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IT'S CALLED ICELAND FOR A REASON

BIKEPACKING A LONG-DISTANCE ICELANDIC WALKING TRAIL? YOU EXPECT IT TO BE EASY? ALASTAIR JOHNSON AND ADAM PILDITCH TAKE THEIR CHANCES.

“Bring your fat bike,” was the response I received from an Instagram user when I asked about trail conditions in Iceland a week before we set off. “She does not recommend cycling yet,” was the reply from another friend. “Do you have a backup plan?” he continued. Two problems – no fat bike, and no backup plan. Unseasonably high snow levels in Iceland’s highlands, the highest for 15 years, were beginning to look like they could be a problem.

We encourage you to visit our steam room.

This would be the third time I had been to Iceland, the first with a bike. On previous trips I had banked images of endless singletrack through maze-like lava flows, along high sharp ridge lines and in the bottom of otherworldly valleys, always surrounded by views incomparable to anywhere else I had been. Two of us planned to bikepack the famous Laugavegur hiking trail from Thorsmork to Landmannalaugar and then once in Landmannalaugar, either bikepack out or lose the packs and look for some riding among the rhyolite mountains and old lava flows that the region is famous for.

We pushed in snow for hours. Occasionally sitting on our bikes to surf down snow patches.

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About Singletrack

UK Adventure: Jacob’s Cracker – The nicest man in mountain biking, Nick Craig, gets some Glaswegian encouragement from Sanny as they see who can clear Jacob’s Ladder without stopping. International Adventure: Iceland – Bikepacking in Iceland. Best bring your thermals. International Adventure: The Scottish Connection – Three Scottish friends meet up for an epic road trip round New Zealand before they all go their separate ways. Interview: David Turner – Chipps talks to the reluctant icon behind this cult brand. Classic Ride: Sutton Bank – This steep Yorkshire road climb is known for being too horribly busy (unless it’s been blocked by a misguided lorry) to ride. But how are the trails away from the fumes of brakes and clutches? Bike Test: Sub £1000 hardtails – We check out three hardtails under the magic figure of a grand. There’s no carbon and no full suspension at this price point, but is there fun? You bet there is! Grouptest: Dropper Seatposts – We check out the highs and lows of the current dropper post market. Grinder: The team bring you goods ridden through the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. And possibly a touch of mud. Feature: Trail Leader 3: You literally put your life in the hands of a mountain bike guide. What goes into that experience? Silver Shredders: Mountain bike life doesn’t stop when work does. We look at a bunch of riders making full use of their newfound spare time.