Sunday, May 20, 2007

Pulled Over by the Politi

We spent the day on Kvitsøy with my parents, who arrived last Friday. The last time they were here was five years ago, which was also my first time in Norway. To give us a little more flexibility with transportation, and to service Lise's parents' car, we took their Mazda back on the ferry with us. We were a little nervous that there would not be enough room on the ferry, since we only managed to reserve space for one car. There was enough room, although if there were a few more cars, someone would have been left behind. While on the ferry, Lise's brother called, asking if I could stop by to fix his wireless network. We amended our plan- I would drive the parents' car and stop by her brother's apartment, and Lise would take Julian and my parents home.

As I was leaving the ferry, I noticed a policeman standing on the median, a sight I have never seen before. It looked like he was waving me over. It made no sense-- no one else was being waved over. I made eye contact with him and pointed to myself. He nodded and pointed to pull over behind the police van. I rolled the window down, completely befuddled. I said a mere "hello," prompting him to ask if I spoke any Norwegian. I told him that I spoke a little Norwegian, but interrupted myself trying to wave down Lise as she drove by. He asked me who I was waving at, and I told him. He then asked what car she was driving, and I pointed it out-- she parked ahead of the police car. I was thinking how odd this was-- I was one minute into driving her parents' car, and I am pulled over by the police, less than 30 meters from the ferry.

I asked the officer what was going on. He replied, and I quote him as accurately as possible-- but keep in mind that I think something is slightly lost in his command of the English language. He said, "We received a call that you have been drinking. Have you?" I simply said "no," and he told me I could be on my way. That was that.

In thinking about this further, my theory is that the last car to enter the ferry, that was parked very near me, was inhabited by a very strange couple. As we were parking our car when we drove onto the ferry, we had to fuss with getting Julian out of the car. I noticed a rather trashy-looking couple pull into the last spot. Both were smoking profusely with their windows open. There is no smoking on the ferry. They took a long time to leave the car, and the attracted the attention of the ferry staff, who approached them and spoke to them about something. When we were entering our cars to leave the ferry, I noticed that the woman appeared to have difficulty walking. The thought entered my mind to help her into the car-- but it did not occur to me at the time that she might be intoxicated. My guess is the ferry staff notified the police.

I have no idea what the outcome was. I gained some respect for the police for recognizing they had the wrong person- me- without unnecessarily harassing me. But my run for having never been "pulled over" is now over. Now if only the police will have my approved visa application ready this week.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Fixed Gear Norway

I spent about a year and a half with my fixed gear in retirement. I didn't think I could stand the hills. I discovered mountain biking last year, and prefer off-road riding when the weather is bad--- which is often. I managed to bike through the worst of winter, and have been kicking myself for insisting that we found a house on an easy bus route to my work. I have not ridden the bus since we moved here. I would rather bike through the worst Stavanger weather than take the bus. Now that winter is mostly over, I have been rediscovering fixed gear. Besides, it makes commuting to work more of an adventure, and it requires more effort.

A few days ago I was out in the middle of nowhere, taking it easy. I spied a group of cyclists in my mirror, and at an intersection glanced over to see they were from the Stavanger cycling club. I figured they would overtake me. They didn't. They rode right on my wheel for a few miles, making no attempt to pass. As we approached a busy road, where I was turning right, a car with the right of way was almost in the intersection. Without braking, I slowed my pedaling. I probably should have signaled to those behind me, but this was a T-intersection with a car speeding through it. The bike behind me slammed into the rear of my bike. He locked up his wheel, and somehow we both stayed upright. I was a little embarrassed, but it really was not my fault. He was the one drafting some strange wheel.

He asked me if it was a special kind of bike. I gave him a brief rundown. At that point, the rest of his group caught up. I don't know what kind of riding they were up to beforehand, but I wasn't riding very fast. I don't know how this group managed to split up. They took off, and now I was behind them. It was just as well, since there was a major hill coming up in a few miles leading down to Sandnes. They coasted down the hill-- far faster that I could ever hope to on a bike that didn't coast. Eventually they slowed down again, and I passed them and headed home.

As I approached Stavanger, a taxi had the right of way in a roundabout. I slowed my pedaling to time myself. He completely messed up my timing by stopping-- in the roundabout- to wave me through. I wonder if he thought I wasn't stopping. I cannot stop pedaling-- it is just that simple. I had similar problems in the US at four-way stops. I would pedal right to the point of stopping. Drivers do not know how to process this information. So far, I am the only fixed gear rider around-- that I have seen. Now it is time to spread the gospel.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Picture 036, originally uploaded by filtersweep.

I have been too busy for a proper blog entry. A picture is worth a thousand words, anyway.