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RAD RACE x AURORA
Tour D'Iceland 2015

RAD TRAVELS is us making our dreams come true: Travel the world. On our bikes.
Because in our strange way of life the ideal of happiness includes a bike and some friends. That’s basically all we need.

We feel very blessed to be able to ride THE most amazing bike adventures. The main idea is to ride something similar to a pro tour: with a fixed track route and daily stops and a crew bus that has everything you need: a mechanic, some new tubes and tires and some food and drinks. Of course we’re staying in Heimplanet tents. Because they give us the maximum flexibilaty while traveling with our bikes and at the same time having the luxury of comfort while being outside and free.

So at least once a year you can feel like a pro rider. For 2015 our plan is to take 2 epic cycling trips as farewell rides for our beloved friend Sebastian who died in an accident in spring. He was not only the head behind a great cycling label called Aurora Collective, but we have also planned Iceland together so this is the first of two rides that we’re having for you man!

Our idea for the 2015: we will cycle iceland from july 23rd to 31st. On 8 Bombtrack crossers. 11 friends. 8 riders. 3 guys behind the cameras. 8 days. At least 500km. Against the wind. With the weather and the nature. We‘ll ride it whatever comes our way. We‘re sleeping in tents wherever it‘s green. With some great partners. To show the world how great exploring Iceland on bikes can be.

Stage 1 – Geysir-Hveraellir
70,3K – 1.088m altitude

So alright, this is this Iceland that everybody is talking about. We’re sitting here in front of our tents as I am writing this and it’s an unreal feeling. Everybody is totally destroyed from yesterday’s ride and it’s fair to say that this was THE most exhausting bike ride we ever did on our lives. We have another 120k on this road and seriously I have no idea if we will manage to finish stage 2… But let’s start at the beginning.

It started so nice. Everybody met in Hamburg at Ali’s place and we packed the Bombtrack bikes and all stuff into our Evoc cases. The ride tot he airport worked well and then it became pretty clear that we all had much more gear than we were allowed to have. 50K instead of 23k and only due to this guy from Air Berlin (we promised him to appear in the end credits of our documentary…) we saved around 500€ for over-luggage.

The flight was great and everybody was just so happy to see everyone. Although we flew through the night it wasn’t getting darker but it was getting brighter. An unreal experience landing at 1am in the morning it it’s just not pitch black. Unfortunately our van and hanger was from medieval times and way to small. So it became pretty clear that we’re fucked unless we’re not getting a bigger car. Well, to cut a long story short: we did but only the next day so we drove 50k from the airport to our campsite with an open hanger. The Evoc cases we’re almost blown away since they were just lying on the open hanger.

Heimplanet tents were blown up quick, we got some rest and slept for a couple of hours. Unfortunately there wasn’t a breakfast for us since we still had to go shopping, pick up our Primus camping equipment and needed to buy some other stuff. After seeing a Geysir fort he first time in our lives and preparing the bikes for seven riders it took us until 6pm (!) until we were finally ready to start the ride. Way to late and it was starting the get cold already.

From the moment we were sitting on our bikes the whole stress was blown away and we were just so happy to start this. Patric was riding with us for the very first time and he didn’t expect us to be highly over-motivated. We rode the first 10k or so with an average speed of around 35k and boy this for sure felt like a race. So great. The „problem“ was that from the moment we touched „road 35“ at KM29 when we entered the highlands we hit a nasty gravel road. Not a regular gravel road but a road full potholes and sand and dirt and full of small hills. After a few k we called it the „washboard“ because it looks and feels like riding over a fucking washboard with millions of tiny hills and ups and downs. This road killed us. And now our average speed was more 12k, it really wasn’t possible to ride any faster than this. You had to be super careful not to crash and if your gear was too small your rear wheel didn’t give you any grip at all.

Now it was already around 10pm in the evening and it was starting to get so cold and it was only a few degrees over zero. Darkness is not a real problem because it’s staying light until 1 or 2 am and only then it’s getting a little dark. But there was still 30k to go. We were all really exhausted – no breakfast, no sleep and no other food except for some Clif Bars – so we decided to split the group and take our team van and the camera crew to the camp site. Ali was supposed to drop these guys off, empty the car and take all remaining riders to the camp.

It was starting to get pretty dangerous since we were all freezing and didn’t have any power left. Ingo was having real problems to ride any further and he almost collapsed. But we couln’t stop. Stopping means freezing and freezing was pretty serious with only 1 degree above zero. So we rode further and further and fruther towards the camp. And we cannot tell you how much we were all cheering and screaming when we saw the lights of the van on the horizon. You literally can see so many miles since there is just nothing. Except for the beautiful landscape and glaciers and the just unbelievable nature. In the end it took the van almost 1.5hrs until Ali got us all in. Then it was still around 20-25k until we hit the camp. We were lucky but disappointed to the same time not to be able to finish the stage. When we hit the camp it was 1am in the morning, still not dark and then the best thing happened. No electricity, no warm water BUT a hot spring with natural warm water around 40 degress. We sat there for almost an hour and warmed us up. Lucky to be here, blessed to have the best friends in the whole world, happy to made it until here.

Iceland said to us: „Welcome guys! This is me showing you suckers who the boss is.“ Thanks for teaching us this lesson. We all felt pretty small on stage 1.

Stage 2 is 120k, almost 100k on the „washboard“. To be honest we are pretty sure we cannot ride the whole stage. But let’s see, let’s try. The sun is shining.

Stage 2 – Hveraellir-Varmahlid
110K – 1.088m altitude

We were soooo scared of this stage. Day 2 on the „35“. This fucking road killed us on day one. The rental car company strictly forbid us to ride on this street and of course we didn’t do it. We promise we would have never done it. Really. Promise. We wouldn’t be that stupid. Stage 1 was a dry day and if it would have rained, any car that is not a 4WD would have been fucked… We were lucky though and had a hell of a bus driver…

So the night was short and cold but great. A fantastic MyMüsli breakfast and some bad coffee later we looked at day 2. 100k of a crazy gravel road that we called the washboard, plus 20K on the ring street ahead of us. To be honest we didn’t think we would make it today. We just knew it would at least take us 6-7 hours on the 35 plus some more on the ring street.

We started the ride with only six riders, some were suffering of some altitude sickness, crazy headaches and nausea. The combination of not enough water, the altitude, no breakfast and heavy cycling just did its magic on some of us. BUT: the sun was shining, the light was beautiful and everybody was psyched to start another day on this beautiful island.

Hitting the 35 was like meeting an old girlfriend. You just don’t wanna see her again. But we got rid of her faster than we expected. After 12K or so the 35 turned into a regular gravel road. Still shitty but it felt like being on another planet. It was just so great to finally ride 25 or more. And from this moment on the road got better and better. Every single meter we rode was better than the last. What we found astonishing that the landscape turned so fast too. We left the highlands and Iceland was suddenly green. As green as you can fucking imagine. We don’t wanna bore you with landscapes. But seeing wild iceland horses and being in this green felt like being in an episode of Game Of Thrones.

We rode faster and faster, had quick breaks to drink and a lotta Clif Bars and some Vitaminwaters and really made or way quickly further north. A quick not to 2 of our sponsors. We celebrated 30 years of Gore Bike Wear and we cannot say how much we appreciate to get some of their amazing apparel. The rain jackets and windbreakers are not only in iceland colours but we have all never worn so awesome bike shit. They sincerely keep you warm when they have to and cool you down when you’re cycling uphill.

Even more the Black Panther Xtreme tyres from Vredestein (that is no joke, they are really called Black Panther) give us so much comfort and protection on the gravel roads. PLUS although the streets are so bad we didn’t have one single flat tyre so far. Unbelievable. Thanks so much!!

After 100k or so we hit the highlight of the day. The emphasis lies on „HIGH“. We had a look on the altitude profile the whole day and it just looked like a fucking wall. So we just thought oh my god how are we ever go up that thing with already 200k in our legs. Especially Max is riding a Bombtrack Arise, a single speed that we turned into a shifter with four gears. In reality he’s just using 2. One for riding up and one for going down. It really takes some legs to manage the climbs here on Iceland. To cut a long story short. We all made it. The wall was just awesome and even better: the downhill ride was so much fun.

We entered our campsite alive and well. Everybody enjoyed Lars amazing pasta and at 1am we all hit our Heimplanet tents.

Today we’re expecting 100k on the ring street. The weather looks cloudy but dry. Thanks for being with us.

Stage 3 – Varmahlid-Akureyri
102,7K – 857m altitude

You just lose your feeling for time. When it’s getting late you don’t know if it’s 5pm or 11pm. It’s just not getting dark. As a stupid german you are used to getting tired when the sun goes down. Here this is all different…

Day 3 and there’s around 100k and around 800m of altitude ahead of us. On a concrete road. First time no gravels.

When we look back after stage 3 of 6 you can already tell that Iceland was teaching us a lot of lessons. On day 1 Iceland said „fuck you boys – what the hell are you idiots doin’ here?“ Day 2 Iceland kinda said „Congrats for holding on. Let me give you the best I have.“ On day 3 Iceland was like „Oh hey, I forgot that I have something for you. Here’s some wind suckers.“

And this is what it was all like on stage 3 of this epic trip. Again we saw stunning landscapes, mountains covered with ice, wild horses, lonely streets and so much green. We still were so lucky: no rain and so much sun. BUT: the wind was kicking in and it took us a lot of teamwork to manage this stage…

When we started this stage it all felt easy. We found a gas station to reload our cameras and had the first real coffee of this trip. The wind in our backs made us feel like flying down the road. We hardly encountered cars and whenever they saw us they were all friendly and cool. The first climb of the day was a pretty long one but not too crazy and steep. And when we checked our Garmins we knew we already had around 50K behind us, the team bus was already waiting and Ali seriously brewed some coffee. Unreal to enjoy a coffee with your best friends in the setting of „The Lord of the Rings“. After an extensive lunch break we thought that the rest of the stage would be easy since there weren’t any climbs waiting for us…

This was exactly the moment when Iceland reminded us who the Babo is. Iceland blew some pretty heavy winds in our faces. We formed a team line that we maintained until the stage was over and we hit Akureyri. Still the tension was rising just a bit on this day. The crew is still one piece and all but this stage showed us that we gotta stick together. Watch out for the rider behind you. Watch out when someone is left behind. Just work together. Share your strength and hide your weakness behind someone who’s stronger than you. Big shoutouts to Urban and Max who are pretty much riding this tour with one single gear.

First time we stopped riding before 10pm and we just enjoyed being together. Still no rain and no crashes or any of that shit. Iceland, you’re very good to us and we cannot tell you how much we appreciate this.

Stage 4 – Akurey-Myvatn
103,2K, 1.301m of altitude

Everything about today was just pure fun. 7 riders started and we left our campsite on top of a little mountain only to stop for a quick coffee in the tiny but beautiful “city” of Akurey after we only rode 10k or so. Perfect start!!
When we left Akurey we almost immediately hit a hill that was 300m of altitude. Some loved it, some hated it. Especially for our bus driver, cook and good soul Ali who is more or less a beginner on the saddle it was a tough rollercoaster uphill ride. But he made it and was superhappy and proud. We were too. Well done mate! And very special thanks from the whole group for taking such good care of us when we’re rollin’ and need a drink or some Clif Bars.

The downhill ride was pure magic and you really had to be so careful not to fall down a clif since the scenery is just too beautiful. Compared to our roadbikes the Bombtrack crossers are not so fast but way more comfy and perfect for the gravel roads on Iceland. If we ever make it back to Iceland we’ll ask Bombtrack for the exact same bikes again…
The lunchbreak was right next to some unbelievable waterfalls with some amazing single trails to check out our bikes even more and take some pics and footage for our upcoming documentary about this trip. We all felt like sleeping rather than taking the second bigger climb of the day. On top of that Iceland was showing us one element that we haven’t seen before: rain. Not too bad though so we didn’t have any bigger problem to finish the 100k and 1.350 meters of altitude.

The campsite in Myvatn was lying next to a huge lake and while we’re typing this it’s still not getting dark. It’s 1am in the middle of the night and Iceland still shines. We heard so much about this island and it really is better on all levels. The landscapes are changing so fast and behind every single corner you experience something you haven’t seen before.

After Oslo and Mallorca chapter 3 of RAD TRAVELS lead us to Iceland and we cannot be happier to be here. Whenever you can grab a bike, your best friends and travel the world on your bike. It gives you the best possible speed to explore new places. It’s painful sometimes and there’s no referee to stop the game but seriously. It’s what we love and the only thing that fucks us up is that there are only 2 stages left.

Stage 5 – Myvatn – Moorudal
89k – 500m altitude

While I am typin’ this we are all lying in our Heimplanet tents. It’s 1am in the morning and of course it’s still not getting dark. Well it’s not bright daylight. It’s something in between. Something unreal. We must be in a Game Of Thrones or Lord Of the Rings episode. You cannot imagine how beautiful it is here. We’re camping in the greenest grass and are listening to a small river that is right next to our 4 tents. We look at an orange moon and the sun is hiding on the other side behind a mountain. There’s vulcano craters and a huge mountain covered with ice on the horizon. Oh well, and then we went cycling today…

Leaving our campsite in xxx this morning wasn’t too tough after a great Mymüsli breakfast since we were looking at a huge vulcano crater which we wanted to cycle so bad. So we went 10k in the opposite direction to our original track route and ended up riding on the edge of this thing. It took us a while to get up and down and we lost a lot of power but whatever, you don’t get that chance quite often. The biggest problem though was that our short cut from there to our track wasn’t such a good idea. We ended up on a sand piste that took us forerever to cross.

Right after we burned so many more power on that crazy track there was a pretty decent climb waiting for us. But again Iceland was too good to us because then we really saw something we all haven’t seen before. A huge field where Schwefel was just blowing out of countless holes straight from the middle of the earth. Some people might read this and think we’re just stupid white trash kids from the city. Well, we are. We don’t see epic shit like that in Hamburg or Frankfurt.

We took the chance and took a lot of photos and film snippets for our tour documentary (we hope to have this ready in a couple of weeks after we’re back home) and then finally hit the road since there was still 80k to ride on this stage.

Some of us are lucky enough to have seen places in Australia, New Zealand or Hawaii and we can only tell you: you really don’t have to travel that far and fly all around the globe. Just jump in the plane – take your bike – and 3 hours later you gonna experience some stunning nature. It’s just unbelievable how fast the scenery changes from red to green to black to whatever colour you can imagine. The best thing about today’s stage though was one more time: the weather. The sun was shining the whole day and although the wind was blowing in our faces pretty bad we rode with some awesome team work to finish this stage.

For some of us today surely was one of the best rides we ever took on our bikes. The last 20k surely add to this feeling. We switched to race mode – the camera guys Lars, Benny and Eti – were shooting from out of the open van while we were riding between 45 and 60km/h. We formed smaller and bigger groups, we were screaming and just riding the hell out of Iceland and it’s abandoned streets.

For the last few kilometeres we had THE perfect wind in our backs and we all arrived in our unreal campsite while the sun was still shining.

Now back to the start of this report… Remember? There’s ice on our Bombtrack bikes and on our Evoc bags. It’s slightly above zero and we can see a lot of ice around us. After a few days you kinda forgot that it is actually summertime. Why the hell are we freezing again in the end of July? Oh yeah, we’re riding Iceland and we cannot be more grateful for how awesome this island is.

Stage 6 – Moorudal-Egilstadir
95,2k – 886m altitude

Our last stage started with a freezing night with some ice on our tents. Benny and Eti were suffering seriously within the last few nights since it got colder and colder and for some reason they only brought a summer sleeping bag. Well, if we can recommend one thing than that: bring some warm stuff. They had to learn that the very hard way. Rarely before we got to know another place that was named exactly how it feels like to be there: like ice. Even in the deepest summertime we were freezing on our bikes. In the nights and in the cold evenings.

The moment we stepped out of our Heimplanet tents the sun was shining out of the bluest sky and it warmed us and although we were all tyred after almost 500k in our legs we were all thrilled to ride the last stage.

So one last time we sat in the greenest grass, had a great coffee and some icelandish donouts from the campsite owner and prepared for the last 95k. Unfortunately again the track lead us immediately into a pretty heavy climb and even better: into a crazy gravel road that made it even harder to ride up that hill. When we came to Iceland we expected a lot of meters of altitude but to be honest it was harder than we thought it would be. The climbs are most of the time not steeper than 10% but they are so long and the wind does the rest to kill you while fighting your way up.

Later on the track lead us again to some stunning icelandish sight seeing with neverending waterfalls and abandoned streets and so much cool stuff to see. It was all great and only the wind was our toughest enemy on this stage. It was blowing so bad in our faces for the first 70k or so that two of us decided to quit and went into the crew bus. So it was only five of us finishing the last stage what was kind of sad since especially the last 15k of this track had all the downhill rides and the wind in our backs returned to kiss us good bye.

Ali – the good soul in our crew – who made us pasta almost every single night – ain’t the hardcore rider but some teamwork and a lotta heart from himself brought him through the 95k. He was super proud to have made it and we’re too. Well done mate!

The end of the Tour D’Iceland was not too spectacular, the track ended in the small city of Egilstadir in a parking lot in front of a campsite. I think we were all still in the mode of just riding again the next day. But unfortunately we won’t. I think I can speak for the majority of the group when I say: we’d love to cycle further and completely all around Iceland on its famous route 1.

But that was it. We made it and we’re so happy to have experienced Iceland.
564k in total in 6 stages with 5.825m of altitude. 8 riders, 3 friends behind some lenses.

Thank you to Heimplanet for being our home for 8 days.

Today there’s only our way back to Reykjavik to make and then we’ll fly back to wherever we came from. Thanks so much for following our tour diary. We’ll be back in October for the Tour D’Espana. Just in case you’re interested in riding with us hit us up and write us an Email. We’re collecting all Emails and will get back to you in 2016 with some more RAD TRAVELS…

This was the first of 2 farewell rides for Sebastian Gondek. We miss you man.

The kids all ride.

Photos by Lars Schneider for RAD RACE
Lars Schneider on Instagram

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