Iceland Star Grab

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by whereisgibson, Aug 15, 2014.

  1. half_price_beemer

    half_price_beemer Wings-it Adventurer

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    Great tip on the gear drying! With all that humidity and fog it must have taken a lot of fuel. Great report.
    #61
  2. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    Each episode is great! Keep after those stars!
    #62
  3. Norduro

    Norduro Thumping

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    Thanks for sharing your Iceland adventure! The map/images/video combo works great. :thumb I've been to Iceland three times already, albeit never on a motorcycle. Your report nicely shows how variable the weather can be... :D
    #63
  4. Saso

    Saso Happily sporting the DRD4 gene Supporter

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    You're a beast! :bow I arrived in Reykjavik at 6:30 this morning and honestly I am even more in awe of you than the pilot who landed our plane in that gale force wind (even at the gate we were getting bounced around so badly that they couldn't get the jetway to the plane) - just unbelievable that you were out riding in that storm. I have to wait til Wednesday for my bike to arrive so if you're back in town celebrating your stars, beers are on me. :freaky
    #64
  5. whereisgibson

    whereisgibson Been here awhile

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    Thanks Saso, I really hope the weather clears up for you. Today was all about star 25 which was zero fun in this weather riding across wet boulders, but that's for another post...!

    I'm heading east towards Seyðisfjörður to catch the ferry home this Wednesday, that's assuming the weather doesn't prevent it from sailing; if that doesn't work out and with the price of beers here in Iceland I'll gladly ride back to take you up on that offer :D

    You'll need road.is and vedur.is on hand for road closures and weather; I'll happily send you any GPX you might want from the overview on the first post just PM me, and if you need any recommendations just ask.
    #65
  6. whereisgibson

    whereisgibson Been here awhile

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    [​IMG]

    Star 25 of 25. Lónsöræfi.

    This star was the one to worry about. The F980 is famed for having a challenging river crossing:
    "This road is only suitable for experienced drivers on big jeeps with high clearance. On the way, you will have to cross the deep and fast flowing Skyndidalsá river. Please do not attempt to cross this river on a small jeep like Suzuki Jimny, Suzuki Vitara, Honda CRV, Toyota RAV or similar cars. Your will end up sitting on the roof of your car, waiting for the rescue team to pull you out."
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    Frommer's Guide to Iceland says:
    "technically passable in a 4WD vehicle with good clearance, but definitely not advised, because the river crossings are volatile and dangerous."

    Many of the guides however go on to say that a bus tour runs the route, and in my mind this meant that there's a chance of making it with the bike. YouTube threw up a promising video making it look child's play:


    So off I went at 7am, bike unloaded, in high winds and sideways rain.


    Turning off Highway 1 and onto the F980, the signpost suggests a short 25km journey to the star. Cutting through some farmland, the track resembles most other F roads in Iceland: rocky, loose, winding. That is until you crest one summit and are presented with your challenge:
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    I need to cross that. The F980 skirts along the side of it, or at least the map claims it does. In reality between this photo and the end of the valley, vehicle marks scour the riverbed, attempting to find any ways to cross. With wet riverbed boulders comprising the landscape, the suspension got a workout - and so did I.
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    There were at least five crossings, the first being up to my thighs just a meter in. Any further in and the depth gave way to strong current making me unable to stand. Things were looking challenging. You can see from the GPS trace that I went up as far as possible to the valley where the river comes from, which was narrower, faster, and deeper. I then rode over the boulders back south, looking for any crossing. There were none.



    I headed back to the hostel, defeated, wet, and cold. With one more spare day to play with, I started calling up the tour companies for info. After speaking to a handful, one thing was for certain: no bus companies or indeed super jeep tours were attempting this track. A combination of heavy rains and increased volcanic activity meant far more water than normal was in the delta.

    With one more spare day to investigate, there must be another way?
    #66
  7. EmptyTracks

    EmptyTracks n00b

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    Great report Martin! And as if no island is small enough or far enough away, on Aug 21st we were sitting with the toes of out tiny Suzuki 4 x 4 in the first river crossing on F338 (just north of Gullfoss of Rte 35) at the end of our 2 week family trip imaging what the trip inland might be like .... when you came blatting along! You scouted a route, made a single dab and were gone! I stumbled on your blog a few days ago. It's fantastic - like getting to enjoy the rest of the trip we weren't going to make in the Jimny! Thanks! If I can figure out how send or post photos I'll forward the evidence. Looks the perfect bike for the trip. Strange, we only had good weather!
    #67
  8. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    Another way? Helicopter, maybe?
    #68
  9. whereisgibson

    whereisgibson Been here awhile

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    After the last day's attempt I spent that evening studying maps. The Open Map project had an interesting lead:
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    You'll notice the white line on the left, that's the F980 - the track I couldn't cross. Now on the right is a red dotted line - a hiking trail. A closer look on Google Earth showed that the hiking trail had been used by vehicles - the parallel line left by an axled vehicle was clearly visible.

    After some googleing it transpired a tour company was transporting people along that track using an old Mercedes bus:
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    The tour company describes taking the hikers by this bus to the end of the track, where they meet a footbridge. Put in by the locals, the bridge allows hikers to cross the river without getting wet. More searching online revealed a set of photos from a hiker, who shared a glimpse of it:
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    It's forbidden in Iceland to go 'offroad', so as tempting as it was to think about riding over the footbridge and along the hiking trail, it would be wrong and embarrassing if I required any emergency assistance later on.

    My new plan was this: ride the track from the east side, find and follow the trail as far as other vehicles have reached before, and hike if necessary from there. Onwards!

    Crossing the highway 1 bridge to the east side demonstrated just how much water was coming out of this river.
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    The trail was mostly loose fine rock, which in places had been washed away, leaving gulleys. These were fun to cross as they were crystal clear and easy to calculate.
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    I rode the trail for a few miles, providing a new perspective on an area I was becoming increasingly familiar with.
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    The trail ended abruptly. It looked to have been recently carved off by the river, leaving a sharp edge where the landscape had been ripped away by the power of the water. Clearly the extra water in this river was unusual, and unrelenting in its ability to change the landscape.
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    At this point I left the bike, and swapped MX boots for trainers and continued on foot. I'd read that the footbridge to the star would be around 6 miles, and I guestimated that I was about 4 miles from the footbridge. 20 mile round trip, 3 miles an hour, a respectable day out without too much fatigue...
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    The trail was still visible in places, but flooded. I was starting to wonder when any vehicle last used this track - years?
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    With the footbridge in sight and the trail seemingly leading to it, what I couldn't see was the minor stream that had turned into a monster under my horizon.
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    I headed upstream to see if I could find a narrower point, and found a sheep's trail through the scree that allowed me to scramble east - albeit very carefully, as the slightest misstep would result in the scree sliding into the river, along with me! You can just make it out dead ahead:
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    I followed that around the landslide to a more open area, which was beautiful, but offered no better crossings.
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    Back I went, to see if I can think of anything more.
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    Nope. At the best point I could only venture a meter in.
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    I had read up on this hike, and at no point did anything mention that swimming was required to cross this section. I also don't believe that hiking even 'challenging' trails involves swimming across fast rivers, let alone solo. To my mind it was clear that the whole east side and hiking option was now out.

    Four miles back the way I came.
    [​IMG]

    Back at the bike I rerode the trail and emerged back on to highway 1. I couldn't ride past F980 without just checking the condition just one more time.
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    The day before these land slides were not here.
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    The marked crossing was noticeably wilder too.
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    One last check to where I was yesterday turned out to be impossible, as an entirely new river had appeared overnight prevenitng me from returning to my previous point.


    With that I felt that I'd done my absolute best to reach star 25. The 'Lon' part of Lonseraefi I had hiked, but the vista of coloured mountains the other side of the valley could not be reached. Not reached by super jeep, bus, motorbike, or even hiker.

    Gibson 24: Iceland 1.
    #69
  10. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    Great adventure, Gibson! You'll capture that star another time, for sure! Great photos and videos as always! Thanks!
    #70
  11. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    Wow!!

    Good effort man. You really tried everything. Sometimes when nature says "no", she means "no".

    Tahoe
    #71
  12. DeeGee

    DeeGee I'm a Yorkshireman thanoz

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    Cracking ride report, we were up there at the same time although we flew home on the 28th (we shipped our bike and flew in). Absolutely stunning country, we're debating whether to go back next year or not.

    Only downside was the fookin wind!! :eek1
    #72
  13. whereisgibson

    whereisgibson Been here awhile

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    [​IMG]

    I left the hostel and headed north along the coast to set myself up for the return ferry.
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    Along the way I couldn't help but try one last time the F980. Today the weather was much clearer, but still too much water to cross. In the distance the elusive star 25.
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    Back on the road I felt like Iceland was apologising by giving me great riding weather
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    I took a short-cut off the main highway and along my last gravel road, which passed high up between the mountains.
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    Then for my last F road
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    #73
  14. nevermind

    nevermind Slower, then Molasses

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    Brilliant work! I especially liked the short narratives and impressive attitude... :freaky
    #74
  15. whereisgibson

    whereisgibson Been here awhile

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    [​IMG]

    My last day in Iceland was to ride 20 miles to the town where I fitted my tires, and then to the ferry port.

    Leaving another lovely hostel:
    [​IMG]


    The rear MT21 had done roughly 3500 miles / 5600km, with around 60% of this offroad, much of which was done quite 'enthusiastically'! I have been very impressed with these tyres, even when very worn there was still grip on the edges. I will buy them again.
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    Life still left in the front
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    I carried the MT21s with me to Iceland three weeks ago and had them fitted on arrival. At the time I asked the garage to keep hold of them, just in case I needed them again. Lucky I did. With the original Mitas E10 again fitted to the rear, I now had enough rubber to complete the last 1000 miles home without worrying about punctures or the police.
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    Whilst the bike waited for the ferry I had one last Icelandic beer.
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    And with that, my journey around Iceland was over. Iceland was better than I ever imagined.
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    The return to Denmark leaves at 8pm, sails for a full two days, and arrives in the morning. With many other bikers on board to swap stories with, I think the journey won't be so bad.
    [​IMG]
    #75
  16. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    Awesome trip Martin!

    Like most places, it's a beautiful place when it's not cold and pissing rain...

    I am hoping to get there someday. It's very near the top of my hit list.

    Tahoe
    #76
  17. whereisgibson

    whereisgibson Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    [​IMG]

    The ferry was jam packed with vehicles, and we waited around an hour to get off and into Denmark.
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    I spent a comfortable few days being hosted by the Cosy Chicks MCC, providing generous hospitality, excellent knowledge of Denmark, and potent 'carb cleaner' special brew!
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    I hiked to the Sky Mountain of Denmark. A modest 150 meters above sea level, it offered twisty roads and lovely views.
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    My hosts took me out to the North West of Denmark, following parts of the Daisy route and visited both 'Cold Hawaii' and the WWII bunkers.
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    Before I knew it I was back at the Hook of Holland
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    The ferry kicked me off at 6.30 and by 7am I was back in the UK
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    As it turns out I know a group of bikers that meet on Sundays, and the timing was too perfect to not say hello.
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    And because I haven't been riding enough this last month :) I decided to join them on their B-road blast through the sublime Essex countryside.
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    Finally after 5485 miles / 8827km the 640 got me home, eagerly awaiting some new parts and a bit of love.
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    The End! Thanks for following! Thanks for your comments, it's lovely ending a difficult day reading them and making the trip a little less 'solo'.
    #77
  18. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    It's been a total pleasure following your report! Thank YOU for all the time and effort it took to post it all here!
    #78
  19. MeinMotorrad

    MeinMotorrad Long timer

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    Thanks for the RR.

    I agree with Tahoe, Iceland is definitely on my bucket list.

    Have you read any of the Arnaldur Indriðason crime books? Well worth a read. Kind of puts me off the food though.

    3,500 miles from a MT21 rear! That's more than double what I'd expect on a 690.

    Where and when are you off next :ear
    #79
  20. Frey Bentos

    Frey Bentos Probably doing a drawing. Or scratching my arse.

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    Great report! Thanks for going to the trouble of putting it up.:clap
    #80