Photos by Pat Savage and Arctic H.O.G. Chapter
Northern Norway—While living in Stavanger, Norway, I was booked to perform at the Arctic Circle H.O.G. Rally in in Ballangen, as well as filming the first episode of my biker adventure series The Savage Roads with my hosts, the Arctic H.O.G. Chapter. My young cameraman Odin Omdal and I flew up to a small airport in Evaness, just 45 kilometers from the top of the country called the Nordkapp, or North Cape. At the airport we met Bjornar, an Amy civil engineer, Kula, a tattoo artist and musician, Svein, an Air Force F16 mechanic, Truls, a club owner, and his gal Marit, along with all members of the Arctic Circle H.O.G. Chapter, my hosts and co-stars for the next two weeks.
It was cool and damp outside and close to midnight, yet the sun was still shining. I had a sweet black 2009 Softail Custom, sponsored by Harley-Davidson Nord-Norge, waiting for me outside the airport. Truls and Marit were our follow truck drivers with Odin and his camera shooting from the windows, the sunroof and out in the bucket in the back. After introductions and Kula setting up the scenario for the evening we set off on the bikes to ride north to the North Cape Center at the very tip top of Norway.
Upon arrival, we took some photos by a giant metal globe erected by the seaside. We followed this with a delicious meal of reindeer and rice. Then we watched a short film about Spitzbergen, a small island directly north of Norway with polar bears and amazing wildlife. After our meal we saddled up to ride south to our cabins for the night as we had an early start. When we arrived Bjornar brought out some delicious smoked reindeer heart to the bikes. After a few minutes chatting about the next day’s plans, we headed off to our cabins for some well-needed sleep. I had just flown in after a whirlwind concert tour in four countries in four days! But that is another story.
We woke up early with the sun shining and grabbed a quick coffee and some “frokost,” or breakfast, before hitting the highway. We rode south through winding roads up and down through a series of fjords which is Norway. Tunnels, long bridges and ferry boat rides short and long are commonplace there.
After riding about three hours in the warm sun, we reached Tromso, a small city well above the Arctic Circle. It’s quite famous for its large university crowd and the very old Mack Brewery, both the most northern institutions in the world! Our friend from Destination Tromso, Svien Eric, was waiting for us at the brewery when we arrived and we took a tour of the place together with a company guide. It was very interesting and I had no idea how beer was made until that day. We sampled some of the alcohol-free beer called “Freeze” before we headed off on the bikes again.
We rode to a place called Polarium, a large aquarium housing different kinds of fish and bearded seals. The seals were really playful and Kula and I had a great conversation about fishing in Norway and the history of the fishing industry. We filmed a spectacular segment here underneath a large tube of glass that we were all passing through while the seals swam over and around us. What a powerful experience. Wait till you see it in the episode!
Next stop was up on top of the mountain overlooking the city. We had an amazing salmon dinner and I learned some basic Norwegian niceties. We set off right afterwards on a two-hour ride in the rain to a small harbour where a big wooden boat called “The Rebel” was waiting for us. We brought our bikes on board for the 45-minute ride and relaxed on deck. It was midnight and the sun was still shining as we landed in Sommeray. This is a small island community with an Air Force base high up on the mountaintop above the harbour. We all checked in then I brought out my acoustic guitar, and for an hour or so we all gathered together at the hotel lounge. We had a couple cordials then it was off to bed for an early morning rise-up and a long day riding.
Waking up at 6:00 a.m., we ate a hearty breakfast of mostly fresh fish, eggs and potatoes. Afterwards we saddled up and drove up through a long winding tunnel to the top of the mountain above Sommeray. A spectacular view of all the islands was awaiting us and we stood around amazed at just how far you could see. After a short visit and a photo shoot at this location we were off on a four-hour ride through amazing fjords and the valleys of northern Norway.
Our next destination was south to another ferry port, this one taking us to the large island of Andoya. We were all going to go whale watching that afternoon. We checked in to our rooms then went off to sail about two hours. Suddenly, after all that time, a huge sperm whale appeared above the water and gave us all a spectacular show. It was an amazing day.
We retired to our rooms for the night in an old Army base barracks that was spartan but comfortable. We had an early call to continue riding south all the way to Lillehammer where my band was headlining the Scandinavian Bike Week. As often happens I ride across Europe crisscrossing the countries while my band flies in to meet me for our concerts. Now that I am shooting episodes around the globe we will all be flying in.
North Norway is an amazing place to ride; the H.O.G. chapters and Harley dealerships have Fly & Ride programs and tourism agencies are very helpful and supportive when you contact them for information. It was one of the most amazing bike trips of my lifetime and I have ridden in an awful lot of countries. I wound up living in Norway for about five more years more as it made such an impression on me. It’s a lot like Canada with all the fresh venison and salmon fishing, major farming, and both trucking and oil businesses going strong. I met some great musicians as well as a beautiful northern Viking gal who allured me like a Valkyrie does.
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