Monday, 14 March 2011
JC Nimbus workshop II
Tuesday, 8 March 2011
One day they seem to be in Egypt, then next day there's word from that they're in Germany with a broken frame (deja-vu all over again). And suddenly we hear that they'll be in Denmark on Tuesday. We'll believe it when we see it....
Fastforward a few days to the JC Nimbus workshop in Copenhagen. A planned arrival in Rødby barely a few hundred clicks south of Cph was delayed a bit, we hear from Fin Ohlendorff, who drove down there to meet them. They'll be here at 2 p.m. instead of at high noon, says the latest bulletin. People keep trickling in, most in cars or by train, but a few Nimbuses, an Indian Chief bobber and a Chinese motorcycle-style thing show up as well.
We go indoors to drink strongish Christmas beer and eat some really weird Swedish cake-style thing, which the Swedes present claim is a delicacy, in turn ruining whatever credibility they have left on this side of the sound. Or we go outdoors, freezing our collective butts off, kicking tyres and gossiping about stuff. The Norwegians are further delayed, we hear from FO, once more by a broken frame. It's been fixed with a luggage strap, and should be ok as long as Tormod keeps the speed below 80 kph (50 mph).
We wait some more.
Then finally we hear a roar down at the other end of Viborggade. A blue Nimbus outfit is racing up towards us, trailed by a red one and a large blue Beemer. Closer now they come, everybody have their cameras & camcorders out, waving Danish & Norwegian flags.
The brakes work, thankfully, engines are turned off, helmets get unstrapped and we see the two familiar grins on dirty faces. Everybody applauses.
The bikes get started up again & parked in the courtyard of JC Nimbus. Both look like shite, probably haven't been washed since Sarf Africa, and the engines leak oil like you wouldn't believe it. Oil consumption has been obscene lately, suggesting knackered internals. The frame welds are unspeakable, lights are out, and some of the tyres are bald, which to T & K means they still have at least another 400 k's left. But so what? The boys made it home (depending of how you define 'home', of course).
Tormod & Klaus have more hands to shake, pose with people for the cameras, co-chairman Tom of the Nimbus Club gives a short speech, books and pics get autographed with hands trembling from either the cold of the engine vibration. A few gifts are exchanged, and the two main characters then enter the warmth indoors, to mingle & to tell tales. Again and again, for hours.
Roald Amundsen & Tor Heyerdal may not exactly have been put to shame, but at least they now have competition. Opinions vary, but some even suggest that this is a bigger accomplishment than the 1930s Nimbus trips to Persia and around The Mediterranean. No matter, this was the first Nimbus RTW trip, and it will probably not be repeated for decades, if ever.
When darkness falls most guests have left, and we wheel the Nimbuses into the workshop for the night. Fixing them for the final stretch to Norway will be tomorrow's job.
Ankomst i København
Den ene dag synes de at være i Egypten, og den næste dag hører man at de står i Tyskland hvor stellet er knækket igen-igen-igen. Og pludselig hører vi at de vil ankomme til Danmark på tirsdag. Vi tror det når vi ser det....
Spol et par dage frem til JC Nimbus på Østerbro. Den forventede ankomst til Rødby var lidt forsinket, oplyser Fin Ohlendorff, som var kørt derned for at møde dem. De vil være her kl. 14 i stedet for når solen står højest, lyder den seneste bulletin. Flere folk siver herhen, de fleste med bil eller tog, men et par Nimbusser, en Indian Chief bobber og en kinesisk mc-lignende ting dukker også op.
Vi går indendørs for at drikke nogle flere juleøl og spise af en svensk kage-agtig ting, som svenskerne hævder er en svensk delikatesse; hvilket tager livet af den sidste smule troværdighed dem på den anden side af sundet havde. Eller vi går udendørs og fryser røven af, sparker dæk og udveksler sladder. Nordmændene bir lidt mere forsinket, hører vi fra FO, af endnu et stelbrud. Det er blevet fixet med en bagagestrop, og skulle være ok hvis Tormod holder farten under 80 km/t.
Vi venter lidt mere.
Så omsider hører vi et brøl nede fra den anden ende af Viborggade. En blå Nimbus sidevognsmaskine racer op mod os, forfulgt af en ørd ditto og en blå BMW. De kommer nærmere, alle har kameraer og camcordere klar, og vinker med danske og norske flag.
Bremserne virker heldigvis stadig, motorerne slukkes, hjelmene af og vi ser to velkendte grin på møgbeskidte ansigter. Alle klapper.
Maskinerne startes op igen og kører ind i gården. De ser slemme ud, er sikkert ikke blevet vasket siden de forlod Sydafrika, og motorerne lækker olie så man tror det er løgn. Olieforbruget har været horribelt på det seneste, hvilket tyder på skrottet indmad. Stellets svejsninger ligner strudseklatter, lyset er forlængst væk, og nogle dækkene er blankslidte, hvilket i T & K's verden betyder at der stadig er 400 km tilbage i dem. Men hvad så? Drengene er hjemme igen (selvfølgelig afhængigt af hvordan man definerer 'hjemme').
Tormod og Klaus har flere hænder der skal trykkes, mennesker der skal poseres med foran kameraer, DNT's næstformand Tom holder en kort tale, bøger og billeder signeres med hænder der ryster enten af kulde eller af de sidste par hundrede kilometers vibrationer. Nogle få gaver udveksles, hvorefter de to hovedpersoner går indenfor på værkstedet, for at være sociale og fortælle røverhistorier. Igen og igen, i timevis.
Roald Amundsen og Tor Heyerdal er måske ikke sat i skammekrogen, men de har i det mindste fået konkurrence. Der er flere meninger om det, men nogen antyder at det her er en større bedrift end at køre en Nimbus til Persien eller Middelhavet rundt i 1930'erne. Igemeget, det her er den første jordomrejse på Nimbus, hvilket næppe bliver gentaget de første par tiår, om nogensinde.
Da mørket falder på er de fleste gæster gået, og vi ruller maskinerne ind på værkstedet for natten. At gøre dem klar til det sidste stræk op til Norge bliver næste dags arbejde.
Monday, 28 February 2011
Germany & Copenhagen
Thursday, 17 February 2011
Egypt before and after the "revolution"
The tourism promotion board has now said it’s all calm now, situation is under control and no problems to return. Bullshit. We have been held up, locked up and harassed by police equally well both before and after the step-down. The army, police and people don’t know how to handle the situation and still acts in a very bad manner certain places.
It should be said that the police, army and sometimes even people has been polite and emphasizing that you should not feel their actions as a threat. However, their actions speak the opposite story. It also speaks a story about a population, an army and a police force that has a utter lack of professionalism, compensated with lack of education and/or to use common sense. It’s still really not a place to travel for over-fragile people.
Before the situation was “settled” we travelled from Aswan to Alexandria. After the situation was “settled” we tried to go from Alexandria to El Alamein to look at the war cemetery, 105 kilometers west of town. The two entries below are two short stories of how the police/army acted before, and after Friday 11th.
From what I’ve seen out there myself I can’t realize how the tourist promotions board can say it’s all under control. How can the people assume that the “professional” army will run this country wonderfully till democratic elections can be held, when they can’t even handle their hand guns and crowds of people?
I’m not going to analyze this situation as I’m more interested and competent in combustion engines, but I assume the revolution in Iran looked at a good idea at the time as well, and the orange revolution in Ukraine at least led to a victory-intoxication for some time, literally.
After the "revolution" everybody can freely go around and shoot happy pictures without any problems with army or police. Everything is calm and under controlled. Yes, indeed...
Held up in Mininia (8th of Feb)
Fair enough, this normally happens also in normal circumstances in Egypt too. Most of the time they are pleasant/ok to deal with, to the degree it’s ok to be escorted and stopped all the time. At one point, they even help me to get my bike’s broken frame welded.
When we reach Mininia it is a different story. We have to stop for the night, park at square in the center and ask for a hotel. Within 5 minutes it is 2-300 civilians around us, demanding to see our passports. Of course you don’t show your passport to strangers so I say no. The crowd get more and more aggressive, and accuse us for being spies from Mossad. Everybody knows the Mossad normally drives Nazi-style sidecar motorcycles from the thirties on their operations, but not Danish ones for God’s sake.
When they understand they will not get to see the passports they threaten to call the police, so I tell them to go ahead. First a uniformed officer shows up on motorcycle, and he is calm and ok. Then a plain-cloth officer come and demand to see passport. I ask for his ID, which he hasn’t.
Needless to say, no passport flashing. As the crowd get more and more “intense” I suggest that we take refuge at the police station, which the undercover cop think is a good idea. So off we go, with 2-300 nuclear researchers, a fair amount of neurologists, some brain surgeons, a few rocket scientists and a minority of camel fuckers running after us, shouting and hoping for the Israeli spies to get hanged at the spot.
At the police station they are polite, and serve us tea and cigarettes. However, their actions and questioning don’t impress in a positive way: What are you doing for work? Where do you come from and what is your nationality (while “reading” the passport)? Do you carry a lot of gold and diamonds?
They write down the information from the passports and when it is done they ask our names are again. Then they start to argue about who should have the paper where they have written down the information. After quite some time a bright mind recalls they have a Xerox machine so each one of they can have a copy, even of the passport’s front page. We are stunned by their ability to reason out this brilliant idea to take photocopies and just has to congratulate them.
After four hours of phone calls (but never to the Norwegian embassy which would be the easiset way to check us out from Mossad's payrolls) and clever cross-examination they take us to a hotel, where it is a tourist police that checked our bags. Just as well, we might have equipment and a desire to blow up the towns most ran down hotel, especially as we’re the only guests. Then they fetch us with a police car with flashing lights and siren to a restaurant, and back to the hotel and placed a guard for the night, in addition to the tourist police officer. The next morning they escort us out of town, and could proudly look back at another intricate case closed.
“Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name”
As the “revolution” is over everything has become better already, at least according to most locals and tourist industry. Hence, we decided to kill a few days going to El Alamein to see the war cemetery and museum and camp out in the dessert.
In the western outskirts of Alexandria there is massive traffic jam and while standing still in a junction guy in military uniform comes and try to communicate us to stop, without speaking a word English. Soon some police in civilian clothes show up, speaking English. And of course, the civilians’ mob quickly gathers.
Within ten minutes I assume there is again between 2-300 spectators, helping the police and army, by demanding a thorough examination and suggesting what kind of spies we are, some quite aggressive. A doctor is present, and tries to calm down us, the army and the crowd. “Don’t be afraid, we’re in an emergency so we need to check you but won’t hurt you. We’re generous and nice people.” I need to get to El Alamein, not getting comfort about a crowd of cowards that are more a threat of making me a racist than hurting me.
Soon the mob is so big and out of control that the army has to retreat with us. To get us and the bikes out the soldiers and officers actually load their Kalashnikovs and hand guns, waiving uncontrolled. At least they get rid of them. First they want us to leave the bikes and jump into a car with them and lose track of where we are and our equipment. No way will we leave the bikes there, so after a big argument they let us go with the bikes.
A kilometer down the street we park next to a M1 Abe tank, and the army has a office in the building. Same stupid questions all over again. They search the bikes and our pockets, even going through all the pictures on the memory cards. I lose track of how many different people look at the passport and ask our nationality at the same time, a good number of them holding the passport upside down while examining them.
Then they start the search all over again and do some frightful finds: one pocket knife, one German paratrooper knife (10 cm blade), 8 flares for animal warning while camping (each containing something like 2 gram of phosphor), to writable CDs, some memory cards and a spare battery and charger for a laptop. This takes about two hours, and probably made them happy as they called of the search half way through the boxes.
At this point there is a big mob gathered again, so they decide on going to an army camp. Each of us have to take an officer on our bikes, and mine is waiving his 9mm hand gun frantically all the time when driving. I would not mind if he could control his gun, but he can’t.
Sometimes he’s pointing at his legs, sometimes at cars and pedestrians, sometimes in the air and sometimes at my head at 6 inch distance. The gun is loaded and the safety off. I scold him several times for it, tells him to either control the gun or to put it away. Every time he says he’s sorry, but forgets himself after some seconds. The road is bumpy and we’re stopping and going all the time, I just await an accidental shot and just hope it does not comes my direction.
We visit two army camps before one will let us in; obviously they are not organized at all. When we are finally let into one they speak to the officer in charge, showing him the dangerous items they have confiscated.
The officer in charge does not even greet us, just order us locked up. The take us to a small house and shut the door with a big bolt from the outside. Inside, two kids aged about 12 years is sitting in a corner, tied with their hands on their backs. They look dirty and beat up. On the wall there’s a picture of the army’s chain of command with Mubarak on top.
The window is halfway open, I fully open it and send the soldier that just locked the door an ironic grin. He seems embarrassed and makes and angry gesture to make me shut it.
After a half hour the banana-benders have found a translator as they don’t speak English themselves. Explaining why we got knives and flares all over again. They say they have to keep the flares and knives, but we’re free to go.
It’s getting dark soon so we don’t have time to argue much more, so we say that’s ok but they have to give us a receipt so we can bring up the issue with the correct authorities. This is met with total refusal and it’s now clearly turned into a matter of corruption and collecting souvenirs from tourists. They are not so confident anymore.
The arguing about the receipt goes on and we get nowhere with it. We need to get out before it’s getting dark, and am a bit pissed after four hours with them. We just say fuck this, and tell them to give us the knives and we’ll break the blades and keep the handles our self. Obviously disappointed they can’t argue much about this, though they try.
We head back to the hotel Alexandria. To the degree I ever had any respect or faith in the Egyptian army and police the last bit of it is gone now. I just wish them all good luck and sit tight till my ferry takes me to Italy in a few days.
This is how the army like to be seen, and is pretty much the case in Alexandria now. However, when you get a little bit away from where media and foreigners are present the story is quite different.