Roll over, Einstein. We’ve all seen the equation for the conversion of energy to mass, E = mc2. I’m sure it’s a really useful bit of algebra, just… not for me. Or you, probably. When was the last time you had to calculate how much energy would be released by a femtogram of, say, rubidium? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Quite a while.

I, on the other hand, have come up with an even simpler and much more useful equation for the conversion of two quantities we all use all the time. Here it is: T = M2, where T is time and M is money. You will see from the equation that it takes a fair bit of money to create time – but it can be done, for example by paying someone to do what you are supposed to be doing. And if you don’t have money, you can do something for someone else that they’re prepared to pay you for and make money.

I have applied the equation to my current situation during the Covid-19 lockup and have come up with a promising result. Both my stock of downtime (because I’m sitting around in my office) and my stock of money (because there are few things to spend it on) are rising together, as they should. Quod erat demonstrandum.

This is clearly an opportunity far too good to waste, so what I have been doing is using the time to devise a use for the money. Here is my currently preferred option.

When travel restrictions are lifted and if I am still able to ride a motorcycle, (God willin’ and the creek don’t rise) I am going to ride the Faroe Islands and Iceland, in my own time. I have been to Iceland, although the closest I’ve come to the Faroes is seeing them below me when I was flying back to Europe. But even though my Edelweiss Bike Tour through Iceland was excellent, it just left me hungry for more. And as for the Faroes… have you ever seen photos, or even been there? Amazing place.

Iceland’s, and I presume the Faroes’, roads are very much like Australia’s – just cold instead of hot.

It is good to have the time in the office because this trip, unlike my usual ‘she’ll be right’ approach, will take a fair bit of planning. It is also going to cost serious money, especially compared to my usual style of sleeping under bridges and only checking into hostels when I need a shower so badly that even I couldn’t stand myself. Just the ferry ride is going to cost 1789 euros, that US$2120 right now. The flight – premium economy because I am fed up with cattle class – will add another US$2720.

No, wait, can’t afford that. A beer in Iceland costs as much as a speeding fine back home. I need to save my money for important things. Cattle class it is…

Fish and chips and a beer – a basic, tasty meal and an almost affordable one in the Nordic countries.

So, I will fly into Frankfurt. Get a flight to Copenhagen or a train to Hamburg. Stay overnight. Pick up a press bike (assuming I can finagle one) and ride to Hirtshals in Denmark, taking either three or five hours. Catch the MV Norrøna ferry to Torshavn in the Faroe Islands. Spend roughly a week riding around the islands, and then catch the same ferry on to Seyðisfjørður in Iceland.

Two weeks riding around Iceland, then catch the Norrøna back again to Hirtshals. Ride back to wherever I collected the bike, return same and fly home. That’s the outline. What do I actually have to plan, and why?

First of all, I have to arrange a press bike in Europe. Not usually a problem because the manufacturers know they get a lot of coverage.

I also need to organise the flights. Not such a big deal, but if I want the entire trip to slot together like a Lego Britten (yes, there is such a thing), I need to get the timing right. There are few things worse than sitting in the departure lounge at Heathrow for eight hours waiting for your connecting flight. Trust me, I’ve done it. Actually, waiting for any length of time at Leonardo da Vinci in Rome is even worse. Copenhagen is not so bad, except the beer is so expensive that my wallet bled every time I paid for a drink. Oh, and I need to make sure I have enough time to reach Hirtshals and the ferry without succumbing to jet lag.

Then, I have to book the ferry. This involves getting the right kind of cabin, and space for the bike. Some cabins sell out early, which means I also have to plan how far ahead I need to book in order to get one. I also need to make sure the ship actually goes where I want it to go when I want it to go there. The good ship Norrøna does not always go Denmark-Faroes-Iceland and return. Part of the time it only goes Denmark-Faroes-Denmark. Booking is not really difficult, but planning the booking is. It takes time and above all care.

I will need to find and secure accommodation in the Faroes. The islands are relatively small, so I expect I will be able to stay in the one place and head out for day trips. After all, the days in August, when I’m most likely to be there, are looong. But there is not a lot of affordable accommodation in the Faroes, so it’s a challenge.

Big rock and a rollin’ bike in northern Iceland.

As well, I have to decide on and then find and book accommodation in Iceland. The place is not exactly huge but it is a lot bigger than the Faroes, so I will not want to stay in one place for the entire two weeks. I will need to decide where exactly I want to go, what I want to photograph at what time of day and find out what accommodation is nearby. Fortunately, I’ve been there before so I have some idea, but it still takes a lot of planning. Perhaps you don’t need to book ahead, but I suspect you do and the last thing I want is to be stuck somewhere out in the (very) cold with no roof over my head.

Then it’s time for more research. I need to establish potential photo and writing opportunities while I’m in Iceland and make sure that they will fit in with the accommodation and riding options.

Finally, I must make sure that there is enough time to get back to wherever I’m flying out of, after arriving in HIrtshals in Denmark on the way back and returning the bike. That also includes booking the connecting flight/train to the hub, probably Frankfurt as I mentioned above.

I’m sure there are other considerations which will arise as I sit here in front of my monitor, planning away.

This three week trip – more like a month by the time you include the transfers – is going to cost a fortune. But it is exactly what I want to do, and after all, remember: T = M2. I’ll have the money, I’m pretty sure; the longer these lockdowns go on and provide downtime, the more I’ll have.

Wish me luck.

(Photos The Bear)

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