Iceland is not only closer than you think, but far different than you ever imagined. It is Europe's second largest island (after Great Britain) and is a fantastic place to ride a motorcycle. Where else can you witness tremendous icecaps and glaciers, spouting geysers and steaming volcanoes, raging rivers and magnificent waterfalls, a multitude of birds, whales and many other surprises. Summers are surprisingly warm and winters not as cold as you might expect.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2008 is Biking Viking Motorcycle Tours, which offers guided motorcycle trips around Iceland on new BMW bikes. The company was founded in 1998 by Njall Gunnlaugsson - a motorcycle enthusiast for 25 years - who currently rides a BMW HP2 Enduro. Niall believes that Iceland is one of the best places to explore on two wheels, as it has more gravel roads than most other countries, as well as numerous river crossings, sand, mountain passes and plenty of well-surfaced twisty asphalt roads.
"Biking Viking Motorcycle Tours has been around for ten years but really got on the map in 2004 when we were featured in Cycleworld's Travel & Adventure section," said Njall. "Our main client base since then has been from the States but we are now receiving interest from all over the world. Our goal is to offer the best riding experience and the best accommodation available in this true motorcycle playground.
"For the 2008 season we have imported seven new BMW F 650 GS and an F 800 GS machine, so we are one of the first motorcycle travel companies to use these new bikes, which are ideal for the kind of riding conditions you'll find over here. Both bikes are light and agile, and powerful enough to carry two passengers and their luggage. Importantly, they are suitable both for asphalt and gravel riding."
Njall is a BMW rider through-and-through. Prior to buying the HP2 Enduro for enjoying all the cross-country tracks over Iceland's high land, he owned a 1993 F 650 Funduro, which was featured in Motorrad magazine. Before then, his long-standing BMW was his R 75/5, which he purchased and restored in 1993. It has since been ridden all over Iceland.
As well as being a former editor of Iceland's only motorcycle magazine, Njall has also been a riding instructor for over ten years and believes that his country offers a great opportunity to experience all kinds of overland riding conditions, including river crossings, desert sand, steep hills, mud and gravel roads - all in beautiful settings. To celebrate its ten-year anniversary, Biking Viking has also put together several new and exciting tours, which Njall is naturally excited about providing:
"For the more adventurous customer we offer a tour we call 'To Hell and back' to the Hell crater (Viti) north of the Vatnajokull glacier - the biggest glacier in Europe. The 'Westfjord Viking' tour is a tour to the westernmost point of Europe - Latrabjarg - which is a 1,456 foot cliff jutting straight out from the North Atlantic Ocean. The 'Black Desert' tour promises river crossings and excellent desert riding in the vicinity of the Hekla volcano, which last erupted in 2000! And for less experienced riders, we also offer off-road riding and overland training courses."
As part of its expansion plans, Biking Viking has joined forces with two experienced highland travellers - Ingolfur Stefansson and Eythor Orlygsson. Ingolfur has been operating 4x4 tours in the highlands for many years, while Eythor is an experienced off-road rider whose mechanical skills are essential on the more difficult highland tours.
For more information on the company and the 2008 program, please visit the www.bikingviking.is website. Alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org for details, prices and availability.