This is not the original article. The original was once on the web, but for some reason taken off. Because I believe that any article about cycling in Iceland is worthwhile, I saved a copy and publish a slightly edited version here. If you are the owner and don't want this, then please contact me. I will remove it right away.
  • Author : Thorsteinn Broddason (Keiko)
  • Original URL :^20@.eee4c4d/3
  • Available at : No

Off-road touring ?

My wife and me were planning a weekend with friends at a hotel, 150 Km away from home. The idea was to meet them at the hotel on Saturday so I started planning this as a MTB tour as well. I knew of a mountain trail that had never been biked before, and it covered about half of the distance we would travel. So I told my wife that I would start our trip on Friday afternoon, by biking 30km in the mountains, sleep over in a hut, and meet her the next day, on the road to our hotel. I told my training companion about my intentions and he decided to join me over the mountains.

We started at 3 o clock in the afternoon. First there was moderate climb on animal tracks. (Sheep and horses are kept on the loose in the mountains at summertime here in Iceland, and those make often pretty good single tracks, although they kind of disappear from time to time, and sometimes, they get quite deep and narrow, so you cant pedal through). The tracks here were quite good so we were able to pedal through, and climbed on these up to 370 m over sea level. When the tracks ended, we came to green flat fields with no tracks. Piece of cake we thought and started to pedal straight over it. We found out that these fields were actually swamps, which made it hard to ride trough, although with constant cadence, we managed to get over it without sinking. We came to new tracks that we followed over some rough terrain, up and down, up and down. Finally a long valley opened before us, and we went downhill to get to the river. We knew that there was a hut in the other end of the valley, so we decided to follow the river and stop at the hut, before carrying on. The river had made the bottom of the valley, relatively flat, so this was not so tough terrain we thought. After a wile, when we had crossed the river five times, we thought differently. Finally we came to the hut, thirsty and hungry after 2-˝ hour of hard riding.

We stopped a little, just to eat sandwiches and drink some OJ, but I started dreaming of nice cold beer.

We rode on, now we had to ride up to a pass in the mountains, light climb on tracks, with birds on the lakes, and a heard of 30 horses running around us. We came down from the pass, knowing we had to get over one more, before we came to our destination, but here we got some real problems. The swamps we had ridden sooner were nothing to this. Our tires sank about 3 inches in the ground, and all was wet and muddy. I was riding semi slicks, so I had to be very careful at every stroke, just to not spin my rear out. It was about 3 km of this terrain, and the average speed dropped down to 5 km/h, so it took us 40 minutes to get over this. Nothing better awaited us. Steep climb with no tracks at all ca 100m elevation. We had to drag and carry the bikes up this hill, but when at the top, we saw fairly good tracks we could follow through the pass.
After short time on the tracks, we came to a new heard of horses. We scared them of and they started to run towards the next valley. I decided to try to get ahead of them, and rode the bike as fast as I could on the track. The feeling of riding a rough single rack in over 40km/h with 50 or so horses running within 4m on the side is just marvelous. Up and down, bunnyhopping rocks, creeks and other obstacles on a 40cm wide track, racing horses, is one h3ll of a ride. My companion (slightly older than me) told me that I must be crazy doing this and I agreed for the most.

We split up. He got a car waiting for him, and went home, I carried on my trip. Oh god, I needed beer. I decided to make a change in the plan, and rode of to the nearest village, to get a cold one. It was only 20km so the beer would be well earned. I came to the place, just to find out that not only there was no accommodation available in the area, but also that the trip to the hotel had been canceled, due to sickness in our friends family. I stopped at a road café, and asked for burger and beer, just to find out that they did not sell beer. #$%&#$
While eating I opened my map and tried to find out what to do since all the old plans had failed. One option was to ride home over a mountain road, which was closed for cars, but since it was 55km and it was soon to be dark (9:30 pm) I decided to go with plan b (or was it maybe plan k?). That involved a bus trip for 45km, and then riding my bike an old road, not used anymore, and I had seen from air. This one would take me to a paved road that I could ride home.

I was out of the bus just before 23:00, it was not fully dark yet, so I found the road and started pedaling. The thought of hot bath and cold beer at home kept me going. After a while I recognized that the road had disappeared. I started circling around, but did not manage to find it again. Since I am fairly known in the area, and I could se the lights of the town, 20km away, I decided to head straight north to a river I knew of and follow it down to the road. Before I came to the river, a fence stopped me. Not just any fence, but an electrical one, so I did not dear to climb over it. I followed the fence, in hope for finding a gate, with no luck, but I found a place were I could jump it (not on the bike). I carried on biking, just to find my self in a new swamp, and this time I did not manage to keep on moving. I stepped of the bike, and stood knee deep in mud and water. Nearby was a hill that looked like it was 40m high in the dark, and I headed for it to get out of this wet surroundings. When at the hill I found out that it was more like 10m high, and on top of it laid the road I had been looking for. I had been riding beside it all the time.

I rode on. The darkness of August night is not full here in Iceland, and I saw the silhouettes of the mountains against the skies. The road lay in front of me, slightly brighter than the surroundings, and I smelled the fresh aroma of wet nature. Crossed a small river, my feet were wet from the swamps, so that was all right, on the road again, pumping, desperately needing my hot bath and cold beer. Only sound I heard was from my tires, drive train and my own breath. Oh god, I love biking.
On to the paved road. Only 10km left. Nothing to it. Every time I met a car, I had to stop, since their lights left me blind for few seconds afterwards. Came in to town, time 00:30. The bright lights of the town made the sky pitch black, and the silhouettes of the mountains disappeared. Home, I was still longing for a hot bath and a cold beer. Opened the fridge, no beer!!! %&$$&$ Well, still I could get a hot bath.
75km of riding, thereof 35 under extreme condition. I went to bed a happy man although I did not get my beer.

Originally an article on a webforum.