It’s lunchtime and I’m at the cafe in Lakselv. Last night I had a good chat with the guy at the cabin lodge. I was going to take the high road across to the E6, which is shorter and looks more interesting. He told me there are roadworks half way across, with long sections of mud and clay. It put me off a bit so I decided to go the long way around.
This morning I met his dad, who was a nice chap and said I’d be fine. So the high road is not to be missed. I’ve just come off it and it was fantastic! I’ve had rain, snow, sleet, hail and sunshine in the last 3 hours. It’s cold at around 4°C but the electrics are keeping me warm enough. (Just!). It’s just under 200 km to Nordkapp, which will be enough for one day!
The scenery has been epic. I made show progress at first, as every time I came round a bend I’d think “wow – take a picture”. Around the next bend the scenery was even better, and so on. Below is just one example, I’ll post a couple of others in a moment.
Hide her nightie! Boom tish! OK so it’s an old joke, but I think it’s important to share for the younger generation. Maybe I’ll open a joke museum when I get home, a place for old jokes for to be stored posterity. I’d probably need to explain what a nightie is first!
Anyway, lying in bed last night I had a nasty thought. Since I’ve owned the bike I’ve never checked to see if there’s antifreeze in the radiator! I bought it in a warm climate, I’ve ridden in it the warm and I never really planned to come this far north. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner.
With that in mind and the temperatures falling, I had to get up and check. My gauge said 0.2°C and there was ice on the seat, I’d best be quick about it – or maybe it’s too late already? (Not that I even have any antifreeze!). It would be a shame to have a cracked block so close to home, but worse than that I’d look like a prize pillock on the internet!!
By torchlight then, side panels off, seat off, tank off, radiator cap off. Luckily the fluid was dark green, all good then! While I had the spanners out I adjusted and lubed the chain, by which time I was wet and freezing cold. Back in the cabin I’m all thawed out now, ready for a new day and the final push to Nordkapp.
I managed a couple of hundred km after the border, then decided to call it a day. The border crossing itself was uneventful, which could well be my last official crossing of the trip! I stopped at a camp site where they have cabins, I splashed out for a cabin for the night.
The weather has been grey and drizzly all day, so I was already wet when I stopped. The thought of camping (and paying for it!) didn’t appeal. As expected the scenery has been very nice, but the grey skies and riding through mist means that photos don’t look so good. It also takes the edge off the biking experience, but it’s still very good!
As I sit in cabin drying my socks, I know I made the right choice!
The scenery has changed from Russia a little, there are no trees now. It’s more like the west coast of Scotland, think rugged and remote. It’s evident I’m in a different country though, subtle differences like yellow paint in the centre of the roads instead of white. There are also lots of Volvos and not so many Ladas, all being driven on the speed limit! A particularly nice change is the public toilet blocks every 20 km or so. I haven’t been in yet, but they look well kept and I bet they’re nice inside!
It seems to have taken a long time to get here, I reckon it’s the cold weather. I waited until 11 and it was still only 3°C! Just over the border, which you can see in the picture, I’m using the last bit of phone signal on the Russian network before I drop off the edge of it.
Leaving Murmansk this morning, if everything goes to plan I’ll be in Norway this evening. That means saying goodbye to Russia for the last time on this trip, which I have to say is more than a little sad. I’ve spent a lot of time here and seen some amazing, beautiful, crazy, vibrant and sad things here.
But what I’ll take away from Russia more than anything else is the generosity of the people. Complete strangers giving gifts because I happened to be in their village, friends of friends putting me up and feeding me for free. Even on my last stopover, Edward is looking after me.
I can’t express my gratitude enough, but once again, thank you to everyone. Ilya, Lena, Feel & family, Misha, Eugin, Bankir, Kiril, Alex, Anya, Nikolai, Sergei, Yuri, Natalia, Alex, Dmitri (Helgi), Oleg, Inga, Olga and Edward.
Алёша, or Alyosha, is the second largest statue in the Russian Federation. The largest is in Volgograd, where I haven’t been. It commemorates the soldiers, sailors and airmen of the Great Patriotic War. (Better known to westerners as World War II).
The statue is over 30 metres high and looks west across the Kola peninsular. It’s quite a striking image against the grey Arctic skies, the only colour: flower wreaths and the eternal flame at the foot of the statue.
It was a cold bus ride to get to the statue with Ed, but worth the trip. The statue stands proud on a hill and can be seen from the city, but the photos I took from there don’t do it justice.