|Please find map and route here|
During midsummer in Sweden (end of june) I made a trip to the small village Svappavaara - a bit north of the Arctic circle.
I didn´t have the ambition to fullfill my dream BB 1500 GOLD - i just wanted to try if I had it in me - officially I got my certificate from IBA 2008-01-07.
Where on earth have this been taking place?
I made the ride from latitude 66,00 degrees north to latitude 75,25 degrees north - and back within 23 ½ hours. If You compare the starting point in Sweden - capital Stockholm - with Alaska and Canada - You´ll find it in the area of "gates of the arctic" or "victoria island" and then go to Thule airbase on Greenland........quite high on the globe don´t You think!
I wouldn´t compare the weather or temperature though - I was basking in sunshine and comfy 80-90F during daylight and 50F when it was dusk/dark. The total distance is approx 1520 miles - so I guess it´s a very close call for the BB 1500!
After reading all the do´s and don´ts from the IBA I decided to go to bed early and rise early. My preparations was simple, be well rested before start, drink and eat at tankstops, bring some tools and tape for quick repairs and prepare for a sleepover. Mentally I also decided to make a new decision at each tankstop - fulfill or not fulfill the BB 1500.
The trip included about 25% highway, 10% gravel roadworks and the rest ordinary countryroad with tarmac. Speedlimits in towns 32 mph (50km/h), outside 55 mph (90 km/h) and on highways 70 mph (110 km/h). Since we have the midsummernight sun I started june 24th at full daylight 0400 hours and headed north. I started in drizzling rain for awhile but that ended within an hour - no more rain for the whole trip!
It was a very comfortable ride - almost empty roads - first stop with sandwich and coffe after 3½ hours, same with the next leg 3½ hours. The coastline of Sweden is very varied - fun to ride with a lot of curves and small hills to climb. At the town Skellefteaa I turned inland towards the village Arvidsjaur and the landscape shifted - less forrest with pinetrees and more small birchtrees. I had my lunch of hotdogs and some Fanta at the gasstop in the small town Jokkmokk.
Up here You will find trees in the small valleys and the rest is filled with bushes and long grass. Late afternoon in the village Svappavaara I settled for an icecream while filling the gas - looked at my watch and noted - 12 hours exactly and half of the trip finished. I thought "Hmmm, I might do it if I cut my following gasstops with 10 minutes each"!
I used another route down to the coast and meet a lot of campingcars and caravans (some resemblance with the US movie from the 70-ies - Convoy) going north passed the town Luleaa at approx 1800 hours - now I was really sweating in my all protecting goretex suit - phuiii.
After a short gasstop I made a very quick run down to the town Oernskoeldsvik for yet another gasstop and a break. The town famous since it´s a breedingplace for a lot of NHL-players! Interresting enough while resting I could enjoy a lot of sunbathing mature females! at 2230 hours - and I had a longer rest than planned.......(a nightstopover might be more fruitfull than the BB1500 - neh?).
Ah, well - further south while passing into june 25th it became a bit darker and the nightfog became bothersome - but almost no cars so I felt quite safe and comfortable. So far no burning butt but my right hand was showing some numbness. Passing next gasstop in a completely loneliness at 0115 hours and I immediately put the wheels onto the road again. One hour later I was riding on the highway and I started to feel tired and sleepy, a short break on the roadside, with some chocobars took care of that and I could enjoy the warmth of the rising sun down to Stockholm and arrived 0318 hours!
I realized that I´ve made it! The last leg towards my home was a very slow and safe one - I didn´t want to mess anything up with an accident.
As You can imagine - I couldn´t sleep at once - I had some sips of my Jack Daniel and while sitting in my sofa I drifted off thinking of my accomplishment.
When I woke up I felt my body vibrating and my right hand felt more like usuall. No problems with hearing since I have used my supersilent helmet YES - no earplugs needed. The second day I was completely rested!
I used my GTR 1000 from 1994 and it worked flawlessly (except in the end when a plug had unscrewed itself - easilly fixed at the gasstop) and my 57 year old body managed as well.
the Arctic circle.....ah, just for the heck of it!
Now when I have the experience - I´ll do it again!
Hans in Sweden
Resting after hard work...