Icelandicduo circles globe on motorcycles

Published on Thu, Jul 19, 2007 by ack Kintner

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Icelandic duo circles globe on motorcycles

By Jack Kintner

“We left Iceland heading East, and we continued heading East for months and will continue heading East until we reach Iceland again. And then we will stop,” said a smiling Einar Thorsteinsson on a sunny day in Blaine, Washington on the Canada/U.S. border.

Einar, 48, and his brother Sverrir, 43, have been riding twin Yamaha XT 660 R 2007 motorbikes on a 16,000 mile journey that has taken the duo across the three continents of the Northern hemisphere.

They left Iceland on May 8 and spent the month traveling through the Faeroes, Norway, Finland, Latvia and Russia, reaching the Mongolian desert by month’s end.

“Our map showed highways in Mongolia, but looking from the map to the landscape, no highways were visible,” said Einar. In the most primitive leg of the journey, they mostly camped along the road and used hand gestures to communicate with locals.

“We went nine days on the dusty Mongolian ‘highway’ before we could finally find a shower,” he added.

The two take problems with good humor. In Japan, they each had to quickly raise $6,000 (U.S.) in cash to freight their bikes to Alaska. Einar said they rushed around the town for several days withdrawing their daily limits on three different credit cards in order to raise the cash.

“But is it really a problem once it’s solved?” shrugged Einar. He went on to describe fixing flat tires and broken drive chains on the open road to keep the bikes running until they could reach a town where replacement parts could be found. “At the time, these events were a challenge, but today they are just another interesting story to tell,” said Einar

The brothers were enjoying a break day at sunny Peace Arch Park, taking part in the annual Blaine Icelandic picnic.

“This is a nice change from riding eight to 10 hours a day,” said Sverrir. The two routinely travel 300-500 kilometers daily, depending on road conditions. Einar added that it was a refreshing break from their short business-like road trip interactions to have lengthy conversations and “really connect” with people, as they were able to at the picnic.

The next goal in their journey is to travel down the Pacific Coast Highway, reaching Los Angeles by July 21. In L.A. they will meet their 72-year-old father and his friend, who are flying in from Iceland. Then it’s off to a motorcycle shop, where two rented Harleys are waiting for the two men who will join the brothers on their final leg of the trip: crossing the United States.

“We’re planning on heading to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, but the only goal after that is to reach New York to catch our plane home on August 10,” said Einar.

With their globetrotting journey, the two have become celebrities back in Iceland. The brothers are interviewed by phone each Tuesday for Icelandic National Radio, and a growing listenership is tuning in to find out the latest details of their remarkable trip.

Sverrir also keeps an on-line diary with pictures and a blog in Icelandic at www.rtw.is.

“This is an adventure of a lifetime,” beamed an exhausted but happy Einar. Nodding, his brother smiled in agreement.