I have been waiting for this opportunity for a long time, and finally it coincides; I have the possibility to take some days off from work while the weather is perfect for a motorcycle trip. I am aiming for a trip to Western Norway and more specifically Ryfylke and Norway’s 12th largest lake. This is the first stage of my summer tour 2020.
Finally, the summer is here, a little late but with a perfect forecast for a motorcycle trip and I have the opportunity to take a few days off. It is Thursday morning, the bike is almost pre-packed – tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat are in place and I pick up the kitchen equipment from hibernation. A quick test of the gas stow and the last details fall into place. I could have chosen the side bags suitcases, but I decided to go for my faithful Cargo bag this time too. Not too spacious, but it has room for three t-shirts, panties, socks, shorts, long pants, and sneakers, plus a towel and toiletry bag – and there is still some room left. The tent, sleeping mat and sleeping bag I put on top of the Cargo bag. It has been a long time since I have done some camping trip and I take it for granted that there is still something vital left behind at home.
I am on the road at a reasonable time, just so I get some of the rush hour traffic on Ring 3 on the way west out of Oslo. Have planned a route that will take me over to Western Norway over the mountain areas. The meteorologists have reported a precipitation area that will move from the west and over to Eastern Norway during the day and cross my original route. So, I have reversed the route plan and I am taking the southern route, which according to my original plan was to be my return route on Saturday.
I leave the E18 before Sande and ride the old E18 to Sande and look forward to the climb over the hill to Hof and Hvittingfoss. A tourist bus ruins some of the fun, but after passing it I have the road to myself and can enjoy the first curves at my own pace. From Hvittingfoss I take south to Svarstad and then over to Siljan and Skien.
I have never seen Skien so beautiful, and this time it is me and not the GPS choosing the route through the city. I removed the GPS from the bike earlier this week and I am riding by an old-fashioned list with the most important waypoints for the trip as I had done before the GPS navigation was invented. It managed then, so it must be possible find my way today as well –at least that was the idea. So far, I have been on familiar roads and I’m doing well without navigational assistance.
It’s already nice and warm, and I need no more than a T-shirt under the jacket. The next name on my list is Drangedal and I am on roads offering fantastic riding. I take a break at the rest area at Nordgardsskilen before I ride on to Drangedal and head towards Bustrak and then over Gautefall to Treungen. I am enjoying myself. I have the road mostly to myself and feel that everything is playing out for me today. I am still on familiar roads. I have many miles ahead of me and pass through Treungen and the charming white houses without stopping.
At Dølemo I continue straight ahead at the intersection and ride to Bås where I turn left and ride to Lauvrak and continue to road 42 at Mykland. Here I turn right and aim for Evje. I am still on familiar roads, but it’s been a long time since I rode them westbound. Last summer I came in the opposite direction. The landscape opens in a completely different way now. After I left the E18 at Sande, I have had little traffic, and now it has become even longer between each time I meet someone.
It is a wonderful feeling to be on the road without any specific goal and with this weather. I have had many wonderful motorcycle rides. Earlier this summer when the rain splashed down and the melancholy took me, I thought that the best motorcycle rides are probably behind me – but today it does not feel that way. I’ve had many nice motorcycle rides – but well, it looks like there will be some new ones as well – like this one. I pass the north end of Mjålandsvatnet and enjoy the fantastic view and the beautiful road. The boxer engine hums relaxed, and only gets a little deeper sound when I go on the gas a little out of the turns. I’m not in a hurry – but I’m in the flow zone now.
In Evje it is time to refuel and as usual it only takes a few litres. I rarely exploit the potential of the 23-liter petrol reservoir, and the 450 km range the RS can offer. Especially when I, like today, ride a little reserved, the fuel consumption is moderate, at least in relation to the resources I have.
From Evje I continue, after a short stretch on road 9, on road 42, and now I am on new and unknown roads. They offer just as entertaining riding as the ones I came from. I take a short break at the picnic area by Bjørndalsvatn and admire some MGs who also have a break and are on their way to a MG meeting. I catch up with them and admire the variety, both old and more modern. Road 42 offers entertaining and varied driving. At Lygne, a group of MGs disappear to the left on road 43 in the direction of Lyngdal and the entertainment was over, and I have the road to myself again.
The miles fly by and suddenly Sirdalsvatnet appears. The road along the water is narrow, and these are probably some of the narrowest stretches of road I have ridden today. In Tonstad I turn right towards Øvre Sirdal and am followed by the river Sira and some fantastic mountains on the way up the valley. I plan to take road 45 at Svartevatn. By now I have a long for a break and something to eat and decide to ride to Sinnes. I find an open restaurant and some shade and get a delicious burger and a cold drink while I enjoy the cool air in the open restaurant.
I ride back to the junction at Svartevatnet and turn right on to road 45. The first time I rode Øvstabødalen I was stunned by the mountains. I had never seen such bare mountain sides before. Although I experience the valley as most spectacular when riding up, today I have a fantastic trip down. At Byrkjedal I go in direction of Dirdal, then to Oltedal where I take road 508 over to road 13 and Lauvik. There is road work on 508 from Oltedal, but I arrive just after the day’s work is over.
On my way to Lauvvik, I started thinking about where I should focus on camping. But I soon got something else to think about. It was suspiciously quiet at the ferry port, and a note at the ticket office revealed why – I was a quarter of an hour too late for the last ferry of the day. When they stop the ferry traffic at 18:00 on a weekday, there must be another road that takes me over to Oanes.
I turn around and ride through Hølen and take and a timeout. A quick glance at the map on the tank bag I not making me any wiser – it is about as old as the RS! (21 years)
I had planned to take this trip without electronic navigation, but now I must check Google Maps to find the shortest route over the fjord. Google Maps gave me the solution to the riddle, and it is called Ryfast – a 14.4 km underwater highway!
If I find a pleasant campsite on the way to Sandnes and E39, I take it, but I prefer to cross the fjord before I call it a day. I stay on road 13 – Ryfylkeveien – in the direction of E39 and have a surprisingly pleasant trip. It is idyllic along the lakes and even though the speed limit is moderate, the trip goes fast and suddenly I pass Austrått and immediately after I am on the E39 direction Stavanger and give myself to the traffic system that will take med under the fjord to Tau.
It’s good to exit the tunnel at Tuftene, the tunnel for far too long. I have no reason to complain about the road system, it is effective and the connection to the old road at Tuftene is beautiful, and there is a low evening sun that follows me towards Tau.
As I ride along Bjørheimsvatnet, I realize that I will not be picky when it comes to camping tonight. But it’s fine. It looks like it’s quite full at Wathne Camping, but I get a nice place for my tent and manage to get in order before it gets dark. It has been a glorious day and the detour is quickly forgotten. I go for a little walk up to Tysdalsvatnet at dusk. As I sit on the hot rocks high above the lake and I hear the rocks are moving – it is as if they are alive when cooling and settling in for the night. It’s dark when I get back to the tent. I really have no more undone today and I fall asleep as soon as I get into the sleeping bag.