For the final installment of our coverage documenting the Forgotten Coast Route – a bikerafting trip connecting all of Iceland’s southern coast – expedition photographer Ryan Hill writes a series of short stories recounting some memorable moments from the media team’s point of view. Follow along with Ryan and the rest of the team which includes videographers Bryan “Bobcat” Davis, Jeremy Bishop, and Icelander Sigurdur “Sigi’ Petur.
The Forgotten Coast Route starts in the small eastern Iceland town of Djúpivogur and traverses 300 miles over mostly continuous beaches, spits, ocean islands, and sandbars, to the town of Thorlakshofn. Using a combination of fatbikes and packrafts Chris Burkard, Steve “Doom” Fassbender, and Cameron Lawson navigated a portion of Iceland’s coast seldom seen. With over 40 river crossings and covering some of the windiest and weather-riddled parts of Iceland’s coastlines, the route presented serious challenges for the team.
Below are a series of daily, first-hand accounts of the expedition. These daily journals are based on interviews with Chris Burkard and written by trip photographer Ryan Hill.
Iceland’s South Coast is one of the island’s most visited zones, but its beaches are seldom seen. It sounds like an audacious claim, but with 49 rivers strewn across the island’s southern beaches, this famous stretch boasts hundreds of miles of rarely explored coastline, with access being its biggest challenge. The goal of Chris Burkard’s “Forgotten Coast” trip is to link them all in one route, using a combination of fatbikes, to travel across its black sands and pack-rafts, to cross the rivers that break up these stretches of sand.
Our Radar Roundup compiles products and videos from the ‘net in an easy-to-digest format. Read on below for today’s findings…
The route is just under 1,000km tracing the Westfjords of Iceland, the most remote area of a sparsely inhabited country in the Arctic. The challenge is to finish the mixed gravel and pavement route in 4 stages. The weather can be harsh. The wind can be fierce. But that’s what makes this place. It’s stunning and it’s brutal. Treeless mountains rise out of the sea. There’s very little development. Beyond a flawless road system, humans have left little impression. It’s a wild place and we get to ride our bikes through it.
Borgarfjörður eystri is unrecognizable from the Iceland I know. I have this mental image of Iceland: a black canvas of volcanic rock with broad strokes of green Icelandic moss. Yet, as we pedal into Borgarfjörður eystri, these expansive black and green landscapes yield to something entirely different. The color gold reigns king.
Is bikepacking in Iceland fun on a gravel bike? That’s the one question on my mind as the plane touches down for my 5th visit to the country. With “make do with what you have” as our mantra, my two friends, Daylen, Quinton and I wanted to see if the gravel bikes we already own would be up for the challenge. I found several fat bike trip reports but very few gravel bike trip reports online, so I pour over maps, make some educated guesses, and trust I’ll figure it out as the rubber hits the road.
Below are a series of stories from a trip Gus Morton took across Iceland during winter on a fat bike with his friends Chris Burkard and Rebecca Rusch. They are reflections of what he was thinking and feeling in a particular moment and by no means an accurate account of the reality of any situation. Reflections which, as those present will likely attest, were probably far less dramatic.
Payson McElveen makes an attempt at being the first person in history to cross Iceland from coast-to-coast in a single push under human power.
“Monumental” is the eleventh layout of the Radavist 2021 Calendar. It was shot with a Sony A9ii and the Tamron 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6 di iii rxd lens outside of Radium Springs, New Mexico.
“With cooler temps on the way, it’s time we migrate to the Southwestern deserts for long and dusty rides. This was our cover image for our Dangerbird gallery. If you missed that, check it out!”
For a high-res JPG, suitable for print and desktop wallpaper*, right-click and save link as – The Radavist 2021 – November. Please, this photo is for personal use only!
(*set background to white and center for optimal coverage)
The mobile background this month comes from Iceland’s Black Sand Beach, Reynisfjara. Click here to download October’s Mobile Wallpaper.
There’s a place to get soup at the halfway point. We’ll stop there. They might have some dried fish and rugbraud to pack for dinner– traditional Icelandic bread; dark, dense, and sweet. In the past, the locals dug holes and used the heat from geothermal water to bake the bread. We pack a sandwich to go, throw a leg over the top tube and let the wind carry us down the way. When the wind is your friend, there’s no feeling like it.
The table has a basket of homemade hot rolls; some with dried fruit, some with seeds, all with a bit of salt. There are two loaves of hot fresh bread, wrapped in towels and a plate of cheese– local paprika and pepper sheep’s cheese, brie, gorgonzola, sliced Havarti with labels for different percentages of fat. There’s sliced ham and salami, hot scrambled eggs with herbs, bacon, and butter. There are sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, red bell pepper and pickled fish, a plate of fresh fruit– slices of melon, pineapple, grapes, apples, and oranges, all perfectly ripe. There’s thick Icelandic yogurt, a carafe of coffee, and containers of juice. There’s cereal and milk and homemade jam.
Wind in your face, wind at your back, pockets of light, sideways rain, hot springs, wild blueberries, glaciers, Arctic fox, sheep laying on the thermally heated roads, waffles and whip cream– this is the Iceland I’ve seen from the bike and we’ve only been here for three days. I’ve heard about a volcano erupting in the past year, polar bears floating on ice from Greenland to the north coast of the Island in the past ten years and a pregnant cow that swam 2km across a fjord to escape the slaughterhouse. The substance of legends, these stories are actually true. This place is dynamic. Volcanoes and lava create new land. The wind and rain create new lakes. This place is constantly changing and you feel it while you ride through it.
“I’ve ridden many thousands of miles on my bike all these years and I can’t say I regret anything… There were rough times but also good times. You just know it’s a challenge that you’ve got to overcome.”
We all have roads that lodge in our mind, routes we want to take. One such route is across the Sprengisandur, an uninhabited highland plateau crowned by an 826-metre pass in the central ranges of Iceland.
Plenty have tried to cross, and plenty have failed. In 2015, Rapha sent filmmaker George Marshall and framebuilder Tom Donhou to attempt the crossing. But after days of high winds, the pair were forced to stop. Four years later, George returned to lead another group across the 170 miles between the end of the tarmac near Reykjavik and the northern stronghold town of Akureyri. But they were far from being the first to make the crossing.
Over 60 years before, Ron Bartle joined Dick Phillips, Bernard Heath and their guide Raymond Bottomley for the first-ever unsupported ride across the Sprengisandur. They spent ten days in the wilderness, crossing rivers in inflatable dinghies and pushing their bikes for miles over boulder fields until they finally reached the first farmstead in the north.
Now in his mid-eighties and still an avid cyclist, Ron has recounted the story of his unexpected Icelandic adventure. And at a time when many of us cannot ride the roads lodged in our minds, he reminds us that they’ll still be there this year and the next.
One of the riders on the TransIceland trip Reportage we hosted with Chris Burkard was pro cyclist Emily Batty. In this video series, she documents the journey across Iceland from her perspective. Episode one is the setup and episode two covers the beginning of this harrowing ride…
As a supplement to the Reportage we hosted from Chris Burkard, Emily Batty, Eric Batty, and Adam Morka’s trans-Icelandic route is this beautiful video, dubbed “A Line in the Sand”. Enjoy!
Do you remember the crazy trans-Icelandic voyage featuring our friend Chris Burkard from last month? Well, we’d like to give his video UNNUR a shout out here. Enjoy this somber piece on your Friday afternoon!
“Elli Thor is an Icelandic photographer, surfer, and former kayaker. A decade ago Elli nearly drowned under a waterfall while kayaking a challenging Icelandic river. The near death experience became a catalyst for personal growth and his professional career. After walking away from kayaking, a newfound passion for surfing and the birth of his daughter Unnur gave him a new perspective worth living for.”
Editor’s intro: I’ve long been inspired by the work of Chris Burkard, particularly his work in Iceland, so when I saw he had taken up bikepacking and was about to embark on a crazy tour across Iceland’s interior, I reached out to see if he’d be willing to share his story. Read on below for an intro by Chris and an interview…