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Old 12-18-2011, 11:33 AM   #31
Time for a ride...
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Joined: Dec 2008
Location: Peoples Republic Of Marin, CA
Oddometer: 207

Had a chance to visit Reykjavick 7 years ago. Spent a day touring the country side(no bike).
Would love to see the country the way you did.
It is an extremely beautiful place.

And the price of food was insanely high back then
enjoy every sandwich....
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:07 PM   #32
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Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Karlsruhe, Germany
Oddometer: 478
Day 5

Lying in may sleeping bag, I was listening to the drip, drip, drip of the rain on my tent. It was a clear sign, not to worry about getting up, so I turned around and went back to sleep.
It was still dripping when I woke up again, but surprisingly I found my tent being dry, when I crawled out. The dripping sound was coming from the midgets on the tent.

Later I was joined by my friends and we discussed our options during breakfast. Roy and Christian had joined up and left early to top up their Africa Twins in Adalbol again. jenzz on his X-Challenge was on a tight time schedule and faster then anybody else anyway. That left Ernst, Benni, Maddin and me, and we decided to head for Askia.

Discussing road options

Like yesterday, the weather was great. The clouds only made the wide scenery more dramatic and although the sun was mostly hidden, riding the tracks kept me warm, so I could ride with nothing but a t-shirt underneath my jacket.

Benni in awe of the scenery

We only had to ride 15km to see Christian and Roy loitering around a road sign. 'We knew that you had to come this way, so we decided to wait for you. We weren't expecting to have to wait that long, though ...'
Well, whatever. It was a welcome opportunity for a break and maybe a bit to bite. And someone remembered that his bike wanted some chain servicing.

Well earned break after 15km ... (photo: Ernst)

Our track looped back to the F910 which we then followed. We came through a flat gravel desert, surrounded by snow covered mountains on the horizon. The soft gravel was fun to ride on and learn drifting.

Some bigger boulders in the gravel desert

The track got more technical and Benni demonstrated the clearance angle of his 800 GS. Everyone stopped to admire and take photos.

The fully loaded 800 GS allows for more than 45degree tilt angles

The climate in this area is strongly governed by the huge Vatnajoekull glacier in its south. There's little to none precipitation, so we basically rode through a black desert of lava and volcanic ash.

Benni, Maddin and Roy

Christian (photo: Maddin)


Here's one especially for the Tenere freaks

... and my bike

Benni looking at the Herdubreit, a 1,600m mesa which is always visible somewhere on the horizon.

We were all having a blast, following the track as it wiggled through the lava fields. The surface was mostly gravel, with occasional spots of soft sand.

Christian, explaining why he hadn't seen the curve and went full throttle into the sand bank next to the road, missing the rocks only by centimeters.

The larger sand pits stretched over a few hundred meters and were terrible for the bigger bikes. Though it was easier for Maddin to get his feet on the ground when the back wheel was plowed deep into the sand, this wasn't helping much. And it wasn't helping me either that this was my first encounter with sand on two wheels. The 4x4s had it much easier ...
The 1150GS had one advantage though: due to its low center of gravity, I was always able to pick it up, before anyone could snap a photo.

Strugling with the sand (photo: Benni)

That's almost 55 degrees - but he still seemed unhappy ...

At this point we had to decide whether or not we wanted to visit the Kverkfjoell which is a nice spot to see the Vatnajoekull glacier. Unfortunately, both roads leading there (F902 and F903) were known to be mostly soft sand. We decided to leave that for later, hoping that we'd get the hang on riding in sand by then.

Instead we took the better road (still F910) towards Askia where we stopped for a break. Christian was still so excited about the good track that he went back to try riding at higher speeds without panniers. When he came back he forgot that there were in fact two small water crossings and not just one - resulting in a huge explosion of water.
He didn't crash, but was completely soaked. Also, he got mad as hell, when he found out that his GoPro cam had run low on battery less than 30 seconds before ...

Roy and Christian wanted to ride on and maybe reach the ring road by midnight. So we said goodbye to them and checked into the camp ground at the foot of Askia.

Great roads around Askia
Reports: Nordkapp - Mt. St. Helen - Black Sea - Iceland - Morocco - Balkan

pip_muenster screwed with this post 12-28-2014 at 07:46 AM
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:29 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Maddin View Post
Hey Pip,

here is the other inmate and i must confess you have a brilliant wrtiting style. Very entertaining and I am curious about the whole story of our trip in your report.
Moin Maddin,

you're welcome to add your own comments and photos if you like. (I'm only using those which I need to tell my story.)

The GS is sitting on new rubber and waiting for the adventures to come ... but in the last months, I had to cope with 4 wheels.
Reports: Nordkapp - Mt. St. Helen - Black Sea - Iceland - Morocco - Balkan
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Old 12-19-2011, 03:46 PM   #34
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Day 6

I could see the sun through the tent, a very good sign. When I stuck my head out I was greeted by a blue sky, a bright sun and the back-end of an older man in his undies, bending over to get his trouser out of a plastic box a few dozen meters away.

The view to the other side was better.

While we were having breakfast jenzz on his X-Challenge rolled up. He had spent the night somewhere in the desert and had come to say hello. We discussed road options:

  • The F910 continued to the south, passing closely the Vatnajoekull. We were told that there was a shortcut, marked with a sign showing a skull and crossbones to indicate its road conditions. The F910 would lead onto the F26, otherwise know as the Sprengisandur.
  • A right turn from the F910 would also allow to circumnavigate the Askia and go towards Myvatn in the north. This road was known to be sparsely marked and leading through lots of soft sand.
  • Finally, we could take the F88 which would bring us north onto the ring road.
Ernst and jenzz on the lighter bikes decided to take the challenging option towards Myvatn. This would take all day long, so they had to start right away. As the rest of us wanted to see the Askia itself, we split up again.

The road towards the top of the Askia (photo: Maddin)

We were not allowed to ride all the way up and had to leave the bikes at some point. With Benni jumping happily from stone to stone in front of us, Maddin and I finally reached the caldera at the top, gasping for breath.


Now we only had to cross it, following the yellow marker posts, maybe two more kilometers in full gear and cross boots. Then we reached the crater itself. There are two lakes, the larger one with ice floating on top - and the other with people swimming in it. Only divided by a few meters of dirt, this smaller lake with comfortable 24 centigrade is probably the highest swimming pool on Iceland.

The crater lakes

Swimming on top of Iceland

We however were driven by the desire to sit down and give our feet some rest, so we hurried back to the bikes where we brought out the stove and prepared some soup for lunch. The Askia excursion had taken hours, so we decided to take the F88 and then head towards Myvatn, too.

Dust on the F88


Mars rover test track

After kilometers and kilometers of black sand we spotted a red house in the middle of a green meadow. This house turned out to be a tourist center for the Herdubreit. And as every leaf of grass here, the meadow came with a river, and thus a ford to pass. This one was deeper and someone had painted the best way across on a wooden sign.

A red house

More black sand (photo: Benni)

And another river crossing (or two ...)

From here on the road surface became fine gravel, but soft enough to leave footprints in it. This was fun to ride, once you got up to speed and moved your weight back as far as possible. 70 to 110km/h and all was good.
The horror came, when you had to slow down, e.g. to pass oncoming traffic. With less speed and the weight transferred forward the bike began to wobble and move all over the place. One moment you were feeling like the Riding God, racing through the desert, the next moment you're frantically trying not to do an embarrassing crash right in front of a tourist bus full of gorgeous Scandinavian blondes.

Nevertheless, this was a perfect road to train our sand skills.

Usually being far ahead, I'm taking a nap, waiting for Benni and Maddin ... (photo: Benni)

While I was lying on the ground, I checked on the bike. I didn't liked what I saw.

I had blown my seals.

Apart from that, the road was easy and without further incidents we reached the ring road. Our next stop were the geysers near Myvatn. Ignoring the smell, I took a walk around. I decided to take a picture of an exceptional nice geysir, but recognized that the shadow of the mountain ridge in the west would catch it within seconds. I ran.

Near Myvatn

A geyser (just before sunset)

At the next gas station in Reykjahlid we saw some familiar faces: Ernst and jenzz had also just arrived. We filled up and bought food, including eggs and bacon for breakfast. Ernst re-joined our group and we headed for the next camp ground after saying goodbye to jenzz, who still hadn't had enough ...

Meeting the guys at the gas station (photo: Ernst)

The camp site was very nice, with a friendly girl at the reception. She told us that we could just make it for happy hour in the pizza restaurant. Beer and pizza in the heated restaurant were just right for us to warm up and exchange stories. Ernst told about whiteouts in the dust and vanishing footprints, where they could only find their way by using a couple of pre-programmed way points on their GPS ...

Dust (photo: Ernst)
Reports: Nordkapp - Mt. St. Helen - Black Sea - Iceland - Morocco - Balkan

pip_muenster screwed with this post 12-28-2014 at 07:54 AM
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Old 12-19-2011, 03:51 PM   #35
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I'm experiencing some trouble with my network provider, so don't wonder if the next installments may be delayed ...

... ...
Reports: Nordkapp - Mt. St. Helen - Black Sea - Iceland - Morocco - Balkan
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Old 12-19-2011, 09:11 PM   #36
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Been reading since the start I'm all IN.
The Mountains Are Calling ME & I must go
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Old 12-19-2011, 11:47 PM   #37
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Fantastic pictures and story... It's put Iceland on my list of places to visit.
Those who take risks may not live long, Those who dont, dont live at all.

Tour 1. Wales:
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Old 12-20-2011, 03:31 AM   #38
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Was there this summer with familly, unfortunately not on bike, some areas looks like part of morocco
Thanks for sharing

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Old 12-20-2011, 10:51 AM   #39
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Day 7

The phone company claims that they've fixed my network ... I've lost my faith, but maybe it'll work for a couple days.

Coffee, scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast should get anyone alive, but Maddin still looked - and sounded - like having a huge hangover from a full bottle of Raki and one of Vodka. In fact he had no more than a beer, something else was wrong with him.

He wanted to stay at the camp for a day, have some sleep and recover. It turned out, that this matched perfect with my plans. Here's the story:

I had called the ADAC (German automobile club, similar to AAA) and told them about the blown fork seals. Although I explained about the GS' telelever, they insisted so send me a tow truck which should bring me to a garage in Reykjavik, just about 500 kilometers away. That truck should be with me in about 2 hours. I could have the bike repaired, and by the time Maddin was back alive, so would be my bike.

I waited.

After lunch I called the ADAC again and explained the situation. It turned out that they had instructed a local tow company which than had forgotten me. Great, one day lost.

Reports: Nordkapp - Mt. St. Helen - Black Sea - Iceland - Morocco - Balkan

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Old 12-20-2011, 11:29 AM   #40
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Reading maps

Spending all day on a camp site allows doing your laundry, reading a book or studying your Iceland guide and maps.

Here's what I learned about the maps. There aren't that many roads and tracks on Iceland, so any decent map will show them all. I had found the Kortabok road atlas to be perfect for me, just the right size for the tank bag, and I liked the way topography and roads were shown.
Together, we had 3 or 4 other maps with us, too. The ones which sucked, were missing water crossings (essential), gas stations (important) or camp sites (convenient).

The different types of roads:
  • everything asphalt, or simply said: road 1, the ring road
  • numbered roads, probably gravel. If it has more than 2 digits, you may need a 4x4
  • numbered F-roads. 2WD forbidden
  • other tracks. Well, you can try ...
Some highland roads are only open in summer and it's a good idea to obey road closures. When we came in late July, 1 or 2 highland roads were still closed. Also, following the eruptions in spring, parts of the ring road had been washed away. This is a good resource for road conditions:

A look on the map shows that all roads in the highland have 3-digit numbers or even a F-number. The only exception is road 35, the only way across Iceland unless you have a 4x4.

Water crossings: They all look alike on the map. They change. You should always ask rangers, oncoming traffic or gas station employees for their condition.

Gas stations: Most gas stations on the ring road also sell chips and burgers. Smaller gas stations are typically automatic, accepting some cards. If you're in doubt, you can by a prepaid card. Some stations in the highlands may be closed completely, ask before you go ...
Reports: Nordkapp - Mt. St. Helen - Black Sea - Iceland - Morocco - Balkan
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Old 12-20-2011, 11:53 AM   #41
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Good stuff. I'm in.
R1200GS Adventure

Adventures around Scotland and beyond.
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Old 12-20-2011, 03:24 PM   #42
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Day 7 cont'd

Sitting around all day long was not why we came to Iceland. So Benni, Ernst and I sneaked away and went on a short trip to Husavik to visit the Whale museum. That brought us to the idea of a whale safari. Every two hours some fisher boat would take a load of tourists, put them in survival coveralls and make a tour to the whale routes.

But if you waited, there was one tour on a speedboat in the evening. "Speed" sounded fun. We texted Maddin, who liked the idea so much that he crawled out of his sleeping bag for it and came to Husavik, too.

We left the harbor to the sounds of Lady Gaga blasting from the boat's speaker system. The guide had spent a while in German and invited us to sit back in the cockpit where we would have a much better view than in the front with all the other tourists. That was great, although her survival coverall was constricting the view a bit ...

We did saw some whales and the speedboat gave us the chance to get very close whenever we saw one. You only see the blast, a steam of hot air when it comes to the surface to breath. Depending on the whale, this happens a number of times every few minutes. Then, it will take a very deep breath, the tail fin comes out of the water and it goes on a deep dive for maybe a quarter of an hour. Once you've seen the tail, you can as well search for the next whale.

Why you go on safari

We met the other tour boat

On the way back to the harbor we saw a class of dolphins who started playing around our boat.

It was getting dark and difficult to take photos. Their speed wasn't helping either.

Back in Husavik we split up. Maddin went back to his sleeping bag, Ernst wanted to see the most northern point of Iceland and get as close to the arctic circle as possible.

Benni and I decided to visit the Asbyrgi National Park and the famous Dettifoss waterfall. It was past midnight when we found the Asbyrgi cliff formation. From here, our way lead us back south on the 864 to the Dettifoss. It was cold and the two of us in the twilight, standing alone and in full gear including helmets next to the waterfall reminded me of the ending scene from Total Recall ...

No photos, I promise to bring a tripod next time.

Fog came up and it was getting difficult to see the road surface. Benni with his cross helm and goggles couldn't see anything and just followed my tail light. My pinlock visor was doing its job, and after what seemed like hours we found back to our tents and fell asleep within minutes.
Reports: Nordkapp - Mt. St. Helen - Black Sea - Iceland - Morocco - Balkan

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Old 12-20-2011, 03:25 PM   #43
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Reading this RR feels like preparation to go there myself. One day...
Thanks for sharing, great storytelling and pics.
Honestly, have you ever heard of somebody looking back on his life thinking: "Oh, I should have travelled less and mowed the lawn more often"? (Pumpy)

want to save on Smugmug? use this code (VoUO8M1ukmnMY)

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Old 12-20-2011, 09:34 PM   #44
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In.. Great Pics so far!
| '08 KLR 650 (sold), '10 BMW F800 GS | Baja Bound April2012 |
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Old 12-21-2011, 09:50 AM   #45
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
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Fantastic RR. I'm enjoying it enormously as I'm Icelandic and went to the area north of Vatnajökull last summer. It brings back really good memories.

Ohh, one more thing:

Originally Posted by pip_muenster View Post

Here's what I learned about the maps. There aren't that many roads(true) and tracks(sooo not true) on Iceland...

If you ever go back and I'm there I'll show you TRACKS!

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