Ride x Iceland: On mountain bikes from east to west
The project: Ride x Iceland – human-powered, from east to west
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)