ADVENTURES ON <b>THE 66° NORTH ISLAND</b>

ADVENTURES ON THE 66° NORTH ISLAND

The fog lifts as we stand on the deck of the ferry; admiring the fjords on Iceland’s east side. From the first moments, we acknowledge that we have a special experience ahead of us. We then head to the ferry’s hold, gear up, and collect our bikes. Finally the doors to open. Our adventure begins.
05-02-2019
Adventure

Article

BRYAN FERNANDES
#REVITRIDER

My name is Bryan and I’m from France. I'm 26 years young and my goal is to travel the world on two wheels. I love riding motorcycles, exploring foreign territory, and creating content about my journeys under the name BLKMRKT on YouTube. Every year, my friends Alexis, Clément and I plan a different road trip.

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Bryan Fernandes

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THIS YEAR'S PLAN

This year, we decided to venture from Paris to Iceland. We’ve been dreaming about this trip for many years and it finally became a reality. We rode from Paris to northern Denmark in 36 hours. Approximately 1,430 kilometers later, we found ourselves aboard a ferry just about to dock in Seyðisfjörður, the starting point of our adventure.

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Iceland 1
Iceland 2
Iceland 3
Iceland 4

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ASKJA AND THE FIRST ICELANDIC TRACKS

After riding 60 kilometers of tarmac on the ring road, enjoying the beautiful landscapes of this glorious island, we prepared to attack the first off-road tracks. Suddenly, the green surroundings changed to a majestic moon landscape; crater-like and desolate. It was just amazing, all the colors we grew to love had just disappeared.

Grey engulfed us.

The terrain quickly reminded us that we had to stay focused. Alexis lost the grip on the rear tire, and crashed. After his crash, he felt some pain in his left hand ... We hoped it was not serious.

The island mainly consisted of lava, sand and it was necessary to pay attention to certain sections where it got more technical because the risk of a crash became higher.

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Tents

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THE FIRST PROBLEMS

A few hours into our ride, we encountered an SUV. Inside, a couple that was stuck. We offered a helping hand and got them out. But when I wanted to leave, my Africa Twin decided not to start anymore. We were 200 kilometers away from the paved road, and just as close to the next town. We had to fix this problem ourselves. I rolled the bike off the track and I started dismantling it. We diagnosed a fuel pump problem. We inserted a screwdriver in the flame of our stove to create a soldering iron that we could use to fuse the pump with some tin.

During the summer, the night doesn’t fall in Iceland. I lost all sense of time, despite the fact that we had only been here for a few hours. After fixing my own bike, we realized that Clément’s Africa Twin had the same problem with the fuel pump. It was 3 o'clock in the morning, so we stayed where we were. We pitched our tents and went to bed. We clearly didn’t achieve our goal for the day, but we would try to catch up the next day.

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Fixing

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Fixing 2

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PURE JOY ON A MOTORCYCLE

A new day began and we finally reached Askja and its volcanic majesty. We took a walk in the calderas, swam in the crater of Viti, then tackled the 90 kilometers of off-road riding on the F88 road. It amounted to pure joy on a motorcycle. We crossed different fjords, some deeper than others, so we always had to take the time to probe them before crossing.

We ended up re-joining the ring road after 2 days off-road; though it should have only taken one day. Oh well! Despite this delay, we were satisfied. One thing was certain, this trip clearly took on the appearance of a rally raid, without a trophy at the finish.

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Horses

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ICELAND AND ITS INFINITE GLORY

The days go on, and it never stops raining. We took the time to relax a bit in the Myvatn blue lagoon, which consisted of hot springs of up to 41° Celsius in some spots.

Also, we encountered curious horses, bringing a little sweetness to the trip. A very nice moment that will remain etched in my memory. Then we reached the part of the island where we encountered Snaefellsjokull, an extinct volcano, under an incredible sunset.

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Vulcano

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THE F338: A ROAD TO A DIFFERENT PLANET

After a refueling at one of the most beautiful service stations in the world – or at least that’s what it was to me! – it was time for us to return to the real world again. We followed the F338 road in order to reach the area where we could admire the famous geysers.

The F338 was surely one of the most beautiful tracks on which I had the opportunity to ride; a pure pleasure! Between the crossings of small scree, the hilly terrain, or the different jumps and slides that we linked with our Africa Twins, it was surreal.

I would call the landscape apocalyptic. We had the impression that we were riding on a different planet. Perhaps like being on Mars. Once the bike was turned off, only silence filled the air.

We reached a certain section of the road after 1 o’clock in the morning, where we wanted to set up camp, but it wasn’t possible to stay there so we continued on. Well into the “dark!” We then arrived at a new river, which we’d have to cross.

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Strugling

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Wading

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GOING UNDER

In a hurry, and without really knowing why, I was convinced that I had the right track. But unfortunately, I crashed the bike in the middle of the river and fell over. The engine choked. I drew on the little strength I had left to try to lift the bike out of the water, waiting for my friends to help me. It was 3 o'clock in the morning, we’ve have been riding for 16 hours and it was official: my engine had drowned! Yet again, it was time to take out the toolkit... Great.

A few hours later, after draining a few liters of water out of the engine, and after some advice via the telephone from my friend Jérôme from Outback Motors Coignères, the bike finally restarted. It was so good to hear it running again! I must confess that I was quite pessimistic about it. That said, we continued and spent 9 more hours on the motorcycles. After 36 hours without sleep, we were exhausted. At that point, we decided to surrender and we returned to Geysir to pitch our tents.

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Crossing

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REYKJAVIK, THE CAPITAL OF ICELAND & THE LANDMANNALAUGAR

After a good night's rest and a hundred kilometers of riding, we reached the capital of Iceland: Reykjavik. This was the first time back in civilization since our departure. The first stop was a restaurant. It had been a few days since we had a proper meal and it was starting to play tricks on us!

Following a great meal, we headed in the direction of the Landmannalaugar region, and the rain came back. The rain had moistened the earth, just enough, to limit the dust being kicked up by the bikes.

Once again, it was a superb off-road section. What a way to have fun on the motorcycle! We crossed a dozen rivers, all in an environment that was indescribable.

It took us 3 hours to cross one of these rivers. After some probing, we discovered that it was way too deep to cross on a motorcycle. Clément finds an alternative: a scree along the river. Not easy an easy path by any stretch, but one that made it possible for us to move forward.

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Sun

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BATTLING THE ELEMENTS

Finally, the sun came back! The light was so strong yet so nice. We took the opportunity to try to warm up a little. Alexis and I did not feel every well. I couldn’t feel my legs or my feet anymore. This was likely because we went through the last river on foot. We went hip deep into the icy water. I think you can imagine the feeling. So we took some much-needed time to warm up before continuing our journey to the Landmannalaugar area.

The following days proved to be difficult because of heavy rain. Luckily, the weather eventually improved. The fact that it never really got dark in Iceland in the summer was a big plus. This allowed us to cope with the weather as we saw fit, and we never had to ride in the dark. We reached the Solheimasandur beach to visit the carcass of a plane that crashed there. Spectacular and worth the journey.

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Laki

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THE LAKI AREA

We barely crossed into the Laki area and I had to stop for a moment. My rear brake didn’t work anymore, therefore I had to slow down the pace a bit, for safety, but also to be able to anticipate possible surprises on the tracks. Nevertheless, we kept moving forward.

We arrived at the top of one of the volcanoes in the Laki area. Despite the strong wind, we took the time to enjoy this incredible panoramic view, which left me speechless. Though I spent months preparing for this road trip, despite my anticipations, there were many things that still took me by surprise. 

We enjoyed the off-road tracks and the unreal color palette until we reached another river. The lack of visibility played tricks on us, and we couldn’t see the bottom of the river. In order to avoid drowning my Africa Twin again, I decided to go test the depth of this river without pants. I didn’t want to ride around with soaked pants again!

This was our last real off-road track, so we enjoyed it as best as we could. Full throttle, all three of us, wheels to wheel. It was heaven. We encountered a few wild sheep, then we crossed two additional rivers. Another pause, just to enjoy the silence.

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Last Stretch

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DISASTER STRIKES

However, the joy would be short-lived. Do you remember my most recent problem? Where I thought I had a problem with my rear brake ... Well, it turned out that it wasn’t just the brake, but the rear wheel bearing. It was totally destroyed! The axle was loose in the hub of the wheel, and it made a horrible noise when I was on the move.

We had one day before we had to catch the ferry, and 500 kilometers of riding before we were back in Seyðisfjörður. We needed to find a solution. I noticed that when I rode at 100 km/h, the bike vibrated less and the wheel stayed straight. Alexis stayed behind me, to keep an eye on my wheel and to check that the situation didn’t get worse.

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Not Over

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THE ADVENTURE ISN’T OVER YET

After a visit to Jökulsárlón, night fell. The weather was cloudier than usual. We made the decision not to stop until Seydisfordur, partly because of my rear wheel problem.

We would spend the night riding through the cold, the rain, and the fog. We encountered the last off-road section. We had the option to take a short cut, which would shave off about 100 kilometers. However, we weren’t sure how rough this off-road route really was. So we made the decision not to attempt this section. Okay, so we had to ride the 100 kilometers but it wasn’t so bad. They were accounted for so it was business as usual. We then crossed the Hornafjordur fjord, where we witnessed a beautiful sunrise at the seaside. Some parts of the road skimmed the seaside. The fatigue had finally passed. In an outburst of madness, even unconsciousness, we accelerated the pace, despite my rear wheel problem.

The hours passed and we ended up reaching Seyðisfjörður, the place where everything started.

Relieved, happy, and sad at the same time, we came to the end of this incredible adventure. Iceland hadn’t spared us, but our friendship and our determination allowed us to overcome all the obstacles.

But the adventure wasn’t over because a new mishap came upon us in Denmark. Something we could not fix, a really big problem…

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WHAT’S NEXT?

To learn more, watch the entire YouTube series "Iceland 66° North" which is composed of 13 episodes, where you can relive this adventure in its entirety and discover what happened at the very end.

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Iceland

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