In a world increasingly preoccupied with throwaway materialistic things; where people are constantly busy earning money to pay for those things, or so their children can have those things;
This is the story of my dreams of travelling the world by bicycle. Because it's there. And because I dont want to die without experiencing the truly important things in life .

A sense of wonder and a sense of adventure.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Sweden and Time to Reflect.

So now I have time for reflection. After my couple days break in Copenhagen I cycled the 50 or so kilometres north up the coast to the ferry that would take me to Sweden. The coast north of Copenhagen is scenically pretty with expensive looking seaside homes. Unfortunately like a lot of Danish roads I encountered it was heavy with vehicles. It was a Sunday so maybe a lot of this traffic was weekend day trippers. The weather now ,had ,since Copenhagen , settled to fine sunny days. I took the chance on leaving the Danish capital of using a bypass to try to avoid the the main city streets as I went north. This all worked well and I arrived at the ferry without stress for the 20 min journey to my last Scandinavia country , Sweden.

The ferry dropped me off in a medium sized  Swedish city that I just wanted to get north through so that I could start my 5 day journey towards my final departure point, Stockholm.
I was stopped before heading across town by a cycle passenger also disembarking from the ferry and out of courtesy talked for ages about his quest of cycle touring one day. I thought I might regain a bit of wasted time by using his local knowledge of the city I was in to get north more quickly, but after spending ages following him and still not getting out of the wharf area I just bid my farewells , put my head down and headed inland as fast as I could. In an hour I was away from town and heading into the Swedish countryside. Another two hours saw me on smooth quiet roads the likes of which Danes can only dream about. Not another cyclist or cycle lane in sight. As in Norway , food premises seemed to pop up just when needed and invariably they would be Italian.  Pasta and lasagna for dinners fine by me. And just as in Finland, wild camping was just a matter of pulling off the road in the forests and finding a smooth ish spot to pitch the tent. In fact the countryside was very like Finland but with a moderate rolling nature to it.

I think some may have been put off touring Scandinavia by the notion that it is expensive here. But on reflection now having experienced every Nordic country and coming from New Zealand,  which is expensive, I feel that this is not the case. If you are the sort of cyclist that is happy to freedom camp at times a Nordic trip will probably cost you less than a campground tour through other parts of Europe.
On my 4 to 5 day cycle to Stockholm I freedom camped all the way, expecting to stay in a campground near central  Stockholm. My last night of freedom camping was I discovered in the morning , spent 2 meters away from a huge ants mound. The little fellas , of which there were thousands, didn't disturb me at all during the night even though they could have completely smothered the tent should they had wanted too. I was immensely grateful for that, so grateful that I gave them half a bottle of coke and a handful of m&ms.  They seemed to really enjoy the sugary treat and I thought it was a good partnership we had going.

With Stockholm in my sights I thought I had the whole thing in the bag. But didn't factor in that ;
1. The camping ground on the outskirts of the city clearly did not want to be found, by not advertising it's presence along the road as I approached , and
2. The effect big cities have on sucking cyclists in towards their Centre.
Before I realised it and even by stopping and asking locals, I had passed the campground that no one knew existed, and was headed on a non stop collision course with central Stockholm much like I had with Oslo weeks before.
No worries I thought. Map info and Internet searches showed a central Stockholm camping ground. Not as handy for the international flight home but good enough to stop me ending up on a park bench. Anyway after the predictable horrid ride into the central city the camping ground did not materialise. Darkness , approaching now at 7 pm,  put a slight pressure on , and passing a hostel sign right in the best part of town , I called in.
I don't like backpacking hostels, but a beds a bed. And I booked a couple of nights to give me a chance to search better accommodation in the following days. To this point I had effectively closed my Scandinavian circuit and had covered 7000kms. ... to be continued, the final chapter Stockholm.

Sunday, 20 September 2015


I've been cycling in Denmark now for 4 days.
The Ferry from Norway. 3hrs

The first day I cycled north to the northern tip of the country to see the seas meet and to also check out the WW 2 bunkers etc.

There are three things that at this stage in my trip I can say that I like about Denmark.
Firstly it is a very flat country. No effort is required to cycle along Denmark roads. That is unless there is a wind blowing. The wind does blow quite a bit but it certainly hasn't slowed me down. And having grown up in Wellington , NZ I'm pretty used to cycling into a gale or two.

The second thing I like about Denmark is that it is so far predominantly fine. I have had the odd shower but the sun has been out for longer than the rain has been falling. Something I failed to encounter on the east coast of Norway. My tan that I acquired in Finland is starting to reappear. I haven't though managed to get my training top off so my arms will maybe now have to wait for the New Zealand spring.
The final thing that I am enjoying here are the friendly people. But that they have in common so far with the Fins and the Norwegians.
In other respects to me Denmark does not feel like a Scandinavian country. The buildings are all made of brick giving it a more English feel.  And so far the countryside I am cycling through I would have to say is unremarkable.  If you are reading this from NZ then I could best describe it as a cross between  Foxton area and the Manawatu.  Beachside communities with wind, and pasture / grazing land.
Two other points that I have noted are that .. no its not any cheaper for a kiwi here as although things cost less per krone the exchange rate with the NZ dollars is not s good so it works out at about the same. The other point is that the cycle ways although everywhere, are just as much as a pain in the arse as cycle ways throughout the world. After following the cycle ways on my first day up to the tip and back , I thought I'd give the national cycle way no.1 a go down the west coast. Well.. I lasted on it for maybe 30kms before giving up in disbelief as I had me going round and about along forest and sand tracks and out to what seemed every deserted beach settlement.  I ditched it and started self navigating on the rural roads and within minutes had myself not only going in the correct direction but actually passing civilisation where I could get a bite to eat or a coffee and see the odd person to talk too.
The Scenery may not be Dramatic in Denmark but the Pastries are Yummy. 

Although there are more urban cyclists here, once you leave the towns you see no more cyclists than you would in NZ.  Maybe even less.
Maybe my views will change as I get closer to Copenhagen.  Time will tell. I am not freedom camping in Denmark. And this is due solely to the fact that I have slowed right down in kilometers covered a day.  I'm  limiting myself to about 130kms per day as I'm way ahead of schedule and don't want to kick around in Stockholm for two weeks. So doodling along at that rate means that although I don't get on my bike until 10am I still arrive at about 4 pm.  If I was to freedom camp I'd be having dinner at a town at 3pm and then sitting in a hedge row somewhere for hours until the sun went down. Freedom camping really only works for me when you have dinner at about 5 to 6 pm and then cycle for a few more hours , put up the tent and get to sleep. I think you really need to be doing 200 to 300kms a day for that. So it's camping grounds and hot showers for now. I'll reassess the situation when I get into Sweden.

Although I'm having to pay for camping grounds I'm not buying so much food as I'm not cycling that hard. It's all swings and roundabouts.
My next blog will probably be from Copenhagen as I will stop a day or two there to look around and do the laundry again.
Well I'm looking forward to another day of wind turbines and farmland tomorrow when I will be in Southern Denmark approaching the German border. Then it's a hard left turn for the Mercian and myself and northeast towards Copenhagen.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Three Acts of Kindness.

During my last two or three days in Norway the weather has been an absolute shocker. Apparently it's normal for parts of Scandinavia to get a lot of grey and rainy days in autumn. So I shouldn't be surprised by the weather. But where I come from the situation is reversed with calm stable weather generally in autumn and wet changeable weather in the spring. So it does take some adjusting to.
Anyway today I was chatting to the campground owners about using the drier to dry everything after last night's downpour and whether I should bother washing clothes as tomorrow the forecast is not much better and during the discussion I told them of course that I was from NZ and had cycled to the Northcape and was on my way back. They seemed interested and during the discussion we talked of Ed Hillary and how similar NZ is to Norway.

I went of then to start the washing and drying process and while fluffing my now dry sleeping bag the owners wife came in and said that the weather was going to be once again heavy rain tonight and that I could have their best room for nothing , as their guest !
What a great way to finish off Norway ! So now I'm writing this from an upstairs apartment overlooking the coast. Scandinavian people are very friendly and I think appreciate the outdoors and people who get out and make the most of it.

Just after I had received the key to my home for the night a German couple who I had talked to came over and gave me a bottle of beer. And wished me a good trip around Denmark. They were campervaning around Norway.
My third act of kindness came when I headed off to the local ten pin bowling alley for a big pizza ( because that's the only size they do) and they said they didn't have any boxes to take it away. So i said just throw it in a plastic bag and I'll get it too the campground some how.

They did that but on leaving the owners girlfriend said that she was off shortly and would take it with her in the car. Awesome !! I just had to follow along behind on my bike.
So here I am happy as a sand boy , as my mother used to say. And tomorrow I head down the coast to catch the ferry to the top of Denmark.
Thanks Norway for a trip to remember.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Norway Will Not Let Me Go Without A Drenching.

Since my last blog I have travelled south through the mountains and fjords on the west coast in lovely weather. 

Luckily for me I have seen some of the scenic spots on the west under sunny sky's.  The climbing around Geiranger was spectacular and the passes that followed. However it hasn't been without its problems. Trying t(o get to the Atlantic Coast road I had to negotiate some pretty bad tunnels in fact one of them was closed while I was in it and another was full of roadworks. Very sketchy. I met a Swiss cycle tourist who actually cycled into one that said that cyclists were forbidden and they closed the wIhole tunnel and the police picked him up , told him off and escorted him in their car out. I think my tunnel was closed for some other reason but I did not feel particularly reassured and the tunnel with heaps of roadworks inside and traffic was just plain horrible.

So anyway after making a slightly wrong turn I decided to continue eastwards over one last mountain range towards Oslo. Well, what can I say. I rode straight into shocking weather going over it with sleet and thick pea soup fog combined with strong headwinds. I came down the other side into driving rain ! The mountain just would not descend quickly enough and at an alpine town I had to buy another pair of gloves.

Norwegian mountains are formed by long gone glaciers so they are very rounded and don't drop away quickly. Whereas you can ride over a New Zealand mountain and down the other side quickly you tend to stay up in the cold zone a lot longer in Norway.
Anyway with the mountains done I thought I'd avoid Oslo as it is just another big city that traps cyclists and is hard to negotiate.  I tried with all my might steer the Mercian south of the city but I just couldn't manage it and with the odd error me due to roadworks etc I ended up on a collision course with the city that the locals told me would be inevitable.  Once you get in a certain valley in Norway then you just have to travel down it to its conclusion.  And in my case that was Oslo. 
After a long day in the saddle I had to get through Oslo as it is just too expensive to stop there in accommodation. 
I cycled out south as best as I could all the while being hindered by motorways excessive traffic and a puncture just when I didn't need it.
I managed to find a freedom camp in the back of a church ground, well more a cathedral by the sound of the bells and size of it. Feeling pretty smug I went too bed to be awakened during the night by torrential rain. 

Although this old rail trail may be nice for the locals, once again it proved a pain in the arse  for me. Once on it it lead me way off course and then just stopped without any explanation as to how to once again find the route.

Once again with wettish sleeping bag etc I broke camp and have had such a struggle getting away from Oslo ' s pull that I have only managed to get about 150km down the coast.  Nothing is straight in Norway. Travelling by bike is trying at the best of times when you can cycle  around corners for 100kms and travel only 20km as the bird flys but south of Oslo you also have to stick to the twisty coast because the bloody motorists have all the straight roads solely for their use.
I've booked into a campground tonight and tomorrow so that I can once again wash and dry stuff but I'm dreading what weather will be thrown at the little tent. The forecast is not good for the next 4 days so I may not see another fine day before catching the ferry to Denmark.
Norway is fighting me tell the end, but I will get down the coast and complete the mission in this country.
Hopefully my next blog will be from Denmark,??

Sunday, 6 September 2015

The Norwegian Sun is Shining.

The cloud has cleared and the sun is shining. In fact for two days now there hasn't been a cloud in the sky. But boy do you know it at night. I haven't been cold actually in the tent but upon waking the temperature gauge on the bike parked outside is reading 4C.  And then both mornings I have been on the shady side of fjords so have been singing encouraging songs to myself as I cycle like a frozen Popsicle until the morning sun finally hits me. O what bliss when it does. By 10am the temperature has usually climbed to 10C , my happy temperature because there's no pain anymore. And then by 12 am it's up to 14C when I take off my legwarmers and try to maintain my tan. By 3pm today we were nudging 17C !
Today while having morning tea I saw the first cycle tourist that I thought could maybe be going my speed. And he was heading south like myself. The reason I thought that we might be able to travel together was because he had roadie type kit on and although loaded heavier than me he wasn't carrying the mountain of stuff that the less experienced people always take.

Anyway I finished my breakie thinking I'd probably catch him up the road and then headed out in pursuit. Well 10km up the road was a massive tunnel, with the option of the twisty cycle track alternative.  The tunnel was 9 kms long ! And had no DON'T CYCLE THIS TUNNEL signs on it. The alternative cycle way could have gone anywhere as far as I was concerned. Like cycle ways everywhere they sucker you in and  then just leave you high and dry. They're a bit like women I suppose. You never know how it will turn out. But you keep on trying.
Not this time for me. I had serious kms to do. So into the tunnel I went and onto the next town where I had lunch. And i never saw Mr Roadie tourer again. I think he fell for the old take the cycle way and we'll lead you into the mountains and then dump you.
I cycled on for the rest of the day and I'm now camped next to the prettiest bunch of rapids. I wasn't going to stop here but once I'd taken a few photos I thought why not. I'd had an early dinner and I can make my desired distance tomorrow easily I think because I've been slowly climbing today so tomorrow should be down for a bit. ( Famous last words ).
I even fired up the primus for a coffee and I've got enough Non Stops to get me through the night.

The problem with the dampness in the little tent continues however. I thought if I slipt my lower sleeping bag in a plastic liner that would stop it touching the tent and getting wet. But now what happens is it gets condensation wet ! On these clear cold nights I get condensation in the tent and on wet nights the bag  touches the wet walls of the tent drawing in moisture ! The answer I think is a fly. I have one at home and will modify it so that it covers the little tent and my bike standing beside the tent for the TransAm next year. That should help with condensation and rain.
It's cooling off now. Brrr.  I'll have to get up later for a comfort stop and to check out if there is a Borialis thingy.  ( Northern Lights ).
Now the Norwegian sun isn't shining again. In fact last night cycling into town for dinner after a 200km day once again the heavens opened up and I sat in the restaurant soaked eating dinner thinking, " I can't be stuffed going out after this to try to find a freedom camping spot. I knew there was a camping ground in town so once I'd finished eating I went off to find it and possibly even get another cabin. Luckily for me when I got there the reception was closed so I was forced to put the tent up. And also luckily I had a 10 krone coin for the shower.

I slept well enough and it only rained lightly through the night so I didn't get soaked in the tent. Come morning the reception was still closed so I took the chance and left saving myself 120 krone or $20 NZD.  The day sunnyed up as I rode towards Trondhiem and my feet were almost dry when , you guessed it, the heavens opened up again and I got soaked !
I'd just like my feet to be dry for a day or two ! The thing about Norway is that if it's not raining then the ground and grass are soaking from the dew or yesterday's rain. So unless you wear gum boots everywhere or drive a car to places you will get wet feet. Camping and cycling shoes do not make for dry snugly feet.

I have got to Trondhiem though and I'm taking a day off to go into town tomorrow nd look around.  Because this I feel is another milestone in my trip. I am finally on the bottom half of my map. I'll now stay on this south section until I go home. I also feel that just maybe I'm in more favourable climes. I shouldn't get snowed or iced on from now on, cross fingers.
I'm way ahead of my schedule so will probably head south into Denmark before swinging around and heading up to Stockholm.
I have to say that although the cycling and general logistics of this trip have been easy on my own I really do miss the company of others. I think for achieving personal  goals on the bike such as this trip and the Transam doing it alone is good, but for travelling in general , I think it's best if it's shared.
All washed clean from a day off the bike and ready to go again.

Monday, 31 August 2015

South Through Norway

While my sleeping bag dries again I will write another blog. I rolled into Norway and after  bit of a wrong turn made it to the North Cape. Little did I know at the time that upon leaving Finland I would also be leaving the sun behind. I have lost track of the number of days that I have been in Norway but it must be more than a week. In that time I have seen glimpses of the sun in neighbouring fjords but nothing in my vicinity.
Tonight I finally cracked and shelled out for a cabin. The weather looked like it was lightening up but after 200kms of hills and rain I came off a saddle through driving rain hoping to leave it all on the summit only to find that it was waiting for me with renewed vigour in the fiord that I had plunged into.

I'm not saying that it has been raining the whole time that I've been in Norway. It's just that it seems to always be raining in the fiord that I'm in or the saddle that I'm crossing.  With the coming of hills and clouds the other cycle tourists seem to have somehow vanished to cycle gentler routes maybe or merrily sail around on the numerous ferries. I've voided all ferries so far as they take up valuable cycling time.  Today I really haven't made the distance I wanted not only due to the rain but also because I ran out of road and they put a ferry in my way. I had to wait for about 40min while they refuelled it and loaded everyone on. Just long enough to freeze my arse off.
I know the sun will come , although when I ask people when they just looked confused. "You know the Sun, yellow thing"
A brief Moment of Sun. Bicycles everywhere Celebrate the Arctic Tour.

Another delay today was having to buy another lock for my bike. Last night I left my bike outside a restaurant and when I returned my bike lock had been mangled by someone to the extent that I couldn't get it undone.  The bike shop guy said that a Norwegian would never try to steal a bike around here and I tend to agree.  But it is odd. Maybe they were drunk. Anyway I did manage to finally break it off showing that it was a crap lock anyway.
The tent I brought certainly has the advantage of being easy to erect on the smallest bit of ground. But it's really not up to west coast Norway.  I'll need to make some improvement s to it when I get home. (Like get another one) . No just joking, it needs another layer.  Either I'll use a bivy bag inside it or devise a fly. If my sleeping bag touch the side when it's raining then you get one wet sleeping bag. And since I do like to move a bit during the night , my lower self ends up sacking up moisture.
"Have a Summer Vacation in the Arctic they said, lots of skinny dipping in the fiord s ." Yeah Right.

There are a number of things that are really working in my favour in Norway though.  For one thing it's very like New Zealand s west coast. So it's like riding on home turf. The drivers however are fantastic by New Zealand standards and truck drivers..... well I could actually get to like trucks here, they have skill and are courteous! Neither of which Kiwi drivers possess.
Then there are the eating places. Up until tonight I have been freedom camping so I ca  afford to eat at fast food and hotels. Well they just seem to turn up just when you need them and they all have bike racks and wifi.
The WiFi thing however has been problematic due to the lack of sun. my solar charger has I thought been struggling to keep the tablet charged. So I have not been communicating as much as I would want too. I thought I had better save the juice just to let people know where I am once in awhile.
But then today in the middle of yet another serious hose off my solar panel went green indicating that it was fully charged !
That made me all happy inside. The Mercian has been doing her best, but someone messing with her probably upset the poor picket of bolts and then this constant dampness has been causing the transmission a bit of grief. Like me she needs a couple days of dry riding with oiling of all parts.
Sometimes You Just Need a bit of Luxury.

Another great thing about Norway is that the 6 min coin showers so far seem to last for 20 min. ! Time passes slowly in Norway.  I have refused to go onto Norwegian time. I have stayed on Finnish time which is 1 hour ahead. It means that I always get everywhere early here. I never miss dinner but I have noticed that the Norwegian s don't seem to be early risers. I sometimes have to forgo breakfast because even at 8am nothings open !
Well that's about it for now. I'm at over 3000km now and am well ahead of my schedule. Not sure what to do with all the extra time but I may use some of it to cycle through Denmark. That will make it a hat trick of all Scandinavian countries. I'll wait and see what develops with the weather.  There's really no point in stopping if it's pissing down. I may as well be on the road heading south. Once I get to the bottom of Norway I will look at shooting through Denmark ( I think it's a smallish country, checking out Copenhagen) then into Sweden and make some kind of track to Stockholm,  my final destination.
watch this space.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Heading North through Finland.

O the joys of a hot shower and the chance to clean your cycling kit. I'm one of the fortunate people out there that does not sweat much when cycling. However 5 days cycling and wild camping  is enough  even for me. And Rovaniemi provided the opportunity to clean up. I wanted to stop here because since starting this ride I had set my mind on buying a finnish made camping knife . I'd first seen them on another's blog and my friend Annika said that many Finnish people carry one when in the countryside. So I rolled into town on a glorious day , bought my knife and just pegged out literally at the camp ground cleaning things and fiddling with my bike. That is until a couple of German cycle tourists pulled into camp. As with many that I had met I  the past these two where fully kitted out, their bicycles groaning under the weight of it all. They did however give me some advice on what might be open as I headed further north.

It's really hard to leave a bit of luxury when you have it but the next day I was back on the bike for another 200kms stint up the country. I passed through Father Xmas' s village and stopped just long enough to sort out why he hadn't  delivered the Raleigh Chopper I ordered in 1975.

Cycling doesn't get much better than this and the next few days just fell into place with me arriving  at roadside cafes or restaurants just in time for breakfast , lunch or dinner. I never missed out on a meal.  Then freedom camping for the night. This is when things genuinely went a little pear shaped with me frantically throwing the tent up and securing the bike before being bitten alive by mozzies.
On one particular evening I was in a cloud  of mozzies and what looked like a thousand little white fly things getting it all together and thinking that once I had the tent up I could usual taunt them from the other side of the mesh, only to find that the little white fly things were small enough to come through the mesh. Before I realised my folly at not battering down all the hatches the little tent was full of them all walking over my sticky body!  I'm still not sure if they were biting me but the torture of the itching from the perceived biting was almost too much to bare.

There are reindeer everywhere up here and as most tourists do I'm sure I kept taking photos of them in excitement until a small herd of them almost took me out when they decided to cross the road in front of me !
The sun  and light winds continued as I headed North and then things unravelled a little as I crossed the border into Norway. Up until then I'd been following a compass bearing of northwest day after day for 1200 odd kilometers.  I knew that once into Norway I had to head more west. But the map that I had resembled little the roads I encountered. This would have been partly due to it being a 1982 printing , one my Father had used for some purpose before passing it on to me.
Anyway by the time I realised that I was on the wrong road heading  way 2 a too far east it was too late and I was committed.  I ended up on the north coast of Norway much to far to the east. And although beautiful it rained that night and my feet got wet while in the tent !
There must be something a wee bit fishy about the waterproofing down there.
Now that I was off the beaten track I had to really put my head down and pedal to ensure that I didn't go hungry as places were further apart and thin around the edges. The road too went from glass like to NZ like and I had to do some emergency maintenance on the mudguards mounts on the Mercian.  The terrain was however not NZ like. Gone were the long flat straights of Finland,  to be replaced by exposed high country.  22C  and sunny was replaced by 11 C and heavy cloud. A bid foreboding.

It didn't rain though and I am back on track and after another run of freedom camps I'm at the Northcape. And for every cloud there is a silver lining . There are so far no mozzies in Norway!  II do however miss the sun and warm temps of Finland.
Today I'm going to whip up to the actual Cape about 20km away and take some pictures. Then back to camp to enjoy another hot shower and get this posted.
Tomorrow I start my ride south ish  back down the Norwegian coast. Please come out sun!
And just an aside, I have discovered that you don't need to pollute the countryside with toilet paper in Scandi the moss is very soft.