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
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
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
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.