you pay to use the kitchen; to use the washing machine and the prices are up on the walls everywhere. It’s a nice place but it has got some disadvantages: its really windy which obviously you can’t blame on the campsite but its unsettling – and being right next to the traffic (the sound of a truck going by on my recording). Tonight will be another night of wearing earplugs. Not only all day but all night! Looking back I remember how odd it felt trying to sleep in broad daylight a few yards a way from a traffic embankment.

The view is beautiful – in that direction at least

But now I am really nervous about tomorrow. I really want to get packed up tomorrow before 9am when its forecast to start raining. I have an alarm set for 7am.

Camping in a windy corner

I have been looking on the map and found what looks like a good campsite. I did start looking for hotels. They were either really expensive or there was a cheap one but I realised it was cheap because you shared – it looked pretty crappy actually. So I am going to head off to this place called Steinsnes NAF camping in Egarsund. I can see from Google maps that they have cabins and I just pray that they have a cabin that I can stay in tonight and possibly tomorrow night and I was also looking on the map for places that I could shelter on the way – get off the bike, park at a shopping centre and hang out inside for an hour or so if its pouring in Stavanger, or a petrol station… somewhere just to shelter from the rain, just stand there under shelter for an hour or even two, I really don’t mind. So I have lots of nervousness about tomorrow because of the rain. The dread is nearly always much worse than doing it – but I do want to get off before it rains. Its windy tonight here. I’ve got a lovely view over the fjord. I’m on a high piece of land here on this very slopy campsite but it is pretty windy. I am sure it will be fine. Worse things have happened at sea. I got very drenched three or four days ago but its just a memory now. In fact there is something about that kind of adversity that makes you really focussed on the moment. When you are riding along and the weather is fine, my mind is going all over the place but when things are tough you are really there. So I am hoping that I sleep well. Apart from the noisy traffic the place is quiet, very quiet. There’s no noise from other people at all – just the birds, the wind and the traffic. The traffic is getting quieter too… So, this anxiety about stuff its so – its not the end of the world. Its easy to get clenched up and hunker down, look inward. Its crazy. It doesn’t help but I have made a few plans which is good. Lets see what the next instalment brings.

Norway: 24th June Saturday Alesund and Bergen

24th June Saturday

Last night, I stayed in a campsite in Alesund. Its probably the worst place I have stayed in so far on this trip. And that’s because, for a start, it was really crowded. It was urban and it was really noisy. There was a group of people partying really loudly. I’m not sure what time they finished maybe after 11.30 (which is late in a campsite because people tend to hit the sack quite early). Added to that, people arrived late at night, after I’d gone to sleep (or rather while I was trying to sleep) and a couple of groups put up tents next to mine.

On the other hand, some of the campers were very friendly. I remember talking to a Dutch man who with his wife was touring using a beautiful tepee type tent on the same small field as me and a couple of young French cyclists who were cycling all around Europe. There was another single woman on a bicycle with a super-light Nemo tent which I had seen on the internet (that make of tent – not her). It was a small group of guys on motorcycles who made the noise. I wasn’t that close to them, mercifully, but they must have disturbed the whole site. I remember I said hello to one of them when they parked their bikes next to mine. I got one response but the other one just scowled awkwardly at me. The people that run the site (young slightly fed up with the punters’ questions) didn’t seem to consider it worth their intervention. So, I have decided that urban campsites are definitely to be avoided in the future. I camped in my little tent which on this occasion was fine because it was dry.

So, today, Saturday: I set off south on the route to Bergen which I put into the GPS. It was seven hours, a big journey. I’ve been riding down the E39 and am probably about 100k from Bergen, still north of the city. I crossed with two ferries today, I think. Maybe it was three. I can’t remember. I will have to look it up! It was fun.

A ferry going somewhere

It is super easy.

For the last ferry I remember riding really fast after a car that was clearly in a hurry. I thought I’m going to keep up with them as a challenge (I usually ride in an unhurried way). I thought that maybe they are heading for the same ferry as me only they know when it leaves. But actually they weren’t and when I got to the ferry terminal, the boat had just left. But the next one was in about ten minutes. I stopped in another beautiful lay-by and had something to eat. It was so nice to have a break as last night, as you can imagine, I did not sleep well.

So I wanted a definitely rural setting to camp again and I wanted a cabin. (For the reasons I’ve already set out – more than once…). I kept riding down the E39 and found a campsite called Botnen, not far from Oppedal by a small harbour. The site is on terraces that slope down toward a fjord. Its on lots of levels and there’s a variety of accommodation. I really like it. The slightly fusty couple running it don’t speak much English, if any. And when I asked if they sell beer in their little shop they had no idea what I was asking about – or at least they made out that they didn’t. (its as if Norway becomes some old-fashioned religious country when it comes to drinking alcohol or going shopping on a Sunday) Anyway, I am in my cabin now and if I look down I can see the fjord. It’s a beautiful evening, a long evening as all evenings are here of course. Interestingly, there’s a bit of accommodation down there by the water with four motorbikes parked outside with Swedish plates. So, thinking about last night’s campsite I’m wondering ‘are these going to be four guys making a lot of noise late into the night?’

Oh no more Harleys

I am so pleased to have got here. It was a long day riding. I got here after 6 and I had set off at about 10am. It was a big day of riding without much stopping. Now, I must relate a story about petrol. I got really worried about running out of petrol. (I had thought that the KTM790 can do 200 miles on a tank – but actually it is quite a lot more but exactly how much more I have never tested.) Of course I needn’t have. I found a rather shabby looking couple of pumps, certainly not a large brightly lit chain like Shell. And there is no one working there of course. I just could not get the petrol pumps to work. I moved my bike from one side of the pump to the other then back again. Then I discovered, of course, that there is a little machine that you put your credit card in. I’ve been doing that from day 1, but for some reason I had been so wound up about running out of petrol that I didn’t see it. Then when I did, the machine said that there was an error – which had never happened before. The error was in Norwegian of course. And there was a hand written sign taped up to one side of the pump that I could not understand, of course. When I looked at my bank app on my phone I saw that it had been charged 110 pounds or Euros for absolutely no petrol and then I repeated the process and I did manage to get petrol and then another £110 seemed to be charged to my card plus the cost of the petrol separately. Hopefully that just disappears after a short while (it did).

I was frazzled but I unwound as I rode. The weather was beautiful, ideal, 23 degrees, hazy sun, bright sun sometimes, lovely road, a bit of traffic but really lovely riding. What I did not do was find a supermarket open to stock up on beers and other things because tomorrow is the dreaded Sunday which shows that I have been here for one week. Supermarkets are not open on Sunday so it is harder to buy food and drink but I think I have enough to get by… I hope I have. So, I am feeling huge relief, tired but very pleased to be in this cabin and looking forward to getting a proper night’s sleep tonight.

testing Waymark map

Testing Waymark - coming home from Norway

Norway going south: June 22nd

Thursday 22nd June: Its Thursday and I am staying at a campsite called Hogkjolen Fjel Fannrem. Its located on the E39 to the west of Trondheim on the way to Alesund which is where I want to end up tomorrow night. Last night up on the E6 in a town just south of a town called Mosfjelt(?) was my first night of hiring a hytte – a cabin – which cost Kr400 – about £40. It was a cute little place. It had a fridge which I didn’t expect. It had lights. It had a mattress on the bed and a small cooker and a kettle. All in all it was fantastic. As I wrote earlier, it was the perfect space between staying in a swanky hotel and camping in my small tent which is the other extreme. I’ve been buying smaller and smaller tents in order to be lighter – because ‘light is right’ – right? Have I already said this but, being in a (small) tent is alright when the weather is dry but as soon as you add in rain, the whole thing becomes almost untenable (maybe a slight overstatement but it becomes extremely awkward) as you squeeze round and try to take off motorcycling clothes and boots in this small space. When the weather is questionable, staying in these huts is the perfect answer. Its almost an answer made in heaven. For example – no, lets start from today. I knew when I stayed in that hut last night that it was going to be raining in the morning and that it was going to start raining at about 8am. So, the bike was outside, of course, I was safely dry inside. The bike was covered up with the Oxford cover I will now always take with me travelling. And it rained right on cue at 8 o’clock. I dithered, eventually packed up. The rain was not heavy but it was more than a drizzle and I left though I wondered about leaving a little later. I think I got on the road by about 9.50 in the end. It was raining but I was in wet weather gear and it was OK. I rode for an hour, maybe more like two hours. What made things start to go downhill was when big trucks came thundering in the other direction. They cause so much spray and splash. Usually I can move over when I see them coming to the side of the carriageway to get away from the worst of it but one particular truck – maybe I didn’t move fast enough or maybe there was a particularly deep puddle but I got drenched and from that point my legs felt wet. Somehow they had got wet. I thought that this good quality wet weather gear (made by Klim) is fine but it has its limits or perhaps is starting to weaken. An hour later I stopped at a roadside diner – not a fantastic place but fine for the purpose and had a coffee and a strange cake. I sat at a table by the window and looked out rather despondent at the rain falling heavily by now. And in the end I just had to go back out and get back on the bike in this heavy rain. I headed off, continuing south on the E6 and I was thinking things like (the Buddhist mantra) ‘everything is impermanent’ and ‘it can’t rain all the time’ (after the song by Jane Siberry) and for a flicker of thought I thought: this is a privileged moment to be in the middle of suffering and to have this opportunity to think through these things. And I rode and maybe an hour later the rain stopped. I was going south and then eventually as I got further south, the sun came out! So I stopped at a roadside picnic spot and had a roll and some orange juice sitting on their benches. I think I kept the wet weather gear on – I can’t remember but I certainly felt a huge relief. Then I continued south, riding around Trondheim where they are doing huge roadworks and it was the kind of time that people are leaving work: lots of traffic, queues of traffic, lots of tunnels. Eventually I got around Trondheim and took the turnoff from the E6 to the E39 which is the road that goes right around the coast on this west part of Norway. This is a beautiful part of Norway. I gave myself a cheer in the helmet for getting on to this new road: having gone up the E6 and then back down the E6 and now I was doing something different.

At this point I put a random campsite into the GPS because I wanted it to route me round Trondheim to the right place to get onto this particular road. Then, maybe it wasn’t the same campsite that I put in but I stopped by a wide gravel drive off the main road towards a big site – where I am now. You could not call this place pretty but it is sprawling with gravel tracks everywhere. There’s even a mechanic’s garage just at the end of the drive where my cabin is planted where people are working on interesting looking vintage cars. The man that runs the site in the office is an older man who was interested in my motorcycle travel and showed me maps and some nice routes that he recommended, all of which I have forgotten and he showed me down to this hut. (That’s what I like about these old school campsites – that the people who run them seem genuinely interested in your travels.)

Drying in the sunshine

This is hut number two in my travels. This hut has four beds in it – two bunk beds. It has a small kitchen with basic equipment and a veranda with a small table and chairs. The sun has been shining in making it beautiful and warm. I have all my wet clothes spread out, drying in the sun. The only thing that has not dried yet is the sheepskin (on the seat) which was soaking.


Why do I like this campsite? I think its partly because it has a variety of people staying. There are people who are travellers. There is a German couple in the cabin next door who are travelling on two GSs, then there’s another German couple on one GS over in a tent (interestingly they had packed up and left before I event ventured out the next morning). There’s also some interesting looking vehicles around. Its definitely not one of those sites where all you see are Dutch families sitting around all day outside their huge white motorhomes. It seems much more to cater for people who have a different idea of travel. Interesting. I like it. I’d come back. And (I keep saying this) I really like the hut formula. I’ve been to two sites now and they have had huts available. I haven’t been turned away. 

Here’s a quick gear review: the bike is doing fine. A lot of riders are on big GSs here – which, of course, I don’t have any more. However, what my bike does not have is fantastic weather protection because I fitted a rally style front end and screen onto the bike. The original screen was actually better at keeping the wind and rain off so it is self-inflicted. I wonder whether a clip on screen extension would work, though perhaps it would look out of place. The helmet is fantastic. It is definitely water tight. I would know it by now if it wasn’t. Water runs off the visor quite nicely. Now that I no longer need to wear glasses, I’ve not been wearing sunglasses but have been using the drop down sun visor which I can, with a struggle, put up when I go into a dark tunnel and some of them are very dark and then down again when I emerge back into the sunshine. That works very nicely. The GoPro Hero 11 seems to work well though it runs out of battery at unexpected moments. It’s the same with my ‘B-roll’ camera, my Sony FDR – the batteries seem to suddenly go from ¾ full to being flat. Tomorrow my route is over to Alesund to pick up the rest of the route of the Motorrad tour and perhaps I will follow that round to Stavanger. Its Thursday and I don’t need to be in Kristiansand until next Wednesday. I did not realise I had so long so I can really take my time on this. It seems like there is a bit of rain coming but its not continuous – unlike when I looked on my iPhone app: the weather in the place that I left this morning is currently rain and its going to rain all night, all Friday, all Saturday and stop early Sunday morning. Whereas down here it’s a much more mixed picture. So, obviously, you have got to be prepared for rain in Norway and I think you have got to be flexible enough to do some dodging and diving in your route to avoid it.