I almost had a nasty accident on my travel by motorcycle from Venice back to Copenhagen, and somebody definitely had one. I left Venice just after noon on Thursday, and decided to drive through the night to get as far as possible before stopping to […]
I’ve spend most of the last days roaming parts of southern and central Sweden. All in all I did some 1500 km in three days, but only managed to keep two of my three appointments.
On Wednesday I drove from Copenhagen to Gothenburg to visit my friends Sara, Johan and Elda at Escape Kajakcenter. The journey up there was event-less, with motorway all the way, except for a few minor mishaps on the ring road of Gothenburg, but nothing the GPS of my phone couldn’t handle. I got there in the end and that is what matters.
The scope of the visit was to present my Venice Kayak project to Sara and Johan, in the hope that they would want to organise some tours down there for their customers. We had a very nice evening, eating sushi, and talking kayaking and Venice. I’m very happy that Sara and Johan liked my ideas and hence Escape Kajakcenter will try to organise a couple of groups to send to Venice in August and September this year.
The next day, Thursday, I continued towards Stockholm after another quick visit at Escape Kajakcenter to pick up a few things. I expected it to be just as easy as the day before, only an hour longer due to the distance, but as I continued on the E20 I discovered that most of the road between Gothenborg and Stockholm isn’t motorway. In the end it took well over six hours to get there.
My first appointment in Stockholm was with Paul Rosenquist from Point 65°N. We’ve been writing together for a while regarding kayaks for Venice, and as I was going to Stockholm anyway, and it was mostly on the road, we’d make an agreement to meet.
Point 65°N has their headquarters in a small house on the Pampas Marina in Stockholm. At first it seemed like such a little house for an company the size of Point 65°N, and inside people were almost sitting on top of each other, so they probably have something bigger next year if they continue to grow at the same rate.
Paul promised me he’d do everything possible to get one of the first of Nigel Foster’s Whiskey 16 kayak to Venice for us. It does look like a fantastic boat, and I really can’t wait to try it.
My last appointment was with Carin and Lars at Horisont Kajak just outside Stockholm. It was getting late and I hurried as much as I could, following the driving indications I had saved from Horisont Kajak’s homepage. They were very precise and I arrived reasonably quickly at their base. Horisont Kajak is located in the most beautiful of places, in the middle of a forest down to a sheltered corner of the Stockholm archipelago. Too bad nobody was there. I wasn’t really surprised, though, because it was a bit late, so I set out to find the home address of Carin and Lars.
This time the GPS in my phone failed me completely. It quickly gave me a route to follow, which I did. Unfortunately the navigation software didn’t distinguish properly between real roads suitable for a 300kg motorcycle with driver and luggage, and muddy hiking paths in the local forest, so I ended up somewhere completely weird and certainly not correct. A rather scared looking lady with two small dogs certainly didn’t expect to meet a fully loaded motorcycle in there. After about half an hour driving around in the little forested residential neighbourhood I had ended in, I finally managed to extricate myself from the maze of playing children, seniors taking an evening stroll and assorted joggers, by doing the exact opposite of what the nice lady from the navigation company told me.
When I finally returned to the main road, and found a route suitable for motorcycles leading to Gustavsberg, the nice lady fell silent. When I stopped to check the phone, it was dead, out of battery.
I know Carin and Lars lives near Gustavsberg, on a small road somewhere on the outskirts of town, or so it seems on the maps I consulted before I left home, but without a GPS, without a working phone, with a non-working phone number to call, it just disconnected when I tried to call, and with all shops closed, I couldn’t really get any further.
Staying the night in Stockholm and trying to sort out the situation the next day wasn’t really a possibility, as I also had an appointment in Copenhagen at two on Friday, with some eight hours driving to do, so after pondering the situation I decided I could just as well start returning home, and I headed back to the Stockholm ring road and the motorway home.
It soon got too cold to continue, and after a few hours I stopped and looked for a place to sleep. I was fortunate enough to find a youth hostel just minutes before they closed for the evening, and got a good nights sleep. In the morning I was back on the motorway heading for Copenhagen. I was driving too fast because I wanted to keep my appointment in Copenhagen at two, and I almost got stopped by the police for speeding. I spotted the police car just in time to slow down so it looked like I had been overtaking rather than just speeding, and the police car quit following me after a few minutes.
In any case, I did make my appointment, arriving at three to two.
I’m on my way back to Denmark. I started Monday from Rome and made it to Venice, where I had to wait for the next day to pick up my bag, and send a few things back to Palermo. Tuesday afternoon at 17:30 I was back on the motorway heading home.
The first part of the journey, from Venice to Trento, was OK. The weather was fine and I made good progress. As I started to climb up towards the Brenner pass, and night fell, it started to get really cold. Nominally it wasn’t really that cold, maybe 5°C, but add the chill factor of 150 km/h and you’ll start to feel it a bit. It was dark too so I had to slow down, but at least then I could feel my fingers just a little bit.
I’ve never seen snow clad mountains at night before. Its a very special sight, quite impressive.
When I reached the pass at about eleven in the evening, it started to snow too. I still had 25 km to reach Innsbrück and its definitely the first time ever I’ve been driving at 40 km/h on an almost deserted motorway, being overtaken by the occasional long haul lorry. Driving a motorcycle at midnight in pitch darkness on a mountain motorway while its snowing is not my kind of fun. Actually, it wasn’t fun at all.
I was so eager to get off the motorway that I just picked the first exit that said Innsbrück, which happened to dump me on some deserted mountain road some 5 km south of the city, so I spend another half an hour crawling down the hair pin turns towards the city further down the valley. It was one at night before I had found a hotel and a bed.
This morning I started from Innsbrück and I’ve just been following the E45 all the time. For a Dane with a Sicilian wife the E45 is all you need to know. It starts in Sicily and winds it’s way up Italy, Austria, Germany to Denmark, from where it continues to Nordkapp in Norway.
It was still very cold this morning, and I didn’t dare go too fast, in case there was ice on the road, so I just stayed in the outer lane with all the lorries, doing 90-100 km/h. After about half an hour my fingers were so cold they started to pain, and I had to stop to warm them with some coffee. Most of the day has been like that. Half an hour on the road and half an hour in an auto-grill warming up again.
I found a little thermometer in a shop on the road, and glued it to the dashboard. Its been 3-5°C most of the day, but the temperature dropped a bit at sunset, to 1-2°C at 17:30. I don’t want to drive in the dark if the temperatures drop below zero, so I’m now at a motel on the A7/E45 just north of Würzburg.
This must be the slowest motorcycle journey I have even done. I have managed to do just 400 km on Tuesday, and another 400 km today, so I still have over 600 km before I’m home. I should be home tomorrow, though, because the weather forecasts promise milder weather in northern Germany than in the south. I do, however, risk getting some rain tomorrow.
I don’t dare think about how I look on the road. I have so many layers of clothes on. First I have a set of Merino wool leggings and shirt, then a fleece jacket, then a jogging set, then my old Dainese leather suit and over that my new Kokatat anorak. I wear two sets of gloves, a woolen set under the leather gloves, and still my hands get as frozen as glacial ice. My feet get cold too, because I haven’t brought woolen socks, but they’re not as exposed as the hands. I close the fleece and jogging jackets all the way up, then put a Kokatat turtleneck on top, and close the anorak all the way up to my nose. I also put on the hood under the helmet. It gives me a burka like field of vision, but it is great for keeping out the cold. Driving like that I’m not all that cold, except for my hands.
Here’s the fully loaded motorbike. The rucksack on the top contains the stuff I sent to Palermo, so its not with me anymore. I’ve had quite a bit of problems getting my Avatak Aleutina paddle to sit there, but I think I have sorted it out. At least its still with me.
The days on Google maps
Venice to Innsbück (376km)
Innsbrück to Wurzburg (450km)