Well, this was just another crazy idea from us, to do a 'short' ride to the North Cape, with new bicycles, with a type of bicycles we'd never cycled before, with a distance of 6000km for we got only 100 days and, as usual, we were totally out of shape again. Yes I complain, we are a little bit crazy. But before I start to write down about our journey to the North Cape and back just let me give you some background information, how this idea come to the world and why we did this time with another purpose too and not only for our pleasure alone.The North Cape
Our Route to the North Cape and back
The idea for this tour was born in Spain where we staid overwinter in 2010 to 2011. For the next autumn we already got in plan to stay in South Korea again and from spring to autumn 2011 we would have been spend our time in Germany. But in Germany actually we got nothing really important to do and so we thought, instead of losing our precious time their we probably can do some travelling instead. Well, we did not need a long time to think about this idea as a matter of fact we both like travelling very much and so the decision for travelling again was set very soon. Now we got around 3 months time that we could spend for it and by overlooking for a destination, both we were in mind that this time we should visit Scandinavia. Mun Suk then, by the way, was so keen that she said: "and if we go to Scandinavia then we have to visit the North Cape". By keen I mean that our way of travelling was planned as usual, by bicycles and so to have the North Cape as our destination this indeed was very keen. I explained it to Mun Suk why it is a little bit tough to have the North Cape as destination, but she was really tenacious with her idea, so I only said to her: "WOW for me fits this destination quite well". And afterwards I realized that Mun Suk wasn't the only one who took this destination a little bit to sloppy because at this time both we got in mind that we should have to start and cycle directly from Germany on. But later more to this part of the story. Now at his point we got only a small problem in mind: we got no bicycles with us, not in Spain and neither in Germany. Our old travelling bicycles are hunger for us in South Korea. There we let them before on our last trip because we thought, that we would have no greater use for them in Germany this time. Shi....... (Sorry).
My first intention then was, that we should buy some new, but cheap and basic bicycles for us, from an internet store our a supermarket. But by searching the web I realized very soon, that this isn't an easy task to do, because still our body size isn't made for a standard bicycle that you can get off the peg easily. And then, by handicap, I saw these gorgeous looking ones. Never I thought before that I would have a bicycle like this even before I'd made my jokes with it but now, with the first stumble upon I was in love with it. The picture of the offered bicycle I spotted on eBay an the bicycle was a tadpole or also called, a tricycle or recumbent bicycle (a tadpole is a lying bicycle with three wheels, two in the front and one in the back). But even with so much love in it there was only one small problem, the price was quite far from what we thought about to spent for some so called temporarily bicycles. So I thought Mun Suk would call me a crazy stupid spendthrift, that I like to pour our money down the drain but to my surprise, she was falling in love with them too. So both we struggle for a couple of days, said in Shakespeare's words: "be, or not to be". To make it short and as I mentioned it before, we are indeed a little bit crazy. So we decided to risk it and to do this journey with this breathtakingly sexy bicycles.Tadpole - tricycle - trike - recumbent bicycle (many different expression for that kind of bicycle)
After that we decided to despoil our bank account, to get these tadpole bicycles, beside we where thinking that this time we should do something different with this or on this trip. By different I mean that this time we thought about not to ride only for our amusement alone, no, this time we would like to benefit others too. As Mun Suk is a very proudly girl from Gangneung, South Korea, we found vey soon a project who is worth to get some volunteer help from us. PyeongChang who lies close to Gangneung, tried for the third time to get the Winter Olympic games and the people their where really ambitious with this idea so we thought it would be good for them if we do beside a little of advertising for them on our trip to the North Cape. That a German, what I am, do help a competitor because Germany besides also was a competitor for the Winter Olympics in 2018, sounds a little bit queer. But when I saw, how motivated the Koreans are and I mean by this not only the officials from the Olympic committee, as in fact it was in Germany at this time, so there was no question for me that I proudly like to support Korea too. So we got in contact with the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Committee in Korea and asked them if the have nothing against to our support but, as we expected, they where happy that we do something like this for them. They sent us then a small package with stickers with a logo of PyeongChang as a Winter Olympic Candidate for 2018 and we took these with us on trip and gave them as a present.
In April 2011 we'd arrived back in Germany, and here we could obtain our new tadpole recumbent tricycle bicycles (please let me name them only tricycles further on). We just then made with them a 5 km short ride, to check if everything is o.k., did some smaller adjustments and then I disassembled them totally and stored them in our car. First we thought that we would start in Germany to our tour but when I'm done a little bit more of tour planning I realized that if we would start in Germany the total length of this trip would be to long. Would we have started in Germany we would then had to ride every day around 140 km, without a day of rest. This was, beside that we where totally untrained with only fluffy muscles on our legs, far too much what we could do. So first we extended the time for this trip by a few days more but even with this we could only reduce the daily amount of kilometres down to 120 and this still was quite to much so with no other chance we reduced the amount of the total kilometres by reducing the tour. I'm mean still we got our destination, the North Cape but the starting point moved more and more to the North as in the end we could get an average of daily kilometres where we could deal with it. So it came to our starting point in Denmark, to have an daily average of around 70 km and therefore I packed all of our tour stuff in our car (a old Volvo V40 Kombi / estate car / station wagon) to get there. With all the luck I was happy not only to get these two tricycles in there, no, also two B.O.B. trailers, our clothes, the bicycle panniers, a tent, two sleeping bags, some food for the tour and all the camping stuff who is needed on a trip like this. Our space in the car then was quite limited and the sitting comfort was reduced to a limit, but so we started and we where really happy, that no police car watched after us on this road trip.Mun Suk + Eric with their new tricycles
The 8th of May was our day that we finally started to our adventures journey to the North Cape and the first day was quite easy. We cycled only 40 km in Denmark before we crossed over with a ferry from Helsingor (Denmark) to Hesingborg in Sweden. But haven't I told you how crazy and stupid we are, I mean that we started without any training to this excessive journey. Well, normally that wouldn't have been a big deal because we could have been started very slowly with short distances, and with the time we could have push up our daily kilometres level, by the strengthening of our muscles. But this time that wasn't the way how we could deal with it because this time the available amount of time was strictly limited, our flight to South Korea already was booked, so we had to deal with distances of 75 km each day no matter what we did found on them. So muscle soreness was with the beginning of the 3rd day our steady companion for the next 30 days.Every beginning is difficult - muscle soreness inclusive
This was pure hell and I believe that our excessive exercising wasn't even very healthy for our muscles too. And the hardest part of it was the night time. Here we felt asleep immediately because we where so exhausted, but after 10 minutes asleep we wake up again because then our muscles started with a very unpleasant pain. The pain in fact started every time when we lied more then 10 minutes still, so the only help was that after every ten minutes we ad to move our bodies again and again. Not really a god way to have a relaxing night time.
As I wrote, normally we would have shorten our daily distance or even rested more to avoid these kind of unhealthy muscle soreness but this time not only our daily distance rate was preset by us before, no, also we got an appointment in Stockholm and there we had to be in 12 days. We planned before that we should visit a international event there, that was held for Korean orphans who got adopted in Europe and so no resting days where possible for us before.
If we would have known that this event in Stockholm wasn't like that as who it was proclaimed to us before: they told us that around 3000 participants will join this event and it would a good idea if we drop by and make some promotion for the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang 2018 there. But when we arrived, not 3000 participants was there only 200 of them and nobody of them took notice of us not even the organisers who where in contact with us before. Indeed it was a little bit frustrating after all, the only good thing about it was, that now we had made a good progress on our trip and so we could rest now for two days.Impressions from Stockholm
We explored a little bit Stockholm and afterwards we were back on the road again. From now on the orientation was quiet easy, the only thing we had to do is heading north. But first we had have to cross Stockholm and that was a little tricky task to do because for our orientation we only got a 1:4.000.000 map with us. Not a really helpful scale to cross a heavy traffic capital city by bicycles and indeed it was a little bit stressfully. But after some kilometres further north and away from Stockholm the traffic got quiet calm. And now after a couple of days the traffic got even so low that we indeed missed this kind of interruption after a while because from on, now the only distraction what we had were trees on the right and on the left side of the road. After wintertime in Spain (Costa Blanca) where green trees or plants are really rare we enjoyed our first days in Denmark and Sweden really a lot, to have all these green nature around us but after a time, around a month or so, we lack of something different a bit of variety. Fancy, isn't it because both of us like trees normally a lot.
And after we got bored a little bit by all these trees another exception joined our situation. Far as north as we were now we thought that it would get colder and colder more north we came but now the opposite was the reality. Now we had to deal with an unexpected temperature of 30°C. and this made us sweat a lot. These abnormal high temperature were lasting many days and now Mun Suk regret here idea with the visit of the North Cape. Even here motivation sank to such a low limit that I was aware that she would like to cut this journey short. Trees, trees and even more trees
First I could calm her temper down but as we came more further north, now even a new mess were added. First there were only a few but then within a view kilometres more there were thousands and then millions of bloodthirsty mosquitoes. It looked like that these monsters only awaited us, as indeed there was nobody else around. This now was too much for Mun Suk and she was very close by of striking and not willing of riding more further forward and I was up the creek without a paddle. So I got the idea to make a small shortcut by taking the train for the next kilometres, in the hope to find a cooler area there with less mosquitoes. After a short arguing with Mun Suk she accepted my plan and so we took for the way from Vilhelmina to Galliväre, for a distance of 460 km, the old traditional Inlandsbahnen train. With this short cut our hope for a more adequate temperature got fulfilled only the hope to escape the mosquitoes too was still a dream the we got left.Mosqitoes everywhere - down under the outer tent roof
…well, not really a perfect protection but at least the nose and the ears stay save
Up's, I forgot to tell you how we put up for the night. You have to know that in Sweden, as in other Scandinavian countries too, they have a regulation that is called 'Allemansrätten'. Even in Sweden this is not only a right there it is even a law. These 'Allemansrätten' gives everyone the right, to cross or stay or camp free in nature, even when it is private land. In Wikipedia the English word for the 'Allemansrätten' is 'freedom to roam' or 'everyman's right' that implemented a 'general public's right to access certain public or privately owned land for recreation and exercise. The right is sometimes called the right of public access to the wilderness or the right to roam'. This circumstance of the Allemansrätten were just right for us so we could camped easily outside on many places. When we want to camp close to a house, I mean every time we tried to hold a distance more than 100m, we asked the owners for allowance even sometimes then when it wasn't necessary. So this kind of law or privilege is very helpful and a good thing to have so I asking myself, why other countries do not have the same right.Allemansrätten live
At the 18th of June 2011 we crossed the border from Sweden to Finland but in Finland the distance that we had to ride was very short so we staid there only for 3 days. There was no big difference between northern Sweden and Finland, the mosquitoes were here as same as hungry as in Sweden only the currency in Finland was the same as in Germany, the Euro. For the Euro possible the prices in Finland were quite higher than in Sweden but our time there was quite short so we can't speak in general for this. At the 20th we arrived in Norway and there, after a short while, we really cold notice some changes. Very soon the scenery of the landscape went from a closed forest area to an open tundra area. Only the weather now got more unstable and our sunny days were mostly gone. But even with some rain showers we felt to be freed, from the enclosure of the woods around us and Mun Suks mood gained some new highs. The diversification in the scenery was good for both of us and so we cycled the rest of the kilometres to the North Cape very encouraged. At the 28th of June finally we reached our main aim the North Cape. HURRAH!!! At the North Cape
Well, our story doesn't end with this goal achievement but I try to get the story short. At the 7th of July we heard that South Korea won the competition for the Winter Olympics 2018 and we were really happy to hear this. Even the owner of the camping place, where we staid at this time, came to congratulate us and furthermore, she brought us a small present too: two delicious cupcakes.
Advertising for PyeongChang 2018
Our actual plan then for the route was, that we would ride down the coastal side of Norway down to Trondheim and from there we would cross again overland to Sweden and from there, with the shortest road, back to Denmark. But now, in fact for the tree-phobia, both of us weren't be so eager to cycle again in Sweden, even if it would be easier to cycle there. So after a short searching on the map and on the Web we decided, to cycle down more on the Norwegian coastline down to Bergen and from there we would take a ferry back to Denmark. Our new route plan looked quite good practicable and indeed we really enjoyed our ride down the Vesteralen and Lofoten with their astonishingly, breathtaking and indescribably beautiful landside. We even enjoyed that a little bit to much, I mean by the time that we spend there, so further on the road we had to speed up then for this delay. To cycle a Norwegian Fjord that means step up and downs and a long slope around the Fjord but sometimes, and south of the Lofoten it even got more, we had to cross a tunnel. The short ones of the tunnels weren't a big deal for us but some of them got very long and a crossing of a long tunnel, which is made only for car using, isn't a nice job to do. On the Route 17 there are quite a lot of them and some of them are close in dangerous condition for cyclist. The lights inside these tunnels can be very dense, the lanes are narrow and there are no cycling paths or shoulders. Strong nerves are necessary to cross them.
Norway was indeed a highlight for us on our North Cape Tour and, as I wrote above, we enjoyed it indeed a lot to be there but then, after crossing many tunnels and by the fast changing of the weather conditions too and by the way, that we were short in time, just on a junction I stopped and asked myself first, where we should ride further on. To the right on the so far planned route or to the left, to Mo i Rana and from there with a bus or train to Bergen? This idea just came across to me direct on this junction in an blink of an eye, and after this question still was unanswered for myself I asked Mun Suk what she thought about this idea. It took not long for he decision and so both we agreed, that it would be better first to cycle to the city with this fancy name and then with another shortcut to Bergen.Rainy days…
...and tunnel crossings
Sorry, I could write more and more further on because there is so much to tell but by not stressing you to much with to much text I try to get it short (Sorry I already mentioned it before). So the first what we could figure out in Mo I Rana was, that there was no direct bus or train to Bergen. The only possibility to get to Bergen was first by taking a train close to Oslo and from there with another train then to Bergen. Well, Bergen must be a very nice city to visit but first to ride close to Oslo with a train and from there up again to the north to Bergen was a stupid idea.
So logically then we decided to take a train directly to Oslo. First it wasn't easy to get on this train, because there was only one possible train for us, at midnight, that we cold take with our bicycles. This train stopped in Mo I Rana only for 5 minutes and on the first what we tried at the 21. of July we couldn't take because the train conductor did not allow us to get in there. There was a nearly empty baggage wagon, perfect for us, but this conductor where pissed of by another passenger before and while we got no reservation he was unwillingly to let us in. So we thought what an ass-wh.. (Sorry, because normally the Norwegian people are a very friendly folk and helpful too and even forehand on the station they told us that there would be no problem for us to get on this train) but as we notice later what happened at the next day in Oslo, this miserable bomb attack and the massacre at the island Utoya, we were really happy that we couldn't take this first possible train. If we could have taken this train probably we would have been very close to this area at this time when the bomb attack happened. And on the opposite side too we met the next day in Mo I Rana very, very friendly and helpful people, so that we staid there even a little bit longer (and thanks to this newly short cut again now we weren't anymore short in time). In Oslo we arrived at the 25th of July (3 days after the bomb attack) and to our surprise the city was overcrowded with people. Most of them came with a flower in hand that they laid them down in front of a church or as even on many other places in the city. With this they showed in a very peaceful way their condolence for the victims. Oslo under shock. All over the city there where flowers laid down for the victims who left their lives
Two days later at the 27th we were on the ferry back to Denmark. Now we got enough time for the rest of our cycling trip so that we decided to make a little bigger loop in Denmark. We expected an enjoyable ride, on flat roads with good weather. And indeed the roads in Denmark are very flat and our first days there the weather conditions where superb. Only one thing we missed there and that was the Allemansrätten. Denmark, still a Scandinavian country, unfortunately has no such right and the camping places there are very expensive. So we were worried that our budget would get ripped off very soon but then we saw, that in Denmark they have instead of the Allemansrätten some so called shelter places. On most of these places it is allowed to camp free and this was indeed a great help, in fact that the ordinary camping sites count to the priciest in the world.Shelter Place
At the 15th of August 2011, exactly after 100 days, we were back where we started before and finished our great bicycle North Cape Tour.