I am back home after another great TET summer adventure in Norway. If you haven’t yet heard of Trans Euro Trail (TET), I highly recommend trying it out! Riding off the beaten track brings a whole new perspective to motorcycle adventure riding.
My actual route ended up being pretty much as planned it, with a few exceptions. I did a total of 3045,9 km during six days, starting after lunch Monday and getting back home around 16:00 on Saturday. I completed the southern most section of TET Norway and the majority of the newly added UNESCO section around Røros. I planned thoroughly and made sure that even the return trip back home included at least some gravel and scenic routes through southern and western parts of Norway.
Comprising of over 51,000km of dirt road, the Trans Euro Trail® is an epic motorcycle journey through some of Europe’s most remote, diverse and inspirational landscapes.
Influenced by the pioneering Trans America Trail, the Trans Euro Trail® encourages adventurous riders to travel light and experience the rich diversity of Europe’s land and culture. Powered by a team of enthusiastic volunteers called Linesmen, the Trans Euro Trail® relies on its community to find and manage the evolving network of tracks that criss cross thirty countries. We are not a tour company, we are not profit driven, we are a Community Interest Company. Everyone involved in the Trans Euro Trail® has the same goal, to celebrate lightweight motorcycle adventure and the rich experience of exploring landscapes, cultures and borders.
Read more here: https://transeurotrail.org/
Planning for a TET adventure is almost as fun as going through with it. Since last year, knowing that I would do TET for a second year in a row, I’ve continuously made notes in a Microsoft To Do list about specific roads or sites I wanted to visit. These were added to the pre-prepared TET track, making up what would become my TET Norway summer adventure. My plan consisted of three parts:
- Part 1: A pure transportation leg from home to the start of TET. I wanted to do this as quickly and efficiently as possible, without being boring. So I did not choose E39.
- Part 2: TET. I wanted to do what I didn’t complete last year, plus the newly added Røros section.
- Part 3: Return home. Even this part was planned in detail, and some of the highlights of my trip was actually criss crossing the western and central parts of Southern Norway going home.
Packing for TET, or any motorcycle adventure for that matter, is tricky. You want to ride in comfort, while not loading your bike too heavy. This is particularly important on TET where some sections can be tricky for the larger adventure bikes. Although TET Norway should be manageable even on a GSA or equivalent bikes, remember that TET as such is mainly targeted at lighter adventure bikes.
I packed, unpacked and packed my bike a few times, being increasingly strict with myself about what to bring. What did I really need? What could I do without? What could I buy along the way? What could I bring and throw away during by trip?
I ride with both side panniers and the top box, plus a waterproof bag and a tank bag. I typically back as follows:
- Left pannier: Clothes and camping equipment, i.e. what I would only unpack when I settle in for the night.
- Right pannier: Food and cooking equipment.
- Top box: Drone and photo equipment, rain protection, spare gloves and a warm jacket.
- Waterproof bag: Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and a tarpaulin in case of torrential rain.
- Tank bag. Charging station for phone, cameras, GoPro and power bank, maps and snacks.
This works for me, and makes sense to me. I can easily find what I am looking for, whether it is in full daylight or in pitch black. A smaller tent and a more compact sleeping bag would probably allow me to ditch the waterproof bag, though. Maybe next year…
Here is a rough outline of my day to day riding.
- Day 1: Sandnes – Ålgård – Hunnedalen – Suleskar – Valle – Seljord – Notodden – Kongsberg – Drammen – Oslo – Bjørkelangen – Eidskog
- Day 2: TET to Sør-Fron
- Day 3: Sør-Fron – Vågåmo – Dovre – Grimsdalsvegen – Folldal – Alvdal – Savalen – Dalsbygda
- Day 4: Dalsbygda – Røros – Grådalsvegen – Øversjødalsvegen – Alvdal – Folldal – Hjerkinn Slådalsvegen – Vågå – Grotli – Loen – Olden – Utvik
- Day 5: Utvik – Byrkjelo – Jølster – Viksdalen – Dragsvik – Hella – Leikanger – Sogndal – Turtagrø – Øvre Årdal – Tyinkrysset – Hemsedal – Flævassvegen – Hovet – Ål – Ridalsvegen – Aurdalen – Vassbygdi – Aurland – Flåm
- Day 6: Flåm – Vossestrand – Voss – Bergsdalsvegen – Trengereid – Os – Stord – Sandnes
Needless to say, TET itself was a huge highlight of my trip. It was also the main goal of my trip. However, I was pleasantly surprised and found many sites and roads along my route to be equally enjoyable. To name and recommend a few:
- Slådalsvegen is a 32 km gravel road between Lesja and Vågåmo. It is open during summer only and reaches a height of 1180 meters above sea level.
- In previous centuries Gamle Strynefjellsvegen was the only road between the villages of Skjåk and Stryn. The road stretches for 27 kilometers and is part of our cultural heritage. Old, handmade stone walls and long rows of guard stones are the hallmarks of this mountain crossing that dates back more than a century. Driving towards Stryn provides some magnificent views as you descend from this mountain towards the valley below, with massive waterfalls offering breathtaking views.
- Nikolai Astrups veg runs in parallel with E39 on the south side of Jølstravatnet. It is a short section, on tarmac, and it offers some scenic views that are out of this world. I drove here early in the morning, and the reflections from a rising sun and the calmness of the morning was indeed memorable. The picture above is taken here.
- Fylkesvei 613 takes you from Moskog in Sunnfjord to Dragsvik i Sogndal via Gaularfjell. it offers some legendary stretches of road as well as momentous views. The viewpoint at Gaularfjellet is one of the spots that offer fine views of the scenery along the road. This rest area is located at the top of the ascent from the Vetlefjord, and from here a magnificent view of the verdant and beautiful scenery opens out, with the scenic route snaking up the hillside. With a clear view towards 1500-metre high mountains and deep canyons, the viewing platform balances on the edge of the mountain, 700 meters above the ocean.
- Tindevegen is the 32 km mountain road between Årdal and Turtagrø, a tourist road that takes you from Sognefjorden to Jotunheimen. The road is also called “the shortcut through Jotunheimen” and suitable for motorcycles, cars, RV and smaller busses (max 10m). The road is usually open from May to November.
- Upon raching Hemsedal, I rode Flævassvegen to take me south and west towards home. This mountain road is gravel only, and offered a positive surprise for its scenic qualities and magnificent roads. The Hemsedal area is littered with this type of roads, so I guess you could spend even more time here than I did, exploring this area.
- My last scheduled gravel track was Ridalsvegen south of Hallingsdalelva betweel Ål and Gol. I rode this track for about 1,5 hours before reaching a dead end locked by a chain. It was also getting dark, so I turned around. Looking at this area in hindsight, it is definitely a road and an area I would like to explore even more in the future. Ridalsvegen as such was a pleasure to ride – a fantastic, hidden gem!
Reflecting back on my trip two weeks after my return home, I am pretty happy with how things turned out and what I experienced.
Proper planning is key to having an efficient ride. I knew where to ride, but did not bother to plan when to get there. Thus, I set up my camp and spent the night where I felt like doing so. That freedom means a lot to me. I would be stressed out of this world by having to reach a specific destination for the night, e.g. a hotel. I can go fast. I can go slow. I can stop, for a moment or for a longer break. The destination is not the goal, the ride is.
I’s always preferred riding solo, much for the same reasons as stated above. I met three fellow TET’ers in Alvdal just before leaving for the Røros section, and I was asked “Are you not worried riding all by yourself?“. It got me thinking, and pondering about this question as I left for Savalan, I acknowledged for the very first time that it would have been nice to have had some company – sometimes. Next year I will be riding with my brother, and I am really looking forward to that. Maybe be preference for solo riding will change?
Is TET difficult? That’s perhaps the most common question I get asked. I can only speak for the parts of TET I’ve done myself – and for TET Norway. I would say 99% is not difficult. It is gravel, some of it is loose, some of it is sand, some of it may be muddy, stony and challenging, but my experience has been 99% fun. Only two times have I sweated, swore and questioned why I was doing TET at all. Primarily because I was riding solo. With a friend or more, TET would surely have been 100% easy and 100% fun!
Riding gear is a huge topic with feelings involved. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate both functionality and style, with functionality on top of the list.
- In a previous post I’ve written about my new NEXX X.WED2 helmet. Coming from Caberg Tourmax and Schuberth E1, I’ve now found a perfect adventure helmet.
- I’ve mounted the Cardo Packtalk for media entertainment and communication. It works fine, although it doesn’t look as neat as the original NEXX X.COM.
- Especially when riding offroad, with an increased probability of falling off the bike, a neck brace is an affordable extra insurance. I opted for the the Leatt STX Road and it is both easy to take on and off, and comfortable to wear.
- My suit is the BMW Rally 3. I bought it prior to joining Touratech Advenuredays back in 2011, and I guess it should be due for replacement by now. However, it is a tough and sturdy suit that I am still very pleased with.
- I usually bring with me 2-3 pair of gloves. For warm days I prefer the Rev’It Sand 3 gloves, for cooler days I swap for the Halvarssons Dryway Plus, and for those rainy days, Richa Snow Mobile guarantees to keep me dry.
- Last but not least, my boots. After careful considerations I went for the Rev’It Discovery H20. Until now, they’re everything I ever looked for in a pair of motorcycle boots, and my favorite feature is the boa closure system that is both quick and easy to use.
When going offroad, I tend to double up on the navigation devices. Not because I have to, but because it is very convenient. I use the BMW Navigator V for an overview of where I am going, thus zoomed quite far out. I also use to Garmin GPSmap 64st handheld GPS unit for finer details, thus zoomed in to perhaps as much as 80 meters. This way I can see the “big picture” of where I am and where I am going, as well as the fine detail e.g. when I get to a Y-turn in the middle of the forrest. A quick glimpse at the GPSmap 64st is all it takes for me to decide to go left or right. The iPhone is there just to balance the bike evenly. Just kidding…
One final experience to share with you, particularly useful for TET and offroad riding in general. I cannot tell you how much I appreciated the TwinPegs during my trip. When standing up, the TwinPegs makes all the difference, and let me tell you, on this trip I rode standing up more than I have ever done before. For more details, please read my elaborate review of TwinPegs here.
What would I do differently?
Not much really. 6 days was enough for me, and I skipped some planned parts of the route in order to make it home around 16:00 on Saturday. I was overloaded with impressions from great roads, tracks and sites gathered during these days.
Tore Silseth, the Linesman for TET Norway has done a fantastic job putting together the track that is feely available to all of us. I am pleased with how I put together my entire trip, and I’d be happy to share the GPX-file if anyone is interested. Also, I would love to get feedback, recommendations and your own experiences in the comments below. Also, if you have any questions, please ask and I will try to answer as best I can.
Next year I will be doing TET Sweden together with my brother. I can’t wait!
Take care and ride safe. Make life a ride!