Polaris’ all-women team of riders from across Europe have successfully completed the Polaris Outlanding Project – a week-long, 100% outdoor expedition across the volcanic landscape of Iceland – that took place this September.
With a strong female-forward focus, six women represented Polaris from France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the UK, all with a shared passion for the outdoors and adventure. But this wasn’t just an expedition to showcase the capabilities of Polaris’ side-by-side lineup in this harsh environment; it was a chance to inspire other riders to take on similar challenges in these types of vehicles, provide a unique perspective on adventure and how to achieve it, and to encourage other women riders who are ready to explore to start planning. After months of preparation, the team ventured into the wilderness of Iceland with just their vehicles and their camping equipment to sustain them – and all returned with countless memories.
This journey of a lifetime took the riders out of the capital, Reykjavik, past glaciers, geysers and geothermal pools of the east into the snowy mountain passes of the north, before returning south through barren lava fields and long stretches of black sand. The team manoeuvred over 1,200 kilometres almost entirely on non-tarmac roads: Slow speeds, carefully-considered tyre placement and unfaltering concentration were key in making sure the routes were safely navigated.
“To think this all started with a view to showcase our off-road products in the dramatic landscape of Iceland – a utopia for these vehicles – but it actually turned out to be so much more than we could have imagined,” said Marion Chouanneau, Polaris Off Road Vehicles EMEA Marketing Manager. “The route made for incredible views, technical terrain and a big test of willpower, but it was met with unfaltering enthusiasm and confidence by the whole team, and without a single flat tyre! It was easy to forget that this expedition was a test of the vehicles’ strength, but rather our own. I’m so proud to be a part of this amazing team of women, and to work for the brand whose vehicles have performed so spectacularly on this project.”
Accompanying the riders were three Polaris off-road vehicles; the Polaris General 1000 Deluxe ABS, the Polaris Ranger 1000 Nordic Pro Edition, and the Polaris RZR XP 1000 – all suited to different tasks, usage and terrain, but all overcoming every natural obstacle that Iceland had to throw their way.
The ultimate adventure side-by-side – the General – spearheaded the project, specially-equipped with essential camping equipment including a CAMPWERK iKamper top tent, a Taubenreuther special design Multi-Rack storage solution, XOBI outdoor kitchen, Pro Armor® light bar, front hood storage and much more. Made to take on the trails with unrivalled performance, the RZR proved its strength, power and control over the harsh terrain in Iceland, taking on every boulder and water crossing with complete ease and confidence, making even the toughest of trails a joy to ride. Polaris’ utility side-by-side, the Ranger, is a proven workhorse and its ability to keep on going was invaluable on this expedition. Not only could it carry all the team’s equipment in its cargo bed, but its in-cab heater and comfy bench seats were a welcome addition to this trip.
Arrival in Iceland
The team received a very warm and heartfelt welcome from the crew at Stormur EHF in Reykjavik – Polaris’ official distributor in Iceland – to begin the project, met with the three exquisitely-prepared vehicles at the dealership, ready to be loaded full of their camping equipment and essentials to see them through the next week of exploration in Iceland.
Day 1: 135 miles / 217 kilometres
Diving in at the deep end is a good way to start any trip – and that’s exactly what the team did. The ride started rough and technical through the rift Valley of Þingvellir – a great way to get into the riding rhythm. No visit to Iceland is complete without a customary visit to the Geysir geothermal area to see the exploding 30-metre-high Strokkur geyser, as well as Gullfoss (which translates to ‘Golden Falls’), one of Iceland’s most loved waterfalls located in the canyon of the Hvítá river. 135 miles from their starting point in Reykjavik, the team arrived at Hveravellir Lodge – a highland oasis in the middle of Iceland – ready for their first night of camping.
Day 2: 124 miles / 200 kilometres
Day 2 was a turning point for the team, now realising that the terrain in Iceland is unlike any they had ridden across before, and that the Polaris vehicles can handle it all with ease. To think the roads they had covered are all regular legal routes in Iceland is as surprising as it is inspiring; certainly not for the faint-hearted but in these off-road vehicles, the team felt confident. Riding up to the far north of the island, the mountain passes were already covered in snow this time of the year, followed by vast, flowing valleys surrounded by untouched waterfalls and weaving tracks: This particular route unveiled the true beauty of the rural highlands of Iceland.
Day 3: 88 miles / 142 kilometres
Being at the northernmost point of the route, even the morning sunlight didn’t stop the brisk Icelandic breeze, but it did make for some beautiful views as the team rode alongside the dramatic coastline and made their way towards the mountains. After a short pitstop at Stormur’s northern dealership for a surprise pizza party, the team continued on to the spectacular 30-metre wide Goðafoss – ‘the waterfall of Gods’ – before reaching the final destination: Mývatn. It would have been rude not to take a dip in the Mývatn Nature Baths to warm up and soak in the healthy minerals whilst watching the sun go down, before an early night to rest up.
Day 4: 218 miles / 350 kilometres
A very long day calls for a very early start. As the morning light broke through the zippers on their tents, the team all thought the same thing: the sun had joined the Outlanding project – finally! On their longest leg of the journey – a route from the north to the south of Iceland – the women rode for over 12 hours without any signs of civilisation, with the exception of a lodge that was already closed for winter. There are probably many countries in the world where you can drive for that amount of time without seeing anyone else, but for its dramatic volcanic landscape with crater-like fields of lava, soft black sand and majestic mountains lurking in the background, Iceland is truly unique.
Day 5: 89 miles / 143 kilometres
Time to see the volcanoes of Iceland. Day 5 was a shorter ride than the team had completed previously, but it was equally as beautiful. Technical routes led them to Krakatindur, an 858m volcano in the vast Nyjahraun lava field, where they set up for a lunchtime picnic in its shadow and gazed at its intimidating beauty.
Day 6: 50 miles / 80 kilometres
The women finished the trip on a high – a short route that took them through a number of shallow river crossings, presenting the perfect opportunity to give the dusty vehicles a good clean-off. With their wet boots and faces full of smiles, they said a final farewell to their faithful and trusted Polaris vehicles that had allowed them to see the wonders of Iceland – even the hard-to-reach ones.
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