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Ride x Iceland: On mountain bikes from east to west 

Enormous glaciers, rushing waterfalls, hot springs, and unfriendly winds from every direction imaginable: Iceland is a country full of contradictions and a region many outdoor and nature enthusiasts dream of. The island is the perfect backdrop for all kinds of mountain sports adventures, and it puts high demands on materials, people, and equipment with its harsh climate. Bottom line, Iceland is the perfect place to push your own limits and to discover new things. 
 
While testing the Ride Collection, a three-person DYNAFIT team crossed Iceland from east to west on mountain bikes with minimal gear in the summer of 2021. Team member Chrissi reports about her experiences bikepacking on the volcanic island and her must-haves for a minimalist adventure. 

The project: Ride x Iceland – human-powered, from east to west 

“Does anybody have sunscreen with them?” Our first day in Iceland began differently than expected. Like most travelers, when thinking of Iceland we had visions of rain, strong winds, and inhospitably rough conditions. Yes, the wind was our constant companion. It was hitting us from the front, from the side, from behind, pretty much everywhere. Unlike what we expected, we experiencedsunburn instead of hypothermia and were wearing short-sleeve shirts instead of rain jackets. During our entire trip, it was unseasonably warm. We asked ourselves a number of times if we really did end up in Iceland and not perhaps Lanzarote or Fuerteventura. But let’s start at the start: What are we doing here, what have we taken on, and who is really this “we” I speak of. 
 
We are Ross, Micha and myself, Chrissi, three sports enthusiasts and DYNAFIT colleagues from Germany and Italy who have taken on crossing Iceland on mountain bikes.We travelled from east to west and from lighthouse to lighthouse, staying true to the saying, “The journey is the goal.” In front of us was 800 kilometers and some 9,200 meters of elevation gain in eight days without motorized assistance and with minimal gear.Before this trip, none of us had ridden and sat so long at one time on a bike - so we knew this was going to be an adventure(We were accompanied by our videographer Dario) 
 
We wanted to get out of our comfort zones, take on a new challenge, as well as get to know a new country and its people. We are not mechanics or pro-athletes, and we know each other from work – so there is a certain measure of uncertainty in the air before we start the trip. Are we psychologically up to this endeavor? Did we think of everything? What do we do if we have a larger breakdown with the bikes? How will we function and harmonize as a team?

Accommodations for the first night: A wood hut directly on the fjord

Finally, we are off: The start of a bikepacking adventure 

We can’t spend too much time on these thoughts. Because there is just much too much to organize and too many last-minute changes due to Covid-19. As soon as we arrived in Iceland, the new insights and anticipation of what awaited us consumed us. Our first lodge was a small wood hut on the eastern coast, situated picturesquely on a fjord. It was simply “falleg,” which means something like “beautiful” in Icelandic – which wasa word that came up over and over during our trip. Before we set out for our first day on bikes, we had to do several things:bike check, load and attach our packs for the first time (which we should have done before our trip)and discuss the route for the next few days one more time.  Everything is worked out, we are totally motivated, and the next morning off we go. We find some sunscreen in a market and finally are ready to get pedaling. 

On a trip in Iceland, there have to be waterfalls

From sheep to people, the daily routine and challenges 

It took just a short time before we fell into a daily routine and we gain more confidence. Our days more or less followed the same routine: Get up, pack bike packs, review the route one more time together, and head out. During each stage, each of us were deep in own thoughts, sometimes we had little competitions, or we talked about some ideas. Every day is the same, but also totally different because there was always different sights and perceptions: Expansive countryside, changing colors and smells, volcanic stones and rocky desert, here and there a waterfall or another.We enjoyed the here and now and were excited our team worked well together. We didn’t want to set a new speed record, but rather to savor the island and its diversity to the fullest. We travelled off familiar tourist routes, which in result meant that we encountered very few people, but rather a whole lot of sheep who look at us rather dumbfounded. In general, the country and the people were not reallyaccustomed to seeing bikepackers. So, on the busy Ring Road we encountered risky situations here and there. We were excited when we could head off the main road,but we do still of course need a little civilization. Our primary responsibility each day, (which sometimes is a real challenge)was our search for food or a supermarket. Often, all we found during the day was a gas station where we grabbed a few snacks or a sandwich. In the evening, we had no problem downing a couple of pounds of pasta – consideringwhat our daily energy expenditure was. While we cooked together, we took the opportunity to hash over the day and all our impressions from the ride. Then we fell asleep totally exhausted but happy - before it begins all over again the next day. Every day the same, every day different – a pleasant diversion from the normal daily grind or, how Ross at the end put it so well: “It won’t be easy to go home again now, to sit at a desk, and not pedal 100 kilometers a day.” 

On the road near Lake Mývatn with hot springs, geysers, and bubbling mud pots

Less is more: Must-haves when bikepacking in Iceland 

Our bikepacking trip showed me once again that you generally really need very little on travels. Space is limited, and you have to limit yourself – ultimately, just a little is really plenty. Of course, one could always pack another shirt, but do you really need it?

There are a few vital pieces of gear that are obligatory for such a bike adventure in Iceland. Below is a list of those, in my opinion!

• Padded liner pants!
• Light, versatile performance apparel: Two sets each of pants and jerseys – one long    sleeve shirt, a wind jacket, and cycling gloves
• Durable cycling shoes
• Rain jacket, rain pants, and waterproof overshoes
• First-aid kit, and bike repair kit
• Comfy, long change of clothing for the evenings
• At least two pairs of socks
• Helmet, bike lights, navigation system or GPS watch
• Sunglasses, pack, hydration system or bottles
• Totally waterproof, high-quality bike packs/panniers
• Sunscreen :-)

Iceland crossing: Route and details 

The team at the end of its trip: Öndverðarnes (Lighthouse)

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