When she was in Tromsø, 350 kilometres above the Arctic Circle, Miriam Orlandi found out she was about to become the first person in the world to reach the North Cape on the back of an electric motorbike, but she was in no way affected by this news: “I really don’t care about the record – she explained, frankly as ever – I only care about the journey, the meetings, the feelings experienced”. Over the space of twenty-one days on the Zero Motorcycles SR/S, fitted with Pirelli tyres Diablo Rosso III, she crossed Europe from Italy to the far North, the last of her many feats on two wheels.
Tests for departure
Although she travels for the pleasure of doing so, Miriam has demonstrated many things by achieving this goal. First of all, how it is possible to cover long distances on an electric motorbike: “I believe that no-one can argue the contrary”, she states, with the pride of those who are aware that they have defied many sceptics through facts. “Very few people believed in me”, she says regretfully, reiterating the notion that if you travel electrically, and especially if you are a woman, getting sponsored can be quite a challenge. “I got rained on eighteen days out of twenty-one, I travelled 350 kilometres each day on my own: if you take this type of journey on a Vespa people treat you like a hero”.
Towards North Cape
Between Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany and Norway, she covered approximately seven thousand kilometres, not without obstacles.
Germany, with its wheat fields and windmills
Almost at Trolstigen
Somewhere towards Valdrestyle
Such as in the North Cape, when the “charging column of a hotel was unable to connect to my bike, and since the building was in wood, they wouldn’t even let me try again, because they were afraid it would cause a short-circuit. Luckily, a local gentleman took me to his café, where I was able to use his power outlet”.
I thought it was a column for an electric car charging but…
At the Arctic Circle museum, on the other hand, they lowered a cable down from a window so she could recharge her bike.
Aside from these few hiccups, however, electrical travel passed the test with full marks: “The motorbike was fantastic, its road holding was amazing”. The problem with the range, despite being a worry to start with, was actually near non-existent: “I could connect it to a simple power outlet, so all I had to do was knock on someone’s door, or a shop window, and ask if I could charge it”. All in all, you are more likely to get stranded if you travel on petrol.
KransLipa village (Czech Republic) at friends’ home
There were also some truly priceless feelings: “The silence, which many people complain about, was just wonderful: I could hear a waterfall splashing or reindeer belling hundreds of metres away”. After a lifetime of travelling on petrol-fuelled superbikes, Miriam has discovered green magic, falling in love with it and demonstrating her propensity towards change. A way of travelling that looks to the future, yet which brings to mind ancient pleasures too: “I uncovered the beauty of getting to know local people, of having a chat with them; when you stop for fifty minutes to charge your motorbike, people come up to you”. Conversations arise, connections are made.
Miriam loves accelerating on her bike, but at the same time she likes to take her time to discover new places: “The legend of the North Cape shouldn’t be a box to tick, but rather a comprehensive experience”, she warns, agreeing with Norwegians when they pick on those who race to the Pole just to stick their sticker and take a selfie there.
The adverse weather conditions often concealed the view from Miriam, but when the clouds scattered “the fog cleared like a theatre stage, revealing some breath-taking views: the red houses standing out from the rocks and grey waters, the expanses of tundra on the mountains”. And then there was Lofoten, which was “spectacular despite the rain”.
Oh no, it’s still raining
On this smart and sustainable journey, Miriam Orlandi had the chance to come into contact with other experiences of the green world, such as in Germany, at the Volkswagen dealerships, which are all powered by solar panels, meaning electric charges are free of charge. Or in Bodø, where the fishing nets lost at sea are recovered, melted and recycled into new nets; and generally across the whole of Norway, the ideal place for a slow trip and to stay in touch with nature: “I learned how it is possible to arrange houses at a distance apart from one another, without having to deforest, and keeping nature in among us”.
An environmentally-friendly concept which also involves using electricity: “I don’t know if it is the final solution, but I do know for sure that fossil fuels have dragged us into this current dramatic situation, so we need to try and change”. With her journey, Miriam has contributed towards paving a new way towards this change.