I realized while sitting atop a grassy pinnacle, overlooking braided rivers that worked their way down from massive glacier tongues, that Iceland doesn’t feel like another country, it feels like another planet. This strange land is littered with awe-inspiring trails hidden among icy winds and snowcapped peaks. The primordial terrain and variable weather made it an ideal setting for us to shred the new Yeti SB4.5c.
Our crew arrived just outside of the capital city of Reykjavik and we were greeted by the eerie perma-dusk that would stay with us our entire three week mission. Our goal was simple: hunt down and ride some of Iceland’s best trails. We learned quickly the sun never really sets in Iceland and while it messes up your sleep patterns, it has its perks — we could stay out riding until late into the evening. Not far outside of the capital city of Reykjavik lies trail worthy terrain. After shaking off the last bit of jet lag, we explored the mountainous areas and found good use of the local trails and enjoyed the few rays of sunshine that shone through all week.
Our journey continued as we traveled south into the Thórsmörk region. Our sad little Jeep barely survived the numerous fjord crossings required to get there. As glacial runoff floods the Krossá River that snakes across the basin leading up Thórsmörk. We pitched our tents and looked up the trail — it headed straight up a ghastly and gnarled drainage with neon grass contrasting the blackest rock I’ve ever seen.
Once settled in, we saddled up and hit the trail. The technical climb meandered up a narrow bench-cut trail and then gave way to a wide buffed-out descent marked by tacky brown dirt and an exposed ridge that dropped away on both sides. Without warning, our screaming downhill was interrupted by patches of knife-edge sections where we were forced off our bikes and had to hopscotch over the rocks with our bikes on our shoulders. To say the riding kept us on our toes would be an understatement; I have never ridden anything quite like it. When we got down to camp and looked back up at where we had come from, all I could think was how few tires have ever rolled where mine just did. Four nights in Thórsmörk flew by. Even on our last day, after we thought we had seen everything, we found more to explore. We had merely scratched the surface.
Next our crew headed even deeper into the highlands to the volcanic region known as Landmannalaugar. As the crow flies, the two regions are close, but as the Jeep rolls it was a different story. Despite their geographical proximity, the regions were distinctly different. Thórsmörk is marked by its lush greenery, towering cliffs, and cracked glaciers while Landmannalaugar is full of rainbow hilltops, ancient lava fields and is enveloped in sulfur smell.
We rode long ridgelines at full speed and plunged into sharp, deep corners that caught our tires perfectly. Unlike Thórsmörk, Landmannalaugar’s rolling scree hills were marked by drawn-out climbs and descents following flowy ridge tops. The final descent took us careening down the hillside through the dried-up lava field looming over our camp. After ten minutes of childishly hopping our way through the igneous playground, we sought out a hot meal and warm soak. This became the norm — big rides, sore muscles and long soaks in the bountiful natural hot springs that surrounded the trails.
Mountain biking is starting to take hold in Iceland, but we saw very few fellow riders in our travels. It’s easy to escape the hoards and find your place in the big landscape. Most tourists stick to the Ring Road, which offers views of gigantic waterfalls and black rock beaches. We took the other trails…
I did the whole trip on my new Yeti Cycles SB4.5c and it worked like a charm. It was only a matter of time before we rolled out our Switch Technology in big wheels. The SB4.5c is optimized for 29" wheels and has a different personality than our other bikes. The pedaling platform is a little stiffer, so out of the saddle climbs feel effortless. Descending, it’s all trail bike — open it up and let the big wheels roll.
Written by: Sam Seward Rider: Sam Seward Photography By: Joey Schusler & Craig Grant Cinematography By: Craig Grant Aerial Cinematography By: Joey Schusler Directed & Edited By: Craig Grant