Iceland… here we come!
A mere 2 hour flight is all it takes to fly from Brussels to Reykjavik, but the early departure time is killing us. We plum ourselves down in the arrival hall of Keflavik and have what is called a typical airport breakfast: a little bag of this and a little pack of that, all flushed with a diet coke. Bwof…, that’s far from typically Icelandic. But a few coffees later, we finally manage to lift ourselves in the airport shuttle that takes us to the port warehouse, just an hour up the road.
That little ride does us well. We can’t but stare at the many monster like 4WD trucks with those enormous wheels. There everywhere on the island. Efficiency is what characterises the harbour administration and after some quick paperwork, we can pick up the KTM’s at the depot. All goes surprisingly smoothly. An American immigrant helps us further and the story of his life is just long enough for us to unpack the bikes, jumpstart included. Finally our butts are getting familiar with the bike seats again and it doesn’t take long before we forget those uncomfortabele plane seats. Finally he exhaust roar again. Finally the freedom we were seeking for. Iceland… here we come.
No more bridge
Reykjavik may be worth the visit, but at this moment our hunger for remote, jaw dropping scenery just can’t be tempered. We defy the rain – surely not for the last time on this trip – and make a quick stop at the local KTM dealer in order to fix the last few things on the 990. It’s been a bit tight right before leaving from Brussels. But then we’re finally rolling on the sealed ring road. I can already smell the piste, mmmmmhhh… The funfactor raises every minute and increases with the expanse of the landscape. The open ocean to the right and the volcanic inland with enormous glaciers in the background to the left.
Our two first stops are bullseye. A smaller waterfall announces the majestic Skogafoss. One can feel the force of nature and that’s truely impressive. The view of the watermass from the top of the waterfall is just breath taking. But we’re definitely not on our own here. These sites of interest obviously also attract other tourists. Cars and busses come and go and to be honest, I don’t really mind the Vik bridge being washed away just a few days earlier so there’s less crowd around then usual as we are told. It will take another few hours until we see that little dust cloud behind the bikes, as we join the piste to Landmannalaugar.
Our biorhythms seem to be a bit disturbed. It doesn’t really get dark around here this time of the year. It’s been a pretty long day so we decide to spend the night at the very first hut and fall asleep like a log…
Off we go
It’s almost noon as we are finally ready to leave. The sun peeks through the window, a stiff wind enhances our senses and we have a view over a fantastic landscape. What more do we need? We ride along the Hekla volcano, the one that was cheerfully spewing ashes just a couple of months ago, and head further inland. Winds are getting really violent now and the piste we planned to follow appears to be just infeasible because we risk to get sandblasted alive. The sharp volcanic sand scratches our goggle visor and it doesn’t take long before we hardly see anything. The stuff is getting everywhere, through the tyniest of holes. What seemed to be just a little annoying at first, will soon become unbearable and will force us to turn back. This can’t be good for the bikes either and they should last at least three more weeks. But in Iceland the search for a nice piste never takes long. An hour or so later we are enjoying the view over the Dynkur waterfall after an excellent stretch of stony piste. So much better!
Our first – and again not our last – river crossing is a fact. Well, as for Caro we could hardly call it a river crossing. Not that she fell over or so, but let’s say the speed of her bike wasn’t really what it should have been. We can state that it looked like aquaplaning rather than river crossing and it made her just plain soaking wet. She interpreted my advice to “make enough speed” in a rather extreme way… But we can immediately count on the respect of two germans who cross every river by pushing the bike, wearing chest high fishing waders… Strange guys those germans. Their bikes did have the right orange color though. ‘Sicherheit über alles!’ More river crossings follow quickly and the rivers are getting deeper. I wasn’t really able to keep my promise to Caro of not getting wet the first few days. It took a little persuading at times, but my motarda is still fresh, also mentally, so every obstacle seems a piece of cake to her. Just great!
But then… Well, then there’s that little tiny line on the map again. Are we really going to head for that next tourist attraction, or should we maybe turn left here my dear, into ‘the great unknown’? Look, there’s even a little hut on the map at the end of the track. Before Caro is able to say yes, I’m on my bike with my nose pointing to that little tiny line. Oh yes… The bike feels like a rocket on this piste. My wrist is greedy and the back of the bike nicely drifts through the corners. Adrenaline time again. I feel alive! And so does Caro, albeit just a little calmer. Apart from the wet boots, it couldn’t have been better.
Visit from the Vikings
The scenery makes me think of the South American Altiplano somewhat. Just the colors are darker and there’s also plenty of water around. But desert also means sand… Lots of sand, deep sand. Caro already conquered one of her challenges. But the sand is a different story. Thinking back of our near fatal Namibia adventure, she again struggles big time here. And as if things couldn’t get worse, we’re having a hard time locating that bloody hut. I again help her to cover some of the more sandy stretches and even I have to lay the bike down every now and then. We finally arrive at the hut that appears to be completely deserted… for now, as t only takes an hour or so before the silence and the loneliness are promptly interrupted and a group of about twenty divers shows up. No tourists here, no curious people coming and going, but a night of coziness and loud, tipsy socializing with a bunch of crazy Icelanders followed by a battery cage like feeling when finally falling asleep with the loud sound of snoring Vikings. They can be charming at times, those Vikings…