Hell. And back.
Who knew planning a trip to Hell and back would be like a trip to Hell and back?!
It all started at the 2017 Pub General Meeting. To get our creative minds at full capacity we decided to hold the PGM in Marbella. This was good for many reasons but bad for one unexpected reason. That reason is Gordon. The moral of the story is never buy a crate of foreign beer because it has a comedy name without checking the strength first.
As a result, the next day no one could remember what we’d planned or if we’d planned anything in the first place. Luckily our mobile phones rescued the situation.
Checking your mobile after a drunken night out can sometimes harbour moments of bum-clenching regret. Sending a drunken text to an ex. Posting something awkward on Facebook. On this occasion our mobile phones told us that we’d been signed up to a What’s App group with the subject matter “MILFs go to Iceland”.
It was looking like we’d subscribed to some sort of dodgy traffiking ring until we realised that we were the only members of the group. In fact we’d set the group up. Helpfully there were also some postings in the group. “That’s why mums go to Iceland!”. “Because mums are heroes!”. For some reason we seemed to be quoting straplines from adverts for Iceland supermarkets.
It’s a well known fact that mums go shopping in Iceland. It’s less clear on how you achieve hero status by filling a trolley with fish fingers. Thankfully the days of advertising which portrays mums as the only ones with enough time on their hands to go shopping are now long gone. Nowadays the moral compass is right on track with reality stars promoting frozen prawn rings to stave off bankruptcy.
We’d clearly had a conversation the night before about Iceland and mums. It’s true that we’ve previously shopped in Iceland and done the odd spot of cross dressing (think Isle of Nan TT). It still wasn’t entirely clear what we aiming at however that was enough evidence for us to conclude we were going to Iceland and that it had to be on our trusty mopeds. Wrong Way Round Iceland it is then.
Simple really. We were just going to take our own bikes to Iceland, ride them to a place called Hell, and ride back again. We didn’t even need the usual long list of visas or longer list of jabs for plague and flesh-eating parasites. All we had to do was get there.
A quick trawl of the internet revealed some GS riders (obviously) who had caught the ferry from Scotland and ridden around, as they do. None of them had died so we were reassured that it was possible but then worried it might be a bit too easy. Until we realised they’d never left tarmac.
Unfortunately booking the ferry proved challenging since it had ceased to operate in 2012. Our only option was to ride all the way to Denmark and spend two days on a ferry, then two nights in the Faroe Islands. Only after a further two days on the ferry would we reach Reykjavik.
Two nights in a prison cell
A quick search of “the Faroe Islands” revealed it would only be marginally more interesting than spending two nights in a prison cell. So in summary we’d spend nearly two weeks of monotonous travel time just getting to and from Iceland before we’d even turned a wheel. Clearly not an option.
Plan B was to fly in and rent local vehicles. The only options on offer were motorbikes and 4×4’s more than capable of managing the terrain. This was clearly anathema to us so that was another plan out of the window.
Plan C was to crate and fly the bikes to Iceland. We got a quote. We felt faint.
Plan D was to crate and ship the bikes to Iceland. We got quotes. We felt faint.
Plan E was to sack off Iceland but that would mean having another Pub General Meeting in order to discuss a new plan and our livers were not yet fully repaired.
After some creative thinking Plan F was floated. Yamaha Townmates are small. Even smaller if you take them apart. If you could squeeze two of them onto a standard pallet then the cost would surely plummet?
The first quote was a winner! We pursued this until it turned out the shipper thought we were shipping bicycles and had factored the costs down accordingly.
The second quote was a winner! We pursued this until it turned out the shipper thought we were shipping spare parts and had factored the costs down accordingly.
For some reason the shippers couldn’t get their heads round the fact that two motorcycles might fit on one pallet.
Undeterred we pressed on. Finally we got hold of someone who understood, er no, someone who accepted what we wanted to do, but not why. We pursued this until the shipper decided to no longer respond to any emails.
A renewed sense of desperation
Fed up, we did nothing for months until realising that if we didn’t actually sort it out soon we would miss the season for this year. With a renewed sense of desperation we started over.
We picked three random shippers. One didn’t respond. Another did but omitted to answer any of the specific questions we’d raised. The last shipper’s email arrived in our inbox. Someone who actually shipped stuff for a living looked liked they’d written it. Questions about things we hadn’t even considered. It was helpful.
The first task they suggested we carry out was to check entry requirements for Iceland. Iceland’s Directorate of Customs advised that you could drive you own vehicle in Iceland, but not about what you needed to do to get it there.
If Iceland didn’t routinely offer all their websites in the English language we’d have been knacker-doo’d. Even then it was hard work. Eventually we found a form with the catchy moniker “E9”. This is what we’d been looking for.
There was even a helpful note which said if you had any questions about completing the form to send them a live chat or an email. We sent a live chat. Computer said no. The live chat was only available in Icelandic. Go figure. We sent an email. Three days later we got a reply saying “ask the shippers”.
We asked the shipper. Again a speedy and helpful reply. Things were looking up. We now knew what we needed to declare and who we needed to declare it to. All we had to do was start building the pallets. The shipper kindly advised us of the need to only use wood which conformed to ISPM15.
ISPM what? 15 what? Who knew wood had to be heat treated and stamped to stop the spread of scrotum-munching killer woodlice?! Some more furious internet research took place.
We got some pallets. We still had no idea if two Townmates actually fitted on one. A weekend build was agreed. Well more a case of forced upon us, since there was only one weekend left before the shippers needed to collect.
After some sawing, banging, screwing, shouting, and with a little help from an angle grinder, the moment of truth arrived.