Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting Germany 2014


I just saw that this years Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting Germany will take place on the weekend of the holiday of Ascention of Christ from May 29th to June 1st, 2014. Last year I enjoyed being there, nice people and interesting presentations. Travellers from all over the world come to these meetings, most of them motorcycle travellers, who did a tour, are on a tour or are planning to go, but also those who just love to hear about travels. There's a lot of exchange going on, People talk about their tours, what they enjoyed as well as difficulties they had, offer information, present pictures, workshops where one can learn useful skills, and just have some fun together. See some pictures below.

For those who don't know Horizons Unlimited: Grant and Susan Johnson, a couple from Canada, went on a "Round The World" trip on their motorcycle in 1987, 11 years, 39 countries. In 1997 they started Horizons Unlimited (HU), a worldwide network of (motorcycle) travellers, where people exchange information and experiences and give and get information and support to eachother. In places all over the world there are meetings taking place to support this. Really a great thing, I think, and that's why I have a permanent link to HU here on this blog.

Thank you very much to Grant and Susan for what they've given us by calling HU into being!


  






 

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Riding a Motorbike leads to Happiness

I alway knew it; Riding a motorbike makes you happy :-). But now it's been scientifically proven, as you can read on the Fembike page (sorry, it's in German):

Fembike: Macht Motorradfahren Frauen froh?

And personally?

Yes, of course, for me, motorcycling is one of the most intense sensory experiences. And it's this intensity and mindfulness with which you ride a motorcycle, that causes a feeling of real happiness.

To ride a motorbike you really have to be completely focused, you have to be in the "here and now" with all your senses. Every movement of the motorcycle we do with it, be it controlled or uncontrolled. Bike and rider become "one", whether in harmony, as we would wish, or even sometimes in tension and "conflict" - well, we never stop learning, do we? - and, in any case it's open, it's "true", authentic, we can not hide the quality our "relationship" and how we interact. And the more mindful and attentive we are regarding our bike, the more harmonious is our riding experience.

But not only the bike, the environment as well needs and gets our attention. Motorcycling is a very wonderful mindfulness exercise. Riding a motorcycle we watch out carefully and listen to every sound. But also the other senses are involved. We taste, for example, the sea salt in the air. Unlike in the completely sealed car ("box", as a motorcyclist may call it), the smells of the environment can reach us directly and immediately. Whether woods or meadows, freshly plowed or just harvested fields or manure piles and industrial odors of our modern times, we immediately have in our noses. Wind or storm, sun or rain, heat or cold, we feel it directly and in full intensitiy. We really experience it.

Motorcycling is an intense awareness and attitued of life, far more than mere locomotion. Motorcycling is pure attention and conscious perception in the present present moment. And what other is happiness than to live fully aware, consciously and intensively with all your senses in the present moment?

Yes, riding a motorcycle can really make you happy.

From the Arctic Circle to the Lofoten Islands

From the Arctic Circle I made ​​my way to the northwest, to Bodø, from where I wanted to take the ferry to Moskenes/Lofoten Islands.

Had the landscape been barren and treeless when crossing the Arctic Circle, this changed again very soon, and I found myself riding again through beautiful forested mountains.

However, after a while it started raining and immediatly cooled down. Fortunately, the rain did not last long and soon the sun came out again and with the wind helping to dry my clothing, I quickly felt warm again.

In a small town I took the chance to buy some more memory cards I was so desperately in need of. And a little later I reached the first foothills of the fjords, which reach deep into the country. The closer I got to Bodø, the denser the region was inhabited. However, no comparison to my home, where it's hard to find any real piece of nature and tranquility at all. Norway is just the opposite. Anyone looking for peace and pure nature will certainly find it here.

In the evening I reached Bodø and ferried across to the Lofoten Islands, where I pitched my tent and looked forward to exploring the Islands the next day.




Crossing the Arctic Circle

Norway is really a huge country. If you only see the map, you mean not that it's so big. So, on the way north, you go miles and miles, initially passing slightly denser populated areas with many meadows and fields alternating with forests. The more you get north the less fields and meadows you find, and also the forest changes. You ride through coniferous forest, and then more and more birches, the trees become smaller, and eventually there are only small plants along your way... The Arctic Circle is near.

I enjoyed to travel with so little traffic on these endless roads, that yet, will never get boring. The many shades of green, creeks and brooks, the smells of nature... true caresses for all senses. What more can you ask for?

At 66 degrees 33 north latitude I reached the Arctic Circle. From now on, I'll be in arctic climes...



Going North ( Gudbrandsdal, Dovrefjell ... )

The next morning greeted me cold and then with a little drizzle, but this fortunately only started when I had already packed up my tent and was ready to leave.

It went northward, more or less at direct route through Eastern Norway, because my goal was, if possible, to cross the Arctic Circle and go as far as to the Vesterålen Islands to watch whales there. That was quite a distance to go, and at a total available time for this tour of about 2 1/2 weeks it simply ment that I had to leave out the lovely Southwest of Norway with all its spectacular fjords.
So it went through the Gudbrandsdal to the Dovrefjell (mountains). Years ago, I had been here once already in May. At that time there was snow in the Dovrefjell, it was cold and inhospitable and yet beautiful and impressive in a way that to me the picture today is still in the memory.

This time I was greeted by the Dovre with rain. I don't have any filming material of this anymore, because on my way north I ran out of memory cards and therefore had delete quite some pictures. So, if you ever go to Norway, take the double number of memory cards you think you need! Norway is just too beautiful and photogenic!

It was raining heavily. My original idea to stay south of the Dovrefjell in one of the small towns there I simply dropped. I had no desire at all to even stop there. So, I just rode on, hoping that the rain would stop somewhere. And so it happened.

Somewhere in the middle of Fjell it got brighter on the horizon, and finally it stopped raining.
I stopped and once dug my warm insulating layer for motorcycle clothes from the luggage roll, happy to find it kept dry. The motorcycle clothing I was wearing had remained dry inside, so now without any problems I could move in the insulating layer and soon I felt warm again and was able to enjoy the scenery.

Later I found a campsite, set up my tent still in dry conditions and called it a day.

I planned to make a musk ox safari in the Dovrefjell the next day, but at night it started raining again, and it rained and rained and... eventually it was no longer thinking of going on any safari, if I did not want to sink into the sodden ground.

So I didn't go on the musk ox safari, but continued riding north again...





My First Night in Norway


Having reached Gothenburg, I immediately headed North.

It was much cooler in Sweden than it had been in the summer heat of Germany, and it should get far colder the more northward I got. After a little while I got used to the slightly different traffic conditions in Scandinavia. Although the differences are not huge, there are still some points which are slightly different - some signs, road markings or positions of traffic lights, for example.

I took the motorway from Gothenburg, because I wanted to move forward, get north and get to Norway. So, it didn't take long til I reached the border. I was kind of surprised that there were border controls here, because we are not used to this any more in the EU, but of course, entering Norway I was about to leave the EU. However, it didn't really take long as I was allowed to pass through without being stopped.

Norway - and also Sweden, as far as I 've noticed it - are very motorcycle friendly countries in terms of their tolling system. Most of the time for motorcyclists passing toll stations means just driving through as the signs usually state "Motorcycles: 0 Kr"! Now that's cool, isn't it?

Reaching Oslo I got stuck in a traffic jam. Rush hour. Anyway, it didn't take long and I was on my way north again. In the evening, with the help of the ADAC Camping guidebook, I found a beautiful waterfront campsite, where I set up my tent and spent my first night in Norway:



Leaving Cologne for Norway

Originally last year I had thought of going on tour in September, to the South, maybe France and/or Spain. However, in August I found myself free for a little less than three weeks and spontanously decided to spend this time with my motorcycle. The only question was: Where should I go? France in August, when there are holidays there? No. Ireland came into my mind... then Romania... and finally ... there it was: Norway was the place to go. Pure nature. That was just what I needed and was longing for.
 

Well, ok, Norway, starting from Cologne, isn't like just around the corner. So, I checked the ferries. Kiel - Oslo was by far too expensive. But then I found the Kiel - Gothenburg ferry, which was a lot cheaper and I decided for this one, though it meant a few hours drive through Sweden before reaching Norway from there.
 And how did the bike? A small inspection had to be made ​​before in view of the expected route. Oh, and the tires? Yes, fresh tires were needed. So, I called in the workshop and, yes, within two days everything was done Perfect, I was ready to go.
 
So on a hot Tuesday morning in August 2013 I left Cologne for Norway ...


Getting started...

At some point you just begin...

So, here I am, starting this blog. How come?

I passionately love to ride my motorbike. And I've always loved to travel. For some years now I try to combine this and I find so much joy in this.

Sometimes I start musing and reflecting on life and on travelling and my observations and experiences - so far, I used to email newsletters and only when I was travelling for a longer period or working abroad.

Now, last August I went on a motorcycle tour to Norway and for the first time I did some filming. When I started posting little videos on YouTube I got quite some feedback encouraging me and the result is what you find here now.

First of all you'll find my tour videos and some comments, but also little reviews about my gear and, from time to time, some thoughts that simply come to my mind. I hope you enjoy and the information given is useful to you.

So, let's get started!

Motorcycle Pilgrim