Before I get to the actual riding, a quick note on the inspiration for this trip. Sometime in ~2002, my good friend at university, Kenny Thompson, suggested doing a lap of the north sea on his bike, starting out in the midlands (we were at Warwick uni at the time), going anticlockwise through lots of countries after a dover-calais ferry, and returning via Kenny's various family in Scotland - in its compact form (i.e. cutting through Denmark and Sweden rather than also riding around the Baltic sea) something vaguely like this:
Sadly Kenny was killed in 2009 while flying for the RAF in Scotland, so he never got the chance to do the trip. I'd been keen to do it back at uni even though I didn't have a bike or licence, but it's taken me ~10 years to get a bike (well, got that in 2008), find some people to attempt something like this with, and have enough pocket money to make it happen.
In the years since, the available ferry crossings have diminished and it's no longer possible to get a boat from Norway to Scotland. I even put out feelers to try to find a fisherman who might be prepared to put a couple of bikes in the hold, but to no avail. Couple that with the size of the proposed route vs. people's available holiday time, and we ended up having to scale it back a bit - but I hope we still kept at least some of the original trip's spirit: we were still going to do a lap of a sea (albeit a smaller one), we would go further north than we'd ever been before, and we were still going to get a taste of some Scandinavian roads!
We still wanted to avoid going back over the same route as much as possible, so although we decided on a return ferry Harwich-Esbjerg, the rest of the trip would be circular. Also by cutting out the western european section, countries that most of us had been to on holiday before, we gained some time and could use that to get even further north and east than the original idea had suggested. Excellent!
Here's the route plan we ended up with:
I only managed to find one other biker friend to join in, but three others joined in a car and made the group up to a nice size. So, on to:
The team #
Bikes & riders: #
I'm on the right with my extremely stylish 1994 Honda Dominator (radio callsign TELSTAR), 17000 miles on the clock and probably not the smartest saddle to attempt this kind of mileage on, but it's what I've got! Note the storage space where the left-hand silencer would normally go, used to carry a foot pump / tyre levers / etc. but referred to as the Whisky Carrier as a bottle of malt fits in perfectly.
On the left is Chris, with his Yamaha FZ6 (radio callsign SPUTNIK). Two very different bikes but that just makes life richer!
The car & drivers: #
An extremely capacious Megane, radio callsign LAIKA. On the left is K8, to her right is Anneley (my other half). K8's husband Mags appears to be invisible in this picture but I'm sure he'll show up later.
We basically cheated and carried lots of stuff in the car to keep the weight on the bikes sensible (plus I don't own panniers). This did however mean we could travel with all our camping gear, a selection of tools, and the occasionaly luxury, so I'm not apologising for anything!
So that's the intro out of the way... to keep page sizes sensible I've split the rest up with one destination per page.