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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by pip_muenster, Dec 15, 2011.
Good stuff. I'm in.
Sitting around all day long was not why we came to Iceland. So Benni, Ernst and I sneaked away and went on a short trip to Husavik to visit the Whale museum. That brought us to the idea of a whale safari. Every two hours some fisher boat would take a load of tourists, put them in survival coveralls and make a tour to the whale routes.
But if you waited, there was one tour on a speedboat in the evening. "Speed" sounded fun. We texted Maddin, who liked the idea so much that he crawled out of his sleeping bag for it and came to Husavik, too.
We left the harbor to the sounds of Lady Gaga blasting from the boat's speaker system. The guide had spent a while in German and invited us to sit back in the cockpit where we would have a much better view than in the front with all the other tourists. That was great, although her survival coverall was constricting the view a bit ...
We did saw some whales and the speedboat gave us the chance to get very close whenever we saw one. You only see the blast, a steam of hot air when it comes to the surface to breath. Depending on the whale, this happens a number of times every few minutes. Then, it will take a very deep breath, the tail fin comes out of the water and it goes on a deep dive for maybe a quarter of an hour. Once you've seen the tail, you can as well search for the next whale.
Why you go on safari
We met the other tour boat
On the way back to the harbor we saw a class of dolphins who started playing around our boat.
It was getting dark and difficult to take photos. Their speed wasn't helping either.
Back in Husavik we split up. Maddin went back to his sleeping bag, Ernst wanted to see the most northern point of Iceland and get as close to the arctic circle as possible.
Benni and I decided to visit the Asbyrgi National Park and the famous Dettifoss waterfall. It was past midnight when we found the Asbyrgi cliff formation. From here, our way lead us back south on the 864 to the Dettifoss. It was cold and the two of us in the twilight, standing alone and in full gear including helmets next to the waterfall reminded me of the ending scene from Total Recall ...
No photos, I promise to bring a tripod next time.
Fog came up and it was getting difficult to see the road surface. Benni with his cross helm and goggles couldn't see anything and just followed my tail light. My pinlock visor was doing its job, and after what seemed like hours we found back to our tents and fell asleep within minutes.
Reading this RR feels like preparation to go there myself. One day...
Thanks for sharing, great storytelling and pics.
In.. Great Pics so far!
Fantastic RR. I'm enjoying it enormously as I'm Icelandic and went to the area north of Vatnajökull last summer. It brings back really good memories.
Ohh, one more thing:
If you ever go back and I'm there I'll show you TRACKS!
anyways, keep up the good work.
This morning we had to take some decisions.
Ernst had only 2 weeks on Iceland and was urging to cross to the south coast.
Maddin was still not feeling better and thought about a hotel for a day or two.
My bike needed the fork seals replaced.
Inmate and burger fan McFuryMcNuggets had given us great input for the trip and also knew about a garage in Reykjavik. We had also been in contact with Christian who've had broken his read bearings and then had them replaced by 'some guy' in Akureyri - the largest city in the north of Iceland.
Since Benni was up for everything, he and Ernst teamed up to cross the highlands. Maddin and I decided to go to Akureyri where he could stay in a warm hotel while I got my bike fixed. We agreed to keep in touch and said goodbye.
About halfway to Akureyri, the Godafoss was a nice opportunity for a rest. It is one of the most famous and most photographed water falls on Iceland. This is not because of its beauty or maybe its size (there're bigger and more impressing ones), but purely because you can drive your standard rental car right up to its edge.
Finally we arrived in Akureyri and all we had to do now was finding the address of the garage. The directions lead to a soccerfield. Was that some kind of a joke from a Blues Brothers wannabe?
Jake: "They got your name, you address."
Elwood: "No, they don't got my address. I falsified my renewal. Put down 1060 West Addison."
Jake: "1060 West Addison? That's Wrigley Field."
We asked at the next gas station and were directed to a nearby workshop. This was for cars, but we could see the end of a dirt bike through one of the windows. They looked at the bike and told us that they couldn't help.They said there was no motorcycle shop in town, but they knew however a guy who was reparing bikes in his spare time.
I called him and he was very supportive, immediately agreeing to repair the bike, if we could bring the spares. I asked him about repairing a purple & golden Africa Twin (kinda difficult to forget), but he said that it must have been 'the other' repair guy in town. Another phone call confirmed that the ADAC could have flown in new seals and brake pads within 48 hours. So that was Maddin's time frame to get well.
Our next goal was to find some hotel. After calling every single guesthouse and hotel in the area, we finally got a room in a hostel/guesthouse right in the city center. Then we went for the best restaurant we could find and had dinner.
Nice to hear that you can enjoy our story. It's a different thing whether you've grown up somewhere or you've just seen it with a tourist's eye.
I do see what you mean about the tracks. We sticked to those roads accessible and legal for e.g. jeeps, and found out that you can hardly get lost with a basic map, no GPS required. The good maps were those showing more details, not more roads - unless you buy small scale maps for each region.
I'm pretty sure I'll be back - and I PROMISE to bring a bike more suited for TRACKS next time. Would be fun to ride together!
Rest days have a tendency to turn out into sleep & eat festivals. Here's one:
We got up late and found a cafe at the harbor for breakfast. The local youth was enjoying the sunny weather and had turned one of the fishing boats into a diving platform. I doubt the water was much more than maybe 12-15 centigrade.
Swimming in the Arctic Ocean
Then we had a lunch break on the quay ...
I went shopping and even found a store for dirt bikes and bearings ...
Africa Twin, rear axle, right?
And then we had to find something for dinner. Since we had a kitchen with an oven, we chose something you can't easily cook on your gas stove.
No pics of the sleeping, I'm sure you'll understand.
I decided to go for a ride alone and let Maddin get some sleep. Nothing spectacular, just a bit of easy going towards the south on road 821. The view into the bay was nice and I took a smaller track up the hill to find a nice viewpoint. The road seemed to lead nowhere as there weren't any tracks on the ground, so I tried to turn around. Unfortunately, it was quite windy and it happened what had to happen: I dropped the bike - to the wrong side.
It was now laying almost on its head with the wheels pointing up the hill. I took off gloves, helmet and jacket, this would be a bigger task. Then I ran to catch my gloves which were about to fly down the mountain.
I could remove the upper pannier and the tank bag, but the bike was still too heavy for me. So I turned the bike 180 degrees on the spot by grabbing and dragging the luggage rack. Picking it up was now easy, and the rocky ground had barely left a scratch on the cylinder cover.
I continued south and must have somehow missed that the 821 turned into the F821. Remember, the F is important. So a few smaller water crossings and a bit more technical riding were added to my little ride. Nice views, though ...
The next morning I looked out of the window and knew immediately that there wasn't much sleep in my future. There was a music festival coming up and the main stage was right in front of our guesthouse.
Loudspeakers being unloaded
The spares were one day late. They'd arrived on Iceland yesterday morning, but the flight from Reykjavik to Akureyri had been canceled. At least, that's what we'd been told.
So we did a short trip up the coast to see Siglufjoerdur. There's a new tunnel which you've got to pass, and these Icelandic tunnels are fun: They're single track roads with occasional wider spots where you could stop and give way to oncoming traffic. They're also only barely lit.
Then, we got the phone call, we've been waiting for: You got mail!
Back in town, a packet was waiting for me
So we left the bike with Jon and went partying ...
It was well past 10pm when he called me: "Your bike is ready." He'd done a good job, and was way cheaper than a BMW mechanic back home.
Jon with the GS
So what I've learned here is that the standard fork spring settings for German highways are too soft for rough roads and a loaded bike (go figure ...). I had tightened up the preload on the rear spring, but had forgotten the front one. That had caused the damage.
Also, the guy's loved making fun of me after the seal incident: "GS is no motocross bike."
From now on I rode with more preload and never had these problems again.
Jon the mechanic looks kinda cute
I'm really enjoying your RR here, you have some amazing pictures, can't wait for the rest!
Benni and Ernst were meanwhile exploring the south. They proposed to meet at Landmannalaugar in 1 to 2 days. So we took road 821 again, heading to Laugafell first. Only this time, the weather was much worse. It had cooled down and was often drizzling rain. The road up the mountain was slippery and a few creeks had found there way onto the track.
Once up in the highlands we had to add some additional layers of clothing as the wind chill factor took part in the game. Laugafell was an extremely welcome sight. We were welcomed by the ranger who allowed us to use their kitchen to warm up and have lunch.
But most importantly, Laugafell has its own hot pot. Lying in the hot water under the clouded sky, with some raindrops here and there was extremely comfortable. I could have stayed in there all day long.
Now if we wanted to meet the guys we had to move on. We took the F752 to the Sprengisandur and had to cross 2 rivers. The second one was not too deep, but wide and with a bit of a current. It looked impressive and we discussed the situation with a guy in a 4x4. He wanted to watch us to see if he could make it, but we made it very clear that it would be the other way around ...
The jeep made it across easily and it seemed so could we. I went first. At some point I lost the grip on the front wheel which slipped uncontrollable to the left. I went over.
(video screen capture)
The bike lay under me on the side, surprisingly with the engine still running. I picked it up and continued to the other side. Maddin came over without trouble at all.
I checked my luggage and gear and found everything important to be dry and save. There was some water at the bottom of the pannier, but that affected nothing but the inflatable matress and some tools. I had to change clothes as my legs, feets, arms were all dripping wet.
A bit later we came to the Sprengisandur and continued further south. We've been told that there would be 2 tough water crossings on the F26, with a camp side after the second one. The first would be deeper, but the second one much wider and more technical. Other riders had passed and turned around a couple days earlier. We arrived at the first water crossing in the evening and this is what it looked like:
Water crossing on the F26
All the rivers reach their highest water levels by the end of the day, due to the increased melting over the day. Here, the water seemed shallow enough not to reach our air intakes, but when I tried to walk through, the strong current pushed my legs away. I couldn't get to the other side on foot. (would have been a bright idea to bring a hiking stick) We walked up and down the banks to find a suitable way across, but couldn't find a save route. To make it worse, this was glacial water, which made it impossible to see the ground.
While we were standing there, a Cherokee and a new Land Cruiser showed up and went across. The Cherokee almost got stuck on the banks.
Then a ranger showed up in his jeep. (They are usually checking the roads at the end of the day for anyone unlucky enough to get stranded.) We discussed the water situation with him and decided not to try it this evening. Maybe we would camp here and see whether it would be easier in the morning. One problem was that the second river was known to be the difficult one actually. If we made it across this one, we could end up trapped between two rivers.
The ranger going across. We could see his jeep being pushed at least 1m to the side due to the strong current in the middle.
That decided it for me. I was freezing, already dripping wet and probably quite exhausted. Camping and going across would be adventurous, but the hot spring a few kilometers back in Laugafell was much more tempting. I voted for the hot pot, although knowing that this would not leave us enough gas to try it again tomorrow.
On the way back I used the opportunity to check how my bike would do lying on the other side in the river. No problem either, the snorkel was doing well. Nevertheless, I was pissed.
We checked in at Laugafell, opted for the heated hut and jumped in the hot pot.
Also, it was a brilliant idea to bring some single malt ...
AWESOME !! Great report, amazing pics !
That's a dream ride dude
I love Iceland I cannot wait to go back.
WE flew over part of incredible from the air.
This world of ours is such an amazing place. And ADVrider allows us all to enjoy it. Awesome RR! Thanks!
I really want to go to Iceland. Ever since reading 'Running Blind' by Desmond Begely as a child. Your report has done nothing if not strengthened this desire. Great writing, keep it up.
I am in!
Thanks a lot to everyone for all the positive comments!
I looked up the author, seems like a good read, I'll check on that!
Iceland was always on a list of dream destinations, right next to Australia, Bolivia, Chile, Iran, Morocco, New Zealand, Namibia, Norway, Peru, Thailand, Tibet, Turkey ... I travel a lot and some new placed got on the list while others were dropped or checked as done.
What caused Iceland to move from a simple list entry to 'That's where my next vacation WILL be!' were these great threads here:
The Chief Bluesmoke do Iceland
Riding the Bullet - to Iceland!
Kim and Mike's Most Excellent 2009 Icelandic Adventure
So if anyone needs a last kick to get off his chair and book a ticket, I'd be honored if I could help.
I bought a second hand copy awhile ago and to tell the truth it was as good as i remember. Just a good, solid, action thriller.