Joined: Oct 2006
Location: near the arctic
The Chief Bluesmoke do Iceland.
First of all.. the real star in this story is my old 1944 Indian Chief.. which got the nickname “Chief Bluesmoke” after an incident which included some prematurely failing piston rings and some thick blue smoke.
Why did a 22 year old boy get interested in indians .. ?
A short history follows:
I read an article about an Indian Chief in a Norwegian magazine, and after 6 months with a poster with a ‘40s Indian Chief above my bed, I made a promise to myself that I would have an Indian Chief on the road within 5 years. Not an easy project for a poor student and no mechanical background, but 5 ˝ years later I had my 1944 Indian chief ready restored for the road. The chief was bough as a basketcase, with maybe 50% of the parts included.
Have had a bit of initial problems, and often troubles with repro parts and failing repairs. And add to that whatever mistakes I have made along the way. But it’s been an interesting learning process, and I can now fix most of the stuff myself. The old chief now sports a 84” (1400cc ) stroker engine, ollie cams, Keihin CV carburetor, 4 speed overdrive transmission and a working front brake from a late ‘60s Triumph. But apart from the carb and the front brake, it’s no visual changes.
Some days before the trip, trying to shake things into place..
Anyway, the “Chief Bluesmoke” have seen over 55000 kilometers over the 5 last years. Mostly on Norwegian twisty roads, but also some trips to Denmark and Sweden. So I have had this Indian for 10 years now in total.
Usually I end up riding alone, since not too many I know have the time or the gutsJ to take their old bikes out on longer trips. There’s always something happening at work etc etc.. so it’s hard to get enough days off to do the longer trips in a slow pace. But the old chief is so comfortable that I can ride from morning until late at night without any aches. Strong headwind can be hard on the arms though, no windscreen on this bike.
I’ve wanted to go to Iceland the past two years, but I couldn’t get the timing and the cash to meet at the same time.
My brother lived in Iceland for a while, after meeting his Icelandic fiancé . So..I knew a little bit about Iceland, and what to expect from the roads and climate.
I started preparing for this trip last winter, however it didn’t look like I was going to make it this year. And then I had to go to an Indian motorcycle meeting in august, since I’m a part of the arrangement committee.
When June and then July came, I was still desperately trying to complete a project at work. So I couldn’t book the ferry tickets, and my vacation had to be moved 3 times.
But I was very lucky to get the one of the last available passenger tickets for the ferry. I had to wait for 5 days before getting a green light for the bike.
The trip with the Smyril-line ferry was about $450 (3100 NOK) with a so called couchette cabin.. more on that later.
The ferry stops in Bergen in Norway, Torshavn in the Faroes Island, Seydisfjordur in Iceland, Scrabster in Scotland and Hanstholm in Denmark.
The route is a little bit intricate, and you will have to stay for 3 nights in the Faroe Islands if returning to Bergen or Scrabster.
Waiting for my brother to unlock the gate at the sheep fence near our cabin.
So, I quit my job on Friday the 27th and put all the gear on the (t)rusty old Indian chief and headed towards the Telemark province and our cabin.
The bike ran great, and some hours later my brother met me at the locked fence with the new 6x6 Polaris ATV. They had been working on the rough gravel road all day. Every other year we need to fix the road, since the road washes out in the winter. There’s a steep hill on this road, and I decided to ride up there. Last year I almost lost the chief over the edge of the road there, down into the stream some 30 metres below. Well, I discovered that they had tried to smooth out the road this year… and then the chief came to a stop in the loose dirt halfway up the hill…and since I was hovering somewhere above the bike after hitting some rocks just before.. the bike went down on the right crashbar. Not much rear wheel traction when the frame is resting on the dirt, but I managed to push the bike out of the mess by doing some weird goosewalk with the right foot only Need to keep the left foot on the footclutch, you know.. J
Trying to fix the road..
After one weekend with roadwork and the family at the cabin, I left for Bergen on Monday July 30th.
Btw, the Polaris 6x6 is such a great vehicle! It floats over the mud and rocks, and we moved quite a bit of gravel in the back of it.
I decided to take a chance on the E-134 over the Haukeli mountain, although there was a risk of waiting for up to one hour due to tunnel repairs.
The smaller vehicles were diverted to the old road which goes over the mountain instead of under it in a dark tunnel. On the side of this road is the even older road, dating back to the early 1900s . I stopped for a very short time to shoot some pictures, since there were some 100 cars waiting for the green light in the opposite direction.
The old "Dyrskar road"
Since I felt the bike was running a bit lean, I lifted the needle just before I left. But I managed to create a small leak the vacuum diaphragm in the CV carb. And this was now making the carb act funny.
So after a night in the tent (didn’t sleep much the first night) outside Bergen, I picked up a spare carb the next day. Replaced the carb piston with the new diaphragm outside the Harley dealership in Bergen. The guys there were very helpful, and the spare carb came from one of their mechanics.
Lunch rest in Bergen
After a nice, but expensive lunch near the fish market in Bergen, I walked around the town for a while. Usually it’s raining in Bergen, but this day it was dry and warmer than usual.
I’ve been to Bergen several times over the last year, and it’s a nice place with a lot of historical buildings and narrow streets built up over centuries of international fish trading. Also, a center for shipping and the oil industry. But it’s raining most of the time, due to the high mountains around the city.
After some hours the “Norrřna” ferry finally showed up, and was much larger than I expected. It’s more of a hotel ship than a ocean liner, so I guess the winter trips can be rough.
The “couchette” cabins were actually 9 or 6 bunks in tiny rooms in the bottom of the ship. I did try to sleep down there the first night, but felt I was suffocating and had problems moving around in the top bunk. The following night I slept outside on the deck, until they started cleaning the outside deck at 5 in the morning.
BOOK early, and book one of the ordinary cabins. For the July through August trips, you should book as early as in February.
It’s hard to relax when there are people and noise everywhere, but a good book and cabin can make the trip much shorter.
Apart from sitting in the cafeteria reading the lonely planet guide for Iceland and the Faroe Islands, I did some swimming and sauna down in the gym and did a lot of eatingJ
I met a guy from Istanbul who had ridden his BMW GS 1100 (?) to Bergen, and was now going to stay in Iceland for 3 weeks before riding down to Turkey again. Last year he did the North Cape and the Norwegian coast and fjords. And I believe he was going to do Finland next year. With road tires and a bike with a high center of gravity… he was not going to do the gravel roads in the interior of Iceland.
I met several riders with road bikes heading for Iceland, it’s possible to ride ordinary bikes around the island. Just be prepared for some stretches of gravel roads.
When the ferry finally arrived in Seydisfjordur in Iceland, I was soo ready to hit the road. But the clutch was slipping…and while trying to kick the engine over the battery ran out of power. Duh.. not a good start for my Iceland trip….
But with the help of the car deck crew, we managed to get the bike running…
The rest of the bikers got stock in the customs.. but the customs/ border control just smiled when I came riding at high rpm (for charging) on the old noisy Indian.
Then.. it was time to hit the Icelandic road and…
After 2 days at sea (with a short stop in the Faroe Island) I arrived Iceland
More later… hope my writing is understandable… my native language is Norwegian.. and there will be more pictures and less talk from now on..