Wanting out

Trip Start Feb 02, 2010
Trip End Feb 02, 2011

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Flag of Norway  , Eastern Valleys,
Monday, July 5, 2010

Today has been the most emotional day of the whole trip, if not my whole life with an ending nothing like I could have predicted in my wildest imagining. It all started out just fine, the sky was blue as we caught the first bus at seven AM to Lillehammer, only taking with us our most valuable possessions and the broken parts. We left not knowing what we would find today or when we would make it back. We were leaving Nina and practically everything we own in the forest for an uncertain amount of time. If I didn’t like my sleeping bag and matt so much I might never have come back. When we got to Lillehammer things quickly turned to shit.

 Once off the bus we decided to try and walk the eight kilometres out of town to the supposed new Ural Dealer. We didn’t know at this point that seven of the eight kilometres were steeply uphill. We trudged up and up and up and up, I was so tired from only having slept about three hours last night. I was getting angrier and angrier, why hadn’t we waited the short nine minutes for the information centre at the bus stop to open and then we could have found a bus? Why was Norway’s Ural dealer all the way out of town in the forest? Why was it so bloody hard to just get the bike working? Why was I even here with the problem of a shitty Ural? I had plenty of time to think and was probably not in the right mindset to be thinking over the more serious questions regarding the value and meaning of a trip like this, though Felix kept trying to remind me and was being as thoroughly positive and optimistic as possible. Where I dream up the entire future result of every disaster in every failing detail with no room for surprise, Felix manages to focus just on moving forward one step at a time and remaining positive thereby leaving room for unexpected events. 

 We stopped at a petrol station and Felix went in to check we were heading in the right direction. The lady had no idea but was extremely helpful, printing off two maps of where we were going. So we were lead down the old dirt road, now a horse riding path for what seemed like forever, going deeper and deeper into the forest. My spirits were rapidly spiralling lower and lower. I was so unhappy, I could not see one reason why I should be in Europe, what is the point of spending two years worth of savings on a trip that seems - when clouded by this angry, depressed and bitter mindset - to have been not far short of a trip to hell. At times like this I find it hard to remember how truly incredible the travels have been. My dream of riding happily and carefree through Norway and exploring the amazing countryside has been nothing but a constant string of breakdowns and chasing after solutions. Walking hours to who-knows-where and what seemed like nothing was not what I came for.

 So we came out onto the ‘main road’ the dealership was supposed to be on and it was nothing more then a small dirt road, the horse riding path looked like it got more traffic then this ‘road.’ We walked and walked and finally came to a few houses, nothing that looked like a dealership. And only one house on the street had a number. I was so tired and hopeless. I sat down on the road and cried. I couldn’t even wallow, the mosquitos were so thick that as soon as we stopped moving they swarmed in clouds, I would have sat there all day and cried and cried if it wasn’t for the mozzies. So I kept walking, trudging to nowhere crying and slapping off the hundred of mosquitos.

 Felix went to knock on a door in hope someone would be able to direct us. How was this possible, we were heading to a real address, an address Google Earth and a Norwegian map site knew existed, an address on two different websites listed as an official Ural dealership. But there was nothing that looked remotely like a business. No signs, not even a number on a gate. While Felix was knocking on the door I was sitting on a rock on the road still unable to stop my tears. Felix came back, no one was home and he knelt in front of me and buried his face in my lap. He was so still and silent. I though he too was crying, I was too terrified to ask or look, if Felix was crying I would have hit a low with no return, he is the only glimmer of hope and a chance things might turn out ok in times like this, he has always found a way out of everything so far. We sat there like that, Felix silently thinking and me sobbing, for several minutes. Looking back it really wasn’t that tragic, if we found nothing we would have just walked back to Lillehammer and tried the other supposed dealer further South.

 Eventually I had to ask “what next?” what next was to carry on further down the road where we came to what appeared to be the end of the road, crossing a cattle grid I waited while Felix went again to a house and came back and finally, it was confirmed that yes there was a dealer three doors down on the right. So back we walked and knocked on their door and rang all the bells (there was, well still is , three) like there was someone dying outside but no one answered the door, it seemed no one was home.

 This dealership was nothing more then a small but beautiful farmhouse and some very, very old sheds. No sign of any Urals, no signs on a house or shed or fence, no clues, no one around. Apparently this was the dealership though, so with nothing else to do and little options we sat on the grass outside the gate and waited, hoping someone would came home sooner rather then later and hoping that it wouldn’t rain. And with luck someone did come home only five minutes after we sat down to wait. The wife of the man running the business, Stine was home from work for the day and was most helpful and sympathetic to our situation. She couldn’t really do anything to help us until her husband came home, but she so kindly took us inside and offered us food, drinks, a place to have a little snooze, a shower and a power point to recharge the laptop and iPhone. Stine’s husband Geir (to our Australian ears it sounds like Gale) was in the process of taking over the business of Ural importing from the one other dealer in Norway and Ural business in Norway ins’t very big so this explained why there was no shopfront and also meant he had no spare parts in stock.

 A few hours later Geir (the Ural dealer) came home but before business talk we were invited to join them for dinner. During the wonderful pizza Felix explained again our situation. Geir processed it all quietly and then most generously suggested we take his car and trailer together to Dokka and get Nina, an offer we couldn't refuse. So off we went sixty five kilometres back towards Dokka and into the forest to get Nina. 

 She was still sitting there just as we left her, as was all our stuff thankfully. As I packed up the little tent I had made , I looked around at the forest and heard the river rushing in the valley, I thought of the lovely little stream we had been getting water from and sitting on the track cooking and was very sad to be leaving. We had such a lovely time here yesterday, it was such a perfect little place, everything needed for happy camping. But we had a bike to get back on the road and right now we were being offered help way past the normal expectations of your average dealer.

 We got back to Lillehammer and unloaded Nina. Then a friend of Geir, visiting after returning from solo bike trip in Italy, reminded Geir of a man they knew, a magician mechanic, especially with old engines. Geir called him and he said we should come over right away. So Nina went back onto the trailer and we drove thirty kilometres out to see this man.

 His place was really something from a dream, from another planet. His massive yard was filled with piles of metal, and well...just everything you might possible ever need for anything. His work shop was two industrial size sheds, one filled with cranes and every machine one could possible dream of to make any piece or new part, the other filled with ancient bikes, tractors and other machines, some waiting to be restored others restored to perfect, immaculate and original condition. He was practically running a factory, mechanic’s shop and his restoration collection was museum worthy. Felix was wetting himself with excitement when we saw the old BMW Nina’s kind are copied from.

 Until midnight the man and his son did this and that, put this in that machine, that in this machine, while I had a nap in the car and Felix continued admiring the workshop. He machined Nina a new replacement inlet valve and a spare and found what caused the old one to bend, a hole in the inlet manifold gasket that was letting ‘bad air’ into the combustion chamber, making the mixture too lean. This caused the engine to suddenly overheat at the slightest hill and sometimes even on the flat. He fixed the manifold with a little black silicon. He straightened the pushrods and cleaned up around the valves to help prevent them jamming again. He also found a cir-clip to fix the problem we have been having with the drive shaft.

 In the dusk that lasts for hours up here we drove back to Lillehammer, feeling so amazed and relived at how the day had turned from one direction to the next. We were both feeling so overwhelmed. Earlier in the day we had been so down and out, so hopeless, now it seemed we didn’t need to go through the nightmare process of getting parts to Norway and would be back on track again tomorrow. I really didn’t know how to feel, I couldn’t believe things could really turn out so well. 

 I’m well ready to go to bed now, today has really stretched my emotions all over the place. It’s hard to believe I was so worked up this morning, it doesn't seem so bad now, but then my world was ending. It’s so confusing all these crazy ups and downs, a real roller-coaster.
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