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.