71 10’21” – the only way is south 

Looking out of the airplane window, it felt like the gods have thrown a stone into water and Norway has received the biggest ripples. Honningsvag airport lies alone amongst the grey mountains and grey sky.  It was bleak.. and there was no turning back. The first test was to re assemble my bike… so neatly packed in my brothers garden drinking beer.  Now a different story.  

The first night in a hostel the kitchen of which was like an international stereotype of master chef – the Frenchman eating steak tartare, a Chinese couple eating a salmon-y broth and an Austrian student let the side down with done thing that resembled dog food. 

To get to nordkapp there is only one road, which is shares with a cavalcade of buses from cruise ships and troops of motor homes.  The moody Austrian, and a German policeman on a Vespa arrived together and ended camping in the car park and settled in for the night with an obligatory midnight sun photo. 

Now I’m a week in each day there are real challenges but there are also milestones – getting here in the first place and putting my bike together; riding through a 7km tunnel with a road like an upside down mountain; the sight of an orca whale and wild camping on my own to name a few. 

With 5000 miles or so to go the journey ahead still seems daunting and in the past week there have been huge doubts as to whether I can really do this.  It is at these moments when I meet someone along the road or I am rewarded with a spectacular view and I remind myself (to use a cliche phrase) it is about the journey and not the destination.  So I am taking each day as it comes.  

All the gear, no idea…

IMG_3288I’ve always prided myself on my ability to pack lightly but when a few months of travel have to fit into 2 panniers I’m taking it to a new level.   There are only so many times that you can pack and unpack, each time re-evaluating and honing what to take or what to cast out. I have had numerous lengthy discussions with myself about what IS really essential when temperatures will range from freezing to scorching and whatever I take will need to be heaved up and down six or more countries.

After months of preparation and training the excitement and nerves are building as the physical, mental and emotional expectations are all unknown.  I remind myself that in a week my world will be stripped to the three essentials of life – water, food and shelter. Everything else can be begged, borrowed, bought or stolen and  I’m looking forward to the simplicity that this will bring.  There is no more room in my panniers or my brain and I now can’t wait to get on my bike and start the journey.

So…  for the moment I will keep that really vital midge head net and extra pair of socks until I am hauling my way up the top of a 1 in 10 hill with 25 kilos of un-necessaries and then throw them away in a spirit of lightweight abandonment.  Bring on the road!