The origin of the Purple Toe Award

(originally posted to

Subject: Another r.emmer in Norway

This may or not work... Contrary to my usual practice of sitting in Switzerland, and posting from Vancouver, this time I'm sitting in front of a PC at the University of Trondheim, Norway, and posting through Van.

I got up here after a rather awful three-day trip. First day was from Untersiggenthal up to Stuttgart, where I proceeded to get lost because I was looking for signs to Kassel, and missed the signs to Heilbronn... :-( Oh well, only a half-hour wasted. The weather, however, was appalling. Quite heavy rain most of the way, with water sheeting on the Autobahn and being made into a heavy impenetrable spray by most vehicles, especially the trucks and buses. The rain covers to my new saddlebags lived up to my expectations, being ripped to shreds after only 50 or 60 km at 130 km/h.

From Stuttgart I went through Kassel, Wuertzburg, Hannover and Hamburg before stopping for the night in Flensburg, just south of the Danish border. Went through several more heavy showers, and just missed a thunderstorm when a change of roads took me off at right-angles. Got hailed on twice, though. Also had one long traffic jam where they were digging a hole in one track of the Autobahn. Towards the end, I also had a very strong and gusty westerly wind to contend with. I found the tourist information centre in Flensburg, and the most expensive hotel in town was right next door, so I waved my plastic at them and they sent off a bill to Eurokarte for DM150.

Next day was another "if I've been in four countries today it must be Europe" trip. The weather hadn't improved, except that I didn't see any hail. The wind was getting vicious, there being nothing across the breadth of the Danish peninsula to slow down the wind from the North Sea. I even had to slow down a couple of times for fear of going off the road. Made Frederikshavn about 1200 and got a ticket on the 1330 ferry to Goetheborg. I just stayed in the snack-bar all trip, drying out my clothes; I'd already been out in the weather so I didn't bother going on deck. Headed North with a Finnish couple on a Trans-Alp following me, but they couldn't or wouldn't keep up at speed limit to s.l.+10 km/h and gradually dropped behind.

I'd noticed on the ship that my oil was low, so when I stopped for petrol, I got a litre of Shell synthetic and gave it 100 ml or so to top it up. 14.5 l of 95 octane leadfree plus the oil came to 200 SEK!! I also lucked out through an enormous police trap in one little valley, with cars and cops everywhere on both sides of the road. I saw them as I came over the crest and made sure I was doing a good approximation to 90 as I went through. One young officer looked at me, and then pointed in turn to both his eyes and my bike; took me about a second to realise what he meant. I looked around the tank-bag and found that my lights were off, so I switched them on and gave him a big wave of thanks. In Norway, it's compulsory for all vehicles to have lights on in the daytime -- perhaps that's true in Sweden too.

After my petrol stop, I actually caught up with the Finns again, where they'd pulled over to check their map. They said they were going to stop at the next camping ground, so I followed them until they turned off, then continued into Norway, down the "nothing to declare" lane. I stopped in Moss and painfully (more later) walked around the city centre until I found a Bancomat that would take my Eurocheque card, and got myself NOK1000 in cash. Didn't see any hotels, so I got back onto the E6 until I saw a sign saying "HOTELL" and stopped there for the night. It's true about the price of beer in Norway -- I paid NOK35 each for 500 ml beers! It was 2130 when I got there, and I was in bed a bit after 2300. The sky didn't get very dark during the night so I didn't sleep well.

The next day started out clear and sunny, as had the last few hours of Tuesday, so I was feeling pretty good as I headed towards Oslo at 0800. Very surprised to find out that the toll for motorcycles on the Oslo streets (and all other toll roads) was NOK0.0! I headed slowly along the E6, keeping up with the average speed for the most part (limit+20), and using my acceleration to pass long queues of cars behind trucks, caravans, or campers. Took me a while to twig to the radar cameras, but luckily they shoot from the front... I didn't see any flash, either, so maybe none were loaded.

There were occasional light showers, but on the trip over the plateau near the end, and all the run back down to sea-level was quite damp, with a super-heavy Scotch mist keeping me in my place in line and furiously wiping my visor for visibility. The roads were just twisty enough to be interesting, especially off the mountains, where it dried out again. I was most surprised that it took me 396 km to hit reserve, after loading up with 17.0 l -- 24 km/l!! Of course, most of the day I hadn't been over 110.

Finally made town at 1600, after a total road distance of 2300 km, and boy was I tired! The bike was feeling it too; it had just turned 18,000 so is scheduled for a service it probably won't get. I'll change the oil if I can (I brought a new filter with me). Somehow the chain dried out on the last stretch and it was a bit tight. It seems to have got water in the carbs again, too (not surprising!) as it burbles and lurches at low revs, just off idle.

I managed to meet up with Espen and his Strumpet Thursday, and caught up to Roar today, so we're going to get together tomorrow, before I decide exactly when I'll head back. He wants to take me through Hell, but I think I've been there already... :-(

As for why it cost some pain to walk about Moss, and since... On the ferry, I got a big rubber chock to jam under the rear wheel to keep the bike still if the crossing got rough. Thinks, in a moment of weakness, that the chuck is rubber, and it will move a bit under the tyre, and gives it a big kick to put it in place. Ouch!!! That was a mistake -- it was rather hard rubber, and didn't budge a millimetre. Consequently, when I took my boots off that night, I found a big toe rapidly turning purple and swelling up. It's starting to go down a bit now, and the bruise is spreading all over my foot. Not a pretty sight! If it's still sore when I get back to Switzerland, I guess I'd better get an X-ray...

So, I hereby nominate myself as the Keeper of the Purple Toe (KotPT), "for stupidity above and beyond the call of duty". I'll consider this a bestowable award, and gladly pass it on to anyone who does himself more damage in a similar situation :-).

Not for the squeamish!

Here I am with Roar Larsen, east of Trondheim. (Gee, my hair was a lot darker in those days!) / 06-Apr-2000 (Original: Summer '93).