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Ride Beyond Crew: Iceland Divide — between fire and ice

Mike Vlietstra

Ride Beyond Crew: Iceland Divide — between fire and ice

Bike Touring Collection by Martijn | Fernwee

5

Tours

35:08 h

367 mi

15,825 ft

There’s a well-known Icelandic saying that if you get lost here, all you have to do is stand up, because then you’ll see the way. When we were preparing for this Icelandic adventure, this made us laugh. We wondered if the trees were really that small. Or are there no trees? What does the landscape look like? Also, how difficult is this ride? Well, we answered all these questions and if you’re curious, stick around.

This Collection is a five-day bikepacking trip with the Ride Beyond Crew through the volcanic landscape of Iceland, with Jasmijn, Jelmer, Mike, Roel and myself. In total, the route from Akureyri to Reykjavik is 600 kilometres (373 mi) and the trip was inspired by the Iceland Divide route, with a little detour here and there. On the expedition, we cycled through desolate and blackened lunar landscapes. There’s hardly any vegetation on the mountainous volcanic landscape. From the saddle, you can stare for miles into the void. In the distance, bright green lakes and glaciers gleam; cycling in Iceland really has something magical.

But the emptiness also brings challenges, especially when the weather is bad. There’s hardly any civilisation, accommodation or even simple shelter along the way. For this reason, you can find wooden huts standing in the middle of the desolate landscape. Fairly primitive, the huts are connected by a network of unpaved paths and are used as shelters for cyclists and walkers who travel around the island.

This adventure leads you from hut to hut, with an overnight stay in a tent halfway. I cycled on my Focus Atlas, fitted with 47 mm gravel tyres. If you decide to do this trip, I recommend you come with similar specs; wide tyres are not a luxury. There’s a lot of gravel, but sometimes the paths consist of loose volcanic sand. Pack as light as possible, because in some parts you have to lift your bike over rocks.

As we rode across this desolate landscape, we had the famous Icelandic saying in the back of our minds and came up with a little extra challenge: the one who finds the first tree, wins!

Watch the video of our adventure here:
And the tips and tricks on how we planned this route with komoot:

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Iceland Divide RBC

388 mi

14,100 ft

14,100 ft

Last updated: May 31, 2022

Tours & Highlights

  • Stage 1: Iceland Divide – Ride Beyond Crew

    06:23
    85.5 mi
    13.4 mph
    3,925 ft
    2,725 ft

    After a good night's sleep in Akureyri we were ready to go. Except for Roel's bicycle, there was still a small problem with it. And before we left civilization, we thought it better to repair his bicycle. Briet, a befriended local, recommended a good bicycle repair shop and after some key work, Roel

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    by Martijn | Fernwee

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  • 06:01
    45.4 mi
    7.5 mph
    3,075 ft
    1,400 ft

    After a good night's sleep we opened the curtains. The horizon was gray, gloomy and rainy, but that didn't spoil the fun. We were in good company in a fairytale place.

    

    The first part of the route would go through the lava fields again. That meant walking again, so we moved slowly. And the weather was

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    by Martijn | Fernwee

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  • 05:29
    55.8 mi
    10.2 mph
    3,150 ft
    4,450 ft

    After our night in this warm and cozy cabin (with a lot of Icelandic snoring), we were recharged for the next cycling day, which started again gray and rainy.

    

    After a few kilometers we approached the edge of Vatnajokull. Several rivers flow from the glacier, the first of which we crossed on the route

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    by Martijn | Fernwee

  • 10:17
    83.7 mi
    8.1 mph
    2,525 ft
    4,375 ft

    Because we slept in a tent, we woke up early. And then you better get up as soon as possible. Today we would move more towards civilization. After the last tough days, everyone was really looking forward to that.

    

    But before that, we still had quite a few kilometers to go. We bumped steadily on the gravel

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    by Martijn | Fernwee

  • 06:57
    96.8 mi
    13.9 mph
    3,125 ft
    3,475 ft

    The last piece! After four hard days of cycling, we only had one more day to go. We were still a little behind our daily schedule, but since we would only be cycling on asphalt, we were confident that we would make it to our final destination, Reykjavik.

    

    And as if mother nature knew we could use some

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    by Martijn | Fernwee

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    5
  • Distance
    367 mi
  • Duration
    35:08 h
  • Elevation
    15,825 ft

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