Saturday, March 07, 2009

Movie Review: Globerider's Iceland Expedition

I remember a scene in some TV show where guys in the Air Force are threatened with a sudden assignment to Iceland if they don't perform some mission well. After seeing a production of riding motorcycles in Iceland, I am now thinking perhaps it would not have been that bad a punishment.

Helge Pedersen, renowned world rider and author of "Ten Years on Two Wheels" where he rides the world on a BMW GS and Chris who makes a living as a pharmacist are the featured riders of this short DVD movie I got from the public library. His website is here: LINK, there's a video trailer about the Iceland trip here: LINK.

Courtesy of

It's about these two guys on BMW 650GS's with huge panniers along with a third rider acting as camera man. The trip happens during late August through early September. They started their riding from Seattle, WA, across Canada towards the end goal of Iceland which of course they reach via aircraft.

At the beginning of the movie, the roads and dirt trails they showed looked highly doable, though they moved across them much faster than I would have on Brigitta. The terrain becomes more challenging as they ride into the boonies where beautiful vistas, wind and solitude are their only companions.

The Icelandic countryside is filled with lots of waterfalls and a lot of volcanic activity which has allowed for about 86% of homes to be able to use geothermal heating. The predominant colors are the gray/black of lava and very green moss covering the areas where rain and humidity permit it.

The riders sought out 4x4 trails in their travels, even practicing riding on the same terrain where NASA trained astronauts to eventually drive on the moon.

Riding through the highlands, they were able to find and navigate pretty rough roads at last. One thing I liked was how they show the use of lower tire pressures in bad terrain to create a larger footprint for the tires.

The riders ride all day, stopping to camp by the ubiquitous hot springs and pools....enjoying the solitude. If you're seeking some time alone, with just beautiful scenery to keep you company, Iceland may be what you want.

They experienced all types of weather during their time in Iceland. This weather ranged from fog, rain, clear skies and wind. Iceland can provide high winds, don't forget to bring your tent stakes!

There are over 40 small river crossings in the highlands, and the riders crossed quite a few of them, making it look pretty easy at times and not so easy in others. I don't think Brigitta would do as well since her air intakes are lower, not to mention her exhaust pipes would be below water level in some of those crossings! They mentioned tales of other motorcyclists having their mounts swept downstream by the strong currents.

Some of the roughest terrain consisted of boulder fields! Small to large smoothly rounded rocks, embedded into the dirt! Probably the remnants of ancient glaciers.

Some of the scenery they saw and stopped at included Crater Lake, a geothermally heated, water-filled volcanic carter. It kind of reminded me of the big meteor crater in AZ, though not as big.

The local tradition of building houses into the sides of small dirt mounts against the ravages of the weather is shown. They also dine at a restaurant built in such fashion. The menu was pancakes and apple schnapps, which apparently was a quite satisfying change from their regular camp food.

Apparently, its pretty cheap to camp in Iceland with camping costs ranging from $3 in the boonies to $6 in more civilized areas.

One scene showed some of the soft mud that they had to cross. The camera shows Chris digging a furrow in the mud from where his GS had gotten its rear wheel buried.

Some of the varied terrain offered by Iceland included of course iceberg fields and glaciers with over 500 varieties of moss growing on the lava fields giving the Iceland an "Irish" look.

The riders then take a slight detour from riding in the boonies and venture into some tourist locations, to include:

A brief tour of the Capital of Iceland, Reykjavik including singers in the square and city dwellers bathing in yet another geothermal lake. I am thinking hot water is not a rare commodity in these parts. In some locations, the ever present volcanic/geothermal activity made living there kind of like living in Yellowstone National Park. Geyser watching is a popular tourist activity.

And then, back to the boonies:

Their first real mishap involved wet hard clay....they said it felt like being on ice and both the camera man and Chris went down, damaging the panniers and a few dents on the motorcycles. No injuries to the riders fortunately. A great McGyver type moment was when the film shows Helge Pedersen demonstrating how to unbend a bad 90 degree bend on the right handlebar....pretty smart. This accident Only delayed them a couple of hours.

More riding, lots of views of horses and the reaching of the Herring capital of the world according to Helge finish out the film They cover about 3000 miles of riding in their adventures and the film ends with Helge stashing their used knobbies in an abandoned structure. The GPS coordinates are shown on the screen so if you happen to be riding in Iceland, you may want to go and see if the tires are still there!


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom);

I apologize for being absent the past couple of days. The hard-to-swallow truth is that I occasionally get sick of writing and find my mind wandering from the motorcycle world. I write all day, and sometimnes, just get sick of looking at this keyboard.

The blogs that I look at and want to comment on require solid thought, and I am not always up to the effort -- either to read them or to comment on them.

I am going to do a piece on pictures that greatly add to the story and would like to ask youfor a couple to use as "great" examples.

The bottom is falling out of the business travel industry with layoffs and cutbacks standard occurrences. I find myself replanning trips with a strong emphasis on "economy."Mt last remaing great expenditure for 2009 will be tires. I'm hoping to rack up 20,000 miles this season, as my weight declines and the price of gas goes back up.

I enjoyed your review of this DVD of biking across Canada to Iceland. Quite frankly, I think it would be cool to rie all day, and then camp in a remote spot where hot water was not in short supply. Of course, I will never do any off-roading at this point in my life, owing to the arthritis, if nothing else. But I'm thinking of buying this DVD for inspiration, if for not for kust being able to watch the video when I want to.

Thank you for recommending this and for your concise analysis of the content.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

Charlie6 said...

No worries Jack, I work on a computer all day and sometimes am quite sick of them by the end of the day. I'd rather pick up a wrench and do something mechanical instead for sanity's sake.

I didn't think about it but it would be nice to have a "au naturel" hot tub at the end of a hard day's riding....

Charlie6 said...


re using my pics as examples...surely. I would be honored.

perhaps some from the Pikes Peak ride recently? or you tell me which you'd like....