Inspired by the magnetism of Norway’s renowned Lofoten region for over 10 years now, Dutch-born adventure traveler, Thalassa van Beek, set out on her Yamaha Ténéré 700 to finally go and see the wanderlust-inducing archipelago with her own eyes.
What she found there was just the beginning… She discovered the wonders of the Scandinavian peninsula surely don’t stop with the jaw-dropping islands. This is Thalassa’s story of going north, travelling beyond the average, and overcoming the challenges she faced along the way.
“My trip started at SKOG, an adventure festival in Sweden. I had already planned on going there and I had arranged for my bike to be transported there from Spain, where I live. Of course, distance is something else entirely in those parts, but still; ‘while I’m in the neighborhood…’. It felt like it would make sense to start from SKOG, heading north towards Lofoten from there. But I was considering a detour towards the northernmost point of Europe, the famous Nordkapp or North Cape.
“Some of the others at SKOG tried to talk me out of taking the detour towards the North Cape. Supposedly, the weather can be really tricky and when you do manage to get there, it’s quite underwhelming, they said. So, by the time I reached the fork in the road – with one way leading further north and the other turning westwards – I had already made up my mind. The North Cape is one of those big, beyond the average motorcycling destinations. One of the most famous in Europe. And it’s not like you’ll be back that far north for any reason soon, right?!”
“Turns out, on the day I rode up – underwhelming and nothing special to some, or not – the North Cape proved to be really special; special to me on a personal level. The weather was incredible. Bright blue, sunny skies, and a lovely eleven-degree-Celsius temperature – which is almost considered hot above the Arctic circle in spring – and as the road rolled on towards the Cape, I suddenly realized where I was actually headed, and where I’d come from.
“I was on this amazing journey that had started when I made a conscious decision to start my own business years ago – a decision that would eventually see me move from the Netherlands to Spain to pursue my dreams. Dreams like these. Riding, on my own bike, as far north as physically possible in Europe… In that moment I just felt so incredibly proud. Proud of everything I’d done and every choice I had made. All on my own.”
Though the fellow SKOG visitors had – luckily – been wrong about the sketchy climate towards the North Cape, Thalassa could’ve done with similar warnings towards the next chapter of her journey, because her dream destination of seeing Lofoten was up next. The 35-year-old apologized for not being able to describe the local weather on her ride back down from the Cape without resorting to profanity. Only to do exactly that: “The weather was just completely sh*t.”
She remarked, “My phone would light up every so often, displaying every single type of weather warning known to man. The authorities were warning people to be on the lookout for everything from heavy snowfall and violent gusts of wind, to even alerting for potential landslides. Even locals I met heeded the warnings. They told me they had never experienced weather like that before. The weather would eventually force me to halt the trip as I waited out the storm outside.” Needless to say, Thalassa sighed.
Not only had the terrible weather forced her to take shelter, but it had also covered the otherwise fierce and beautiful Lofoten island range in grey. Cloud cover, rainfall, snow, and piercing gales robbed her of the views that had initially inspired her to want to make the trip over a decade ago. “Though it wasn’t all bad,” she said. “I had no choice but to hunker down in a hostel. Nothing to do but wait out the worst of the weather. I was stuck for several days. Luckily, I can do most of my work remotely and 5G data connections are surprisingly good all throughout Norway and Sweden. But still, waiting will eventually get boring and boredom inevitably turns to frustration…”
“But the wait also gave me time to reply to all the messages I got through Instagram, and I spent quite a bit of time on the phone talking to friends as well. Things I wouldn’t have necessarily had the time for otherwise. And if you hang around in one place like that, you get to talk to a few more local people too, exploring the town on foot.”
Once the weather started looking up slightly, not enough to finally admire Lofoten like she had intended but enough to take off riding – her waterproof Lamina GTX Ladies outfit was put through its paces that day – Thalassa left the region. Heading south, Atlanterhavsveien bound. Thalassa continued, “My next leg took me south, past the city of Trondheim. I just had lunch in the city and left again soon after. In hindsight, I kind of regret not staying in Trondheim longer. Especially considering I would soon arrive at yet another dream destination shrouded in grey. It was so foggy… you couldn’t see anything.”
Atlanterhavsveien, also known as the Atlantic Road, is an absolutely epic stretch of Scandinavian scenery. Famous for how the road sweeps from one island to the next, connecting patches of land across the sea with delicate-looking bridges that curve as if shaped naturally over time. “The Atlantic Road you just have to see when you’re traversing Norway, but If I’m honest – regardless of the fog ruining the view – the best riding was yet to come. The skies were starting to open up and when I reached Kristiansund, at the far end of the Atlantic Road, the sun finally came out as well,” Thalassa smiled. “From Kristiansund everything seemed to click. From there the ride was just beautiful!”
Arriving in the area near Trolstigen, Thalassa was supposed to meet up with adventure rider and videographer, Thomas Hansen, someone she had met at SKOG. Hansen had arranged for three days of riding in his proverbial backyard in the mountainous region of southern Norway. Still smiling, Thalassa added, “I liked the flowing nature of the roads before, but it was then and there I fell in love with the south of Norway a bit.
“The way the landscape transitions beautifully from bright green in the foothills to gorgeous, snowy mountain sides higher up. And the roads over the mountain passes, decorated with awe-inspiring waterfalls… just incredible. Much more technical riding and much more fun, too. Turns out, I really am more into mountains than riding along coast roads. Though I kind of knew that already. Winding through high snow wall-lined roads with nothing but blue skies above – that’s a memory that will stick with me.”
“All in all, I don’t want to make it sound like I regret traveling to Lofoten, because I don’t. I’m glad I did. Sure, I could’ve done without the cold, the rain, and the wind. But if you don’t ride through some sort of inclement weather, have you really experienced two-wheel travel across Scandinavia at all? I left off hoping I would be riding wide-eyed all the way, constantly telling myself ‘Oh, this is just so beautiful’. The same with the Atlantic Road, but that wasn’t the case,” Thalassa carefully explains.
Her eyes light up again as she carries on. “In the end, the places I didn’t think much of at first, proved to be so much more meaningful. Traveling up to the North Cape ‘just because’ and the elation I felt riding up there. The way the mountains and natural beauty of southern Norway stole my heart...”
“It proves inspiration is one thing, but ultimately you won’t know until you go!”
Thalassa van Beek (35) is an avid adventure rider and the founder of her motorcycle marketing agency – aptly named Motorcycle Marketing – but her skillset ranges far beyond her business. Working as a model and social media specialist, you’d wonder how the Dutch-born Spanish inhabitant even has the time to ride any of her five Yamahas. Combining work and pleasure and making the most of both through her unwavering enthusiasm is the answer.