Vast wilderness punctuated by pinnacle mountains, wild landscapes with only the slightest hint of human interference*.
It’s a dreamy-looking place that has been the subject of great media attention in recent years, its rocketing rise from economic depression spurred on by an ever-expanding tourist trade.
It is a land of brilliant contradiction: Often-dull skies and low lighting are contrasted by bright greens of the slow-growing vegetation. Adventure comes into its true meaning in the endless inner area of the island, yet downtown Reykjavik is full of every modern amenity. The weather is changeable and often windy, cold and unforgiving, yet the people are some of the most welcoming and happiest anywhere (officially second-happiest, in fact). It’s an intriguing place that many people have on their bucket list and with good reason.
In terms of mountain biking, out in those lonely hills and valleys there is trail gold for anyone willing to sweat, shiver and earn it. This is no signposted, graded, manicured bike riding and when tyres touch dirt it will only be on long-tramped trail and hand-cut ribbons of singletrack worked by a devoted local population of hardy riders. We visited in 2014 (here) and know full well.
You can’t go to the place on a short trip and expect to chance upon a world of mountain biking. You’ll have to either contact one of the top-notch guiding outfits or spend a decent amount of time scouring the land and making contacts who will point you to the goods. Or do all three, as Yeti’s crew did when they spent three weeks there during summer.
“This strange land is littered with awe-inspiring trails hidden among huge glaciers and ragged peaks blanketed with lush vibrant fauna. The primordial terrain carved into the landscape and the chaotic weather made it an ideal setting for us to shred the Yeti SB4.5c.” – Yeti
Yeti – or more precisely the camera crew of Craig Grant and Joey Schusler – came away with some stunning imagery that they have put into this visual feast. If this doesn’t give you the urge to visit the place, surely nothing will.
Guiding company Icebike Adventures can help if you want to make the trip.
* = Bar the destruction of large swathes of forest by early settlers, we’ll gloss over that.