Bicycle touring in the land of ice

With summer in the air and the world at our feet, my friend and I decided to burn some stored sunlight and fly to Iceland to go bicycle touring. We pedalled ~600 km out there. Bellow are some photos of and comments about the trip. You can see where we cycled here.


Icelandic horses curious about our steel steeds

The flight

The most unpalatable part involves burning a couple of hundred kilos of irreplaceable stored sunlight: jet fuel. According to an official carbon calculator, 470 kg of CO2 were produced from Gatwick to Reykjavic, “0.16 years driving” or the per capita emissions of an average person from Senegal. Environmental issues aside, I was surprised at how quick and easy the process was.

A couple of touring bicycles

The scenery

This seems to be the main tourist attraction: vast expanses of unspoilt volcanic terrain.

Glacial valley near Thorsmork

Typical landscape from the main ring road

Ancient volcano

Vast barren lava fields, on the way to Thorsmork from Keflavik

The view of Eyjafjallajökull from the Westman Island

Transport and accomodation

Roads were surprisingly flat, other than the mission to Gulfoss waterfall and the trek to Thorsmork. These photos give an impression of life on the road.

Proper kitted out: bicycle tourists in Iceland seem to have good kit, and a lot of it!

Our accommodation for the week: snug

Willmore’s load: ~30 kilos of kit at 20 kph

Another shot of the bikes, at the ferry port to Westman Island.
Note we’re using 26″ mountain bikes with slick tires. Nothing fancy, ideal for rugged Iceland.


Mossy lava

Stilts at the camp-site in Hveragerði. These are simple to make and a lot of fun

Horse track: these often run alongside the main roads

Overtaking car: usually drivers gave us plenty of space

Crossing glacial meltwater on the way to Thorsmork

Freezing stream, inviting you to take a dip. Go forth and skinny dip!

All-in-all it was an amazing trip for the scenery. Beer out there is way too expensive, and the infrastructure is too Americanised (you’ve got the space, why not use it!) Plenty of interesting places to bike are to be found nearer to home, but none with the raw charm of Iceland.
Check out before you go:

Reasons to go bicycle touring closer to home:


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2 Responses to “Bicycle touring in the land of ice”

  1. psteckler Says:

    I have Iceland on my list of places to cycle. Maybe I can take a lower-C-footprint ship there?

    Lovely pictures.

  2. robinlovelace Says:

    Maybe. The contradiction between cycling and flying in energy terms is stark – that’s why I wish local rides had been better explored before jetting off and burning all that jet fuel. Circumnavigating the Peak District, for example, would be the ultimate solution energetically and aesthetically.

    Let us (the world) know how your energy efficient quest goes!

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