Saturday 3rd June, backpack and bike box packed, checked, double checked and checked again, pretty much too late to go back through what can only be described as a general packing inventory, seems to be the same content for every trip, although this time cut by at least half to factor in the reduced weight and volume for a fully unsupported challenge. The road that lay head would certainly feel longer and slower with unnecessary weight.
Left home around 6.30am kindly driven to Stansted by my wife Bev, a short 45 minute drive along the back country roads I'm so familiar with on a bike. Into the drive-through drop off point at the airport, three minutes is all you're given, almost no time for proper good byes, hundreds of people partly distracted by the severity of the penalty fees that hang over one of those special moments. As the car disappeared out of sight thoughts turned to the vagaries of the check in and security check procedure, always a slight doubt around check in surcharges or whether the bike box would really be accepted, but to the credit of Ryan air a completely seamless, slick & courteous fifteen minutes, first in line, boarding pass issued, back pack cleared for the cabin (not sure how this got through, the size and weight of a small car!) and bike box checked in.
Two hours north east and on the approach to Oslo, with an admission that, having checked ten times over, still carried an underlying anxiety of landing in an outlying airport, 100 miles from the hotel and start of the Arctic 1000 route, even walking through the airport it was difficult to completely rule out some false start, maybe an onward train journey or expensive taxi ride. But all proved just as slick as earlier that morning, directed to the bus stand for no more than five minute wait and ten minute drive.
Checked in and room allocated, second floor back of the hotel facing green hills and woods, ten minutes from the airport and near serenity. Bike box unpacked and re-assembly completely complete, another anxiety over, no missing parts, no damage. Time to walk a short distance alone the E6 immediately outside the hotel and the planned start point for the long miles ahead, re-assured by the receptionist that it was permissible to ride the E6 even on the outskirts of Oslo. The hotel is located on a side road, parallel to the E6 for a short distance, this couldn't have been better, at least the first mile effectively on a closed road, everything looked fine for the early morning start that lay ahead.
Back to the room, shower and rest. Dinner proved to be an introduction to one of those well known talked about aspects of Norway, the cost of dining out, cheapest option in the menu, steak, fries & soft drink, £45, more costly than travelling from Essex to Oslo, the budget constraints could kick in tomorrow.
Lights off just after 9pm, all considered a pretty damn good start for what lay ahead, you count your good fortune in whatever way it arrives.