2018 Scandinavia voyage

Going with cool...

Saturday, 26 May 2018

For once the weather has been reasonably fine over the past few weeks. A look at the weather charts however shows unstable air coming in from the west by tomorrow. Unstable air (i. e. an airmass full of showers and thunderstorms and during summer usually also hot, humid and murky) might be suitable for lazing at the pool, but is far from ideal for enjoying the scenery from the seat of a motorbike.
The stable, cooler airmass is retreating towards the north. After a thorough analysis of the weather charts the best thing I can do is to be pragmatic and follow the nice weather northwards. As far as one can see this morning, I have 48 hours to get from landlocked Switzerland to the sea where it is nice and cool, otherwise I'll have to endure humidity, thunderstorms and over 33 °C (92 °F).
As usual I show you a picture of the bike so that you know what I am riding:

Say hello to the new Marsupilami...

I haven't sold Tigger, but the old bike has done well over 150000 km now, and what can happen with a bike that age you can read about in my 2009 journey. The original Belgian Marsupilami has a ridiculously long tail, while my English Marsupilami features a ridiculously large number of computers and electronic components. I'm only riding my Marsupilami to find out at what stage these computers will tell me that the ambient air pressure is nine hectopascal too low and the relative air humidity is four percent too high and until these errors have been fixed the ignition will remain switched off...
I set out at 8.30 this morning and head around the eastern shore of Lake Constance into Germany. Many times have I lamented the massive deterioration of the German road system over the past decades. Today for the first time I can do something about it; I simply toggle "suspension setting" with the joystick on the left handlebar and select the "Third World mode" setting, i. e. the most comfortable suspension mode and the bike's suspension glides over those cracks and potholes in the tarmac like they don't exist. Other well known features of biking in Germany however I still have to endure:

The old German favourite: VERBOTEN!

In the afternoon the temperature climbs to 29 degrees. I put on the evaporator to keep cool and after 10 hours and 550 km I end this quite enjoyable first day near Sonneberg in Thuringia.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

The hotel starts serving breakfast at 0800 hours on Sunday. I am the first guest to have breakfast, and as a result I am back on the road by 0900.
The weather forecast predicts showers and thunderstorms before noon over the hills of the Thuringian Forest ahead of me. However, I manage to dodge those showers and the worst that happens is that I have to bike along a stretch of road where it had rained earlier.
I pass by a lot of old architecture from the commie era like this abandoned mine:

Old mine near Nienstedt

Via Weimar, Magdeburg and Salzwedel I am slowly heading further north. The flat land lets me appreciate another feature of the Marsupilami that Tigger is sorely lacking; the cruise control. On some of the roads out here however cruise control is rather useless:

Primitive cobblestoned 'road' near Körchow

On that kind of road one can indeed muse by whose order the road was last mended; was it Erich or Walter? No, probably the OT, I suppose.
An unexpected bonus is the fact that the airmass is less hot and less humid than anticipated. It gets up to 30 °C (86 °F), but that is perfectly bearable as the air is rather dry - or maybe I simply start getting used to this heat.
At 1800 hours I start looking for a place for tonight. I find a hotel that my GPS shows to be 8 km away and book a room there. Once I tell Sally (that's the nickname I gave the GPS because the voice commands remind me of a workmate of that name I had in England) to get me there those 8 km come to 35 km on the road. The hotel is at the far side of a nearby lake, so I have to hurry as the landlord told me that the kitchen closes at 1930 hours. That means that out here hotel restaurants do close at least one hour before any restaurant in Spain will open its doors...
I manage the distance in time for a meal and finish this second day again after well over 500 km at Roggendorf.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Last night the explosive mix of hot air blowing in from the east and cool, humid air blowing in at altitude went off in a furious blast; at about 0400 hours this morning I was woken up by an infernal spectacle of roaring thunder and constant flashes of lightening turning the night into day. Out where I was at Roggendorf we only had about 20 minutes of rain, but during my ride today all through Northern Germany and Denmark the puddles along the road plus the occasional mud on the road clearly indicate the ferociousness of the nocturnal events.
By the time I set out this morning just after 0900 hours the road is dry again. Indeed the rain was a blessing in disguise; not only is it much cooler than yesterday, the wet ground also prevents more thunderstorms from forming. Against all weather predictions I manage to stay in the dry all day.
I head westwards initially towards Lübeck. I know from previous experience that Lübeck is a rathole to traverse, so I head for the motorway that leads around the town. Once the two lanes of the A20 motorway join the A1 heading north, these five lanes of traffic are reduced to a single lane due to roadworks. The result, as you may imagine, is utter mayhem. At the roadworks I can see what the workmen are doing; a massive pothole has formed in the centre lane. The crumbling motorway is full of cracks, and a big pothole like that can virtually form overnight on such a worn out carriageway. The entire road is at least a decade overdue for a full rebuilding job, but all these Germans do is to patch up the worst bits. My suspension enjoys yet another day in "Third-World mode"...
By noon I have reached the ferry to Denmark and just before 1300 hours I am biking on immaculate Danish roads without building sites, potholes or road closures. I have plotted the route mainly on smaller country roads and especially gave the densely populated area around Copenhagen a wide berth, By 1630 I am at Helsingør, where the second ferry of the day is just about to leave for Helsingborg. By 1700 hours I am in Sweden.
While the Danish roads already were bliss compared to the abominable tracks in Third-World Germany, here in Sweden one can subtract all traffic from the equation; 15 minutes after arrival I am biking on empty, glorious country lanes through the unspoilt Skåne countryside. Here is an impression of that:

Biking through Skåne...

I have so much fun out here that I set out eastwards in spite of it being already after 1700 hours. I ride on for another two hours or so until I arrive at the eastern coast at the town of Åhus, where I find a nice, old hotel right at the yacht harbour:

A hotel (on the right) with a view...

The forecast for the next few days predicts horribly hot, humid and thundery weather throughout most of Europe - except for Scandinavia, where the weather gods will provide the finest biker weather possible.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

The E22 trunk road runs nearby along the coast of the Baltic Sea. However, to make the most of the brilliant weather I have plotted a route on minor country roads parallel with the E22. The roads are all in perfect nick, though I must admit that today I encountered one road closure and two roadworks. When plotting the route I noticed at one section that the software would avoid a stretch of road for no obvious reason. Once I get there I know what caused this:

The Marsupilami off tarmac

Somewhere in the software preferences I have obviously stipulated not to use unpaved roads. I should have listened to the computer. Luckily that unpaved bit is only 4 km long. I notice that on these minor roads my progress is rather slow - less than 50 kilometres per hour, so the last 90 minutes I take the (faster) E22 until it's end near Norrköping. Having biked nearly until 2000 hours yesterday is not something I want to do today, in spite of the nice weather. So I end the day after another 500 km just after 1700 hours at Söderköping. Over twothousand kilometres of country roads in four days deserve an early break to celebrate with a good diner at a nice hotel overlooking the Göta Canal.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

I have plotted a nice, long ride north into the GPS. However, when I deactivate the alarm on the bike this morning, the LED on the dash flashes as usual, but the indicators do not. On switching the ignition on the LED flashes three more times, then nothing. I look at the dead cockpit display, expecting the message "that the ambient air pressure is nine hectopascal too low and the relative air humidity is four percent too high and until these errors have been fixed the ignition will remain switched off" to show there. But the screen remains dead.
I check on everything and find nothing unusual. I check the battery voltage; 12.55 volts, that's fine. I check all fuses in the fuse box - they are all fine, too. I try the second key - with the same result.
By now it's getting warm and the bike is out in the burning sunshine - so I better extend my stay at the hotel for another 24 hours first and then rest in my cool room. I call my Triumph dealer in Switzerland. They suggest to disconnect the battery, wait a minute or two, and then re-connect it. I do that - no change, the bike remains dead. They call Triumph, who suspect that the alarm system is causing the problem. I suspect that, too. A lot of bikers had trouble with Datatool S3 and S4 type alarms and many claim that they are more hassle than they are worth.
So how do you remove a bike alarm who's manufacturer went to great length to prevent exactly that from being done by anyone except a trained mechanic with the dealer instructions that Datatool only ever gives to dealers?
I will have a look at that, but only after 1500 hours, because that's the time after which the bike will be in the shade again. I can't move it, because the steering lock is engaged and can only be unlocked once the bike electronics have been brought to life. The bike is parked in the hotel garden, and when I start the work at 1530 hours the garden slowly fills with groups of very well dressed Swedes - there is a wedding going on in the garden this afternoon.
The bride and groom luckily don't mind having a sweaty biketraveller in the background on their wedding pictures, so I start ripping the alarm system out. Whenever the bike is nudged the alarm will go off - something the bride and groom possibly might disapprove of. So I am very careful. Once I have cracked open the sealed box with the wiring harness connector, some quick reactions are required; once the harness is disconnected the alarm will set off and won't even allow the remote control to stop it. If you are a motorbike thief wanting to know how to prevent the neighbourhood from noticing that you are stealing a Datatool protected motorbike, then here is that piece of kit that you always wanted to have:

Burglaring my own motorbike...

Yes, exactly - a bucket of water. Before disconnecting the wiring harness I dip the alarm unit into the water. Once the harness is disconnected, the (waterproof) alarm unit goes off immediately. But the water muffles the infernal noise to the hum of a lone mosquito. With the noise of the wedding going on around me nothing can be heard. The alarm blares incessantly, but I simply take the bucket over to the Göta Canal twohundred yards away and dump that expensive piece of kit into the canal. Swedish fishermen, if you wondered why the fishing was so lousy at the canal out here during the end of May 2018, you now know why...

Without the alarm a plug is needed instead of the 12-wire alarm connector to make the bike work. The plug simply connects connector 1 to connector 2 and connector 3 to connector 5. Before dumping the alarm unit I have cut off the connector and wire myself a makeshift plug using that connector.
Now it's time to test the alarm-less bike. I switch on the ignition - and the LED on the dash again flashes three times, then nothing. That's interesting, so the alarm was fine all the time. I decide to leave the long suffering bride and groom alone for the rest of the evening, pack up my tools and will continue this investigation tomorrow.
I myself have a meal in town and even take a picture of the sleepy town centre:

Downtown Söderköping

The meal is Swedish "Köttbullar". The fact that it is served in a Turkish restaurant is only ironic for those initiated...

Below is the usual map with my GPS tracklog.


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