Ice­land

RiDE (UK) - - Travel -

Why you should go

An oth­er­worldly place of fire and ice, ma­rooned near the top of the globe, Ice­land is where the mighty forces of na­ture have cre­ated a play­ground for ad­ven­ture rid­ing. Out­side buzzing and bustling Reyk­javík and Akureyri, this is a land of tiny set­tle­ments, fish­ing vil­lages and farm­steads dot­ted along a rugged coast­line, fjords and in small val­leys, where you can en­joy peace, good food and craft beers. Iso­lated roads and gravel tracks take you past glaciers, lava fields, tun­dra, gey­sers, hot springs and wa­ter­falls in the pris­tine wilder­ness.

Ven­ture into the in­te­rior and you’ll find an un­in­hab­ited moon­scape, dom­i­nated by vol­ca­noes and glaciers; mother na­ture at her most wild and cre­ative. Truly a place for stress-free rid­ing: stop, breathe and drink in the views.

What’s it like to ride there?

Heav­enly. Traf­fic is neg­li­gi­ble and largely you’ll have the road to your­self. You can cover a lot of the is­land on paved roads, which are good qual­ity. The main gravel routes are also good and well graded and can be tack­led with just the ba­sics of off-road train­ing.

If you want to up the ante, the lesser­graded ‘F-roads’ are where to look but make sure you and your bike are up to it. By law, only off-road-ca­pa­ble ve­hi­cles, such as 4x4s or ad­ven­ture bikes fit­ted with the right tyres, can use them.

The weather can also be chal­leng­ing, with strong winds and ‘four sea­sons in one day’ due to how far north Ice­land is. There is plenty of fuel, but many ser­vices are un­manned which means a credit card with PIN num­ber to fill up.

Must ride/see

See Ice­land’s cap­i­tal, Reyk­javík, the set­tler build­ing ar­chi­tec­ture and ex­pe­ri­ence the vi­brant down­town bars and restau­rants. Ride by Ice­land’s geo­ther­mal pipe­line, an amaz­ing achieve­ment with over 85% per­cent of houses in Ice­land be­ing heated with geo­ther­mal en­ergy. See the largest glacier in Europe. Ride past Vat­na­jökull, fa­mil­iar to Game of Thrones fans as “Be­yond the Wall” Take on the mo­tor­cy­cle chal­lenge of the in­fa­mous F-35 in­te­rior road across Ice­land, be­tween the Langjökull and Hof­sjökull glaciers. West­fjords, the most re­mote and iso­lated part of Ice­land, where you can ride de­serted and twisty roads along the fjords and spot whales. Go na­tive with Ice­landic cui­sine — if fer­mented shark sounds too ex­treme, then you can al­ways sam­ple smoked puf­fin, with a shot of Bren­nivín, an Ice­landic Sch­napps.

Get­ting your bike there

If you’re feel­ing ad­ven­tur­ous, you could ride up to Hirtshals in Den­mark and catch a ferry from there with www. smyrilline.com, or you can freight your bike di­rect from the UK and fly out there to meet it for around £1200. Hire bikes are also avail­able be­tween £200-300 per day, de­pend­ing on size and spec.

When to go

Ice­landic weather is no­to­ri­ously un­pre­dictable. In sum­mer there’s a fair chance of bright and sunny days, with tem­per­a­tures reach­ing 17°C, but good is gen­er­ally punc­tu­ated with bad: rain, wind and plum­met­ing tem­per­a­tures can hit at any time. June to Au­gust is your best bet but many F-roads are im­pass­able un­til the end of June or later be­cause of wet and muddy con­di­tions due to the spring thaw. It’s also worth bear­ing in mind that most mu­se­ums and at­trac­tions are only open from late May to early Septem­ber too.

Sublime rid­ing in one of the most alien land­scapes on earth

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