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BIKELAND > FORUMS > CONCOURS14.com > Thread: dirt bike adventure in Iceland NEW TOPIC NEW POLL POST REPLY
markymark


Parking Attendant
Posts: 13
posted September 11, 2009 11:46 PM        
dirt bike adventure in Iceland

I'm just back in civilization after a week on dirt bikes in Iceland. We conquered the toughest roads in the nation -- and by 'conquered' I mean we got out alive and intact. Riding the ring road was mostly fine, but in the interior it was extremely challenging riding across lava fields, sand, rocks, crossing rivers, you name it. It was beautiful desolation... not a plant for hundreds of km, just rocks and pumice and lava and blowing sand. There were huge fields of blown pumice as a base, but with giant boulders just strewn about randomly... as if it rained boulders. Apparently when the volcano erupted, that´s exactly what happened!

There were four of us on dirt bikes, plus a rented SUV as chase vehicle. Three of the four bikes are wiped out (2 with unrepairable flat tires, mine with a blown clutch) and the last one had its luggage rack shake off, so no-one escaped mechanical issues. Good thing we brought tools! We´re all exhausted, but very pleased with ourselves.

I rented a V-Strom 650. My friend Marcus got a pure dirt bike, a little Yamaha 660, and the other two riders got KLRs. The KLRs were unsuited to this riding, they're geared way too tall so they have no torque for climbing in first gear. The Yamaha did great, but of course Marcus beat it to death hot-dogging it at every opportunity. My V-Strom was fine on the highways and on the rocks, but in the sand and pumice it sank down super deep and I really struggled from the extra weight. I fell four times in the sand, fortunately at about 1 mph each time -- the front wheel would dig in and usually I could save it, but those few times it just pitched me off. No resulting damage to the bike, these were very soft landings, and I was fine except for getting my foot stuck once (more below). The guy also had a V-Strom 1000, but he wouldn't rent it to me -- good thing, that would have been even heavier and I'd still be pushing it through the sand pits.

Protective gear was an absolute must. I used gore-tex waders instead of regular rain suit pants, and they worked great. The river crossings were up to 18 inches (yes, really) and we had water over the tanks a few times. The other guys had regular rain suits and got soaked at every river crossing. It was super cold and windy, very wet, very tough conditions and I'd have suffered terribly without the warm dry gear. Most of the time I had three pairs of gloves on: liners for warmth, leather gloves in the middle for protection in the inevitable falls, and waterproof arctic overgloves with gauntlets to keep the cold and wet on the outside. Obviously multiple layers were necessary.

A good pair of riding boots saved me. On one of my falls I got my right foot trapped under the bike, and I couldn't wiggle it out. I had to wait for the guys to find me and help lift that heavy V-Strom off me. Ugh. It was probably only 10 minutes, but it felt like a lot more as I contemplated my situation. Anyway, no foot injury at all, thanks to the boot.

On the north sea coast (top of the island, 5 km from the Arctic Circle) we were riding on a rough dirt road with loose gravel and mud and potholes, which wouldn't be terrible by itself, but add in the fog and dark and 40 mph gusts driving rain across the road and it was probably the most dangerous riding I've ever attempted.

There are no pay phones anywhere, Icelanders all use cell phones but our U.S. cell phones don't work here. But hotels and even some gas stations have free internet terminals, go figure.

The weather in Iceland in September is extremely fickle. A few days were really nice, with sun and light winds and generally pleasant conditions. Most of the time, though, it was heavy clouds with rain that varied from a drizzle to a near gale. The visibilities sometimes were near zero from fog in the early morning or late evening. Being so far north, twilight lasts for hours, so official sunset doesn't mean the end of the riding, but once it´s dark, it's REALLY dark.

The guy we rented from was super. I think he does third-party rentals, as in, they're not all his bikes. He was utterly cool, and we squared up for the damage equitably. No-one got screwed.

There are so many cool SUVs out here, you cannot imagine it. Folks have Land Rover Defenders, Toyota Land Cruisers, Nissan Patrols... even UNIMOGs. Of course those guys laugh at the river crossings. A lot of them have huge balloon tires running very low pressures, so they also laugh on the sand flats where I was really struggling on the WeeStrom.

The scenery was spectacular, if a bit severe. In the interior, it was like driving across the moon -- as a matter of fact, the NASA moon rover training was done here. But one could easily see all the good sights on paved roads or hard-packed macadam / gravel roads, except for the true interior, which is all dirt roads. If I´d brought my connie, I´d have stayed on the pavement and still had an excellent ride, I´d just have missed the lava fields and the incredibly challenging rock crawling.

Next time I´ll be here in June or July with a lot more camera gear. Because of the low sun angle, the 'golden hour' for photography lasts 3-4 hours! And when it´s not completely fogged in, you get some amazing skies... full of clouds, very busy, very photogenic. The tourist season is very short, mostly just July.

Everyone speaks English 'enough' and they LOVE American dollars. The local currency is sinking fast, so most shopkeepers prefer dollars or Euros.

It´ll be a while ´til I have photos (´cause I´m old school and shoot medium format slides) but I´ll definitely post some pix to this thread when the film comes back from the lab. My buds all shot digital, so hopefully there are some shots of me swimming the WeeStrom across streams, etc.

Comments welcome.

Mark
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Marky Mark
Tucson, AZ

GS400 --> GpZ550 --> CB700S --> Concours14

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fish_antlers


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posted September 12, 2009 12:57 AM        
photos!!!
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fish_antlers


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posted September 13, 2009 03:21 PM        
waiting!
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What business is it of yours where I'm from, Friendo?


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markymark


Parking Attendant
Posts: 13
posted September 16, 2009 09:21 AM        Edited By: markymark on 16 Sep 2009 23:21







____________
Marky Mark
Tucson, AZ

GS400 --> GpZ550 --> CB700S --> Concours14

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markymark


Parking Attendant
Posts: 13
posted September 27, 2009 01:45 AM        



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Marky Mark
Tucson, AZ

GS400 --> GpZ550 --> CB700S --> Concours14

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markymark


Parking Attendant
Posts: 13
posted September 27, 2009 02:08 AM        



____________
Marky Mark
Tucson, AZ

GS400 --> GpZ550 --> CB700S --> Concours14

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markymark


Parking Attendant
Posts: 13
posted September 27, 2009 03:09 AM        

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Marky Mark
Tucson, AZ

GS400 --> GpZ550 --> CB700S --> Concours14

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markymark


Parking Attendant
Posts: 13
posted September 28, 2009 12:30 AM        


____________
Marky Mark
Tucson, AZ

GS400 --> GpZ550 --> CB700S --> Concours14

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markymark


Parking Attendant
Posts: 13
posted September 28, 2009 01:56 AM        Edited By: markymark on 28 Sep 2009 15:56

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Marky Mark
Tucson, AZ

GS400 --> GpZ550 --> CB700S --> Concours14

  Ignore this member   
fish_antlers


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The Truth is Out There
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posted September 28, 2009 07:06 AM        
WOW!
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