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Pre-Trip Report: Iceland

A Song of Ice and Bike

I've always liked reading how someone does something from the beginning to end so I thought I'd contribute to these kinds of stories by writing my own. The following is a summary of how I managed to get myself to Iceland:

Visiting Iceland has always been a dream of mine. Wild landscapes ripped with glaciers and volcanoes with a highway that seems to be purpose built for a tourist to come and experience the whole island in one go. With plans to do a cross Canada bike trip halted by work obligations I needed a new place that could be tackled in about a months time. Iceland.

The plan was to spend all my vacation I can get off in July to cycle the Ring Road Route 1 Highway and see the majesty that awaited me. I found a cheap airline called WowAir recommended in a reddit thread. Not much to say about this, about $150 each way and a +$60 charge for a bike each way. And these were tickets for peak season, wow indeed. I bought the tickets in March and I had seen them even cheaper before that. They definitely get more expensive the closer to summer you get, so the advice here is buy your tickets early!

Flight Cost to Iceland July 2016

And so I was set. I didn’t think about the trip any more until June. June came and I had been doing quite a lot more mountain biking and obsessing over niche subreddits like /r/Ultralight and /r/bikepacking causing a new idea to creep into my head. Everyone does the Route 1 and it is just a two lane highway. I have done plenty of road touring and I really wanted to take Iceland for all it's got. I shifted from planning on bringing my road bike to wanting to rough it in the interior. Reality set in, I have to plan a lot more since there are fewer places for food/shelter/repair in the interior. Needing to know what the hell I am actually doing was important.

My biggest worry was finding food. The island is sparsely populated and Google Maps is often very liberal on what they mark as a town. I happened across an awesome map someone put together compiling where a lot of the grocery stores were on the island. Grocery Stores in Iceland, perfect and it calmed most of my fears about starving to death. Water was never a huge worry of mine for this trip because there are tons of rivers and streams you need to cross so filtering from a water source will be my go to. I mean half the island is perpetual glaciers that are melting 24/7.

Next question was where will I actually go. The Ring Road is about 1300km (828mi) but cutting into the interior adds the possibility of thousands of more kilometres. My first go to is always Google Maps. I mentioned above before but I'll say again, Google Maps sucks. I came to this conclusion with more and more off-road trip planning. The Iceland interior shows up as a monolithic and impassable obstacle according to the Google team so I went to a much better source that I use these days, OpenStreetMaps. Disappointment again. It seemed like they only had as much as Google and this is what I relied on for offline maps (Maps.me) on my trip.

I found a great blog from some guy who has been to Iceland about 6-7 times and his listed resources blew me away. There is a extremely detailed map of Iceland that shows every single dirt track made on the island: Detailed Interior Trails. It was only helpful here at home because I won"t have Internet access. The next crucial piece was a fantastic pdf that has everything a cycle tourist could wish for: markings of campsites, huts, resupply points, river crossing, etc. Cycling Map 2015 PDF

With these resources and some blogs I put together the following route. Roughly over 2000km (1250mi) to tackle in ~17 days:

Static map image
This map is approximate to my actual route, Google denies that a lot of these places exist
  • Keflavik Airport welcome
  • Reykjavik capital city, resupply
  • Pingvellir famous national park
  • Laugarvatn substantial resupply point
  • Geysir the original geyser
  • Svinarnes less used route to the interior with hut
  • Leppistunguskali cross lost of rivers and then hut
  • Kerlingarfjoll famous hilly spot with bike repair and resupply
  • Hveravellir blogs said it was amazing, near Langjokull glacier
  • Afangi hut beside body of water
  • Steinsstaoir swimming pool and waypoint just before...
  • Varmahlid major town, resupply
  • Akureyri city, resupply
  • Vaolaheioi mountain pass, hilly climbs
  • Illugastaoir waypoint
  • Kioagil waypoint and river crossing
  • Reykjahlid beside lake Myvatn which is popular, resupply
  • Dettifoss very popular huge waterfall
  • Asbyrgi Canyon beautiful
  • Reykjahlid circle back here to resupply and head back into the interior
  • Botni hut, waypoint
  • Dyngjufjoll hut, waypoint
  • Lake Askja interior, I just want to see it so sue me
  • Karahnjukar popular, waypoint on to resupply
  • Laugarfell popular, waypoint on to resupply
  • Hallomsstadur bike repair, waypoint on to resupply
  • Egilsstdir major town, resupply
  • Hofn town, resupply
  • Kirkjubaejarklaustur entry point to the wonderful hiking trails, resupply
  • Landmannalaugar best part of Iceland?, hiking heaven
  • Mount Helka it's a mountain
  • Hella Californian math rock band, also an Icelandic resupply point
  • Reykjavik get bike box and bus back to...
  • Keflavik bye
Shelter
Item Description
1 Eureka Solitaire bivy style tent
2 Fireside Mummy 2C sleeping bag
3 Klymit Static V sleeping pad
4 Silk Inlet warmth and smell protection
5 Space Blanket for emergencies
6 Patio Window Insulation Film ultralight groundsheet
Survival
Item Description
1 Aluminum Mug serves as my cooking pot
2 Ti Snowpeak Spork -
3 Penny Stove uses white alcohol, made from pop can
4 Aluminum Foil windshield
5 Rag to clean off food
6 BRS Ultralight Stove uses gas canisters, weighs nothing
7 Sawyer Squeeze water filter and back flush syringe
8 Platypus Bladder 1L dirty water bag
9 MSR Domedary 4L water bladder
10 Compass kinda works
11 Swiss Army climber version I think
12 BIC Lighter starts stove
Personal
Item Description
1 Toothbrush ultralight ☺
2 Toothpaste travel size
3 Floss -
4 Chapstick -
5 Sewing Kit thread, needle, needle threader
6 Micro-fibre Towel -
7 Tissues 10
8 Disinfectant Pads -
9 Contact Solution -
10 Dr. Bonner's Soap magical stuff
11 Sunscreen -
12 Glasses I am blind
13 Pill Bottle painkillers and sinus pills
14 Contact Lens spare
15 Contact Case -
16 Razor Blade not sure if I will be shaving
17 Bandages assortment of sizes
Cycle Clothes
Item Description
1 Helmet goes on head
2 Padded Cycle Shorts essential for sit bones
3 Fingerless Gloves padded
Outerwear
Item Description
1 Crocs comfy, dry quick. Will use for crossing water
2 Baseball Cap sun protection
3 Wool Headband ear protection
4 Rain Pants -
5 Sunglasses in silk bag
6 Buff merino wool
7 Rain Jacket in mesh bag
8 Waterproof Boots for cycling and hiking
9 Down Jacket cheap Chinese ultralight
Clothes
Item Description
1 Long Sleeve Sweater half-zip, merino wool
2 T Shirt merino wool
3 T Shirt loose fit cotton
4 Boxers 2 pairs, merino wool
5 Ankle Socks 2 pairs, merino wool
6 Long johns polyester mix (?)
7 Swim Trunks has an inner mesh
Electronics
Item Description
1 Smart Phone 4000mah battery and gps unit
2 Phone Charger USB to NA outlet
3 Plug Adapter NA to EU
4 Cable USB to USB-C
5 External Battery 20100mah Anker PowerCore
6 Earbuds -
Repair
Item Description
1 Mini Pump has pressure gauge
2 Zip ties -
3 Tire Lever single
4 Multitool different sized hex keys
5 Tube patches sandpaper and patches
6 Monkey Wrench only to remove pedals for plane ride
7 Duct Tape rolled up on itself
8 Spare Tube will have 2
9 Extra Hose Clamp used to attach cages to bike fork
Bike Bags
Item Description
1 Salsa Anything Cages will only bring one
2 Apidura Saddle Pack 17L capacity
3 Apidura Handlebar Pack 20L capacity
4 Apidura Top Tube Pack 0.8L capacity
5 Phantom Pack Custom Frame Bag ~9L capacity, custom made in Canada ❤
Misc.
Item Description
1 Cloth Wallet ID, credit card, debit card
2 Stuff dry bags, ziploc bags, plastic bags, passport, rubber bands
Everything together: Everything Packed up to go: Packed And on the bike: Looking pretty sexy

Iceland is a safe country and a majority of locals speak perfect English. Nothing special that I need to mention for visiting this country.

Day by day journal of the trip:
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