Across Iceland on a Fatbike

In july 2015, along with my good friend Jim, I’ll be attempting to cross the interior of Iceland on a fatbike. Our aim is to go from the north coast to the south coast, and where possible to keep it as off-road as possible. This is, of course, going to be a pretty awesome challenge, though as you’ll find if you read on, not the original plan. The original plan has shifted, evolved and generally exploded in our faces so often, that I sometimes struggle to recall what it even was. I think it was something grandiose and extremely naive.

Originally Jim was John. We were going to do something no-one had ever done before, and ride furthest north to south across Iceland completely off-road on fatbikes. We’d do it unsupported and take 3 weeks doing it. When we’d finished women would swoon, men would be rendered impotent by simply looking at images of us, and children would chase after us shouting “why aren’t you my daddy?!”. We were, not to put too fine a point on it, hopelessly naive.

Pretty soon after we’d announced to the world (well, Twitter, Facebook and my wife) our plans, they started to unravel. It turns out it’s almost certainly been done before (if not on fatbikes), and that riding our proposed route off-road was at best completely impossible for men of our means, and at worse suicidal. There were some seriously impassible rivers, gorges and cliffs. There was 50km of bog just at the start, a start it would take nearly 2 days to get reach in the first place. It seemed very much like just route planning from Google Earth is a ‘bad idea’. Then there was Holurhaun; a volcano which started erupting in August 2014 and only stopped a couple of weeks ago. During which time it belched a lava flow the size of Manhattan and emitted enough SO4 to kill us many times over should we have been foolish enough to stray too close. Close being a relative term depending entirely upon wind speed and direction.

Given the above it felt like someone was trying to tell us an important message. So we downscaled the plan to allow the use of bridges (originally deemed “cheating”) and to use some of the F-roads which bisect the deserted interior highlands (also “cheating”). We also reduced the trip to 2 weeks due to finances, then 10 days due to flight availability.

Then John became Jim. John had a back operation which didn’t really work. Well, not as quickly as we’d all hoped anyway. So Jim stepped up.

Then I got hit by a car while commuting home from work. For a minute I thought that was it, but it turns out I’m resilient, in a pathetic not-very-good-at-pain kind of way.

Despite all of that, here we are. We have the flights booked, we have the bikes, we’re gathering the kit and we’re trying to remember to go on training rides from time to time. But there’s still three months to go before we set off; so plenty of time for a bit more drama before then.

You can follow me on twitter @tomlvincent or check out the blog Feel free to send a message and say hi, or just hurl any old random abuse. When we get back, we’ll serialise the trip right here. It’ll be worth checking that out just for the photos.



Author: Tom Vincent

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