The Primus-Meet of 1996

From Bicilindrica Nr. 2, 1996
By Andor (Medl. nr. 506)
Rewritten in English by Ths. J. Johnson

This year, too! What is it that drives us to this meet, year after year, through snow and cold and over impassible roads? It's more than I can understand. Some great annual form of madness that I at least, am completely helpless to withstand. I simply must heed the call.

But... as if this unaccountable urge wasn't enough, this year's preparations were tinged with panic. As departure time neared, a burned exhaust valve on the right cylinder threatened to end the trip before it began. I guess I should have been expecting it after 250,000 kilometers, but that sort of thing is always a shock, I guess. Luckily, both the importer and Veakrossen Motorsenter understood what was at stake, and the valves (yes - both sides, just to be sure) were in place in less than a week. Sigvald at Motorsyklisten A.S. has my thanks for good advice and telephonic understanding - and all for just NOK 240 (ca. 40 USD) pr. valve. My good buddy, BMW-owner and mechanic Terje Gressgård, helped the valves to their seats, and the Primus-Meet for 1996 was in my future once again.

As usual, Caspar was ready to go. This year he had a "sidecar-slave" from Karmøy with him on his newly restored BMW. We arrived in Odda on Thursday evening, in beautiful winter weather. And beautiful weather is what was in store for us most of the weekend. We stayed the night at Jan-Arne Karstensen's house, who joined us from there. The final member of our group was Renate Sørheim - the only girl to drive a bike herself, and that all the way from Western Norway. She had a BMW with a sidecar.

At sunrise on Friday morning, we plugged our visors, grips and soles to the electricity, and were underway by 9 O'clock. Driving conditions on the way to Eidfjord were poor, with both ice-mounds and gouged channels in the roadway. Worse, right in the middle of the Eidfjord Tunnel, my Guzzi began to cough and spit. I reached down to turn on the reserve tank, and SURPRISE! It was already open!

You can imagine the joy I spread among the rest of the group. Up to that point, my old Guzzi had never failed. The BMW-bikers had time and time again experienced small problems with their bikes, and I admit that I had been the first to throw stones. Now the "Beemers" had the chance to even the score.

I stopped a tractor, and the pleasant farmer-type behind the wheel towed me to the gas-station - just 200 meters down the road. The guys (and girl) were waiting for me when I rolled up to the pumps. They were sure that my Guzzi was having motor-troubles, and were quite unhappy with a simple gas shortage. To make matters even worse, they forgot to get out their cameras. Ha ! He who laughs last... The farmer topped everything off by not taking a single krown (NOK) for the job. It probably didn't hurt that I had a "No to the EEC" "bumper sticker. too!

We crossed the Hardanger plateau and stopped to tank up at Geilo. Everything was going like a charm now. After Geilo, we continued on over Hedalen. The roads were, by this time, white with a drifting layer of snow. What a kick it is to wind an MC out in conditions like that.

We were in Nes at about 3 O'clock. From there, it was a jaunt up through Bjonesskauen to find the Meet. President Pauslen himself welcomed us, this year as in previous years. The campground swarmed with people we knew, and the welcome-drinks were plentiful.

Once the bikes were dug down into a snowdrift, it was time to dig out a tent-site. The shovel went from hand to hand with great enthusiasm. The thermometer read -18 c. (about 0 Fahrenheit.). What could be better? It was Friday, the Primus (Coleman) hissed quietly, and Caspar's stew bubbled in the pot. Everyone had something good in their cup, and the stories were flying. It was first far into the wee hours of the night that the time for creeping down into sleeping bags with hot-water bottles arrived.

Saturday morning is the time for those long, rambling stories about everything and nothing at all. The mild euphoria of a relaxed morning gradually increased as the cognac washed down by beer took effect. Breakfast de Lux was conjured from the primus - warm bread, sausages and more. Much more. In fact, the central theme of the Primus Meet is good food. Tradition true, we dined on venison with all the trimmings that evening.

It was a colorful gathering there in the woods that day. People had arrived on everything from go-carts with home-made studded tires (slicks with about 10,000 studs) to old Nimbuses to modern Tupperware from Japan. On Saturday evening there was a grand birthday-party for a couple of Guzzi-guys. Someone whipped together a birthday-cake then and there, and served cake and champagne to everyone in the vicinity in the best "stiff-upper-lip" style. Later, Radio P4 came and interviewed a group from Western Norway. Ms. Radio- reporter recorded such an outburst of energy and joy-of-living that she had no problem understanding what we were doing out in the snowy woods instead of lounging on the sofa at home. And everyone knows, a primusman doesn't ever get cold, just blue. She was impressed.

As night came on, fires were lit and everyone kept the party going. For a while. But a long day on the road home dictates a good night's sleep, and things quieted down at a sensible hour. A solid breakfast the next morning started things off, and soon everyone was packing their bikes. It wasn't as cold as it had been on earlier Primus Meets, only -10 c., but a quick warm-up with a primus under the motorpan is kind of a tradition, too. My Guzzi roared to life without the slightest hesitation.

The fine winter-weather at the start of the day with made everything easy. We took a quick telephone to the weather-service before we made our good-byes. Poor driving conditions had closed the Hardanger plateau for free travel, and we didn't care to drive in a colonne. That left us with a more southerly route over Haukeli Mountain.

We made a short stop at Edland for dinner. Our inmarch received about the same attention a party of astronauts would have awaken in the restaurant. The wind had picked up a good deal after dinner, and we were a bit sceptical to conditions on the mountain pass. We drove on, but visibility deteriorated as the amount of wind and snow increased. About halfway up the mountainside, we dropped in behind a semi. Things went slower that way, but it was good to have a snowplow and pathfinder. We followed the semi until we were in the last tunnel of the ascent. There we blew past and punched the bikes over the high plateau. We were a bit worried by the possibility of running into a snowdrift blocking the highway, but made the crossing without any problems. The real snowplows had been out on the far side of the plateau, and the riding there was much easier. The only stretch of road left on the journey home that wasn't plowed clean was around Flatdal. But even there it wasn't bad enough to give us any real difficulties. Soon we were home.

The Primus-Meet is not something you forget the next day - or week. It rests heavily on both body and soul for a long time. Who knows how long... We'll just have to wait and see what happens next year. In the meantime, we can stay in practice with the more light-hearted summer-Meets. And there are plenty of things that need some attention: the spring shine-up, summer tires, oil-change and so on. That's what keeps us going, Guzzi-style. There really is something about these old Italians.

Have a good summer. See you on the road.

[Bicilindrica Digest]