A Winter Adventure: Bicycle Touring & Skiing in Iceland

Cycling & Skiing in IcelandIceland is a popular bicycle touring destination, and most cyclists show up during the summer months of July and August to enjoy the volcanoes, hot springs and rugged landscape of this northern island.

This ‘typical’ Icelandic experience wasn’t adventurous enough, however, for Italian cyclists Serena & Matteo, so they left for a 6 week tour of Iceland in April, when much of the country was still covered in snow. They packed not only bicycles but also skis and food for 20 days. We emailed Serena, who agreed to share the story and some photos of their amazing trip.

As she explained, the journey was split into 3 parts:

  • A cycling-skiing circuit across the wildest tracks, closed routes and isolated highlands
  • A visit to some of famous Icelandic tourist destinationsand Ejafjallajokull volcano
  • A shorter west fjord ring by bike, with slightly warmer, better weather and lighter equipment

The first part was the longest, most important and adventurous part of the journey, and the following questions focus on this section of the trip.

1. Can you describe the trip?

For the route, you can find the Google map and GPS track on our website. We arrived in Iceland by first driving to Denmark with our van, and then by getting a ferry to Iceland. We left our van at the harbour of Seydisfjordur, and we started to cycle from there. We rode our bikes for about 700 kilometers and we skied with the bike on the trailer for only few kilometers because it was very hard. When the snow was not too soft, we preferred to use the bikes.

Cycling & Skiing in Iceland

Serena with the bicycles and two very heavy trailers!

2. What was the inspiration behind the trip, and why in April, when it is so cold? Most people go to Iceland in summer!

We went to Iceland 9 years ago in summer and, during a stormy evening in the tent, we thought about another possible trip in Iceland but this time in winter. We had the desire to see wildest face of this land. During our trips, we are usually autonomous and we also wanted to have this winter experience without external support or help, so this crazy combination of biking and skiing crossed our minds.

3. How did you carry everything you needed for cycling and for skiing? Your luggage must have weighed a lot!

For cycling we used a small trailer. On the trailers there were two strong, waterproof and big bags (Ortlieb) and all the equipment for skiing, camping and eating was inside these bags. We calculated for at least 20 days of autonomous travel because we knew that in winter nobody believed a tourist would arrive. Photographic equipment, clothes, the tent and a few other small objects were in the bags hanging on the bikes.

For skiing, we carried one of the bags that was in the trailer on our shoulders. We disassembled our bikes a bit and we put them on the bobs (homemade pulkas; a sort of sleigh). This way of travel was really hard becouse the snow was crusted by the wind and often the load fell down. We each towed around 50kg of luggage.

Cycling & Skiing in Iceland

Towing the bicycles while skiing. It’s a very heavy load.

4. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced, and how did you overcome them?

The first and daily challenge was going on against the wind, which often blew at 50km an hour and sometimes reached 90-100 km/h. It happened that sometimes it was impossible to leave the tent for an entire day. Often we were tired and hungry but it was too cold for resting or eating something. We had to hold on as long as possible, then stop, put up the camp and sleep.

The second big challenge was changing the route suddenly to escape from the volcanic cloud because the famous Eyafjallajokull volcano erupted while we were tenting only about 100km away. After the eruption, we had to face daily bad conditions on the tracks, with wet volcanic sand, big stones, ice and all kinds of snow. Still, we were aware of this possible challenge and ready for it because we had chosen a season and an itinerary that was really strange and out of the way.

5. What was the most rewarding part of the trip?

Sometimes we needed 2-3 hours to do a few kilometers, and the wind and the cold made it difficult to pitch the tent and cook, so every small step ahead was really rewarding. The greatest emotions and most joyful moments I had in my heart came from Iceland’s magnificent nature and some little, simple gifts that sometimes Iceland decided to give us, like a few minutes without wind, a bit of ‘warm’ sun, a hot coffee and a slice of cake in a petrol station after some days of isolation.

Cycling & Skiing in Iceland

Snow drifting inside the tent.

6. What advice would you give to other people who would like to try the same thing?

You don’t have to try to repeat others’ experiences, you have to invent your own trip, looking for what is rewarding for you! Iceland may be very handsome in winter but you have to be very flexible, autonomous, pretend nothing and catch the gifts that Iceland will prepare for you.

Read more about Serena & Matteo’s amazing trip on their website: Islanda Bike-Ski 2010

You can also watch the videos they’ve made. The commentary is in Italian, but the photos and images tell a lot of the story:

Comments

  1. Eric & Elaine Hendrickson
    8th August 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    Looks like you had a great adventure. The videos were outstanding and the website is well worth a visit. Hoping to do Iceland soon but in the July/August window. Continue on with your adventures.

    • Serena
      26th August 2011 at 9:34 am #

      Hi! Thank you for looking our website! Enjoy your Iceland!

  2. Smilyan
    20th June 2016 at 11:23 am #

    One of the best videos I’ve seen on adventures in Iceland. I am going there soon (in two weeks) and am definitely grateful for the decision to do it in the summer. Still I hope it will be a worthwhile adventure. Thanks for the great info!

  3. hot shot bald cop
    26th April 2022 at 4:57 am #

    That’s a great point

  4. cheap paul george shoes
    14th July 2022 at 10:19 pm #

    I wish to express my admiration for your generosity in support of those who really want help with this important subject. Your real dedication to passing the solution all over became extremely invaluable and has in most cases made professionals like me to reach their ambitions. Your new interesting guideline denotes a great deal a person like me and substantially more to my office colleagues. Thanks a ton; from everyone of us.

  5. cheap paul george shoes
    14th July 2022 at 10:20 pm #

    I want to voice my affection for your kindness for men who absolutely need assistance with this particular subject matter. Your real dedication to getting the solution all through had become certainly interesting and has really helped women much like me to realize their pursuits. Your personal useful information means much to me and still more to my mates. Thanks a ton; from everyone of us.

  6. off white
    20th July 2022 at 6:58 am #

    I wanted to develop a quick word to be able to appreciate you for these wonderful guidelines you are placing here. My extended internet research has now been recognized with good quality suggestions to go over with my two friends. I ‘d believe that most of us visitors actually are really blessed to be in a remarkable place with so many perfect people with interesting tactics. I feel rather happy to have used the website and look forward to plenty of more awesome moments reading here. Thank you once more for everything.

  7. kyrie 5
    5th August 2022 at 3:35 am #

    I simply desired to appreciate you all over again. I’m not certain the things I could possibly have done without the advice shared by you over such a industry. Entirely was a horrifying concern for me, nevertheless seeing this skilled strategy you solved it made me to cry for delight. I am just happy for this support and as well , have high hopes you recognize what a powerful job that you’re accomplishing educating people by way of a site. I am sure you have never met all of us.

  8. cheap curry 8
    12th August 2022 at 12:04 pm #

    Needed to put you this bit of note to thank you so much yet again for those great knowledge you have shared above. It is extremely generous of you to grant extensively exactly what a number of people would’ve marketed for an electronic book to get some money on their own, specifically seeing that you might have tried it if you desired. These thoughts as well worked to be a fantastic way to realize that other individuals have a similar passion similar to mine to know the truth a lot more when it comes to this matter. I know there are thousands of more fun sessions in the future for folks who see your website.

  9. cheap kobes
    12th August 2022 at 12:10 pm #

    I simply had to thank you so much yet again. I’m not certain what I would have implemented without the solutions discussed by you directly on that subject. This was a fearsome scenario in my circumstances, nevertheless finding out the well-written way you handled the issue took me to cry over fulfillment. I am happier for your information and then hope you really know what an amazing job you happen to be undertaking teaching many people through the use of your webpage. More than likely you haven’t encountered all of us.

  10. yeezy 700
    27th August 2022 at 6:38 pm #

    I have to express my passion for your kind-heartedness in support of those people that have the need for guidance on this particular issue. Your real dedication to getting the solution across had become unbelievably functional and has usually allowed somebody like me to reach their aims. Your entire informative key points denotes so much to me and far more to my colleagues. Best wishes; from everyone of us.

  11. russell westbrook shoes
    27th August 2022 at 6:44 pm #

    I have to point out my love for your kind-heartedness for individuals who actually need assistance with the area of interest. Your special dedication to passing the message throughout was definitely important and has in most cases permitted people like me to attain their pursuits. Your personal useful help means a lot a person like me and especially to my office colleagues. Regards; from everyone of us.

  12. golden goose shoes
    27th August 2022 at 6:45 pm #

    I have to voice my affection for your kindness supporting folks that need assistance with this matter. Your special commitment to getting the message throughout appeared to be remarkably practical and has consistently empowered women like me to achieve their ambitions. Your personal helpful facts implies this much a person like me and additionally to my mates. Thanks a lot; from each one of us.

Leave a comment