The Hekla Project - Riding to Hell and back (Scandinavia 2014 - Iceland 2015)

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Dekatria, Jan 1, 2014.

  1. Dekatria

    Dekatria Ad Astra Per Aspera

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    [​IMG]

    The Hekla Project: Riding to Hell and back (Scandinavia 2014 - Iceland 2015)
    If a dream doesn't scare you, it isn't good enough

    Welcome.​

    The background story to my madness starts in 1996. I was 10 years old at the time, and my best friend (aged 11) committed suicide. When something like that happens when you’re that young, you tend to think of it as ‘normal’ - ofcourse, I was sad for a few months, but afterwards I happily continued with my life.

    But thirteen years onward, in 2009, my past caught up with me. I came to see that what had happened then was far from normal, which plunged me in a deep depression… a time I nearly put an end to myself, and subsequetly a time I can now only describe as by far the darkest period of my life.

    Coming out of it in May 2010, I swore I would make my lifelong dream of seeing Greece reality… and I was going to do it riding a motorbike, even though I didn’t even have a license yet. This became ‘The Dekatria Project’.

    A year later, in October 2011, I got my license. In July 2012 I did a 2200 mile trip through Britain and in the Summer of 2013, three years after I nearly stole my dreams away from myself, I finally did it. 5084 miles, 13 countries, and 30 days later, I returned from riding to Cape Tenaron, one of the gates to the Greek Underworld. And right after, I realised that I was hooked.


    Because only 10 days after getting back, I was sitting around the table with two other riders discussing what was up next.

    And that’s when Iceland came to the table. You see, I’d already given my next destination some thought prior to going to Greece… and Iceland was the first thing on my mind. It’s a real peculiar country, known for it inhospitable and yet movingly beautiful environment. Also, II knew it’d require skills I was yet to familiarize myself with (namely the off-road kind), so it was the perfect next challenge. The next boundary to cross.

    Eventual destination will be Mount Hekla - it was seen as a gate to Hell in medieval times, so it seemed logical to put it next in line. And so, I can now welcome you to The Hekla Project.

    It does mean that, just like with the previous project, alot of prep and training is in order. And that’s what 2014 is for.

    Because what my trip to Greece lacked was a trip to familiarize myself to the climate at hand, resulting in a struggle against the immense heat when I got to the Mediterranean. So for 2015, a trip to Scandinavia seems just what I need as preparation.

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    The 2014 Scandinavia trip was 8723 km in length and circled the Baltic Sea, going in a clockwise direction through Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, and with it Sápmi (or Lappland), the Arctic Circle and the Nordkapp. Then Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lthuania and Poland finished it off before Germany brought me back to The Netherlands again.

    In 2015 the plan currently is to go from The Netherlands towards Denmark, after which a ferry will bring the trip towards the Faeroe Islands and subsequently Iceland. The trip then goes into an anti-clockwise direction, visiting the North and westernmost point of Iceland before going down towards Mount Hekla in the South-West.

    But before I get to all that, the Beast will need some modifications as well. The front suspension already has progressive springs so should be OK, but the rear still has the stock shock. I want to raise the rear a little, giving the Beast some more room to move - for me, that’s not a problem since I can currently stand on the ground with room to spare between my ass and the seat.

    Above all though, I need to get to grips with offroad riding. I got a taste of it riding the Balkans last year, but I want to know what happens when the gravel goes beyond a mile.

    Péus

    I always like giving a bigger meaning to these trips than just my own lunacy - and that’s where this little thing comes in.

    [​IMG]

    The people that followed the Dekatria Project know where this is going - when I started that particular project, I asked the father of my late friend whether I could put some of the earth from my friend’s grave inside a small canister, and take it with me. You see, my friend killed himself when he was 11 years old, so he didn’t get to do most of the stuff that I got to do. This way, albeit symbolically, he could share in what I was doing.

    The canister stayed in my motorcycle coat for the duration of the project, and when I got to Cape Tenaron, I opened it up, scattered the earth, after which I filled it with earth from Tenaron herself. Upon arrival back home, I gave the canister to my late friend’s father to place back at the grave, so that part of the grave would forever be in Greece, and part of Greece would be at his grave.

    And this time, I intend to do the same. Once again, I’ve got a canister with some of the grave’s earth, and I will take it with me to both Scandinavia in 2014, and Iceland in 2015. This way, part of him will travel as much as I do.

    So, sit back, and enjoy what’s coming. It’s once again going to be a long haul :thumb

    Follow the project on Facebook, or visit the website (with much more background stuff) over here!

    Ride Reports in this thread so far:
    Scandinavia 2014 (page 3)
    Iceland 2015 (page 5)



    Links:
    The website
    The Facebook page
    The ADVrider RR thread on the Dekatria Project


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    #1
  2. JohnnyTh

    JohnnyTh Been here awhile

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    Looks like a great ride. Good luck. But your missing some of the best parts of Norway.
    #2
  3. Dekatria

    Dekatria Ad Astra Per Aspera

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    The route as shown might be altered when under way - nothing is set in stone. Last Summer the route from Greece back to the Netherlands changed in three places altogether, so who knows :thumb

    The only reason it is as it is is to divide the time between Norway and Sweden a bit more evenly... but it could very well be that if Norway delivers up until Trondheim, I'll follow the coast a bit further. Just depends on how the riding is going.
    #3
  4. Simon L

    Simon L Adventurer

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    Awesome, I'll be following your report :clap ! We've done a trip to the Northcape last summer and we're doing Iceland this summer. Beautiful countries, but as JohnnyTh says, you're missing the best part of Norway (and Finland).

    Regards,

    Simon L
    #4
  5. Dekatria

    Dekatria Ad Astra Per Aspera

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    Hardest thing with making the route for such a thing is always what to leave out... but then again, as I said before, nothing is sure yet :D
    #5
  6. Simon L

    Simon L Adventurer

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    Jep, the things not to do and last but not least: realizing that you're not able to spend ages travelling around. At some point you'll have to get back to work :fall .
    #6
  7. SR1

    SR1 Back in S. Korea

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    This could be good...I'll keep watching!!
    #7
  8. Bli55

    Bli55 -

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    #8
  9. Dekatria

    Dekatria Ad Astra Per Aspera

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    Very nice :D

    The plan is indeed to get some knobbies under the Alp once I get around to Iceland, and make some further tweaks to get it more off-road proof. So stay tuned :thumb
    #9
  10. JohnnyTh

    JohnnyTh Been here awhile

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    Malmø (south of sveden) to Oslo is painfully boring. From Oslo to vest coast is ok, but not very special. If i where you i would take the ferry to Kristiansand and the up the vest coast.

    You need to get a pic in Hell. Small place in norway :)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hell,_Norway
    #10
  11. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    Hi Deks,
    Good to see you with another ride to plan! I know that it's early days yet for route planning and your projected route is a starting point to build on. The Norse riders probably have some good suggestions to make the trip more interesting for you. No doubt that when it is time to go you will have an excellent plan. I think it's a fine thing that you are continuing to honor your friend this way! Looking forward to following the adventure!
    #11
  12. Hollyr

    Hollyr Vesterislendingur

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    #12
  13. Dekatria

    Dekatria Ad Astra Per Aspera

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    Waaay ahead of you, Hell was already on the route :thumb as far's Malmo-Oslo I intend to keep the route with as little ferries as possible. Ferries add scheduling restrictions I want to do without for once :D

    Above all, I intend to once again travel by destinations, and let the way inbetween be determined on the day itself. It's happened more than once that I was aching for some dull highway after some nice twisties so I could switch off my brain for once. Then again, before Malmö there's not that many twisties as of yet, so the route through Denmark will probably undergo some scrutiny too.
    Good to see a loyal follower return as well :D Cheers!
    Sadly I will probably depart around the 25th of July, 3 weeks after this rally. Otherwise it probably would've been a good addition :thumb
    #13
  14. Dekatria

    Dekatria Ad Astra Per Aspera

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    Mighty kick is mighty!

    Prep for the coming Summer goes on steadily, and with it, some changes have been made. Primarily, the route of this Summer has once again been altered.

    The original route through Scandinavia would've taken me around 3 weeks to complete. My holiday lasts 2 weeks longer than that, and a diversion past the Nordkapp would add 5 days to the original plan.

    So that got me thinking: why not go there too? I feel it's a bit like the addition of the Rome city-centre was last Summer; you can't come that close and then not go there.

    Furthermore, the Beast's seat has been re-upholstered. Had to give up riding for 2 weeks, but it was well worth it.

    Before
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    After
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    Also, I've put a fully detailed packing list online now; I reckon it to be handy for future reference. Have yourselves a look-see!
    #14
  15. MoToad

    MoToad Been here awhile

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    Nelson BC, fer now.
    This is why when I wake up, I sit down with a coffee and fire up ADV! What a great fucking video! What a great fucking poet! :1drink.
    Good choice of bikes, my young friend. Heated grips installed? They are lifesavers.
    As I venture back into the painless Japanese market this summer and head out to the great Canadian North, I'll be watchin you, Amigo.
    Toad:D
    #15
  16. agent of orange

    agent of orange Adventurer

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    Looks like an amazing trip you have planned. I have only had the opportunity to ride around switzerland but would love to ride everywhere in europe. Clearly your friend you lost affected your life immensely. But it is good that you carry a bit of him with you to leave all the places you travel. strange how sometimes the people that continue to affect our lives can be the ones that are no longer in them. ride safe and I look forward to seeing how your next adventure plays out.
    #16
  17. Dekatria

    Dekatria Ad Astra Per Aspera

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    Thanks guys :thumb

    The bike indeed has heated grips, couldn't do without them to be honest. I'll probably be needing them again the coming Summer :D
    #17
  18. Dekatria

    Dekatria Ad Astra Per Aspera

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    [​IMG]

    After the Beast getting some good open heart-surgery the prep is chugging along quite nicely once more. This weekend in fact, I'll be going to central Germany to shakedown some of the new gear.

    One possible addition to the fold might be the widely appraised 'can stove', which I'll put up against my Primus this weekend.

    <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" mozallowfullscreen="" src="//player.vimeo.com/video/64726512" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="500"></iframe>

    It'll be interesting to see whether a top dollar camping stove can be beat by a can of cider and a pair of scissors... initial tests were promising.

    For this Summer, there's still quite alot that needs doing, and as per usual it's the little things that I find the most cumbersome to deal with. Changing out a gasket? Fine. But ordering a spare cam battery... meh, that can wait. Accommodation, visa, vaccinations... all are required, but I just keep postponing them. Guess I need a self-slap on the back of the head :D

    Stay tuned :thumb
    #18
  19. Dekatria

    Dekatria Ad Astra Per Aspera

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    Test Trip April 2014 - Harz Germany

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    Oh yes, time to get busy already! Together with my compadre for Iceland Heiko Spaans I set off to central Germany, to test some of the new kit for 2014 and get some good riding on in the process.

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    So on Saturday-morning the 26th of April, we set off in an easterly disposition. The first ride was admittedly the hardest - over 450 km of gutwrenching ass-numbing highway, with a few B-roads at the end to finish it all off.

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    But we got to see an oldschool Fiat Panda with a trailer, so that was nice.

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    And progress was pretty quick. Admittedly, the B-roads at the end were quite hard after hundreds of kms of tiring motorways, but before long we entered the Harz.

    And with it, also a rainstorm of sorts. That was not the deal!

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    After it had finally calmed down, the camp was set up. I'm not going to say who was the fastest ofcourse, but let's just say my victory dance is in the compilation. Hardened tent pegs rule!

    Day 2

    The second day brought us to the south of the Harz area, where we'd planned to see a monument of some kind. I was apprehensive of the day's schedule - over 300km of twisties was to be clocked up.

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    But the riding itself was pretty good - I could see why there were alot of bikers coming and going. Even the weather cleared up - very nice!

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    The chickenstrips were shrinking by the minute.

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    We even took a nice semi-offroad detour, pulling a dust cloud behind ourselves. All was well.

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    When we made it to the monument though, we were in for two surprises:

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    1. We were not the only bikers

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    2. A Bratwurst sandwich was just 1 Euro. For that kinda money, we'll take several please!

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    When we returned to the Harz natural reservation however, things predictably took a turn for the worst. We arrived in the rain at 3pm, but late at night it was still coming down.

    And I do not mean the "Oh deary me it's getting a bit moist here" kind of rain, more the "HOLY HELL ARMAGEDDON IS UPON US" kind of rain. It was akin to a flashflood, but then from the sky.

    The strangest thing was that when we went to the reception house to get our clothes (and ourselves) warm and dry, the heating had been turned off because they'd be closed in the evening, and the proprietor didn't feel like heating the house for nothing. Customer service, it's such an underrated concept.

    Alas, we took it all in good stride - our tents were on a hill anyways. I decided it was as good a time as any to see whether the can-stove could do anything else other than provide me with a meal.

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    And wouldn't you know it, it did! Together with one of the pannier lids I set the thing up to heat the inside of the tent. I know, it might seem a bit precarious having a two foot flame in the middle of a plastic cocoon, but as long as you keep the thing away from the sidewalls (and keep an eye on it) there's no real issue.

    Also, the rain outside probably helped as well.

    In fact, within seconds the thing had heated up the tent to such a degree I felt like getting out of the sweater I had put on so-hastily a few hours earlier. It was positively subtropical all of a sudden.

    [​IMG]

    So I took it a step further, and decide to open up the can of soup I'd brought along... and before long, I found myself eating some hot soup whilst reading a good book in my heated tent. Rain was still thundering down outside, but I couldn't have cared less.

    It was one of those truly blissful moments.

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    Day 3

    Waking up, the weather finally seemed to have calmed down. It wasn't dry (yet), but at least it wasn't raining anymore.

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    We'd agreed to take it slow today, and just go to visit the nearby city of Goslar.

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    It was to be Walpurgisnight in a few days, so the streets were lined with witches.

    And witches like riddles... so let's see if you can find the project sticker on the pic below!

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    After a walk around the city centre, we bought some beer and went back to camp... where the sun finally seemed to have zeroed in on our HQ's location. Time to chill the beer, and relax!

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    (And yes, that's how we chilled the beer. Plastic bag + piece of string + reservoir = cold booze!)

    I took the opportunity to pit the Primus and can stove up against each other, but the wind seemed eager to throw a spanner in the works. Comparing the two though, the Primus can get stuff warm the quickest, but it is (besides expensive) immensely fiddly to use in a pinch.

    The can stove is probably as lo-fi and reliable as you can make it. It might not be the fastest stove out there, but it will always get the job done. Considering how easy and cheap the can stove is to make and use (not to mention its awesome central-heating properties), I reckon I'll be leaving the Primus home this Summer.

    [​IMG]

    The next day, we left at the break of dawn.

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    It'd been a good test for this Summer. Let's just hope that it won't rain as much then.

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/qMYE_8rrR98" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    #19
  20. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    Nice one, Deks! That beer can stove is amazing. I think yours is the first report I've read where the author was relaxing with a hardcover book at the end of the day. Very cool!
    #20