By Eva Feld
A motorcycle ride from the rear seat may be compared to the turmoil that happens in a philosopher’s head when he tries to decipher the aftermath of postmodernism. One in which, as said by Paul Virilio, “speed is the message.” Rapidity is meant to stay in the rider’s retina. At the end on a fast six hour trip, one becomes the owner of a fantastic tableau composed by master strokes of beauty. Colors and shapes, curbs and hikes, gears and carburation become some of the elements of magnificence.
The above lines only understate the real pleasure, the absolute freedom, and the perfect liberation when the scenery is Norway and North Cape the final destination, because the fiords, the mountains and rocks, the vegetation, the reindeer and sheep acquire at 100 kilometers per hour an artistic tint. It is no longer just a quick succession of impressions, but the gigantic strength of a panoramic beauty, an endless bloom of nature, a flash of light and wind. Creation in motion.
I am a sudden centaurus[efdb1] flying on wheels to the northern end of Europe, sure to encounter other mythological creatures, such as Thor, Odin or Freya, such as my peer riders, all fabled beings invented by me the first day of our trip, since I don’t know any of them. We are a group of 23 individuals with a common passion for high cylinder bikes. The majority come from Bolivia, and before taking off they pray to their Christian God by making a human circle. Yet, in my imagination their pleads are in Quechua, an indigenous language, and they address Pacha Mama.
Far before my fantasies are proven wrong, I meet a pair of Germans brothers. They ride since an early age. One is 82 the other in his late 70s. One lives in the USA, the other in Portugal. When they ride age is defiance. They become the “atomic siblings”. One can see through their helmet a sparkling shine in their eyes: the flow of eternal youth.
There are more Germanophiles in the group: a Swiss couple, both slim and sprightly, they leave a trace of cigarette smolder behind them even when they are not smoking. They seem to never tire, and strive through all weather without complaint. As if they were part of their motorcycle, they express themselves with onomatopoeia.
There is yet one more German, a solitary rider who has nevertheless accepted to travel with our group. Furthermore, since an early beginning, he becomes a leader, a protector, a surveillant member of the crowd. Later, he will command those of us who favor speed over numerous picture and coffee stops.
A French speaking Canadian couple rides at ease. No hurry! As if their profession was in command of their pace. You cannot accelerate the birth of a child… (she has helped deliver 15.000 babies so far.) You cannot rush an accountant either…
A polyglot Lebanese is also among us. Not only does he speak Arabic, English and French, but he talks in images. His intention is to film all the trip. Thanks to him, there will even be proof that a moose crossed our path for a few seconds.
A couple from Australia were among the fastest riders. In each curb, ecstasies permeated from their sportive bike. He leaned in unity with his wife. To the left, to the right in an eternal search for the best apex. His colorful stories about the vast territories that he has covered on two wheels in Australia and abroad, told with his peculiar accent and often acted out by imitating the people he has encountered, added vivacity to the few shared still hours.
On the move, people are, like the landscape, submitted to velocity. A glimpse of a conversation, a hint of their personal life, a sniff of their tastes or tendencies but, also like with the scenery, there is always a frame that lasts. Linda is such a person. She was born in Trinidad from a Chinese father and a Portuguese mother, and now she is from Australia. Such is her scope of vision: multilateral, multinational, multiple. Her meaningful silence as well as her accurate and quiet commentaries reverberate.
It was an organized tour to North Cape, so there were, of course, guides. A guy from Naples and a gal from Frankfort. They were the perfect combination of an easy-going southern Italian and a perfectionist northern German, both equally well disposed and trained to make the trip safe, fun, and happy.
When it comes to figures, the challenge seems gigantic: 23 individuals, on 13 motorcycles covered 3.400 kilometers in 12 days; slept in 13 hotel rooms, boarded three ferries, took at least 1000 pictures (some with a drone) were offered several kilos of cod, salmon and reindeer in multiple presentations, and enjoyed an invaluable quantity of the best raspberries in the world. Of course, friendship, camaraderie, empathy, as well as the profusion and diversity of landscape (fiords, mountains, rivers, tundra, cliffs, waterfalls, cascades, snow, islands) are non-quantifiable aspects of the ride.
Last but not least, a profound admiration for the indigenous people of the remote Lapland. The Sami have conquered their right to their own parliament and to raise their own flag even though their nationality may be Norwegian, Swedish, Finn or Russian, depending on where they were born. Their mastery as artisans has gained them international reputation, especially in the making of spectacular silver jewelry.
Beyond landmarks such as the Arctic Circle and the North Cape, the visitors of Northern Norway can have a glimpse on the life in that region through the millenary petroglyphs in the museum of Alta and an immersion in the Sami culture by visiting their museum.
Fishing towns, wooden houses and docks often painted in the colors of mustard and of brick, flowered fields, waters serving as mirrors to duplicate the beauty of massive highlands will stay forever in our memories of the trip to North Cape together with the smell of fresh green and of the Sea of Norway.
We will also remember a few Norwegian words such as takk (for thank you,) ut (for out,) fisk (for fish,) and:
Farvel for good bye!...