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End of shakedown – lessons learned

Alright. So after the thing with the horse-horse vs the iron-horse, we went to my dad & stepmoms cabin in Ålo, near Mandal. The shakedown was coming to an end and we just needed a short pitstop on our way home. At the cabin we got to meet Scott and Julie, a couple that became friends with my dad and Vigdis as they all crossed the Atlantic last november in the ARC regatta. Great people and full of adventure traveling experiences. Amongst the advices where “blue” and “pink” jobs,- a kinda pre-trip agreed work distribution.

The next day we headed towards Bersagel, and got trapped in the most ridiculous rain storm, spiced with wind and a LOT of thunder and lightening. A few things  where learned about our Touratech Companero suits: they are GREAT. The amount of water that came down would have soked through any other suit I’ve tried. 3 hours of this with no adittional protection and we still where nice and dry. HotStuff used the expression “it’s so nice and cosy in here” about the Companero suit in that horrible weather. Very happy about it.

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We also got to test the “blue job / pink job” principle, when we on our way to Bersagel stopped at Ålgård for groceries in another epic rushour extravaganza. (it’s the time of the year when everyone looses their minds and run to the hils to participate in the anual “gather the sheep event”. The following video represents my feelings on this subject..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlYlNF30bVg

As we tried to weave our way through this trial-armageddon Tonje decided to park her bike, horisontally, in the middle of the road. Then, with the attitude that clearly signaled “what the hell are you looking at?!?” she just walked off towards the store. Via our scala helmet intercom she curtly told me: “YOU. DEAL. WITH. THIS!”

So, this is a “blue job”.

Later that night, Tonje poured beer and helped my soon to be mother-in-law to cook dinner. This is a “pink job”, apparently.
I’ll get the hang of it. I’m sure. Not to worry. Do I seem worried?

Saturday came along as day 16 of our shakedown, and we returned home. Our giant apartment where turned into a place of wet tents, tarps, sleepingbags and riding gear..

So much fabric. so little space. Spent 30 minutes looking for my bed

So much fabric. so little space. Spent 30 minutes looking for my bed

A technical control of our rides showed 1 dented panier (Tonjes left side), the heel protector on my bike, left side, broke off. New part has already ordered, both for me and Tonje.

This is what the heat Shield looks like now..

This is what the heat Shield looks like now..

This is what the heat shield should look like...

This is what the heat shield should look like…

Also, one of the bolts that held my crashbars on the bike where just gone. The same bolt on Tonjes bike where a little loose, so I took that to a specialist, “Skrue Gården”, and got the right one to mach. Then ad som threadlock and we’re golden.

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Finally, we discovered that we brought a few very heavy items. Like the Security chain that weighs more that all the tools I brought and where never used. And the tools, that where used, and is just what is needed, but WAY to heavy. Gotta find a way this winter to cut that weight without loosing the tools. The termos that holds 1 liter, will be replaced with one half the size. And finally our sleeping mats will be severely upgraded.

But all in all the shakedown was a success.

 

Now focus is shifting a bit and we both dive into wedding planning. 😉

 

Day 5 – Back country Telemark. And gravel-surprise!

Wow! What a day!

Today we again packed everything (it’s a LOT) and left the company of good friends. (We needed to get new earplugs for Tonje and went to Alna senter for the Clas Ohlson there.  This was the only item we forgot at Alna 😉  )

We had a vague plan of going to Bø, Telemark today but didn’t want to drive on the major roads more than we had to and so zipped to Drammen first and then plotted a proper scenic route.

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This way I got real familiar with the GPS, a Garmin Zumo 660. We agreed on and I plotted a route that would take us the long way from Drammen to Notodden and then on to Bø, Telemark. We avoided all major roads and almost drained the Scala Rider intercom system due to HotStuff happily chirping along the lines “I LOVE THIS PLACE”,- THIS IS AWESOME”,- and other indicators that she was enjoying herself 🙂

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Once we rolled into Notodden, the GPS battery died. So the time had finally come to figure out how to hook up the GPS to the CanBus. Woho! Tool-time!

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While I played mechanic, Tonje, the Extremely Lost Biker, took care of grocery shopping and made sure we had proper dinner, breakfast and lunch.

Rolling out again, bad roads became worse and at some point HotStuff thought her ride was broken. Turns out Telemark still has a long way to go regarding road-maintenance.          This became even more obvious when the poor tarmack became a 9-10 km of loose gravel. There was a bit of cursing and  borderline panic, but it all soon passed. In May 2013 I went on a 2 day gravel/offroad course by Touratech Nordic Offroad School. This came very handy and was passed on as we rode to Tonje. Soon she was riding standing up on the steep curvy gravel roads and chirping happily away.

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I was, and still am, so proud I have a hard time containing my self 🙂

Especially since she don’t have a license yet, and riding standing up on gravel is very counter intuitive. Yet once you’ve done it there is no going back.

Later we found a quiet camping site, had our first camping night together with all the bells and wistles.

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Last thing in the agenda was attemping to fit the panier locks on one of 8 clasps. Success, but a bit of work.

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Today, day 6, I blog while charging my cell and the intercoms with a solar panel. Good times!

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Our chosen picture of the day 🙂

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Day 13 – Swapping the Iron-Horse for a Horse-Horse

Day 12 came around and we left Kragerø and headed towards a campsite near Arendal, right on the riverfront at Nidelven. Very nice, and very vacant due to september being out of season.

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First night was very cold, and HotStuff and I had to break out a lot of wool to keep warm. The morning greeted us with a lot of morning dew, and some condensation between the tents standard bathtub-groundsheet and the extra one we brought to avoid condensation on the standard ground sheet… ugh.. Some adjustnemt was made to the tightness of the tent, the number of tentpegs, etc. We also discovered that the place we decided to pitch our tent was the only one where the sun would not shine until after 11 am. Inconvenient that.

Day 13 morning, and due to the brilliant tent-placement we decided to have breakfast by the riverside.

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As I enjoyed my morning coffee Tonje made a few phonecalls and before I knew what had happened “we” had decided to go to a a rather large local stable where we could rent horses. HotStuff has spent her youth around horses, so second nature to her. Me,- not so much. My only previous experience was 30 years ago, 30 minutes on an old mare who knew the way and kinda just took me along.

Yet, how could I say no? HotStuff said yes to the world-trip, then to my proposal. So.. horsies here we come..

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HotStuff getting my horse-monster..

The endeavour was started by grooming and befrending the horse-beast. I’d like to think that equal distrust turned into mutual lack of unease. I imagine the horse-beast thought “oh great, another noob!”

But as they say; who dares wins!

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I'm here for your 12:30 grooming. No need to be alarmed..

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Lift. Foot. Higher..

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Woho. Cooperation..

Next HotStuff swung into her saddle, and I crawled into mine. We got underway into the gravely trails and I tried to figure out how to control this horse-beast.

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Where are the controls? Handlebars?

Tonje gave me a crashcource in how to hold the reins, how to sit, how to start, how to stop, backing up, right and left turns, rythm, and how to park it (the horse horse).

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HotStuff comes back to collect me and the beast

I had to readjust from riding an enduro bike, and Iron-Horse to a Horse-Horse. Really a lot more fun then I expected 🙂

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River-crossing pro

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River-crossing intermediate

Turns out that riding a Horse-Horse is a lot about cooperation, while riding an Iron-Horse is just physics.

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Boy got skillz, now at least

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Horse-Horse vs Iron-Horse

We had a great time, so much that I’d easily do it again.
Next year we’ll be in Mongolia in July. Major horse-country. Should get another chance there 🙂

And I’m sure we’ll get an extended similar vacation in the future. Vague plans are already on the drawing board.. 🙂

Day 10 & 11 – Farm life

Day 10 HotStuff and I saddled our trusty iron horses and rode towards Sigdal, to my godfathers farm. We took the scenic route once again. A bit more scenic than planned,- as I couldn’t find the adress, but still found it on google maps. Less yay where the accuracy of google maps gps coordinates… So we took the long road less traveled by anyone who knows what they’re doing..

Even through its been 15 years or more I kinda found the way. Ay least we could see where we where supposed to be,- kinda over there.. In order to get to the right place we had to make a u-turn on top of a hill on a real narrow piece of tarmac. Just to let me practice picking up a fully loaded bike, Tonje gently put hers down on the paniers and crashbars. Test was a great success! Thanx honey 😉

We spent the evening catching up with Knut & Karin, and I got to introduce my fiance. Then the cityslickers got a tour of the farm. Very beautiful farmhouses, impressive animals, and machinery (of wich I ofcource only managed to get a picture of the smales tractor on the lot… )

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Great licenceplate on a farm 🙂

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"Can I keep him?"

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Day 11 we again saddled up after a great breakfast, and said our goodbyes and headed towards Skien.

After about 4 minutes we stopped to get a final look at the beautiful countryside 🙂 This is yet again a place where Tonje was chirping exitedly “I wanna move here. Can we move here? I wanna live RIGHT HERE! … ”

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The road, weather and traffic was great. We even had a record length of 360.1 km on a full tank, and could probably squeeze out 10-15 km more on the fumes. That gives an average of 0,248 liters per 10 km on this tank alone. Good to know that 🙂

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Skien was not a great success.. Warm, stuffy, hilly, and when we decided to head out of town towards our planned camping site we waded straight into rushour traffic.  Again!
Our ability to find rushour in just about any city is quite spectacular.. Once we found the site, it seemed tiny, flimsy and almost on the road, so we kept going to Kragerø.

Now we’re set up quite snuggly, and tomorrow we invade Jomfruland, a nice little Island close by. We plan to spend 1-2 nights there, but who knows..

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Again with the solar panels...

A special thanx to Onkel Knut & Tante Karin for taking us in, feeding us and in general making us feel very very welcome.
(P.S. Tonje wants to move to Kolsrud.. )

Day 7 – Welding awsomeness Hamar

HotStuf aka Tonje aka the Extremely Lost Biker had her ride lowered at Touratech in Lidkøping a few days ago. Day 6 made it clear that her sidestand was waay to long after the lowering of the suspension. At a gas station in Notodden on our RnR day her ride tipped into the pump due to the awkward angel of the bike. The panier took a bit of a beating, but it was obvious that an adjustment was needed. We rolled back into camp and I started researching our possibilities.

Meanwhile the camping life was further enjoyed 🙂

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The wonders of solar power! Great investmet!

Day 7, thursday, we got in touch with a very accomodating guy at MC Huset Nydalen in Hamar.  He explaned that the sidestand needed to be cut and welded, had the knowhow and experience and could squeeze us in the next morning! Great! So we broke camp, spent some time balancing HotStuff’s paniers (did NOT want a repeat of day 3 where she wanted to sell the bike, and me, and quit the project….), plotted another scenic route to Hamar via just about every back road I could find, and rode off.. Resting at closed down diners, crossing airstrips (!) and just cruising thought a great and varied landscape 🙂

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Bear in mind that Tonje still don’t have her licence. The roads less traveled that we chose give us constant challenges with regards to road quality. At least gravel roads are unasuming with regards to quality and maintenance.
At one point we crossed under a railway and the tunnel was so narrow that we barely made it thought. Also, the tarmack was so worne that it looked and felt like driving in paralell bathtubs (don’t ask me how I know 😉  )

It’s at these places that I realize the enormouz skill increase in HotStuff’s riding abilities. I know many who would struggle a lot more here! Very proud and impressed! I no longer worry about, and plan, both my and her riding style, speed, chosen line etc. I’m just enjoying the ride. Life is great 🙂

Day 8, just before 9am we rolled into the parkinglot outside MC Huset, Nydalen.  The mechanic gave a very reassuring 60sec talk through of the job and how they wanted to solve it.

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We just relaxed, kicked back and abused the offer of free coffee and wifi.

90 minutes later the bike was ready! Perfect!

Before :

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After:

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After, 4 cm shorter

The man with the skills! Thanx! :

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Thanx to all the people at MC Huset Nydalen. Great work, great service, very accomodating and very friendly.

Before we rolled out we spent a little time talking to other bikers at the lot. Tonje was introduced to the upside of meeting other bikers on the road. All is friendly and easy to talk to 😉

We even got our picture taken by a professional photographer from NRK; Bjørn Anders Sørli. Thanx for the picture and the chat 🙂

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The rest of the day was spent riding back to Oslo, again checking into Hotel Marte&Espen for the weekend.

Life is good. Ride on.

Day 4 – Lidkøping – Touratech

So day 2 was largely spent catching and later eating crabs at the cabin, and the rest was spent in the pool. 🙂

Day 3 was a long ride from the cabin to Marthe and Espen in Oslo. Waaay later then planned (sorry to our gracious hosts). We where batteling high winds, long rig road trains, poorly balanced packing on the Tonjes bike (my bad) and and wrongly adjusted rear suspension same bike (again, my bad)..
Tonje was NOT impressed and wanted to sell the bike, and me, at some point. After proper adjustment however all was a little better. I think she’ll keep the bike (and quite possibly me aswell)

Today, day 4, we left my bike snuggly at M&E’s garage and both got on Tonjes bike riding to Lidkøping to get Tonjes bike lowered. (Hope it’ll be a little higher than your standard gocart.. )

Due to great weather yesterday we packed and dressed for the same weather today. Yes its warm now, but we almost froze to death with temperatures around 10 deg C the first hour. But great roads, no traffic and a rising temperature turned it into a great ride! Tonje is happy and yet again purrs.

We also picked up all the little pieces that didn’t make it on the first Touratech shipment. Most importantly my new Companero jacket. Very exited for the road home.

A special thanx to the guys at Touratech Nordic for hooking us up with great prices and service on what is the majority of our equipment 🙂

While waiting for the mechanic to finish (a little later than planned,- therefore we again will arrive a little later than planned at M&E’s…) – we enjoyed Lidkøping the touristy way, and got our first panier-stikkers. Yay!

Seeing the housing prices here I seriously wanna move. Just gotta find a job here. After the world tour,- ofcourse. …

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And, because the GPS is mounted on my bike, I chose all the extra and special and wrong little streets gettibg home. But finally here! 🙂

Day 1 – Shakedown

So day one of the shakedown has been completed.

Me on my bike and the future Mrs Berentsen, aka HotStuff, aka the Extremely Lost Biker,- on hers.
Yes it is true that she dont have a license.
No, it’s not a problem. Turns out that we can practice on separate bikes as long as both have a huge L on our backs 😉

First leg was from Stavanger to my dads cabin at Ålo close to Kristiansand.
Halfway there we stopped for a coffee and to strech our backs a little.
Before we got underway again local partygoers where stumbling by. It turnes out that one nice lady had a unplanned encounter with the ground and needed some firstaid and a proper bandaid. See pictures further down

Last strech was done in the dark, with food, beer and good company waiting at the cabin 🙂

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Shakedown

Shakedown – the route

The Shakedown. It’s main purpose is to test bike, rider, equipment and packing and weight distribution. What works? What doesn’t? Is something missing? When I arrive home again after 6000 km and three weeks, was there clothing or equipment that never left the paniers or bags? Can I do without?

I plan to do a series of tests on the trip. Some examples below:

  • Changing inner tubes, front and rear tire
  • Changing tires, front and rear
  • Removing and replacing front and rear wheel
  • Doing a complete oil change
  • Removing and replacing the battery
  • Removing and replacing the gastank

Why fix it if it ain’t broken? I just need to find out if I can do it in the field with the equipment that I bring. All within the safe reach of NAF and my friends. I dread to find out that I can’t fix it in outback Russia..
Read More…

What´s with all the links..?

You´ve got to understand that this blog serves three purposes at this stage:

1) It´s my diary in this process of planning and preparation

2) It´s my medium for talking on and on and on about the thing I´m really interested in , the big trip!

3) It´s my planning tool. And as a planning tool I use it to store all of the information that I find at least semi-important to the project. So all the links are for me in order to get equipment, documents or training that I need for the trip. They are also for you, if you are planning anything similar.

Go nuts! Klick `em all! They are there for a reason 😉

Christer
Lost Biker