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  1. #1
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    Iceland trip report

    Together with two friends we did a four-day trek through the interior of Iceland, with packrafts and afterwards I stayed a week longer to co-guide a group of bikers in the volcanic ranges of south Iceland.

    Our packraft trip started to the northwest of the Hofsjökull, the round gletsjer in the centre of Iceland. The idea was to bike around it starting out east and passing above the gletsjer along an old, seldom traveled track. Sometimes it was pretty clear, sometimes we had to go cross country, keeping the glacier on our right.



    The terrain there would have been a nightmare on normal bikes, but with our Sandman fatbikes (two Gobi's and an Atacama) we made light work of it. Smiles from beginning to the end. The terrain was a mixture of volcanic rock, volcanic ash, snowfields and dozens of rivers to cross. Those rivers consisted the main difficulty of the first few days.



    This was my setup: packraft, drysuit and misc rafting stuff up front, all spare parts and tools in the frame triangle, clothing and 1st aid on the rear rack, sleeping bag, mat, freezedried "food" and stove in a backpack. Snacks and camera in a feedbag on the handlebars.
    I kept down the weight of my backpack so it was pretty light and the whole combination was a joy to ride, very "secure" and stable, comfortable and efficient. - the ideal expeditionbike over rough terrain. I kept the dropper seatpost and serious brakes because of the week of biking after this.
    The only real concession for touring were On One Mary sweep bars and a rear rack. The frame "bag" was an old Ortlieb camera bag I had lying around and just strapped in the main triangle. It just left room for a water bottle and a tool bottle.

    The rear rack was a simple clamp-on affair from Topeak, which I reinforced with two struts going down to the frame. That created a stiff triangle in which to stuff more gear, but I had already a place for everything I wanted to take...
    When going through the taxfree in Reykjavik airport I noticed a stand with little 3-liter wine cartons. I rarely had such an "aha" moment : the bags inside those cartons are so incredibly tough we used to inflate them to stabilize loose rubble roofs in cave passages (in my days exploring caves). So I just taped a wine bag in there: if you rough it, you can at least do it in style .
    At each bivouac, we were able to savour a few cups of chilled red wine - never tasted so good !



    With the late summer we had anticipated using the packrafts a lot, but most of the river crossings were just done on foot. Icy water, coming from straight under the glacier a few kms away.



    But we didn't carry the rafts for nothing, this river was just too deep to cross on foot. But it was narrow enough to shutlle everything over using one raft and an end of rope we were carrying,



    The vastness of the Icelandic highlands...



    Iceland has both very cold and very warm water, soaking in one of the hotpools was a real treat after wading through countless icy rivers. The first two days of our trek we didn't see a soul, afterwards we hit a dirtroad that had some traffic, about a jeep every hour.



    Like these guys from a "search & rescue" team, some 6)7 of these volunteer teams cross continuously the interior highlands in tourist season to see if they can help anyone, stuck or broken down. Nice guys with an impressive rig...




    Ok ok, yours are fatter !



    Then I went back to Reykjavik, to welcome a group of 9 bikers which whom I was going to bike right through the pretty active volcanic southern region. The first short day took us by on of Icelands taller waterfalls, lots of nice singletrack - the luggage went in a 4x4 but I kept some tools, spare parts and 1st aid on my bike because I was going "last man" the whole week. No backpack, that slowed me down a bit in the real technical stuff but the fat tires were very forgiving.



    The next day took us north over the Hekla volcano and into the Landmannalaugar region. Starting out from there proved to be one of the toughest day so far: strong gale, icy rain, a pass to cross, a lot of pushing... pushing my bike, it often fishtailed almost 90°, just pushed sideways from the wind.
    Here one of my biking buddies is studying a field of obsidian rock, volcanic glass, which we biked through for miles.





    Pretty spectacular landscape, from a lunar landscape to lush green down below. An almost 100% singletrack day - tough. Tough, but nice !



    Good fun each evening, the rotten weather proved the perfect bonding tool.



    The next day was an "all downhill" day, the downhill part being somewhat open to interpretation... very nice day, almost all singletrack again.



    Some pretty "interesting" stretches along the trails...



    This day was to be "it", the big one. I've done quite some weird trails in my life and this one ranks right up there !



    We went from 200 m altitude, all the way up to 1100m, with hardly a few meters of biking: all pushing, shoving, hauling and willing the bike up. But what a day... wow... We took a trail to the pass between the MyrdalsJökull and the Eyjafjallajökull glaciers and volcanos, the last one the culprit of disrupted air travel last year.



    After struggling up the mountain for hours on end we finally arrived on top and biked through and over Iceland's newest lava field, between brand new volcano cones and still warm and smoking lava flows.



    Here no rivers to cross but many snow and icefields, but our Sandman bikes made short work of those.



    Once over the last pass, it went all the way down to sea level along a river which formed canyons and waterfalls along its course - very, very nice.



    The last waterfall was pretty impressive, we could bike right up to it.



    On our very last day we went back closer to Reykjavik to go biking in a valley with plenty of hotwater springs and pools.
    But something was wrong... there was this weird phenomenon in the sky... some said it was a sun... . After 10 days of almost constant bad weather a welcome sight.





    You have to imagine the sound of a small jet engine with the picture of this blowhole, together with a rotten-eggs sulphur stench .


  2. #2
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    Fantastic !

    I've always thought Iceland looked amazing and it would seem that you have well and truly confirmed it !!!

    Awesome scenery and biking
    A Fatback'd Lefty for who life IS a Beach

  3. #3
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    Cool!
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  4. #4
    All fat, all the time.
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    Unreal!!
    Sounds like quite the trip Thanks for posting!

  5. #5
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    Superb post, thanks for sharing. Looks like a fantastic trip, perfect fatbike terrain
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  6. #6
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    Always dreamt of an Icelandic trip, so I enjoyed this.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 57º36' Highlands, Scotland

  7. #7
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    Bada$$ trip! Thanks for posting.

  8. #8
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    Looks like fatbike heaven out there!, great pics!
    plan it...build it....ride it...love it....
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  9. #9
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    Spectacular...

    Great post; great pics. Agree with CK - Iceland looks like it was made for fatbikes.

  10. #10
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    Now that's true fatbike terrain! Thanks for the report!

  11. #11
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    Smile

    You guys are Gnarcore!

    Sweet pics!

  12. #12
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    Fantastic pictures and report; thanks for sharing your trip experiences with us.

    Richard.

  13. #13
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    Wow. Incredible, thanks for sharing. Fatbike forum rules!

  14. #14
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    When were you there? I was in Seydisfjordur on 7/26 and Reykjavic on the 28th (never in the interior). I saw lots of bikes, but no fatbikes.

    I vowed next time I would make every attempt to bring one. Very cool trip and great pics!
    Let the market decide!

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  15. #15
    rmb
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    Wow, amazing! Hope the sun tanned up those legs, lol.

  16. #16
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    Awesome Trip! Great photos!

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    Inspiring thread!

  18. #18
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    Amazing!
    Read my BLOG!

    just a guy who loves bikes and exploring

  19. #19
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    AWESOME! Serious wall paper overload with those pics, thanks so much for posting.
    This is a Pugs not some carbon wannabee pretzel wagon!!

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  20. #20
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    Glad you guys like the report, here's another screen saver from Iceland - a pretty cool one !

    @ Utabintarbo: we missed each other by a hair, we arrived on the 27th of july.


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    Thanks a lot! I'm getting homesick now! I was born in Reykjavík, but didn´t discover mountain biking until I moved to Arizona. Have ridden trails near the capital. Doing a cross country epic over there is still on my bucket list!
    Awesome pics. thanks for sharing.

  22. #22
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    I've been through once and snowmobiled, now it seems I'll have to go back with the Pug! Thanks for posting - the word is much overused IMHO, but that seems like an epic ride.

  23. #23
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    How did the form perform?

  24. #24
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    Iceland always looks stunning Enjoyed reading that.

    Love the wine bag!!

  25. #25
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    Fantastic photos and awesome trip. I'd been dreaming of a Fat tire trip there and this just adds fuel to the fire. Interesting ferrying with the alpacka, never tried that. Post more photos. Great to see a big burly trip on this forum!

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearbait View Post
    Fantastic photos and awesome trip. I'd been dreaming of a Fat tire trip there and this just adds fuel to the fire. Interesting ferrying with the alpacka, never tried that. Post more photos. Great to see a big burly trip on this forum!
    The idea was to paddle over and maybe follow a while each (too) big a river we couldn't wade across. On the itinerary we took, we only encountered two of those. At the first big river, right off the main dirtroad where we were dropped off, one of those itinerant search & rescue megajeeps powered up to see what we were about to do. They were so mighty impressed with the bikes and what we were about to do with them that they ferried us across - one is entitled to be lucky now and again .

    The second river was in the middle of nowhere and no rescue jeep to be seen . When we found we'd have to paddle across, one of my mates announced he had packed a 40mm thin accessory cord and that it might reach across twice.
    So we inflated just one alpacka, he paddled it across taking one end with him. We then tied the raft in the middle of the cord, so we could haul it back and forth without letting go of both ends. It was only "just", I had to stand kneedeep in the freezing water when the raft was at the other end.
    We then just piled our laden bikes one by one on to of the raft and seesawed everything and the remaining two of us across. It was already late in the day and nobody of our little band fancied rafting downriver for a while - it would have been "just" with the bikes anyway, a class III to IV with some sharp bends and into a shallow canyon for miles downriver.

    Our crossing might not be "by the book", but it worked pretty fast and saved us inflating two boats, unpacking the bikes, taking the bikes apart, stacking them on the rafts and doing everything in reverse order once across.

    I'll see if I can post some more pictures, but my limit is reached at my server... anyone know a free server where I can post pictures and copy picture forum codes (I'm a bit of a computer moron...) ?

  27. #27
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    .................................................! !!
    Adventures off the beaten path
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  28. #28
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    I mean .................................................. .........wow
    Adventures off the beaten path
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  29. #29
    Dr Gadget is IN
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    Quote Originally Posted by caminoloco View Post
    I'll see if I can post some more pictures, but my limit is reached at my server... anyone know a free server where I can post pictures and copy picture forum codes (I'm a bit of a computer moron...) ?
    I've been using Image hosting, free photo sharing & video sharing at Photobucket for a year or two now. Haven't bumped bandwidth limits yet.

    PS: Fantastic adventure and photos! Thanks for sharing.
    This isn't a "you're doing it wrong" topic.

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  30. #30
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    Ok, here goes - with the help of Wadester and Photobucket

    We encountered these strange hexagonal patterns in the highlands, a local guy who I showed the picture told me they were caused by freezing/thawing. Anybody knows exactly how these patterns are formed ?

    <a href="http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/?action=view&amp;current=27.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/27.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    A few of the countless river crossings, from afar some looked like lakes but coming closer they were just a maze of smaller and bigger channels.

    <a href="http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/?action=view&amp;current=42.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/42.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>



    Biking the Icelandic highlands, here was a nice stretch (picture taken while biking). More often there were footballsized rocks all strewn about. But no problem for our fatbikes, apart from the deeper river crossings we never had to push our bikes on the "expedition" part of our journey. It would have been a nightmare with regular bikes, although appearing firm everything was kind of "soft" - even softer then wet sand on a beach. In regions where a lot of ash had recently fallen it was downright "soft sandy" where the gale winds had forgotten to blow it away.
    Locals told us that on certain stretches we should pray for rain, because if it was dry and windy, ash/dust clouds could be as dense as a fog. So we prayed...but those old Icelandic viking gods have a weird sense of humouring us because we got far more rain then we asked for .

    <a href="http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/?action=view&amp;current=44.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/44.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    <a href="http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/?action=view&amp;current=29.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/29.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    I had 70mm (rear) and 80mm rims, my mates were on 47mm hoops. I liked the extra float on sand and over rocks the wider rims gave me, but they did did slow my bike down a bit in the steering dept. Or would it have been the dwindling wine supply that made steering more difficult ?

    <a href="http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/?action=view&amp;current=30.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/30.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    The mayor difficulty of the more travelled dirtroads in the interior are the washboard sections. Fatbikes ar better then normal mtb's on such sections if the "waves" are small and close together. If they're pretty big and deep, like on the picture, it doesn't really matter...

    <a href="http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/?action=view&amp;current=31.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/31.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    Here's why such things are called lava "flows", we traversed both. The second one is Iceland's most recent one, from last year and still smoking... The volcanic cone is also brand new, you could still feel the heath emanating from the cracks around it.

    <a href="http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/?action=view&amp;current=45.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/45.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    <a href="http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/?action=view&amp;current=50.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/50.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    Biking some of those snowfields was a hoot !

    <a href="http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/?action=view&amp;current=33.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/33.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    I like this picture, that's the Eyjafjallajökull in the back, the volcano that paralysed European air traffic last year.

    <a href="http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/?action=view&amp;current=47.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/47.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    One of the more "challeging" trails, near Thorsmork. The "wire" you see is a cable to haul you up. It doesn't show on the picture but that section was nearly vertical - I was taking a breather .

    <a href="http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/?action=view&amp;current=49.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/49.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    Same trail, one hour later and 1200 ft up...

    <a href="http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/?action=view&amp;current=37.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/37.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    Fast forward an extra hour and an extra 1200 ft...

    <a href="http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/?action=view&amp;current=41.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/41.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    Aahhh, but is was worth it, still warm & smoking lava...

    <a href="http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/?action=view&amp;current=51.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/51.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    Hours of downhill singletrack next to a thundering mountain stream...

    <a href="http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/?action=view&amp;current=52.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/52.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    With the grand finale at sea level, the Skógafoss !

    <a href="http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/?action=view&amp;current=53.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/53.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    A few anecdotical pictures: not even an extremely trailworthy Sandman is capable of everything. I'm on the trail, my mate was on the trail but got "distracted" a bit and went head over heels . No bodily harm done.

    <a href="http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/?action=view&amp;current=34.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/34.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    When in Rome, do as the Romans... a restaurant's menu. What would you like to taste ?

    <a href="http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/?action=view&amp;current=39.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/39.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

  31. #31
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    Nice, man you have my gears grinding about next summer!
    Read my BLOG!

    just a guy who loves bikes and exploring

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    Quote Originally Posted by SlowerThenSnot View Post
    Nice, man you have my gears grinding about next summer!
    I'm definitely going back to Iceland next summer. Probably for something similar: first an "expedition" part and then a "regular" co-guiding part with a group. Personally, I'd like to see the Westfjords and I think I can do something really nice there with fatbikes and packrafts. I've got a friend who now lives in Reykjavik but her father still operates a fishing trawler out of those fjords.

    And the second part like this year, just "normal" singletrack biking between the volcanos in the south. With luggage transport in a jeep, it's hard enough already as it is !

  33. #33
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    great trip caminoloco! thanks for sharing!

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    super
    fantastic
    great
    superb
    terrific
    marvelous
    wonderful

    En ja...wat is nu een rondje Texel nu nog

  35. #35
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    Sweet Pictures!!

  36. #36
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    One of the best threads I've read on here in a while. Thanks!

    Question: Regarding the bikes and crossing rivers and having volcanic soils/ash to contend with: How did this affect the performance of your drive train, hubs, etc?

    Anything that you can share about the "wear and tear" issues from subjecting the bikes and equipment that you carried would be interesting to the forum, I think.
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  37. #37
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    For ten of twelve years ago I made a biketrip on Iceland with my former girlfriend. I recognize many photo spots. But I also see some very interesting tracks! I can't wait to do such a trip with my Pugsley.

    @ politiefietser Tommy: rondje texel stelt natuurlijk nu niks meer voor. Wellicht in de winter als er sneeuw ligt maar de omstandigheden zijn natuurlijk niet te vergelijken met die in IJsland. Wel wil ik kijken of ik in de winter naar Zweden kan gaan, maatje van mij heeft daar 2-de huis. Wellicht een mooie roadtrip om daar naar toe te gaan. Expeditie Zweden?

    TBB

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Ted View Post
    One of the best threads I've read on here in a while. Thanks!

    Question: Regarding the bikes and crossing rivers and having volcanic soils/ash to contend with: How did this affect the performance of your drive train, hubs, etc?

    Anything that you can share about the "wear and tear" issues from subjecting the bikes and equipment that you carried would be interesting to the forum, I think.
    Good questions, being the "tech" guy on the trip it was my task to carry tools, spare parts and keep things up & running. For the "expedition" part of the trip we had 3 Sandman fatbikes, two with SC32 forks and one with the prototype German A forks. That last bike had an "old" DTSwiss 165mm rear hub while all the others had Shimano XT hubs, modified by Sandman to 165mm. All were running Isis BB's.
    On the second week the two SC32 bikes left and 3 newer Sandman bikes entered the frame. Two titanium models and one alu. A mixture of Sram and Shimano parts and "outboard" BB bearings - all with the German A forks . And during that same week 5 "normal" bikes including a Lapierre tandem (!).

    Problems with the Sandman bikes: the air pressure went suddenly out of one of the old SC32's on the second day. We inflated it again and it held its pressure afterwards. Bizarre.
    I installed a KS dropper seatpost on my own bike the day before I left for Iceland and after a week it suddelly started to sag. It developed all of a sudden a one inch "suspension": instead of locking, it went in about an inch under pressure, bouncing up again when unweighted - just like an unsprung fork. Not a very big problem, I just raised my seatpost a bit and I had the combination of a suspension AND a dropper seatpost . But that was not what it was supposed to do, being practically brand new... I haven't been able to send the post back yet so I don't know what went wrong internally.

    And after two weeks of riding I think my Isis BB has passed its prime, it alreadyy had a year on it and now it turns a bit rough. But still no play, so I'll let it be for now

    So far for the fatbikes, no puctures - even in the obsidian stuff where the others went around.

    Of the "normal" bikes the tandem sheared off part of its freehub pawls, but could finish the days' ride (and the owners had a spare). It also broke about 10 spokes, but I suspect the wheelbuilder was the culprit... Apart from that, one Magura fork "froze", locked out. I'm not familiar with those forks so I called a dealer I knew who was and asked if it was an easy "field" repair. But he advised me not to open it for some "wilderness 1st aid".

    Another fork (a recent Rock Shox) baffled me: on a descent I came across the owner who was complaining that his forks had frozen up "again". He then proceeded to de-gunk the area between the sliders and the stanchions, with me kidding him "like that was going to solve the problem". But lo and behold: after he cleaned it somewhat, the forks worked again ?!?

    Apart from that the normal wear & tear: some wasted brake pads, a torn tire (not a fat one) and some clogged shifter cables which I "relubed" without taking them off.

    For the drivetrain, I only lubed the chain and the derailleur pulleys, nothing else apart from a very good, throrough lubing and cleaning before departure (I basically took my bike apart before leaving). In Iceland I used Finish Line Ceramic Wet chain lube and only had to use that once a day - even on days including countless river crossings. It did attract grit at the outside, but apparently kept the inside lubed nonetheless because I didn't hear a croak or squeek during the whole of the trip.
    I had never used it before (I had another lubricant with me but stuck with the Finish Line after testing it on the first day), but that lube was close to perfect for the conditions, but nevertheless on the wettest, ashiest day (+7 hours) my bike developed chainsuck. After two times I got my chain damaged and it finally broke on a steep hill. I put in a quicklink, relubed the chain and the problem was gone.

    That said, the drivetrains and all moving parts sure got a beating... it's difficult to judge how much of % wear everything took but it was way more then normal use.

    In Reykjavik there are several big bike shops, but once in the interior yoyo. And always remember that safety = prevention. Carrying a huge 1st aid kit for your bike and yourself isn't "safety", that's just for patching things up after something went wrong.

    Safety is preventing by preparation and behaviour that you don't need that sort of kit. Safety isn't patching things up, patching things up is damage control .

    As for gear packing, I packed my kit in Ortlied waterproof bags. But those aren't watertight when dunked, like when tripping while crossing a river or flipping & swimming with a packraft. So I had packed all my stuff (apart from the raft) in additional, lightweight drybags.
    I wouldn't trust any of the bags individually (rolled up closures always leak when dunked...), but I know the two combined are a good match: the Ortlieb drybags for toughness and for keeping most of the wet stuff out. The flimsy interior drybags for keeping the important stuff really dry. Dirty laundry can be stuffed between the two :-)
    Last edited by caminoloco; 08-12-2011 at 09:46 PM.

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    The only thing I can comment on is the KS post. There's much dislike for that brand in the Adjustable Seatpost Thread. Reports of brand new units having reliability issues from the start.

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    @caminoloco: Thanks for the detailed response!

    I am somewhat surprised by the lack of bigger issues there given the terrain, but happy to understand it wasn't worse than it was.

    We used to swear by Finish Line "Wet" chain lube for sodden courses or winter riding. I have not tried the "Ceramic Wet" version. I may look into that.

    I found it interesting that your fat bikes could take on the obsidian while the skinnier tired bikes avoided it.

    Thanks again for such a detailed response. Much appreciated!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Ted View Post

    I am somewhat surprised by the lack of bigger issues there given the terrain, but happy to understand it wasn't worse than it was.

    I found it interesting that your fat bikes could take on the obsidian while the skinnier tired bikes avoided it.
    The 3 "expedition" bikes were in good working order before departure, I made sure of that. And for the bikes on the following week, I had provided the owners with an ultra detailed bike checklist a few pages long .

    Before that checklist, you wouldn't believe the rolling wrecks some people would start a (serious) biking holiday with...

    As for the obsidian rock gardens: to be frank we recognized it too late for what it was and were already in the middle of it with our fatbikes before it dawned on us that we were actually biking through a field of glass rocks sharper then flint :rolleyes. We had avoided a soggy snow field and all of a sudden marveled at the weird rocks were were hobbling over. It's really a beautiful "mineral" (not really a mineral because it's basically glass).

    But after we got through the first one ok, we just continued - the obsidian lasted for a few miles, patches off and on. The normal bikes avoided such rock gardens altogether, they were forced to walk or go around them.

    In my experience fat tires don't shred as easily as skinny ones. I think (but don't know for sure) that's because a fat low pressure tire "molds" itself around sharp edges without slipping off - the slipping off is what causes a tire to shred.

    One of my biking friends clearly has the Icelandic "blues" as well, here's a nice feelgood youtube movie about Iceland he just sent me He added "makes you want to return straight away"...

    Inspired by Iceland Video - YouTube

    He's right, watch at your own risk !

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    Tbb, zweden in de winter klinkt goed! Maar ardennen afgelopen winter was ook al leuk....

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    My brother, who joined us biking in Iceland, posted a video on youtube of a "typical biking day in the Icelandic mountains"... Warning, graphic images, people with vertigo need not watch this :

    GOPR0185 ridge - YouTube

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    Quote Originally Posted by caminoloco View Post
    My brother, who joined us biking in Iceland, posted a video on youtube of a "typical biking day in the Icelandic mountains"... Warning, graphic images, people with vertigo need not watch this :

    GOPR0185 ridge - YouTube
    Just a wee bit of exposure
    Read my BLOG!

    just a guy who loves bikes and exploring

  45. #45
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    Aha, so that’s the sort of terrain that Dick Cepek tires were designed for! I’d always wondered where they’d be suitable.

    Whoa man, that looks like a once in a lifetime sort of bike adventure. I’d love to do a ride like that. Thanks for sharing!!!
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  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by caminoloco View Post
    My brother, who joined us biking in Iceland, posted a video on youtube of a "typical biking day in the Icelandic mountains"... Warning, graphic images, people with vertigo need not watch this :

    GOPR0185 ridge - YouTube
    Awesome! No way to place protection up there.

    BTW-Does your bro have the same bike pictured here:

    <a href="http://s1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/?action=view&amp;current=41.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1081.photobucket.com/albums/j359/Caminoloco/41.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    Looks like a righteous bike! I like it's curves
    Last edited by intheways; 08-14-2011 at 08:37 PM.

  47. #47
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    Good job!

    Yes, I rode a (grip-shifted) titanium Sandman Gobi with Gravity Dropper too, although mine was an XL and the one pictured here and shot by myself is an M-sized one, being pushed up the Eyjafjallajökull by Carl.

    Sorry I cannot include pictures here myself yet : I tried but I need to have scored at least ten pure-text comments before having the right to include graphics.

    It was a loan : I ordered a Sandman with a Pinnion gearbox in the crank, but it wasn't ready yet. I'm a Cannondale Prophet biker with a Rohloff axle gearbox, but Rohloff doesn't see a market for their product in a wide-frame version. I think they are dead wrong...

    I succesfully biked the BCBR Epic 2010 on the Prophet, but with 115 Kg on my own 54 year old 6ft4" frame I shied away from taking 2.5" wide tires to these volcanic slopes - although normally-built bikers could and did. The Surly 3.8" tires on the Sandman kept me afloat on everything it was thrown : ash, sand, lava rocks, obsidian glass boulders, snow, ice, mud, gravel, grass...

    And yess !!! we both have nice curves

    Bro Bart

  48. #48
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    Thanks for the info! It sounds like you have an even sweeter bike one the way

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    I forgot to include tephra : a light-grey fluffy kind of volcanic ash that gets airborne in strong winds, unless wet.

    To be fair : the slopes on this video are a bit exaggerated by the 172° angle of the action cam on my helmet. To balance things, footage on flat surfaces look not like action at all.

    And as a workplace prevention expert, I foot everything that looks too dangerous, after figuring out a plan B and C.

    I believe you could actually ski down those slopes on your shoes - I did this as a student in the Italian Dolomites, descending 500 altimeters in minutes, nearly completely wearing off my soles - though I'm not sure these volcanic ashes wouldn't cause a slide that would bury me.

    Anyone out there who would know ?

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by fouture View Post
    I ordered a Sandman with a Pinnion gearbox in the crank, but it wasn't ready yet.
    Bro Bart
    Now THAT we will need pictures of!
    This isn't a "you're doing it wrong" topic.

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    Absolutely awesome!!

    I lived in Iceland for 2 years in the late '80s and have visited most of the places you highlighted. Of course at that time I was more into 4WD than anything. Had a 4x4 Blazer that we went road tripping in almost every weekend.

    I LOVED Iceland. Was definitely one of the best overseas assignments I ever had!

  52. #52
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    pure amazing. thanks for the inspiration!
    what would rainbow unicorn do?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JetTeach View Post
    I LOVED Iceland. Was definitely one of the best overseas assignments I ever had!
    OK, I'll try to get some more pictures in here...
    I need 10 contributions before being allowed to do so, so bear with me

    (being an IT professional myself, I have little patience with restrictions, though I can definitely see their value)

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    Post 10 (for good measure)

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  62. #62
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    All those Icelandic pictures make the Sandman bikes look more and more tempting.
    My outdoor blog: www.yetirides.com

  63. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by fouture View Post
    To post a picture, you want to click the little yellow box with the mountain in it on the toolbar and paste the location in there:

    This isn't a "you're doing it wrong" topic.

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  64. #64
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    wow, im speechless, awesome!
    2014 milage so far - 2,485
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    Alot of people, myself included before I went, have this big misconception about Iceland. And from the photos that they see people think it is a barren wasteland. After having spent two years there I can honestly say it is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled places on the planet.

    I was more than pleasantly surprised to see this thread!

  66. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by JetTeach View Post
    Alot of people, myself included before I went, have this big misconception about Iceland. And from the photos that they see people think it is a barren wasteland. After having spent two years there I can honestly say it is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled places on the planet.

    I was more than pleasantly surprised to see this thread!
    Just don't let too many people know

  67. #67
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    Good job!

    Quote Originally Posted by wadester View Post
    To post a picture, you want to click the little yellow box with the mountain in it on the toolbar and paste the location in there:

    Thanks for the advice. Higher, I posted a URL to a slideshow, which I can more easily share on multiple forums and expand as I go through the photographic material. Hope that works fine for everybody, too.

    One other thing I like about this Sandman bike is how its ultra-wide tires barely leave a trace, even in this soft tephra, even with me on it - 115 Kg wet on the hook. Just compare my track with the deep-cutting, erratic ones of 2.3" tires on the right...

    As a conservationist driving a zero-emission Twike since 13 years I can appreciate that (besides the easy riding, of course)

  68. #68
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    Yeah, it's nice to include the link to the whole set - but:



    It's nice to post teasers, too.
    This isn't a "you're doing it wrong" topic.

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  69. #69
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    Oh, Yeah!
    This isn't a "you're doing it wrong" topic.

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  70. #70
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    Whike

    With all the wind we encountered, maybe this trike is a possibillity for Iceland travel, too :

    Whike meets nature - YouTube

    I wonder how close it would be able to steer against the wind ?

    But then again : impossible to push such a thing up a slope

  71. #71
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    @ fouture: that hike-a-bike video was simply the best! Moments like that stay with you forever...

  72. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orkje View Post
    @ fouture: that hike-a-bike video was simply the best! Moments like that stay with you forever...
    That is absolutely correct ! And my stories get better as they age, unlike myself.

    In a blink of time I may have become a fat "wheelchair" biker...

    I will dearly need my stories to get the nurses' attention
    Last edited by fouture; 08-23-2011 at 03:18 AM.

  73. #73
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    GREAT report ~ but I'll have to log on from home before I can see the wonderful pictures everyone is commenting on! This part had me laughing "But something was wrong... there was this weird phenomenon in the sky... some said it was a sun"... .

  74. #74
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    Simply stunning

  75. #75
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    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/7b0VWdOndFU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    does look good, eh? (not my vid)

  76. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by caminoloco View Post
    Together with two friends we did a four-day trek through the interior of Iceland, with packrafts and afterwards I stayed a week longer to co-guide a group of bikers in the volcanic ranges of south Iceland.

    Our packraft trip started to the northwest of the Hofsjökull, the round gletsjer in the centre of Iceland. The idea was to bike around it starting out east and passing above the gletsjer along an old, seldom traveled track. Sometimes it was pretty clear, sometimes we had to go cross country, keeping the glacier on our right.



    The terrain there would have been a nightmare on normal bikes, but with our Sandman fatbikes (two Gobi's and an Atacama) we made light work of it. Smiles from beginning to the end. The terrain was a mixture of volcanic rock, volcanic ash, snowfields and dozens of rivers to cross. Those rivers consisted the main difficulty of the first few days.



    This was my setup: packraft, drysuit and misc rafting stuff up front, all spare parts and tools in the frame triangle, clothing and 1st aid on the rear rack, sleeping bag, mat, freezedried "food" and stove in a backpack. Snacks and camera in a feedbag on the handlebars.
    I kept down the weight of my backpack so it was pretty light and the whole combination was a joy to ride, very "secure" and stable, comfortable and efficient. - the ideal expeditionbike over rough terrain. I kept the dropper seatpost and serious brakes because of the week of biking after this.
    The only real concession for touring were On One Mary sweep bars and a rear rack. The frame "bag" was an old Ortlieb camera bag I had lying around and just strapped in the main triangle. It just left room for a water bottle and a tool bottle.

    The rear rack was a simple clamp-on affair from Topeak, which I reinforced with two struts going down to the frame. That created a stiff triangle in which to stuff more gear, but I had already a place for everything I wanted to take...
    When going through the taxfree in Reykjavik airport I noticed a stand with little 3-liter wine cartons. I rarely had such an "aha" moment : the bags inside those cartons are so incredibly tough we used to inflate them to stabilize loose rubble roofs in cave passages (in my days exploring caves). So I just taped a wine bag in there: if you rough it, you can at least do it in style .
    At each bivouac, we were able to savour a few cups of chilled red wine - never tasted so good !



    With the late summer we had anticipated using the packrafts a lot, but most of the river crossings were just done on foot. Icy water, coming from straight under the glacier a few kms away.



    But we didn't carry the rafts for nothing, this river was just too deep to cross on foot. But it was narrow enough to shutlle everything over using one raft and an end of rope we were carrying,



    The vastness of the Icelandic highlands...



    Iceland has both very cold and very warm water, soaking in one of the hotpools was a real treat after wading through countless icy rivers. The first two days of our trek we didn't see a soul, afterwards we hit a dirtroad that had some traffic, about a jeep every hour.



    Like these guys from a "search & rescue" team, some 6)7 of these volunteer teams cross continuously the interior highlands in tourist season to see if they can help anyone, stuck or broken down. Nice guys with an impressive rig...




    Ok ok, yours are fatter !



    Then I went back to Reykjavik, to welcome a group of 9 bikers which whom I was going to bike right through the pretty active volcanic southern region. The first short day took us by on of Icelands taller waterfalls, lots of nice singletrack - the luggage went in a 4x4 but I kept some tools, spare parts and 1st aid on my bike because I was going "last man" the whole week. No backpack, that slowed me down a bit in the real technical stuff but the fat tires were very forgiving.



    The next day took us north over the Hekla volcano and into the Landmannalaugar region. Starting out from there proved to be one of the toughest day so far: strong gale, icy rain, a pass to cross, a lot of pushing... pushing my bike, it often fishtailed almost 90°, just pushed sideways from the wind.
    Here one of my biking buddies is studying a field of obsidian rock, volcanic glass, which we biked through for miles.





    Pretty spectacular landscape, from a lunar landscape to lush green down below. An almost 100% singletrack day - tough. Tough, but nice !



    Good fun each evening, the rotten weather proved the perfect bonding tool.



    The next day was an "all downhill" day, the downhill part being somewhat open to interpretation... very nice day, almost all singletrack again.



    Some pretty "interesting" stretches along the trails...



    This day was to be "it", the big one. I've done quite some weird trails in my life and this one ranks right up there !



    We went from 200 m altitude, all the way up to 1100m, with hardly a few meters of biking: all pushing, shoving, hauling and willing the bike up. But what a day... wow... We took a trail to the pass between the MyrdalsJökull and the Eyjafjallajökull glaciers and volcanos, the last one the culprit of disrupted air travel last year.



    After struggling up the mountain for hours on end we finally arrived on top and biked through and over Iceland's newest lava field, between brand new volcano cones and still warm and smoking lava flows.



    Here no rivers to cross but many snow and icefields, but our Sandman bikes made short work of those.



    Once over the last pass, it went all the way down to sea level along a river which formed canyons and waterfalls along its course - very, very nice.



    The last waterfall was pretty impressive, we could bike right up to it.



    On our very last day we went back closer to Reykjavik to go biking in a valley with plenty of hotwater springs and pools.
    But something was wrong... there was this weird phenomenon in the sky... some said it was a sun... . After 10 days of almost constant bad weather a welcome sight.





    You have to imagine the sound of a small jet engine with the picture of this blowhole, together with a rotten-eggs sulphur stench .

    Great piece on Iceland! What kind of handlebars are you riding with?

  77. #77
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    On One Mary bars. Great for a relaxed, comfy touring position. But for rough stuff I still prefer a normal riser, the Mary's give a bit of a "detached" sensation.

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    Iceland trip report

    Ok i know youre all fatbike freaks but honest question: could you do that, or would you enjoy that with a regular 26 ht? as i dont own a fatbike as much as id like to..

  79. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by Affe View Post
    Ok i know youre all fatbike freaks but honest question: could you do that, or would you enjoy that with a regular 26 ht? as i dont own a fatbike as much as id like to..
    You can do part of it on a normal bike. The first 4 days of the trip where we went around the glacier in "small expedition mode" would be sheer hell on a normal mtb with luggage. As it were now, we only had to push the bikes through a number of (too deep or swift flowing) streams - all the rest was incredible bikeable fun. With normal bikes would have pushed 3/4's of that and the remainder would have been deinitely NO fun.
    The last 30 to 40l we ended up on one of the mayor dirtroads traversing the interior highlands and I know people sometimes do that with normal bikes. But believe me: no fun. It wasn't even much fun on fatbikes. There are a lot of jeeps and 4x4 buses on those roads and they're rocky "wasboard" from start to finish.

    The last 6 days where we biked without luggage ((80% on singletrack) are ok with a normal bike. You'd have to push a bit more but nothing to be afraid of.
    With luggage it would be a struggle on both, there are a lot of steep to extremely steep slopes in & out of little rivers you have to cross. Shouldering your bike is the best, sometimes only option there. With a bike full of luggage... The long and steep climbs after Landmannalaugar and especially out of Thorsmork I wouldn't even dream of doing with a bike full of luggage. That last climb is around 3-4 hours of pushing & carrying your bike along an at times extremely steep path, with cables at the most exposed stretches.
    Where it's not steep uphill, it's sometimes like this: One drop too many... - YouTube
    I had a framebag, water bottles and a small rear pannier with some tools & first aid kit on my own bike. I meant to put everything in a backpack because I kind of knew what was coming thatr day, but I just forgot to switch to a daypack. So I couldn't shoulder it at some stretches, which I seriously regretted...

    There are dirtroad options around, but where's the fun in that :-).

    Drop me a pm if you're interested in joining a little group or if you want more info, we're going back to Iceland in september 2014.

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    1. I am wondering what kind of foot(leg) wear you use for the river crossings that allow you to keep dry and continue.

    2. Where can I buy a pair of brass cajones so I am able to do the rocky, muddy, narrow, steep dropoff, singleterack like that!

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    1: we didn't bother changing shoes for the crossings, we used "poor men's neoprene": just synthetic or thin wool socks (no cotton !!) with a plastic bag over them and that combination in the (wet) shoes. You get cold feet once in the water - it all comes from underneath glaciers - but they warm up pretty fast once you're walking or pedalling again because the water inside the bags heats up and stays in.
    You can ofcourse always use thin neoprene socks, 2mm thick and they should fit in your shoes without sizing up.
    I used the plastic-bag solution with gaiters (to prevent from gravel entering) and my friends the neoprene socks - both worked well. The neoprene socks are more comfortable when gravel (inevitably) gets washed into your shoes.
    Do remember to take along spare plastic bags (the larger ones for packing food into a freezer are perfect - without the ziplock ;-)) or turn the neoprene socks inside out at night so you can pull the dry side on the next morning.

    Or you can take along sandals or crocs to cross the rivers, something that fits tight. Advantage: if it doesn't rain, your shoes and socks will stay dry and you can always use them in the evening in the huts. Disadvantages: time loss, it's ok to do that once or twice a day, but if you're looking at 10-15 rivers to cross... Your unprotected feet will get cold instantly when entering the water and your toes might get banged up on rocks.

    2: that trail sure has steep sides, but the fisheye lens of the gopro camera exagerates it a bit - it was filmed by someone in the group, not me (I was wresting with my laden-down bike further back along steeper cables :-()

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    Hi there I know there´s been two years since the original post but I still wanted to answer your thoughts on the hexagonal patterns. It is believed that it is formed during fall and early winter when the earth has frozen solid few meters down but the upper most layer is still going through freezing and thawing and because ice has about 10% more volume than water this expands to all sides and forms these patterns. The formation is well known in nature and are likely due to the least resistance. In fact if it is on a slope they form lines in the slope.

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    I did a ten day solo self supported tour of the Iceland highland routes a couple of weeks ago. Mostly on the dirt roads and smaller trails because the bike was pretty heavy with all the food and gear. Would be great to go lighter and focus on the single track more. Still an awesome trip with great scenery.

    Trip report with pictures: ICELAND by Erik Plankton

    Video:


  84. #84
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    I'm adding Iceland to my ride bucket list!

  85. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by ErikPlankton View Post
    I did a ten day solo self supported tour of the Iceland highland routes a couple of weeks ago. Mostly on the dirt roads and smaller trails because the bike was pretty heavy with all the food and gear. Would be great to go lighter and focus on the single track more. Still an awesome trip with great scenery.
    Nice write up. It was an enjoyable read.

    Tim

  86. #86
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    That was great! Thanks!
    It's all about the firecuts

  87. #87
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    THAT, looks like a great adventure.

    Did you like the BFL's on this trip? It looks like a lot of spots would have warranted a beefier tire.

  88. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by ErikPlankton View Post
    I did a ten day solo self supported tour of the Iceland highland routes a couple of weeks ago. Mostly on the dirt roads and smaller trails because the bike was pretty heavy with all the food and gear. Would be great to go lighter and focus on the single track more. Still an awesome trip with great scenery.

    Trip report with pictures: ICELAND by Erik Plankton

    Video:

    Totally deserving of it's own thread.

    Much more so than some of the "which bike/tyre/parts" crap in here.
    I see hills.

    I want to climb them.

  89. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by alphazz View Post
    THAT, looks like a great adventure.

    Did you like the BFL's on this trip? It looks like a lot of spots would have warranted a beefier tire.
    Yes I think this could be classified as an adventure The tires are Maxxis Chronicle 29x3 prototypes. Held up great for the entire trip with zero flats. In some places the rocks were really sharp. I think that the 29+ size is the optimal for off-road touring, since you cannot avoid tarmac in many places. I did around 250km on paved roads to get to the highlands and the tire offered good enough rolling combined to superb off-road handling and comfort even under a heavy load. Since I was alone my strategy was to stick close to the gravel roads that go through the highlands in case an evacuation would be needed. Next time I will probably take a riding buddy with me and explore more of the single track trails and hiking routes that are far more technical. On those a fully fat tire could be a better choice.

    It is also easy to take your bike on a bus from Reykjavik to pretty much everywhere on the island. This would open many new routes and possibilities. Good topographic maps are recommended. Most online maps do not show the majority of the smaller roads and tracks, which are crucial for route planning. Iceland was one of the best trips ever, highly recommended.

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