Since not failing to mention (already) the very late spring in Norway this year, it won’t be repeated again. Suffice to say we’ve just put the coldest March in 50 years behind us.
But King Winter will soon lose his grip. Some die-hard riders have been riding all winter, others rolled out their bikes recently. While the (vast) majority checks the thermometer and gauges snow depth and ice thickness. And wait for roads to be swept from dangerous gravel, and destructive salt to be washed away.
Soon now, one later evening, I’ll be out rolling, on a local “smallway”.
The worst roads in Europe?
Seen from a transport or logistical point of view, the roads and transportation infrastructure in Norway is a “nightmare”. A costly affair, for business and state budgets. Some time between 2011-2013, think it was, Albania passed Norway with regards to the miles of motorways, or freeways.
Considering GDP differences between the countries this might come as a surprise. Norway should have the money to provide better roads to its population. But climate, topography, overall population density and maintenance costs plays a significant part. The main obstacle however, is the human factor ,e.g. politicians.
Maintaining roads in Norway is a different cup of tea from Albania, and other countries. This year it’ll prove to be a very, very costly cup of tea. Still, much thanks to the authorities, and politicians, little happened over the past 50 odd years. Norway is a small nation with, unfortunately, political traditions to think small.
So also with roads. This however, can also be seen as an “asset”. Small roads, besides, aren’t always the poorest either.
Norway – a motorcyclists El-Dorado
Motorcyclists love “smallways”, love twists, turns and narrow passages. Roads that takes one to and through remote places, across mountains, along fjords. Given time, and opportunity, motorcyclists prefer to take the long way.
For folks like me, who nowadays ride adventure style motorcycle, the smallways spectrum is (almost) infinitely expanded, to include, gravel roads of all kinds, forest and mountain roads.
Poor pavement, bad roads is not a limitation, it is a challenge. This is where Norway has a tremendous amount of possibilities to offer. Personally, unless muddy and wet, I’d prefer a gravel roads before one with deteriorated pavement.
So, adventure where? Maybe in Norway?
As I am sure you’re aware of, Norway is a diverse country, with regards to landscape, topography and nature in general. With a population of only 5.25 million people (ref. Wikipedia) population density is pretty low. Avoid the cities and you avoid people.
Since taking up riding again in 2015, after 32+ years of absence, I’ve covered just a minor part of the country. With some expeditions over to the west coast, and fjords. Last year I started to use a service called Locatoweb, which allows you to track your routes while riding.
You can find those routes on this page, nationally as well as internationally.
The west coast, and as much the central part of the country are both good regions to start in. Before, possibly, you’d like to ride across the polar circle. Not done that with motorcycle myself. Going up along to the coast to Lofoten, among other places, is on the list.
Here are some resources you might find useful:
- Offroad in Norway (tours & rent)
- Adventure tours of Norway
- Ride Norway | All you need to know is here
- 189 Motorcycling Roads in Norway
- Trip Planner: The Norway Road Trip | Motorcycle Diaries
- The Road to Norway
- Google search results (might be useful)
- My rides and routes (ist will grow throughout the year)
Plans for the 2018 season
2 years in a row I’ve been down through Europe. Done a total of ca13.000 kilometers (8077miles) & 12 countries. If time or interest, and you haven’t read them, check out the 2016 and 2017 adventure. Tons of half decent pics, easy reading.
This year the plan was originally to do Balkan. Take Austrian Railways Nightjet with the bike, from Hamburg down to Vienna, and ride southwards via Slovenia. But a rider companion faced some challenges with the time, so I decided to postpone that till 2019.
Plan 2: Germany again to Switzerland, do mountain passes not done last year, continue westwards to the French Alps. West through French countryside, before heading back north through BeNeLux. Earlier this year, not July like the two last years.
Plan 3: stay in Norway, plan different routes and trips, and cover parts of the country I’ve not see from a two-wheel perspective. Which would include more mountains, a lot more fjords, some passes and winding roads the likes you find few of in Scandinavia. Possibly head north across the arctic circle to Tromsø. Might also include parts of Sweden as well (lots of remote gravel roads there).
Weather will decide, and me too
This is why the main plan above all plans, is to start on summer vacation earlier this year. July has turned more and more into a rainy season in EU fashion. We’ve not been too lucky with July up north either.
Below is one route I’d thought about doing. it includes almost no main road riding, plenty of gravel, mountain and forest roads, plenty of fjords with ferry crossings, and ditto plenty of mountains. Some of the roads chosen are toll roads as well.
Alternative route 1
Alternative route 2
In case I decide to split it into two, the southern/western part will look like below. Plenty of smallways, gravel and some ferry crossings.
Regardless of plans, this one I am going to do, maybe split it up, we’ll see 🙂