Lord, Protect us from the Wrath of the Norsemen
The Lord’s Prayer has been shortened from times past. The prayer once included “Lord, protect us from the wrath of the Norsemen” (Vikings from Scandinavia). The King of England paid the “Dane geld”, which was yearly protection money to get the Vikings to bypass his kingdom on their yearly raids. The Vikings were a tough people whose motto was “one village at a time.” Who else would dare cross the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean in a sailboat with no cover in freezing rain looking for new land that they didn’t know existed? Yes, they discovered North America and settled Newfoundland, a province that looks like Norway and has much the same weather. If you ever ride Newfoundland, the odds are you will be cold and wet, perhaps encountering snow on your summer ride. Nothing much has changed. I travelled to Bergen, Norway to ride with the boys the length of Denmark, across Germany, down to Prague (Czech), through Brati slava (Slovakia), to Budapest (Hungary), then to Belgrade (Serbia), through Macedonia, and 400 kilometers across the beautiful Greek mountains to the Big Party on the exquisite island dotted, Aegean Sea. We returned through Venice, Italy, the Italian and Austrian Alps to Vienna, across a different Germany route, up Denmark and across to Norway for an 8000 kilometer ride. I think it was more like 5500 km but who knows as one day of riding merged with the next. We started out wearing every piece of clothing available, topped with rain gear, and full face helmets. Do this trip with a half helmet at your peril. As we progressed east and south, layers of clothing came off until wearing shorts. The return trip involved progressively replacing all our clothing as we returned to the formidable lands of the Vikings.
Getting ready for my ride with the boys from the north in Norway to Corfu, Greece. I think Norway is as beautiful as our Newfoundland. It rains a lot in both places. I am of Danish heritage, so I will be riding with my Viking brothers south “looking for adventure and whatever comes our way” (Steppenwolf).
The picture is a little deceptive as much of Norway is mountainous,rugged terrain, with massive ocean fjords penetrating, sometimes hundreds of kilometers inland. A simple ride that may only be 50 klicks as the crow flies can turn into a bike ride of hundreds of kilometers as the roadways must go around the majestic fjords. Bergen has a population of 300,000 spread over 50 kilometers on and around five low lying mountains. Flying into Bergen Norway, north of Oslo. It isn’t raining….Yay! It is pouring by the time we land.
- Bergen clubhouse is a Cold War bunker built into the side of the mountain. It has a bomb proof 3 foot thick sliding front door (motor operated) if under attack. This is my home when not on the road.
- Oh yes, all the comforts of home with heated marble floors. It might be chilly and wet outside but inside is comfy.
There are no windows inside the mountain. It is hard to tell what time it is when waking up from sleep. We have special lights in the bedrooms that take an hour to reach full luminescence from off to dim to progressively lighter for the time set in the morning. Softly chirping bird songs accompany the soothing light as it brightens.
- Radical choppers are common in Europe. However, these guys ride them everywhere. Christian rides this Evolution with a big gas tank so he will not slow us down. He rides up to 8000 km on the trip between 120 kph and 145 kph. He broke down twice, repairing the bike by himself. No trucks for these guys.
Our bikes in front of Bergen to Denmark ferry.
My 2015 Road Glide sits in the background. I feel like a softie. However, the ride is hard enough with this comfort. Christian is one hard assed motherfucker. He does not complain once. He doesn’t talk much period. He smiles shyly once in awhile to let me know everything is fine. He is a Berserker, which is a Viking term for the craziest of the crazy.
- Bergen’s shoreline as we head south to Stavenger, Norway, then over to Hirtshals at the top of Denmark.
I am in trouble. Eighteen hours on an ocean ferry with the boys. The party is on and the beer flowing. I am drinking shooters….oh, oh! What will they make me do next? Looks like Don is being pushed out of his own way. Don needs that. We ride 1100 km tomorrow and it is cold and fiercely raining. Maybe we aren’t riding that far tomorrow but have to make a Stop’n Go party with our guys in Belgrade, Serbia in another four days. Problems…at least some pleasurable problems.
- Old school rain boots; plastic bags over your feet sealed by elastic bands
We land at the northern tip of Denmark 18 hours later at 8 am. It is cold and raining with a light sprinkling of hail. We put all our rain gear on. My stuff is Mickey Mouse compared to the Europeans. They have rubberized boots. I have waterproofed my leather boots. It takes the relentless rain about two hours to negotiate its way through the plastic bags on my feet and then soak my socks through my waterproofed footwear. They have Kevlar pads inserted into their impenetrable rain coats and pants. I have a thin rain suit that does not add warmth. Warmth is important when riding all day wet and cold. Reaction times slow as the body and mind numbs. Thankfully, my bro Alex gave me a full face helmet before I left. I couldn’t have made the ride with my half helmet. He knew that I was embarking on a monumental ride at high speed. I have good friends that protect poor Don in a variety of ways. They think I am helpless. The ride down through Denmark is about 450 kilometers before we hit the German border.
- Leaving Stavenger, Norway at sunset into the North Sea (Atlantic Ocean) for Denmark.
Riding in the rain at 140 kph is possible with a full face helmet and impossible without. My shins started to hurt with piercing regularity. I had jeans and a rain suit on. Surely, the rain was not heavy enough to cause this pain. I glanced at the road below my feet. Hail balls were hitting the highway and bouncing up against my shins. This did not slow the Europeans. We rode south another 200 klicks to Hamburg and turned left to Berlin, which was about 200 to 250 kilometers more. One of our guys, Robert gets sick aft er Hamburg. He feels awful and it is getti ng worse. We try to rent a hotel so he can recuperate. They are full. We corral him in between our bikes as we proceed to Berlin. He almost crashes but makes it. He is their oldest member at 52 but he toughs it out. We arrive at one of our Berlin clubhouses at 10 at night. It has been a long day. I am just happy that I
made it to this historic city intact. It is not the 1100 kilometer ride planned but it was a long day through cold, wind, rain, and sometimes hail of varying sizes.
The next instalment is called “…and then we took Berlin.”
We find a cure for Robert’s flu.