Glacier Express (Full Movie) - a bikepacking adventure around Iceland
14th of May 2023. The wind whistles around our ears. We can hardly move forward and are forced to push most of the route. Did we know that this tour would be challenging? Yes. Were we prepared for what was to come? Absolutely not.
But let's start from the beginning our journey. From Frankfurt we take a plane to Iceland. The plan of our route looks like this. From the capital Reykjavik we want to go through the south to the Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe.
From there it goes through the east fjord and some passes in the direction of Myvatn. From Myvatn the biggest challenge awaits us. We want to cross the Icelandic highlands. to get back to Reykjavik. After we arrived at the Reykjavik airport, we set up the bikes quickly and visited the landmark of the city, we knew the adventure could finally start. So friends, we are still here in Reykjavik, just at the hardware store, to buy tension straps, and Joel is going to buy trash bags and some food.
We didn't even manage to get it out of Reykjavik and Joel already have a flat tire. And that despite the 30 euro tubes. After we bought everything we needed and were able to quickly repair the flat, it was time for us to get it out of Reykjavik in the best Icelandic weather.
After cleared weather conditions, We found finally a good spot camp spot for the night. I think I have some volcanic sand in my food. On the next day we cycle on good roads along the south coast until we reach our first camping spot located on the first glaciers. We reached now finally the south coast. It is actually, surprisingly, relatively warm here. Yes, especially from the vegetation, everything looks completely different here.
A little more grass, not quite as rough as the rest of Iceland. Um, we still have about 40 kilometers to go. But I think we'll be on the road for another two hours. And then we'll go to the campsite. First day through. I'd say we made it.
We covered 100km today. Tomorrow it's going to be really exciting. Because then we're going to the pass. Um, up to almost 1000m. And tomorrow I think the weather is going to be worse again.
The forecast says it's going to rain. We'll have to see how it goes. In any case, tomorrow we're going up there. You can't see it now in the clouds. But there are definitely the mountains and the glaciers.
Top three highlights of the tour. Um, I would say, on the one hand, definitely the tour we did in the highlands. Because we were completely for ourselves, completely alone in nature. We really didn't meet anyone. The landscape was absolutely stunning. Wait a minute, I think it's relatively deep.
Woah Woah now I am completely wet. Oh. Ah! The flow of the river is quite strong, isn't it? Yes Fuck ! Boah, we just got a little further. We just made an exhausting climb here. I'm really at the end right now.
And, the ground is super soft. And with all the weight on the bikes, you sink in so much. And you can hardly get in front of the spot that you can only push. And pushing with the weight is not so easy. Here you definitely notice every vertical meter. You know what you're doing.
So, Hanno, how is it going? Decent climb. I think now we have the worst Well, who knows, maybe the worst weather will come. But I hope we have the worst weather behind us now.
What we could not guess, the worst part was still ahead of us. The road got worse and worse and was at some point just a mixture of snow and mud. For the last two kilometers it took us longer than two hours. Therefore, we knew that there is no way through the highlands.
We set up our tent and tried to dry our things and wait for the next day. So friends, Hanno is packing his stuff right now. We're getting ready for our retreat. What's great is that we're expecting pitch wet shoes. That means it's going to be very pleasant. But it doesn't really matter anyway, because you I still have to go through one or the other river.
That means you get wet again. Yes, and it is also very windy, as always in Iceland. What is absolutely amazing. The way through the mountains was blocked, we had no choice but to continue our tour around the south coast. The route then led us back on well asphalted roads.
The terrain was again much easier and we came to a good place. We passed some of the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland. After the waterfalls we finally arrived at our destination the small fisher village, Vik. 10th of May 2023. With good weather and a headwind, we set off.
The glacier tongues of the Katla Volcano are passing. More and more towards the largest glacial in Europe. On this day, we both have the feeling that everything is absolutely perfect. The legs feel light and we fly firmly over the streets of the Ring Road.
We manage to make 70 kilometers in three hours and know, today we want to go to the absolute limit. We are on the last kilometers and we just have an absolut stunning sunset. It's really so beautiful. Unbelievable! After we have reached the Vatnajökull, we are following the Ring Road to the glacier lagoon. One of the big highlights of this bike tour. A place like this makes you realize how small we are compared to the forces of nature.
Ice floes as big as single family houses float here on the water. On the one hand, I find this natural spectacle very impressive. On the other hand, it also shows me the direct impact of climate change. And it is possible that even the largest glaciers, such as the Vatnajökull, may disappear in the near future. So Hanno, are you willing to explain to us what are you doing there? I think cooking with glacier ice is the best way of cooking So that is your opinion? Absolutely! So, we just covered about 500 kilometers, which is really cool.
And tomorrow a good friend of Hanno and me will join us. Who are you, what do you do, apart from cycling? I'm Marius, 22 years old, living in the beautiful Taunus, and I am absolutely passionated about mountainbiking. Joel and Hanno encouraged me to come to Iceland. With new support, we continue along the coast, until we reach the beginning of the Eastern Fjord. And for the first day in Iceland, the weather gods have come up with something very special for Marius. So, we are now more or less completely wet again.
But what is very important in Iceland is to just accept this weather. I think we drove about 100 kilometers. Um, completely, actually all day in the rain.
And I think I've never been so wet in my life. So, for me it was really, the last 30, 40 kilometers, I was really in my gloves, in my shoes, everywhere the water in it. But in the end, we made it and this was an experience that I haven't had before.
Now it was time. May 14th, 2023. A day when we underestimated the wind. The plan for the day was to ride up to 70 km over a pass to Egilstadir.
A track that is actually easy for us to handle. But the further we go up to the pass, the more difficult the conditions become. The wind is sometimes so strong that it blows the sand of the road into our faces, so we try to protect our faces. In Iceland, on days like these, only the weather dictates how far you can go. In the evening we first reach the pass height and decide to camp on a snowfield.
When we woke up the next day, we were surprised with new snow. This made the conditions even more difficult. The further we came towards Egilstadir, the more the wind picked up, so that we found ourselves in a snowstorm again at some point. On a day like this, one wonders a lot about such a tour, and whether all of this makes sense at all. So, friends, um, we have now arrived here, and our bicycles Today we have a very special form of the day.
Here we have nice icicles along the cables. Down here, very important, the big ice clumps. Yes, it's all frozen here. The mud, we can't get rid of it. Derailleur. Nothing works anymore.
But after every snowstorm, sunshine follows again at some point. And so the next morning we were greeted with great sunshine in Egilstadir. On the way we discovered a small Icelandic farm. This is characterized by the traditional peat houses, which are still in use today. In the evening we went back to the higher mountains and we had the unique opportunity to witness a very special nature show.
In the end we set up our tent in a unique setting and all the suffering and curses of the past days were forgotten. Yes, a new day with fantastic sunshine. Um, today we definitely try to reach to Myvatn. We actually have pretty good conditions, it's relatively warm, relatively windless too. And yes, I think we will get through quite well.
But, well, that will show in a moment. And so, under good conditions, we continued towards Myvatn, which is particularly famous for its geothermy. So friends, we have almost arrived at Myvatn.
We just have to go over the mountain, about 70 meters in altitude. And then roll down the rest, and we're finally there. But now we've stopped here at a geothermal field, where it really smells like sulfur everywhere and where it's bubbling all over the ground. And let's take a look at that now. The plan is that we let the drone fly over here. From Myvatn on it was clear, that it was impossible to reach our original goal trying to cross the highlands through all the snow and mud As such, we decided to cycle back via the Ring Road, to Reykjavik.
But that was no less adventurous for us. It gave us actually the most impressive experiences of the entire route. Today the wind is incredible strong and we have an average speed of 8 km per hour, so it will take some time to reach the pass. And it's definitely a tough day today, but of course it's absolutely unique again. Here with the snow covered peaks, really an absolute dream.
Shortly before Reykjavik, we met Ben. He was also on the same route. And so we were able to attack the last four kilometers together.
I'll put it this way. If you go to Iceland by bike you should be willing to suffer. If this is fun for you then feel free Then Iceland is great. It's an adventure. Not many people do it.
You have to adapt to the rhythm of nature. And you have to live with it. If the conditions only allow you to drive at night, you have to drive at night.
So, sleep rhythm etc. is not really possible to maintain The weather conditions and the power of nature have a much higher impact on you while traveling with a bike Especially wind, rain, snow in a car you are more protected and when the weather is bad Then you say to yourself, okay, let's keep going, let's see, maybe it will get even better. And with the bike you are much more unprotected. But then you experience the journey more intensively, I would say.
What remains at the end of such a journey? After more than 1500 kilometers and 10000 vertical meters through Iceland, I'm actually just happy that it's over. On the way back I ask myself, what is actually driving us? To go outside and explore our personal limits. Questions I didn't solve the answer yet But what I really know. I had an unforgettable experience what I could shared with two of my best friends Okay, friends. Unfortunately, we are at the end of our tour.
We arrived safely in Frankfurt. summer temperature I have to put off my jacket now An adventure comes to its end That's it with the tour. The bikes will be unpacked for a couple of weeks. They'll stay in there. I don't want to see any bikes anymore And yeah, it was a lot of fun.
We had a fantastic landscape. We experienced a lot. Great weather.
What more could you want? Let's say, it won't take that long until we take you onto the next adventure. In this sense, take care! Bye!