We said goodbye to our bikes in Immingham over ten days ago and are now eagerly awaiting the opening of our shipping container whilst standing in the sunshine in the Reykjavik docks. I was indeed sensible last night, but maybe it’s the excitement of going on this adventure… I feel a little bit tense and my head hurts. A helpful and kind young Icelandic Eimskip employee has located the big rusty metal box that has been sheltering our bikes for their journey to Iceland and as soon as he unlocks the door I can spot my shiny silvery panniers. My bike is in Reykjavik. How exciting! However, we quickly realise that Cameron’s bike has taken a serious tumble in the container and is lying precariously on its side. Whoever was meant to secure those bikes did a really poor job. One of Cameron’s panniers is bent out of shape and won’t close properly.
Despite the disappointment, it takes us less than 45 minutes to sort our belongings into our 3 respective panniers (Cameron has to re-connect the batteries and do all the technical stuff while I schmooze the guys at the port to let us store our flight bags with them while we are on tour – separation of duties!) I notice my trusted black travel rucksack is not a good fit for my top box. I doubt it will come to Patagonia with me. Maybe I should have tested this back in Scotland, but I was too busy learning to ride the new bike and never even thought about this.
We set off from the port before lunchtime and our first essential stop is for fuel. My brain is in overdrive mode, my body wants to go slowly. Despite being German, I am not used to riding a bike on the right hand side of the road and I have only ever ridden this huge bike for 200 miles in Scotland. What was I thinking taking it to Iceland so soon after buying it, let alone passing my test 6 weeks ago?!
Our sat nav takes us a funny route out of the city and we possibly take a few de-tours we shouldn’t have. Perfect training for mastering slow stops, hill-starts and riding in slow traffic. Strangely, I take all of this in my stride. I am just happy to be re-united with my ice-grey friend. I still don’t have a name for my bike. I am considering Thor, but I feel it’s a bit predictable given where we are.
Today we ride 120 miles to Arnarstapi, our first night’s stop from Reykjavik. On route, I reflect that Iceland looks a bit like Scotland. Cameron thinks Scotland looks a bit like Iceland. We agree that both places look a lot like many other countries if you have travelled as much as we have. Just never together before this trip.
At our lunch stop in Borganes, at one of the many service stations with little cafes, we first meet an older Icelandic chap on a ginormous Triumph who gives us plenty of travel advice and later a young Dutch couple who rode their bikes all the way from Holland via the Faroe islands. When I confess to having only recently passed my test I am not sure whether I can see pity or admiration on their faces. I suddenly realise people now assume I know how to ride a motorbike and consider me part of this “club of adventurers”.
Late afternoon, we arrive in our first rest place on this bike adventure. We have hired a small cottage in Arnarstapi, a lovely little hamlet in the very West of Iceland, with space for our bikes right outside. It’s my first foray into parking on gravel. I go real slow and use my back brake. I don’t drop it (I won’t be as lucky in the future…) and I step off my bike with a big smile on my face and a huge sense of achievement. I have just completed my first day riding my bike in a foreign country. I have earned my dinner tonight.