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  #1  
Old 10 Feb 2014
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Moscow to Nordkapp round trip

I’m hoping to make a round trip from Moscow to Nordkapp, then down through Norway, cut across Sweden & Finland, then back to Moscow. I’ve done a fair amount of research, so I’m reasonably clear on where I want to go, but I have quite a few questions. I’d welcome any advice/suggestions on the following.

I’m reckoning on about 4 weeks max for the trip. That roughly breaks down into a week to get from Moscow to Nordkapp, two weeks for the ride through Norway, then a week to get back to Moscow. Does two weeks sound about right for the Norway section? I’d like to leave plenty of time for meandering around.

My route is basically an anti-clockwise circle riding north to south through Norway. Would it be better to ride south to north, or does it not matter?

What are the Norwegian non-motorway roads like? I’d prefer to avoid motorways when possible, but I also don’t want to spend thousands of kilometres on gravel. The bike is a Moto Guzzi roadster, so I’m hoping for sealed roads, something like UK B roads.

Speaking of road quality, has anyone ridden the Moscow - Murmansk highway in the last couple of years? I can’t decide whether to go Nordkapp via Murmansk or ride up through Finland. Everyone says Finnish roads are boring, but Russian highways are also boring and sometimes so bad as to be almost unrideable. If I’m going to be on a boring road, I’d prefer to be at least on a boring road in good condition.

I’m thinking of starting early-mid June since I hear there’s a lot of holiday traffic In Norway during July and August: does that sound good for timing?

The trip will be about 9,000 km and bike might need a service & perhaps even new tyres while on the trip. Can anyone recommend a Moto Guzzi service depot in Norway? I assume it would be in Oslo.

Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Old 10 Feb 2014
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We did the circle by car last year in January. Moscow - Murmansk road was excellent asphalt. Then a rather bad road to the border at Kirkenes. Presumably it was earth/gravel, but covered with snow at the time.

Even smaller roads in Finland, Norway, Sweden were always asphalt.

Took us 8 days, so you'll have plenty of time in your plan.

Short trip reports:
Roadtrip Russia (3) World War North Front to Murmansk - Gentleman Adventurer
http://gentlemanadventurer.travellerspoint.com/186/
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Old 10 Feb 2014
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We did your planned tour as well. Moscow-St.P. might be boring but Karelia is absolutely not, I advise you to do Kola as well.

Shortly after winter roads can be in quite different condition, be aware of that. In winter they are ok, frozen, but in May/June you can expect some roadworks and damage.

Inform about the days of opening of the last part of the road to the border Murmansk-Kirkenes via Nikel, it is open 3 to 4 days a week.

Considder leaving a little bit earlier not to be eaten by insects.

GRTZ,

JP
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Old 10 Feb 2014
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Thanks for all the information. That's good news about the Moscow - Murmansk road, I had a hard time on the Baltic highway to Moscow last summer; for very long stretches the road basically ceases to exist.

Based on what Jervig says I might go up through Finland though, and save Karelia for another trip on its own. That's easy to do from Moscow and it's a part of Russia I've never really been to.
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Old 10 Feb 2014
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Originally Posted by Russki Guzzi View Post
That's good news about the Moscow - Murmansk road, I had a hard time on the Baltic highway to Moscow last summer; for very long stretches the road basically ceases to exist.
?? Really? I've been on that road several times and didn't notice any issues, although I probably haven't been on it in 2 years now. This is the road through Rzhev and Velikiye Luki, or a different one?
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Old 10 Feb 2014
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Ride Norway from south to north. Sun behind you, not in your face 24h. a day
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Old 11 Feb 2014
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Originally Posted by motoreiter View Post
?? Really? I've been on that road several times and didn't notice any issues, although I probably haven't been on it in 2 years now. This is the road through Rzhev and Velikiye Luki, or a different one?
Yes, that's it. I was on it last July. Local people warned me not to, I decided they were exaggerating how bad it was, but they weren't. You can read a bit about it here: The blog of Navalny in English - At The Entrance To The City Of Nelidovo Stands A Concrete Shed, On Which Is Written,"Russia,Forward"
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Old 11 Feb 2014
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Originally Posted by Flanker View Post
Ride Norway from south to north. Sun behind you, not in your face 24h. a day
Good call! Reverse route...
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Old 11 Feb 2014
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Originally Posted by Russki Guzzi View Post
Yes, that's it. I was on it last July. Local people warned me not to, I decided they were exaggerating how bad it was, but they weren't. You can read a bit about it here: The blog of Navalny in English - At The Entrance To The City Of Nelidovo Stands A Concrete Shed, On Which Is Written,"Russia,Forward"
That blog by "Navalny" sounds a bit like black propaganda: "Road M9 is always under construction, but it is getting worse. There are more dead villages around - at night there will not be a single light for tens of kilometers - and the people I meet are more and more gloomy, wandering somewhere with their sleds along roadsides or voting without any particular hope in their eyes: I also don't see regular buses, by the way. Except for a few roadside service stations, everything is more poverty-stricken: run down kebab restaurants and barns with spare parts for the trucks. Local people, as in the XVI century, trade basic goods along the road: dried mushrooms, frozen berries, and coarse fur for clothing."

On my 20.000km through Russia I haven't had any such negative experience.
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Old 11 Feb 2014
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Originally Posted by Travelbug View Post
That blog by "Navalny" sounds a bit like black propaganda: "Road M9 is always under construction, but it is getting worse. There are more dead villages around - at night there will not be a single light for tens of kilometers - and the people I meet are more and more gloomy, wandering somewhere with their sleds along roadsides or voting without any particular hope in their eyes: I also don't see regular buses, by the way. Except for a few roadside service stations, everything is more poverty-stricken: run down kebab restaurants and barns with spare parts for the trucks. Local people, as in the XVI century, trade basic goods along the road: dried mushrooms, frozen berries, and coarse fur for clothing."

On my 20.000km through Russia I haven't had any such negative experience.
That's a fair comment given who Navalny is, but those aren't his words, he's actually quoting an article from Russian Forbes magazine. Leaving aside the hyperbole - and I was through several dead villages off the M9 - the highway itself was in a disastrous state last summer. Several local people tried to persuade me to divert through Belarus, but I didn't have a visa so couldn't. The problem is that the road is under total reconstruction, so it alternates between very short stretches of excellent highway; the original highway, which is heavily potholed & worn through to the metal; and sections where the highway has been completely removed to make the new surface. The latter is most of it, and consists mainly of gravel. But I was on it in heavy rain, so it had turned to gravel & mud mixed with construction vehicle oil. And because it's the main highway it gets all the local traffic and all the long distance lorries from the Baltics. In some sections it was just a single lane, so traffic in both directions was playing chicken: lots of wrecked vehicles in the ditch. I didn't see anyone else on a bike for about a couple of hundred kilometers and I understand why. I'd like that road to work because it's a convenient route to the Baltics for me, but I'm not going back on it until I hear it's been fixed.
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Old 11 Feb 2014
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Originally Posted by Flanker View Post
Ride Norway from south to north. Sun behind you, not in your face 24h. a day
that's strange :confused1:
... I could have sworn the sun rose in the East and set in the West...
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Old 11 Feb 2014
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that's strange :confused1:
... I could have sworn the sun rose in the East and set in the West...
... even stranger, last January at the Nordkapp it didn't rise at all ... :-)

Last edited by Travelbug; 11 Feb 2014 at 15:30.
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that's strange :confused1:
... I could have sworn the sun rose in the East and set in the West...

And stranger still. In summer it doesn't set at all above the arctic circle... When riding in up through Norway my personal recommendation would be riding from south to north. Broadly speaking you'll have the sun behind you most of the day, instead of in your face. If riding early or late in the season that makes sense this far north, as a low sun straight in your eyes can be both uncomfortable and downright dangerous. And you want to enjoy the view as you ride the magnificent coastline, not be blinded and pissed off by the sun. The OP seemed to understand what I meant with my first post, YMMV...
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Old 11 Feb 2014
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Originally Posted by Flanker View Post
And stranger still. In summer it doesn't set at all above the arctic circle... When riding in up through Norway my personal recommendation would be riding from south to north. Broadly speaking you'll have the sun behind you most of the day, instead of in your face. If riding early or late in the season that makes sense this far north, as a low sun straight in your eyes can be both uncomfortable and downright dangerous. And you want to enjoy the view as you ride the magnificent coastline, not be blinded and pissed off by the sun. The OP seemed to understand what I meant with my first post, YMMV...
Yes, makes sense. This app illustrates it well:
SunCalc - sun position, sunlight phases, sunrise, sunset, dusk and dawn times calculator
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