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Where the big trip begins.

June 18, 2013

I am 12. I live thousands of miles away from Norway.
I spend my days reading numerous books about harsh Scandinavian landscapes, dreaming of this wonderland with its lofty mountains and cold fiords at nights.

The land of my dreams is so far away and I am so small to do anything about it. But for some reason I know for sure that one day I will be there. When I am grown-up and can do whatever I want.

Then suddenly I’m 25, I live on another side of the country, I have nothing but my bike and a baggage of books, different places, 1001 jobs, two and a half unfinished universities and various ambitions. Back then I sold knives and crossbows and rented an apartment on Petrogradsky Island in Saint Petersburg. I was somewhere in between, when the old had ended, and the new was yet to come.

All of a sudden, Norway seemed so close.
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My big bike trip begins with a bike. A sentimental attachment to my first iron horse made me disturb some old acquaintances to arrange its transfer from Vladivostok to Saint Petersburg.

Then I had various technical checkups, bought some equipment, argued with some big experts saying that I wouldn’t make it far on that bike, that I needed a completely different bike type optimized for travelling. However, being really bullheaded about my dream I didn’t pay much attention to their words. Luckily, TRIAL SPORT got interested in my bike trip and helped tremendously by giving me a light tent (only 1,75 kg) and other useful camping stuff.
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As a nomad by birth I live in trunks. I got used to leave the routine for a cozy homelessness. For that very reason I didn’t plan my route. I had nothing but the direction: south to north. The final destination was pinned in Tromsø, an arctic city on an island, my biggest prize for the trip. I had a whole bunch of paper maps that I really loved to look at. I set a few check points as the leads, but not as inevitable stops-offs. I also had a slightest idea of the routes connecting those check points. And that was basically it.

I could easily find out in the Internet all about each section of the road to the extent of tunnels length and working hours of roadhouses. But the very thought of it caused me a deadly boredom. As I learned later, following accidental roads was one of the most interesting things of the trip. So, frankly speaking, my idea of the country had been formed long ago based on obsolete fiction. I was curious to know how far those romanticized beliefs were from my impression of the real journey.

Time has passed and I can say now that such a bike trip proved to be by far safer and simpler than I imagined it would be. But still sometimes I don’t believe I actually decided to do this.

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I took about 18 kg of luggage in a double pannier bike bag and about 5 kg in the backpack. I was planning on spending some nights out in the open, far from city area, so I got some basic camping stuff: a tent, a sleeping bag, a ground pad, a gas-jet, knives, ropes, a headlamp and a headlight mounted on the handle bar. I didn’t have any special clothing, so I took my wind jacket, army pants (light and sensible), jeans for cities, shorts and a couple of tops for hot weather, a light hoodie and a jumper. What else? A camera, a laptop and batteries. Iodine, paracetamol, bandages, ointment for joints and a bike case for public transportation. I tried my best to pack up as little as possible to make it possible to drag all this all the way up along the Norwegian mountains.

I put Schengen in my passport, exchanged some cash to Euro and was ready to go.
Along the way to Norway were Finland (Helsinki) and Stockholm (Sweden).
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